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Games: Dishonored 2 and hacking epic sequel Watch Dogs 2

Dishonoured 2 matches visual marvels with weighty themes
Neil McGreevy

Dishonored 2 (Multi)

By: Bethesda

CRAFTED by fingers that toiled on Half Life and Bioshock 2, the original Dishonored featured a supernatural cut-throat in a steampunky brew of Merchant Ivory and horror sci-fi that rightfully snagged 2013's Best Game Bafta. 15 years have passed and Emily rules, with stabby star of the original, Corvo, serving as Royal Protector.

When a far-flung delegation flanked by clockwork soldiers usurps the throne, it's business as usual in another masterpiece of open-ended design. This time gamers can play as either Corvo or Emily, each with a unique suite of paranormal skills, from bending time and summoning killer rats to mesmerising enemies with clones of yourself.

Engaging your brains as well as your fingers, every inch of Dishonored 2's intricately designed urban malaise demands to be explored and looted. Rather than hot-footing it to your target, real rewards come from sniffing out every filthy cranny to unlock additional quests and alternative strategies.

With dozens of ways to approach any given situation, there's enough hidey seeky for stealth junkies or players can gung-ho it as a butcher – though going pacifist is just as heart-pounding as wholesale slaughter. That rare mix of visual marvel and weighty themes that only comes along every Brazil or The Prestige, offing toffs in this superior assassin caper makes other shooters look like a sick joke.

Word of warning, though – it currently runs like a dog on PC.

Watch Dogs 2 (Multi)

By: Ubisoft

DESPITE the fact that you can go outside and watch dogs for free, the original Watch Dogs shifted more copies in its first 24 hours than any title in Ubisoft's history, making a sequel to the hacking epic inevitable.

Gone are Nathan Barley-esque digital tea-leaf Aiden Pearce and a virtual Chicago, replaced with the far more palatable Marcus Holloway (for a start he's black – a damn rare thing in gaming) and San Francisco as your plaything. It's still all about hacktivists raging against the machine and doling out social justice with a combination of action and computer skills that allow players to control virtually any piece of machinery and engage in high-tech Tom-peepery.

You can look through any camera, eavesdrop on text chat and control traffic lights with ease while the action feels like old-school Splinter Cell, with the emphasis on stealth and gadget mastery.

Missions range from ruining a paedophile's life and taking down dirty cops to snapping famous sights and ferrying people around town. It takes a while to get going, though, and still suffers from embarrassing cool-obsessed nerdspeak. But invest the hours and Watch Dogs 2 delivers all the stealth, action and social commentary you crave.

Let's hope third time's the charm for a Watch Dogs based around Ann Robinson fighting dodgy glaziers.

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