WATCH_DOGS Review

Blane

So Watch Dogs just came out today, and as many of you probably know it’s a game that people have been waiting a REALLY long time to get their hands on. Does it live up to the hype? No obviously, but it still does a lot of things right.

In the backstory of Watch Dogs, a computer hacker is discovered to have been behind the Northeast blackout of 2003, which lead to eleven deaths. This event prompted the Blume Corporation to develop ctOS (central Operating System). The ctOS supercomputer connects to everyone and everything—including personal information, security cameras, and traffic lights. Over time, Blume installs ctOS supercomputers in multiple cities across the United States, including Chicago, Illinois, the setting of the game.

Story

In October 2012, Aiden Pearce and Damien Brenks launch an electronic bank heist at the Merlaut Hotel, with Aiden transferring the funds through his Smartphone. When they come across a strange file and alert another hacker, Damien tries to find the hacker, giving them both away. Unable to talk Damien out of it, Aiden stops him by leaving. Fearing for his family— sister Nicole, and her children Lena and Jackson—Aiden decides to drive them to safety under the guise of a surprise trip.

However, on the way, two hitmen hired to take Aiden out intercept the car. One of them, Maurice Vega, fires the shot that crashes the car and kills Lena two months later. Eleven months later in October 2013, Aiden (now a vigilante known as The Fox) finally tracks down Maurice in the Parker Square district. After a fruitless interrogation about Maurice’s contractor, Aiden leaves Maurice in the hands of Jordi Chin while he hacks the ctOS to help them escape unnoticed.

There a lot more twists and turns in the story, and while it’s not too original, it certainly isn’t bad. The same can be said about most of the characters in Watch Dogs, while most of them seem like cliché characters, they are all at least somewhat likable and are pretty interesting and they the voice acting is pretty good too.

Gameplay

Watch Dogs is a Third-Person shooter, and while there are plenty of Third Person shooters nowadays, Watch Dogs is quite frankly one of the best to come out in recent history. The shooting is solid, but the best part of the gameplay is without a doubt the hacking. Sure it’s a gimmick and completely unrealistic, but it’s a fun gimmick, and if it were realistic that would take away the fun from it. You can use hacking for various things, like identifying who is around you, stealing people cash from their accounts, or you can even use it in combat, by exploding generators to kill your enemies while also causing a blackout in the area, giving you a chance to escape, stop a train with your phone, and leave the site undetected on said Train. Yeah, pretty cool.

The side quests in watch Dogs are also amazing. While traveling the city of Chicago, you will sometimes get various quests, such as saving a civilian from an attacker, stopping a criminal convoy, or even taking out a highly trained Gang Hideout. Watch Dogs also has “Digital trips” which are pretty much just average mini games like “collect the coins” or “Sneak past these guys” with the exception of Spider Tank, which is one of the best ideas Ubisoft has had in a while.

Watch Dogs also has a pretty unique online mode, such as racing other players, which is okay (would be better if the driving was good), but the main mode is the Hacking mode, where you either infiltrate another player’s game to steal their data, and you must hide while they try to find you OR another player enters your game to steal your data and you must look for them, and kill them.

Controls

The combat system in Watch Dogs is one of the best I’ve also seen. Instead of having one button do both the running and cover system, you merely need to press “A”, and you will slide into cover. Speaking of controls, use a controller for this game if you’re playing it on a PC as its controls are horrible with the Keyboard & Mouse. The controls on the controller are really great and smooth, so be sure to invest in one before you pick up Watch Dogs.

Another thing to bring up is that the Driving in Watch Dogs is really bad even with a Controller, you’ll constantly crash into the streets and people, lowering your reputation or you’ll just crash into other vehicles while trying to explore the wondrous city of Chicago. It’s almost just better to walk to your destinations, the Driving is that bad.

Graphics

The city of Chicago is amazing in Watch Dogs, as it always feels alive and looks pretty similar to the actual Chicago. And while there is a obvious downgrade in the graphics since we last saw at E3 2012, the game still looks really good, and it’s not a Dark Souls II downgrade, so that’s not a big problem.

Final Thoughts

Watch Dogs also has an average AI, while sometimes your enemies will do something clever, like chase you on the right side of a highway while you go down the wrong side instead of following right behind you like a moron, and they will also try to corner you or take you out in an ambush. Although sometimes the AI is also really bad, for example when I was escaping the ballpark at the beginning of the game, I walked right in front of a guard and he didn’t even notice me, and when you’re driving down the street, without even getting near the sidewalk, the citizens of Chicago well jump out of the way, as if they’re avoiding you, even if you’re not close to them.

Another bad thing about Watch Dogs is Uplay. You have to have Uplay to play this game, and honestly, even Origin is better than Uplay. For example when I first got the game, my keyboard didn’t work, why? Was it because it wasn’t plugged in? No, it was because I had Uplay set to Online mode instead of Offline mode. Right, simple, that’s just an obvious answer. And after fixing that problem the game would not stop crashing until I downloaded the newest AMD driver. Both problems are fixed now, but the Uplay support did NOTHING to help except say “Maybe you should restart your computer?”, and if anyone says that when you’re having problems, you know that they have no idea what they’re talking about.

But besides its few problems, Watch Dogs is definitely worth your time and money; just be sure to get a controller, especially if you’re playing the PC version.

Good

  • Hacking is a fun gimmick
  • Great replay value
  • Vast open world
  • Accurate representation of Chicago
  • Decent story
  • Online modes are great

Bad

  • Driving
  • Keyboard & Mouse controlls on PC
  • Uplay
  • Poor PC Port
8

Great

Blane
Sometimes I do stuff

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