Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, PC, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
When games are highly publicized or even a follow up entry to a major franchise they bring with them a lot of expectations, due to these expectations we come to often expect a certain level of quality and enjoyment particularly if we look at the history of the developers. With this example we must look at Watch Dogs for the past two years at least Watch Dogs has been on a little thing called the hype train where the developers and gaming community talk the game up and in the end often result in unrealistic expectations, the way Watch Dogs was spoken of by Ubisoft it was set to be a perfect game that should have scored perfect 10’s all around of course this is not the case and Watch Dogs has resulted in actually being not as good as possibly intended. The reason this is a problem in a sense is just how well Ubisoft has done with other games of a similar style to Watch Dogs such as the Assassins Creed franchise and unfortunately it seems Ubisoft’s flare is not as great as it could have been in this game.
One of the key things that Ubisoft has done in the past is develop fun and interesting stories for their games that the player can follow with quite a lot of enjoyment. The big red flag immediately is present from the very beginning of Watch Dogs story, essentially trying to play on an idea that a wrong can be amended by another wrong which essentially leads us to the plotline of Watch Dogs where you as supposed protagonist Aiden Pierce are performing a further wrong to deal with the second wrong. The plotline never gets very deep and while at the start it is somewhat easy to follow the events presented within the game leave the story of Watch Dogs with very little appeal. But to at least give an idea of what is going on, after messing up at a job trying to steal money from people Aiden is attacked by a gun for hire who kills his niece. One year later you are on a revenge streak to find the people who killed her using your selected skills of hacking and the story just becomes much more convoluted and tricky from there.
The story really falls short and does not provide a reason to stick with the game but at least at this point the gameplay jumps in and really gives you a reason to keep playing. Watch Dogs follows the standard tradition of Ubisoft franchises dropping us in a big and enjoyable wide Open World for you to explore, the city of Chicago is evolved into a futuristic area that is ripe for exploration and plays primarily into the incredible gameplay. Although the world of Watch Dogs primarily is set a few years in the past it still seems so futuristic and the abilities play into a future that seems not to far away in this modern era. As phones and other technologies are built up and more of our identity is transferred across the internet this is primarily where Watch Dogs comes in, the city of Chicago is essentially a playground of technology and the identity’s of people that plays into how the world is changing, and in a way this is what Watch Dogs does it carries over a view into where the future is going and the capabilities that a selected group of people could have on the world.
Ordinarily I would not find it interesting to know who people are particularly in a game that these characters are meaningless but in the case of Watch Dogs this is one of the best parts about the game. Watch Dogs plays into the idea of a connected world and this constantly evidenced with every person I met along my way, seeing the profile of every person specifying who they are there age and even a key little factoid good or bad about them was quite interesting . This also them played into some of my decisions on how I obtained money from, through the game there are several opportunities to obtain money from a selection of people around the city by hacking their bank account and often to make the decision of whether or not I got money from them. If they had high ambitions and had good intentions I would leave them alone, however if they were known drug enthusiasts or any other bad sort of thing I never saw the harm in ripping money away from these bad people. Likewise due to these people you can also receive new cars to drive and also new music to listen to based on what some of these people like making the city feel even more real with every person you come across.
The city of Chicago is a playground under your control, you have the power to control the balance of activities within the city and actively mess with the world as a whole, essentially saying Chicago is your world and you have the power to control. The world is certainly changing and Watch Dogs paints a picture showing how the world is going to be and the control technology has over events, from the changing of a set of traffic lights to the power to open a garage door the power to control this world is what makes things interesting and carries you through the game. For me personally the idea of controlling the world is really the draws in point to Watch Dogs and freely making choices and causing mayhem in the world is highly satisfying. Racing through Chicago the world is literally littered with things that can be hacked to cause mayhem and somewhat enjoyment, it is often that I would find myself standing on a street corner setting off traffic lights just to see cars crash into each other for amusement, likewise I would also enjoy hacking bridges to mess with cars.
Throughout the story of Watch Dogs there are countless uses and opportunities for the hacking ability and often through the story hacking traffic lights and unlocking barricades are key parts of stopping enemies in chase sequences whether you are the chase or the chasee. Hacking also comes as a key part of combat and escaping enemies, there are often situations surrounding combat that allow you to take out enemies such as often sitting in the shadows you can find places to hack in order to cause explosions or even distract enemies in order to get past them. The same tricks are often carried over to missions that require you to go undetected and ensuring you make use of these different abilities and places in the environment becomes key to survival, this is mostly because you can’t take many shots before dying. Often because of this weakness it means the cover system while good does not always allow gun play to be a good option unless you know how to quickly line up a shot, in a sense this is where the hacking ability forces you to get creative and use the environment and the people to your advantage.
As you go through the game you slowly unlock skill points and these can be used to further your own skills and make use of the pretty cool skill tree, it is only small but the skill tree has four different branches with a small selection of different abilities that can be unlocked. The points of the skill tree include the evolution of the hacking abilities, driving skills, weapon crafting and combat, I enjoyed further extending my hacking abilities with the skill tree allowing me to break into cars without alerting the police as well as allowing a small selection of other abilities to be used in order to make better use of my control in the city and better complete missions.
Extending on the game is the many side missions that fill Chicago, all throughout the city are little investigation missions, criminal convoys, gang hideouts and plenty more. These missions actually extend interest into the game and keep a reason to explore the city from beginning to long after the game is finished, these also keep things going even through the less than satisfying story.
While I have argued that the story of Watch Dogs remains less then satisfying throughout, the basic gameplay does at least keep things interesting throughout. Ubisoft’s usual flair for storytelling one of the few reasons why I liked Assassins Creed 3 fails to ever be present in Watch Dogs and while is an issue the brilliant ideas in the game help keep things fun and entertaining, as well as this Ubisoft’s history of great game mechanics are seen and enjoyable in the game. On a side note I find the language, nudity and other themes unjustified in the game and pointless and I don’t understand why they had the insistence to include these in the game as they do feel irrelevant.