Hacker-style GTA in the streets of Chicago
Opening the door for a new generation of video games, Watch Dogs gives you the opportunity to become a hacker, doling out your personal sense of justice in the streets of Chicago.
With open-world gameplay reminiscent of GTA, but geared towards hacking and missions, Watch Dogs has definitely got some appeal, but does it keep all the promises made when it was first announced?
Walk the streets of a vibrant and deadly Chicago
Set in the not so distant future, Watch Dogs makes use of some all too familiar familiar topics: the surveillance society, the pervasiveness of cell phones, and the leakage of personal data. You become Aiden Pearce, a hacker obsessed with personal revenge. You have to try to find those responsible for some past tragedy while choosing whether or not to intercept potential criminals on the streets of Chicago. You have access to all this data from your cell phone, which is used to gain access to citizen's personal information in order to identify dangerous criminals.
Similar to Minority Report, one of the most well-known movies on the topic, Watch Dogs is based on a promising premise.
The game developers have done a great job in terms of content: the city of Chicago is huge and full of people, each individual with a unique profile accessible from your phone that includes their names, annual salaries, and lots of other detailed info. Each person has his/her own secrets that only a hacker like you can access; while one maybe have a criminal record, another could be debt-ridden, while yet another could simply be passionate about classical music.The attention to detail is unique in Watch Dogs, and the portrayal of life and diversity is outstanding.
Unfortunately, the world of Watch Dogs suffers from a flimsy plot, an issue which quickly reveals itself. The main plot is uninspiring, told around a poorly conducted story of revenge. The characters are remarkably superficial, and as a player, you feel no empathy for Aiden Pearce and his lackeys, which is unfortunate for a game that has clearly taken plenty of inspiration from GTA V! Note, however, that'll you encounter plenty of secondary storylines while wandering the streets of Chicago. Passersby often tell their stories, giving a new, and very welcome, depth to the plot.
Excellent gameplay stained by poorly designed missions
Watch Dogs is an open world action game, meaning you can freely explore the city of Chicago while having access to a variety of different vehicles. Again, GTA comparisons are inevitable, since both games seem to have a lot in common, but Ubisoft has managed to offer a real alternative to the popular Rockstar game by providing gameplay which is based on the possibility of hacking anything, anywhere. Your phone will constantly alert you to hacking opportunities involving security cameras, traffic lights, or even draw bridges. These interruptions help you wreak havoc, as well as intercept criminals and policemen.
Gameplay is excellent, and the interface is simple. With only one button, you can hack all electrical equipment within sight, dynamically integrating what could have been a painful and annoying part of gameplay into a really useful aspect. I would have liked the missions to have received similar attention, but unfortunately, they haven't. Although there are many diverse missions in Watch Dogs, they suffer from a lack of clarity that can be really annoying. Targets are often ambiguous, and it can be almost unbearable to start the same mission five times without fully understanding what you're meant to do.
Next generation graphics?
Good but not essential
What's the verdict on the first true next generation game? Even if Watch Dogs isn’t up to expectations, it’s still an excellent open world action game. The city of Chicago becomes a huge playground, with content and attention to detail that I wish we'd see more often. The hacking mechanisms are very well implemented, and if you add to that good multiplayer, Watch Dogs becomes a great game with unique and excellent gameplay that'll make you forget its weak plot line.
Watch Dogs is a bit of a technical disappointment. After the early trailers showed a splendid next gen game, it seems like it's since hit a technical wall. To get a game that works properly on PC, next gen, and old gen consoles, the developers had to lower their standards. The result? Graphics are dull compared to initial expectations.
Even if it’s not outrageous (the game measures up nicely to its rival GTA V), the graphics in Watch Dogs are far from representing the best of what's currently being done. One thing that was done right, however, is the city of Chicago, which was carefully modeled after the real thing. With such a huge population walking around the open world, it makes wandering the streets of the Windy City amazing. Still, if you're playing Watch Dogs on PC, make sure you've got plenty of horsepower to get the most out of it!