Watch_Dogs is one of the most anticipated games of 2014. It’s been in development since 2008 and was first shown off at E3 2012. Since then people have been chomping at the bit to play this game. It was originally meant to be a launch title for the ‘next gen’ consoles in late 2013, but the studio didn’t feel it was ready for prime time and delayed it’s release until today (27th May 2014). Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out…
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I’m not going to give away an spoilers here as I’ve enjoyed playing through the story and wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone out there. The basics that I’m sure everyone is familiar with is Watch_Dogs is set in near future Chicago and the entire city is connected to a singular operating system – CtOS. Personally, I think that would be a terrible idea as it would leave itself wide open to hacking and what have you. Well, thats exactly what’s happened. Our central character, Aidan Pearse, wants to bring justice to the unworld of Chicago and he uses his supreme hacking skills to do so. CtOS has information on everyone. It has every detail and now that Aidan has access to CtOS, so does he. Ultimately, he’s trying to get revenge for something that happened to him 11 months before we take control.
Watch_Dogs is an open world game, where you can wander around or stick to the main story. As you would expect you can either walk from one place to another (but that would take a long time as the map is pretty big) or you can grab a car / motorbike / train to make your way from point A to point B. There are times where you’ll be chased by the cops or by bad guys and this is where the combo of driving and hacking comes into play. If you time it right, you can explode a steam pipe or raise some bollards to stop your pursuers and this is done to a magnificent effect, all slow motion and what have you!
The main story arc is pretty good. The character acting is convincing, though the facial animations could do with a bit more polish when compared to what the likes of Second Son is doing in that area at the moment. It’s the story that really brings you through the game, I really wanted to find out what happened next and that kept me progressing through the game.
Alot of the main mission, I found, is kinda puzzle based. In order to get into an area you’ll need to hack security cameras, but to get the right panel in view to hack, you’ll need to move between security cameras so you can gain line of sight. There’s also a power grid ilke puzzle you’ll need to solve in order to gain access. Theres also a lot of side missions, some of these pop up on screen when a possible crime is detected. By that I mean, CtOS picks up a situation that might get out of hand if someone doesn’t intervene. You can either ignore these, or action them and go help the possible victim. This bit really reminded me of the TV show ‘Person of Interest’ (a favourite TV show of mine) and I personally enjoyed doing these side missions as I was driving around Chicago.
Ultimately, Watch_Dogs is going to be compared to the king of the sandbox games, GTAV, and I’m guessing everyone wants to know how it stacks up. Honestly, it’s better in some areas and not as good in others. Its definitely not as good in the driving aspect. The driving is good in Watch_Dogs, but it’s just better in GTAV. Another area that bugged me is the cover system. It just need to be better, especially when trying to break away from cover. It just wasn’t fluid enough. I would be watching a crime about to happen and try to break cover, and I just couldn’t or Aidan would dash to the next cover point instead. I do hope that Ubisoft address this in a future update.
Watch_Dogs is a very good looking game, theres no denying that. The custom Distrub engine that Ubisoft built works very well and is very fluid.There are some beautiful lighting and weather effects that you really have to see to appreciate. I remember when I first got stuck in a lighting storm. The rain was teeming down, the sky was all grey and the visibility was greatly reduced. Then the sky started flashing with lightning and I just stopped and looked around. It really looks great. I’m not sure what anti aliasing Ubisoft have implemented, but it works very well with very few jaggies seen anywhere. It’s not on par with the silky smooth lines found in Second Son, but its not far off and goes to show what can be done on the next gen systems.
Here is an actual screen shot I took myself (directly from the PS4). Yes, the atmospheric depth really looks that good
I want more games to look this good and I’m hoping that between this engine and the upcoming ‘snow drop’ engine that Ubisoft are developing for ‘The Division’, next gen games are not only going to have great gameplay, but look super pretty as well. On a side note, all this talk about it not being 1080p 60FPS! Pish Posh I say! The gameplay is great and it looks amazing, so I want more of this that loosing something to get the 1080p 60FPS that people are harping about about.
Given that I’ve been reviewing the game prior to launch I haven’t had much exposure to the multiplayer, but what I have been exposed to has been fun and almost seamless with the single. My first experience was getting hacked. I was just walking around and then things started going nuts, it was telling me I was being hacked and I needed to find the other player who was hacking me. The first time, I didn’t find them, but the second time someone tried to hack me, i found them and killed them, thus saving my data. I’ll be updating this review over the next few days with both a proper take on the multiplayer and the second screen app that is also due to launch with the game on Tuesday 27th.
Watch_Dogs has a lot of hype to live up to and for the most part it does. A couple of the control mechanics let the game down a bit. Since driving is a major part of the game, it could definitely be better, and as noted, the cover system could also be tweaked. I’m looking forward to getting some time with the multiplayer as from what I’ve seen, it looks to be loads of fun. Given that Watch_Dogs is a brand new IP running in a brand new games engine, Ubisoft should be commended for what they’ve done. It really is a fun game and you can be sure we’ll be seeing some sequels (and there’s rumour of a movie as well) Watch_Dogs is available now, both online and through physical store, for Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.