What happens when you’re committing a crime and things go bad? People get hurt! Aiden Pearce a man of many talents and many shady connections is thrown into the spotlight in Watch Dogs the newly launched IP from Ubisoft.
Watch Dogs takes place in Chicago in the not so distant future. A computer system has been put in place called ctOS and through it you can hack into the city’s infrastructure and peek into the private lives of the Chicago citizenry.
So Watch Dogs is about hacking right? Not so much. Lets look at exactly what you can do.
You can use cameras to zoom around the city and snoop dirt on people occasionally finding skeletons in closets or you can just pull out the iPhone (It’s supposed to be a generic phone but it looks just like an iPhone.) flip on the profiler and score a nugget of questionable information about your neighbors. You can’t actually do anything with the information you collect. It’s just random information that has no use in the game at all. Sometimes you get lucky and can hack someones bank account and swipe a few dollars.
Taking what doesn’t belong to him is what got Aiden into the reluctant vigilante role to start with.
Why not put the sensitive information you collect on people to work? Instead of hacking a bank account why not use the dirt you’ve collected for blackmail? Make the person you have the dirt on drop some cash or you’ll go public with their biggest secret. Bam! Mr John Doe likes hanging out at the nude bar. Put it on the freeway signs for everyone to see. That’s a better use for those signs anyways. Want me to steal a car and take a tour of the detailed city of Chicago you’ve created? Have the blackmail victim make the cash drop at random historical sites/hot spots. Those undercover ctOS agents that you accidentally hack every now and then to trigger a police chase is a dull idea. A better trigger would be to pull up in your borrowed car to pick up the money you’ve blackmailed out of some poor sob and SURPRISE it’s a sting! Endless police chase begins. Ubisoft could have used this information in a thousand different ways but decided to do nothing.
In Watch Dogs you can hack into various items. Lifts of various types seem to be easy targets for our hacker. You can use these for well…a lift or you can use them to distract the guards as you infiltrate whatever complex you are trying to break into. I use the word distract loosely because apparently in Watch Dogs a forklift raising and lowering its forks by itself is not that big a deal. The AI will at times totally ignore a forklift operating on it’s on and sniff you out as if it knows you are there. With so much randomly generated speech and content would it have been a stretch for a guard to reach over and disable the forklift. Haven’t the guards seen Maximum Overdrive you don’t just walk past a machine operating on its on.
In Watch Dogs you can hack into various devices that explode. Junction boxes, valves, transformers, etc…Which is cool because the one thing all gamers have in common is the love for explosions. You can hack into grenades that are being carried by guards and it’s pretty funny to watch the guards play digital Hot Potato and try to get rid of the grenade before it goes off.
After a few hours of play your love for explosions is overtaken by a sense of deja-vu. Almost every mission will lead you to a restricted area which is basically just a level. You will have to sneak into this area and retrieve something, briefcase etc.. After you retrieve your prize you will surely be forced into a shoot out. A quick survey of the area will reveal several wall boxes or valves that explode and several spots in the floor that you can explode with a quick hack. So basically you’re in an arena with a dozen bots and some pre placed mines that you can hack and explode at will. It’s entertaining but gets a little hum drum after a couple of hours of play.
The highlight of all the hacking skills in Watch Dogs is the ability to hack traffic lights. There is nothing like being in a high-speed chase, hacking a light and seeing the mayhem you’ve caused in a sleek slow motion cut scene. It’s also pretty fun to stand on various street corners and hack lights just to see the fender benders and the reactions of the Chicago citizens.
You can also hack helicopters and cause ctOS blackouts to avoid detection for a brief time.
Watch Dogs is not truly a game about hacking. It’s just a guy with a detonator that can explode various bombs placed around the city. I expected more!
So what’s the worst thing about Aidens hacking. The blue light turn knob mini game you have to play to access some locks/servers. I can explode a transformer with the push of a button. I can change the color of a red light while traveling at 120 MPH. Why can’t I just push the same button to hack a lock? It’s just fat added to the game to waste the players time.
The visuals in the game are stunning. I know there was some talk about the quality of the game not being the same as the trailer Ubisoft presented at E3 but even so the graphic quality of the game is superb. There has been a lot of time and effort put into the details of the city. At one point I was chasing a criminal through backyards while jumping fences and couldn’t help but to be impressed by the attention to detail that’s been put into every nook and cranny of the city. Character animations or not as impressive but are still on par with any triple A game on the market.
You will be driving a lot in Watch Dogs and that’s Okay. I enjoyed the driving sequences and I do enjoy trying to outmaneuver the police because you definitely wont out run the police and chases can last for extended periods of time. You have the ability to hack gates and you can let barriers up and down. The gates and garage doors are a no go for me because I’m normally driving so fast I’ve passed them before I know their avalible to open. I have had good luck with letting up bridges as I cross them then disabling the helicopter that’s following me. Hacking red lights will not stop the cops from chasing you but it produces some pretty cool effects. I like the feel of the vehicles that you drive. Vehicles feel the way they should. Sports cars feel light and powerful while muscle cars feel a little heavier and full size pickups feel even heavier and are a little slower.
I played the PC version of Watch Dogs and driving could be a challenge at times. The main problem being you have to let go of the mouse and the camera goes into a follow mode which is nice but if you run into a barrier, wall, or another car and you have to kick it in reverse to get away the camera seems to take forever to rotate to the needed position. Then when you hit drive again you have to wait for the camera to make its way back around. You can help it with the mouse but this creates its on set of problems by causing you to over correct or by bugging the camera enough that it slows down even more while trying to get to the needed position. In a situation such as a police chase when I am about to be pinned I don’t need the hassle of driving blind.
Multiplayer in Watch Dogs is an interesting twist on the game of Hide and Seek and is surprisingly fun. Don’t get caught though because the other players are packing and will gladly shoot you in the face.
Watch Dogs is entertaining for the first few hours of play but you soon get the been there done that blues. The visuals carry the game while the story is mediocre and runs along the same lines as a Liam Neeson movie.
This is a game I would avoid but if you just have to get Watch Dogs wait for the price drop. It’s not worth $60 bucks. Want to know more about Watch Dogs? Go to the official website here.
Don’t feel like reading then head over to the Watch Dogs Video Review.
If your opinion differs from mine or if you want to add to the conversation then comment below.