Originally slated as a launch title for the PS4 & Xbox One Watch Dogs received major hype ever since its announcement way back in June 2012, boasted for its innovative gameplay and multiplayer aspects it was highly anticipated and a day one purchase for many along with the new shiny next gen consoles…. Then the news that all gamers hate to see broke out – Delayed!
It eventually released on the new launch date of May 27th 2014 with gamers foaming at the mouth to get their hands on the 3rd person open world title, mainly due to the lack of launch titles along with the mediocrity of Thief and Infamous: Second Son in my opinion. I will admit that I did get railroaded by the Watch Dogs hype train and was watching development with a keen eye, so day one I warmed up the PS4 to see what Ubisoft Montreal had been working on for the last two years and my initial thought were …. Yeah it’s alright…
Set in exact virtual replica of Chicago, Illinois you take the role of hell bent on revenge hacker Aiden Pearce, reason for the revenge? His kid niece was killed by two hitmen that were intending to finish off Aiden, now nothing but pure guilt drives him to act as a vigilante and serve out some justice.
Hoping to be blown away by the game but it wasn’t quite the next gen experience I was hoping for, one couldn’t help but feel it was developed for the PS3 & Xbox 360 and just up scaled in graphics for the new home consoles. I was more than impressed by the scale of the map and the attention to detail was spot on, Ubisoft really wanted you to feel as you were in actual Chicago! The promise of no in game loading screens was delivered that meant you had an uninterrupted experience although there was quite a lengthy one as you first loaded up the game.
The hacking element was refreshing, you could hack stranger’s mobile phones to raid their bank accounts and also monitor conversations that on occasion did lead to a side mission; along with the ability to look through hacked security camera’s it added a tactical element to missions in regards to how you were going to carry it out. You could also cause city wide blackouts for a few moments and had various ways to lose people in car chases (Yes, there are a lot of car chases!) whether that be raising in-road security bollards and ferry bridges or interrupting traffic light sequences to cause some carnage.
This was not your only weapon though! An arsenal of guns and bombs are on offer, simple enough to obtain them – just buy it from the shop! Gotta love America! Use them in a public place and it won’t be long before you have hundreds of police squad cars chasing you through Chicago (Big exaggeration but you get the picture).
The multiplayer aspect of the game was interesting with other players being able to seamlessly enter your game (without you knowing) with the intention of hacking your data, this turns into a game of cat & mouse that ends up in two ways – killing the hacker or them getting away, you’ve got to be quick! You did have an option to turn this feature off on the main menu, and to be honest I did after a while.
What stopped this game from being amazing were two things, one was gameplay. After a few hours playing the game you’ve pretty much figured out all that it has to offer, and although I did very much enjoy the digital trips (hallucination games – check out Spider Tank!) at times the rest felt rigid and repetitive. The driving was probably the most awkward part as it felt quite stiff and I didn’t feel the camera angle helped too much, felt like you were zoomed in to the back of the car that made it difficult to drive at high speeds without crashing! – And no it’s not my driving!
The other point was the Aiden himself, I didn’t buy into him as character as I felt he was quite bland and lacked personality – quite ironic as his associate Jordi Chin had bags of personality, can I play as him? I don’t think the trench coat and cap helped Aiden’s the cause here, you did have the option to customize him but that just consisted of different colour trench coats and caps! Not a good move Ubisoft!
All in all I enjoyed the game while playing it but it didn’t give me the ‘I need to play this as soon as I get any spare time’ feeling – you know what I mean. The graphics were pleasing and most of the citizens of Chicago were varied in appearance, nothing worse than duplicates! Gunplay was ok and hacking added another aspect but the lack of character customisation, a bland protagonist and repetitive gameplay means that I score:
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