Watch Dogs (Game) Review

by Matt Cavanagh
Watch Dogs

Released: 27th May 2014
RRP: Various depending on
Publisher: UBISOFT
Available on: PlayStation 4, XBOX One, PlayStation 3, XBOX 360, PC
Rating: 18

Buy Watch Dogs from Amazon

Watch Dogs (aka Watch_Dogs) is a game
where you play as the hacker vigilante Aiden Pierce who takes it upon himself to
enforce the law in his particular way.

Watch Dogs as a game has a very
unique play model, where you can truly interact with the world around you using
the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, your smartphone. The game in this
regard has quite a nice touch as it highlights a plausible future, where
everything is so connected in such a way it could be open up to
abuse.

Story

Without giving too much away, the
Story isn’t the most epic story to be told, however it does last a good length
of time and will keep you engaged for quite some time. It’s been well written,
if a bit poorly acted in places. However, it is far from poor, and is a pleasure
to play. At times, it’s very moving, especially when things turn for the worst
for Aiden’s family.

Gameplay

The gameplay of Watch Dogs is rather
unique, but still ties with Ubisoft’s previous titles, such as the Assassin’s
Creed franchise, but maintains it’s own blend of gameplay features to keep the
player entertained. The game has a VERY detailed skill tree system, which you
can spend upgrade points on in order to improve various aspects of your
character, going from hacking a gate open to being able to cause a blackout
where the power can be cut to an entire city block.

The game itself does very well to
keep you engaged with the game, and via the “Vigilante Contracts” it also does
provide a benefit and reward for completing them.

One point I will make however, is
that the driving in this game well... sucks. You feel like you’re driving a box
car around that you used to play with as a kid. Compare the driving experience
to say, GTA V, this game pales in comparison. Collisions that would have killed
your character in GTA V would be a mere scratch of paint in Watch
Dogs.

The Hacking mechanic in this game is
also very “arcady”. It’s simply pressing one button. While in certain situations
this would be very useful, it isn’t a challenge. It would be nice if the game
required you to make certain combinations of buttons in order to activate the
more powerful abilities. You can also hack security systems, which is a minigame
within itself where you have to rotate various nodes in order to achieve a
connection. This minigame also pops up at various times in the storyline. While
this may seem boring, it’s infrequent enough to become
annoying.

The game at times however, does take
a very long time to load. This however, can be forgivable considering the sheer
quantity of graphical content it has to load. The loading time however is very
apparent when you load the game, and may lead people to think that the game
itself will always be like this. Thankfully, the game doesn’t have many loading
screens so this can be pretty much forgiven.

Online
Gameplay

One part of the game that sets it
apart from all of the others is it’s rather unique way that the game engages you
with the online audience. The game, from time to time, will have players
“intrude” into your game, where they attempt to hack you. When this happens,
it’s the player’s objective to find them and hunt them down before the timer
runs out. This provides a great deal of immersion, as the whole process is
completely seamless. The only way I was able to find out if someone is in my
game is by trying to use the special ability of “reflex”, where the world slows
down into a slow-mo state, which doesn’t work when a player is tailing you. I’m
presuming that this isn’t possible when two players are connected as it would
give either one an advantage. It’s a slight immersion breaker, but knowing that
you’re being tailed (when you otherwise wouldn’t anyway) puts you purely on the
defensive, making you look out for the potential
hacker.

Various online modes are available in
Watch Dogs, including “Invasion” (aka 1vs1, as described above), Online Tailing
(where you follow a player and not be detected), Online Decryption (where two
teams or three players player what’s essentially capture the flag) and
races.

Also, another very unique mode, is
the interaction between mobile players and console / PC players. There is a
special game mode called “CtOS Mobile App” where mobile players can control the
police in an effort to prevent the player being able to reach a certain
destination. It’s very well thought out, and is fair to both sides. The CtOS
Mobile App on the smartphone side is actually very well thought out, if a tad
buggy.

Combat

There’s nothing much to say on this
subject, the guns are the usual compliment you’ll find in most FPS shooters.
However, the blend of the hacking abilities with gun combat lends itself to a
very interesting combat mechanic, by being able to hack certain things in order
to gain the upper hand, such as generators, doors, car alarms and even
generators to make them explode.

You’re also able to craft items,
using materials you find in the world. Using these materials, you can craft
grenades, IEDs, distraction devices etc. Each of which can benefit you in both
combat and stealth missions, where you must not be
detected.

Graphics

On the Playstation 4, which is the
platform this title was reviewed on, certainly attains the title “Next Gen
Graphics”. However, the graphics have been seriously dumbed down since the debut
E3 announcement, which had a much greater visual fidelity than the game does
now.

That being said Watch Dogs isn’t a
slouch in the graphics department either. The effects are very good, everything
is well textured, and the PS4 can handle it. There is some texture popping
sometimes, but considering what else is going on, this can be
forgiven.

Summary

All in all, Watch_Dogs is quite an
enjoyable game. While the game excels in places, it unfortunately does have it’s
failings in others. If you’re seeking a different experience, while hoping it’s
not a vast departure from what you’re used to, than Watch_Dogs is well worth it.

Rating:
7/10

Images & Screenshots


Trailer

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