Screenshot from Flickr User: Gieson Cacho

One Week On- Watch Dogs

Screenshot from Flickr User: Gieson Cacho
Screenshot from Flickr User: Gieson Cacho

Watch Dogs is a game that i had been really looking forward too for quite some time now, in my eyes it’s one of the few games to have been released on next gen consoles that actually offers something new, and by that i mean it’s probably the first big new franchise to hit the shelves since the consoles launched at the end of last year, so now it’s been one week since it’s launch i thought i’d talk about how i’m finding the game.
As you’d imagine the first part of Watch Dogs is an introduction to the future Chicago as well as the games main protagonist, Aiden Pearce, a very serious, dark character who has a voice so husky that it rivals Batman. Aiden, dressed in his long coat and cap looks like a classic badass, but seems to show very little emotion, and as a player i think he’s very difficult to get attached to, this does take a certain something from the game, something that you find in games like Mass Effect with Commander Shepard, in Splinter Cell with Sam Fisher, it’s that X Factor that makes the main character special, thankfully though the game does have a fantastic supporting cast for Aiden, with his accomplices Jordi, a slightly psychotic man who wouldn’t look out of place as a James Bond villain, and Clara, a tech wizard who seems to find herself in too deep in Aidens crazy world, these characters both bring plenty of personality to the table and i found myself more attached to them more than Aiden.
Watch Dogs is set in the city of Chicago in the future, where everything is connected, a city where if you have the right skills, as Aiden does, you can use the city itself as a weapon. This is Watch Dogs’ strongest asset, not only is Chicago absolutely breathtaking to look at, but it also provides endless possibilities to ambush your enemies, whether it be overloading electric boxes, bursting steam pipes, or even just changing the traffic lights, it really is fantastic, and surprisingly simple. I think this may actually be not only the best looking city i’ve ever seen in a game, but i think it may also be the most alive, a great example of this is the rain, not only does Chicago look breathtaking during a storm, but you see all the civilians start popping up their umbrellas and taking cover under ledges and canopies, something so simple but it really impressed me.

The next thing i want to talk about is the gameplay, more specifically, the controls. Now that i’m a long way into the game i’m used to the controls, but for the fist couple of hours i can’t tell you how many times i pulled LT to sprint and ended up whipping my gun out, causing mass panic and hysteria on the street i was on, the first couple of times it made me chuckle, but after a while it got a bit annoying, i mean i can’t remember the last time i played a game and RT was sprint, like i say after a while i got used to it, but it just seems like a strange choice. I should add that you can customise the controls if you want to, but that’s something i generally don’t do because i think if that’s how the developers have set it up, there has to be a reason for it!
This aside though the gameplay is very good, as i briefly mentioned earlier hacking is very simple, whether you’re stalking an enemy from range, or whizzing round the streets in a car it’s never too difficult, yet it still feels very satisfying when you get it right, i actually think they got the balance about spot on.
The pièce de résistance of your hacking arsenal is the blackout, this turns of the entire grid of Chicago, disabling all enemy communication and electric technology, this basically gives you a small window to disappear before the power comes back on. I’d advise anyone that has the game to perform one of these on a rainy night in downtown Chicago, watching the grid go off and slowly come back on really shows off how good looking this game is.
Driving is not at all what i expected, it is extremely ‘arcadey’ and that’s something i really like, some of the muscle cars handle pretty poorly, but on the whole you can find yourself drifting through the streets of Chicago in no time.
The combat is also fantastic, Watch Dogs uses a traditional cover system that allows you sneak around, something that i always enjoy, but even more so in Watch Dogs, the reason for this is the headshot sound, it’s hard to explain, it’s almost like a wet, squelch like noise, whatever it is it makes it extra rewarding when you’re taking out a whole base of enemies with a silenced pistol, without anyone knowing a thing about it, i think the best way to describe all this is smooth, from driving, to sneaking Watch Dogs feels like a smooth well put together game.
The main story in Watch Dogs is a pretty generic one, not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just nothing new, it keeps you busy for a good 20 hours though, which is a decent amount of time, and when you pair this with the side quests, of which there are many, you’ve got a pretty big game on your hands.
The side quests are actually really enjoyable which is always a sign of a good game, they range from taking down criminal convoys, to taking out gang hideouts, to just preventing one off crimes such as assaults and robberies. My favourite moment in the game was when was escaping from a criminal convoy, i was driving past the train station when i saw the train pull up, i managed to perform a blackout and just about got on the train before it pulled away, it’s moments like this that really show off this game and it’s endless possibilities.

Another part of Watch Dogs, that initially had concerned me, was the online hacking part of the game. This mode allows you to seamlessly join another players game without them knowing, and then trying to hack them and download their data, at which point they are notified of your presence and have to find you within a small zone, if you get caught you have to escape or be killed, if you complete the download you are victorious. Now i thought people randomly joining my game would be irritating, but it doesn’t happen all that often at all, and when it does it’s actually a lot of fun, particularly when your the hacker, watching someone run around like a headless chicken can be very fun! Once again Ubisoft have got the balance right, it happens, but not too often, it can be a nice break from the story and keeps the game fresh, it feels like a side quest in itself rather than an online game mode.

The game does have it’s flaws, a couple of times later in the game i had big frame rate drops, and again once or twice i’d hear things before they’d actually happen, for example, explosions or car crashes, however in 20+ hours of playing this was only a couple of times and didn’t ruin the overall experience at all.

Video from Youtube User: GameNewsOfficial

On the whole i think Ubisoft has done a fantastic job with Watch Dogs, the game looks beautiful and the story is a very good length. I think although it will be compared next to GTA due to it’s open world city nature, however i think it offers enough variety to keep it not only different to GTA, but different to any game we’ve had in recent times. Having all that technology at your fingertips is endless fun, the side quests offer a break from the story mode and are not only fun, but infectious. Watch Dogs’ biggest weapon though is it’s endless possibilities, with the environment as your weapon you can do any mission one of a dozen ways, whether it be sneaking and stealthy, or all guns blazing, in my eyes aside from the small flaws the only major weakness is Aiden himself who needs more personality and emotion, but despite this Watch Dogs is an excellent game.

+ Beautiful Graphics
+ Smooth Gameplay
+ Lots To Do
– Weak Protagonist
– Occasional Frame Rate & Sound Issues


2 thoughts on “One Week On- Watch Dogs”

  1. Great review. I was actually thinking about writing about the game but settled on recording a podcast after I reach far enough in the game. Even though I am only about 16hrs in (if I remember correctly) I strongly agree that the support characters out shine Aiden with ease. I’d even go so far as to say that I’d have loved Jordi as the protagonist or even a spinoff dlc.

    1. Thanks, appreciate it! Yeah Jordi is a great character, doesn’t get anywhere near enough screen time I don’t think, so,e DLC would be interesting, as Jordi you’d be a fixer and have to stop other hackers like Aiden, would be pretty cool!

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