GAME NAME: Watch Dogs
DEVELOPER(S): Ubisoft Montreal
PLATFORM(S): Xbox One(Reviewed), Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): May 27, 2014
Think of a futuristic highly detailed world where hacking is your weapon and Chicago is your playground. Now realize that this is your reality in Watch Dogs. You are Aiden Pearce, a very talented hacker whose criminal past has led him into a violent path and family tragedy.
From a push of a button you can scan citizens of Chicago, deem them as threats, hack their bank accounts, control and trigger your environment, set traps, create traffic mayhem, or remotely detonate people’s cell phones by overheating their battery. Let’s just say Watch Dogs is an action-packed third person adventure game that will keep you entertained and put on a good show.
Watch Dogs is an open world, where anything goes. A lot of people have complained it’s a bit like Grand Theft Auto V with hacking. Sometimes I feel like it does feel that way while other times, during spectacular missions, I feel the opposite. One thing I am not a fan of is follow this car and stop them mission and unfortunately there is a bunch of that in this game. Now on the plus side everything looks beautiful, Watch Dogs runs smoothly at 30 frames per second. A graphics gripe I had (I played this on the Xbox One) is that it is not true 1080p, it looks beautiful but it’s slightly lower resolution. The PS4 version is true 1080p but honestly if you don’t have two TVs next to each other to compare you won’t be able to fully tell. Environmental weather is beautiful and detailed, it can change from being a sunny day to a gloomy rainy day and look sharp as hell.
One thing I am not a fan of is getting hacked by people online during the middle of a mission and having to derail that mission to deal with that jerk. I unlike many other people turned that feature off at first so I could enjoy the campaign without being pestered. Once I completed the game and I went back did the side missions and turned online back on to experience it. In doing it that way I had a blast and probably pissed off people that were in the middle of the main story. You can use second screen technology by utilizing you cell phone or tablet to activate the multiplayer. You could essentially be out and about doing things and pull out your phone and start messing with someone’s game which is very fun and also challenging to those players at home. I think this adds a cool dynamic to a game that’s pretty new in concept.
The story of Watch Dogs is great. Voice acting is spot on and done very well and the music is excellent too. Every time you enter a vehicle there is new music playing and you can skip through channels like, Surprise, Grand Theft Auto V. This comparison comes up a lot because of the similarities. In between the main story line you can choose to do side missions which open the world and different sectors up. This is most helpful as you’ll want to hack ctOS towers to have access to the full range of electronics in that part of the city, surveillance cameras and traffic being a huge one. The one main difference in Watch Dogs is that as Aiden you are generally a nice guy who cares about his family and I did occasionally feel bad if I mowed down a pedestrian unlike GTAV where you don’t at all because that’s the name of the game with that title.
The supporting characters in Watch Dogs is pretty great, I won’t get into too much details as that will spoil some of the twists and turns but I will say you deal with some other super hackers, violent gang leaders and mob bosses. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue with this story line so buckle up for the long haul there is a lot to experience. Main campaign can last 20 hours but if you get into it and do side missions and explore it will last a heck of a lot longer which is great. Between campaign, side missions and online multiplayer you’ll have an extreme amount of replay value.
Controls are basic, with your run, jump, punch, shoot and take cover as well as utilize quiet close quarter combat fighting skills which is necessary for stealth missions. You can also hack just about anything and everything in the game. The mini hacking puzzles during action espionage or full on raging gun battles can be nerve wracking and intense but really damn fun. It adds a dynamic to the game I wasn’t expecting at all and this is a good thing. I haven’t seen a game act this way before between jumping through security cameras to find the best point of view, sneaking around a level, choking some guys out or bringing them down with some close quarter combat and then hacking your way to the server and slowly walking away and disappearing anonymously into the crowd, it just give you a great feeling of accomplishment.
I have a lot to say about my recommendation. Ubisoft left us high and dry on a review copy due to such high demand and only having about 50 press copies, so I went out and bought one anyways because after all, this is Watch Dogs and people were claiming it was going to be game of the year. With all the hype surrounding this game and all the delays, I wasn’t as impressed as I should be. I was actually a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, Watch Dogs is a great game. It’s fun and does very unique things with hacking and online modes and also the ability to use mobile and tablet devices to interface with players, so I do recommend checking it out. However, it isn’t mind blowing and it is very long with sometimes repetitive and often annoying GTA V style missions. If you have a lot of spare time and want to experience a futuristic style hacking open world adventure game give Watch Dogs a try. If you go into it with no expectations, you will most definitely be entertained.