Overall - 90%
Watch Dogs is not Grand Theft Auto V, because it is not trying to be. The story highlights underlying issues in society while still staying true to the original point of video-games, to have good fun. As a package, Watch Dogs is easily one of the greatest titles available on next-generation consoles and I for one cannot wait to see what Ubisoft do with a sequel.
Gamers around the world have been dieing for a reason to pick up their next-generation consoles and although there’s been a few rays of hope so far, Watch Dogs was to be the game that would unite us all in our enjoyment of what was previously just an incredibly expensive Netflix device, well for me anyway. Have Ubisoft managed to continue their string of success with recent releases or has the hype surrounding the release of Watch Dogs doomed it to fall short of any expectations?
In Watch Dogs players assume the role of Aiden Pearce, a vigilante hacker searching to bring justice to those linked to the tragic death of his niece, Lena. Taking place in a futuristic Chicago Aiden battles against the authority while avoiding the ctOS (central Operating System) that controls practically every element of daily life. People are plugged in, hooked up, totally unaware at the power the ctOS system has over the city, and as equally unaware of the corrupt individuals behind it. Aiden sets out on a journey to expose the true nature of the ctOS system, meeting like-minded allies along the way.
Watch Dogs introduces players to the exciting world of cyber terrorism through a number of unique features that combine to deliver an exciting take on character progression, mission variety and plot twists. As players explore the game world they’re able to hack into the lives of Chicago’s citizens using a rather impressively modified mobile phone that acts as the players greatest weapon throughout the Watch Dogs experience. During freeroam or quiet periods players can use this device to steal cash from bank accounts, or peek into the seedy past of the undesirables – quite often resulting in a unique side mission or crime stopping opportunity. Aiden’s device also has the capability to hack directly into the ctOS system, giving him control over a variety of security-based devices including everything from cameras to traffic lights.
Although the gun combat in Watch Dogs is more than good enough to warrant a purchase, it’s the combination of weapon-based combat and hacking that makes the Watch Dogs experience truly unique. Instead of merely using cover to dispatch of enemies the player is able to interact with the environment to cause no end of destruction. It took me quite a while to get used to this approach as I often found myself just resorting to gunfire as quickly as possible, before learning to analyze my surroundings to utilize Aiden’s hacking ability to its maximum potential. This unique aspect of combat comes into play at every opportunity, whether you’re engaged in close quarters combat or attempting to escape the police. It offers a far deeper level of involvement than similar titles, prompting the player to analyze and adapt during combat – as opposed to just going HAM and mindlessly killing everything in sight.
Within a few hours of Watch Dogs launching to the public the game came under heavy scrutiny for the driving system and it’s one of the elements I found most disappointing during my review. The driving isn’t bad by any standards but obvious comparisons will be made with other similar titles and in that regard, Watch Dogs does fall a little short. The cars feel almost glued to the road and after a short while driving around the city, it quickly becomes second nature to master every corner and avoid any traffic. Making a feature easily accessible is not necessarily a negative aspect but players expect at least some element of skill-based mechanics to come into play. Sadly Watch Dogs doesn’t really offer much in terms of Hollywood style driving maneuvers and picture-perfect turns as it quite often feels little more than a quick way from A to B but this tiny shortfall is easy to overlook considering the other areas in which Watch Dogs excels.
In regards to gameplay Watch Dogs is the complete package but for me, the story is really where the game shines. Ubisoft have done an amazing job of implementing problems surrounding society today while also introducing elements of story that only really belong in a video-game. You won’t see a single vigilante take down an entire corporation on CNN but the level of which people are plugged in to technology today is prevalent wherever you look. We don’t go into great detail regarding a game’s story here at Gamers Heroes as we feel the ins-and-outs quite often result in spoilers but I will say one thing, I can’t imagine any story-driven gamer could be disappointed with the detail, twists and penultimately, its culmination.
I have read countless reviews and articles criticizing Watch Dogs with authors comparing many of its features to Grand Theft Auto V and found myself increasingly frustrated at the lack of credit given to Ubisoft for creating what could quite easily be one of the biggest new IP’s of next-generation. Despite some obvious similarities Watch Dogs and Grand Theft Auto V are very different games, offering a completely different approach to character development, story, progression, and just about anything else important in the final delivery of a video-game. Watch Dogs is not Grand Theft Auto V, because it is not trying to be. The story highlights underlying issues in society while still staying true to the original point of video-games, to have good fun. As a package, Watch Dogs is easily one of the greatest titles available on next-generation consoles and I for one cannot wait to see what Ubisoft do with a sequel.