In the sea of open world games, Watch_Dogs brings some interesting aspects to the open world genre. Even though they do some of the same things that were hallmarks started by Rockstar games. Ubisoft brings some great things to this genre. They differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. Let's unpack this modern day Chicago.
Word of Warning:
There were some issues with Uplay. Also, there is no getting around not using Uplay. I had to launch Steam and then go into Uplay. That was quite annoying.
The game follows a “fixer” named Aiden Pierce. Fixers are a group of hackers/mercenary that can cause havoc around the city. Aiden took a job that went wrong, he then suffered the consequences. He now goes through the game to find out why. The story is bland, and uninteresting, but the writing and dialogue hits all the right notes when it comes to emotion. There are plenty of things to do in the game. The world seems to be lived in and believable. However, it seems that they did not really delve into how the “fixers” came about. The writers assumed players would pick it up. It seems that there are hackers and fixers, but they aren't the same. There are random crimes, for the player to intervene. These are summed up by hiding and putting your crosshairs on the victim or the criminal until criminal “status bar” reaches 100%. Then you can run and take him down. There are side quests that consists of taking down different gangs. The main goal is to find the boss, by hacking cameras and finding the boss. Once found the mission is to knock him out. If killed, then the mission failed. The other two are taking out vehicle convoys, and racing type side missions. The problem with these side quests are that they are always the same. The location changes. There was just not enough varied, to have 20 to 40 of each side mission. There is also a side-quest for users to travel around the city finding giant QR codes. There quite a few mini-games too. The list is: poker, drinking, chess, a keep your eye on the ball game, a Mario style coin game, and a virtual reality shoot the aliens game. Aiden travels around finding the right angle with the video cameras. This was one of the better secondary quests. There are finding Ctos antennas and “opening” up parts of the city. This gives you additional hide outs. There are snooping missions, that let Aiden hack into webcams, and other video cameras. It really is eerie to snoop on people. With today's climate of the NSA snooping on the world, it feels weird to be doing it. One that was a little funny, was snooping on a woman who was taken and excessive about of selfies.
Gameplay and Design:
The gameplay is usually pretty solid. Aiden can run around and hack people's cell phones. Hearing their conversations, see their text messages, and steal money. It's simple for Aiden to hide behind cover with the press of a button. The default is C. One problem was there was no jump. Ubisoft the publisher of Assassins Creed. It is odd that this game does not give the character the ability to jump. The player can vault over almost anything, but can't jump. There were times when two quick action items where in close proximity. Instead of intruding a network, exploded a power converter. Which killed Aiden. It happened several times to be a bit annoying. Another technique that is missing, is the blending into the crowd from Assassins Creed. These are mostly little things, that could be made into the second game, if it is made. There is a leveling up system in the game, that can be accomplished through intervening in crimes, or completing side-quests, or going through the main story. There are specific unlocks linked to doing so many side-quests. The multiplayer component is somewhat integrated a players game from another player tailing, or hacking into another players phone. When this happens the player being hacked will have to face the other player hacking them. It can be a fun challenge, but there are times when just wanting to play another mission, I had to find the player that was hacking me. There is online racing, and a team based hacking a phone called online decryption. There were times when waiting to play one of these game modes, there was an error, or no player to be found, even if the game notified me about one of these modes available. The one problem that no player will have is money. The developers were too generous on finding money. Halfway through the game, I had so much money, that I bought just about everything I could, and still too much left over. There were sometimes when chasing the target the AI got mixed up and could not find one way of driving the car. Beyond that, the gameplay was slick and the action was at a great tempo. There were multiple ways of getting rid of enemies. Once a player unlocks several of the hack skill tree. Aiden can hack grenades, disrupt communications, even turn off the ability for the enemy to call for reinforcements. Aiden can also knock out or kill enemies. The choice is really up to the player, which makes this a great things for players.
The design of the city is excellent. There are many shortcuts to be discovered, and used when running from the cops or fixers. The developer designed the levels, to include Adien hacking lifts to get to a higher position, or even having cars spread throughout. Aiden can also hack parts of the map to bring up extra cover/protection. This is a beautifully destructive playground for anyone to enjoy the different ways of getting to the objective. It shows that the developer took the time to make sure there was not just one way, but many ways to get to the objective.
There are many different kinds of weapons. A player can go guns blazing, or stealth. Not only being able to knock out opponents, but there are some silenced weapons too. There are crafting items too. Aiden can craft grenades, IEDs, proximity IEDs, medicine, devices that draw enemies to a certain location, a device that cancels opponents from calling backup, and a device that blacksout an area of the city. Aiden can also go to stores and buy a new outfit.
Graphics and Sound:
The graphics are crisp and clear. There were rarely or ever any screen tearing, or jagged edges. The engine made Aiden coat move realistically. When it rained, Aiden looked like his coat was wet. The buildings look great. The animations from running into gates, light posts, and fire hydrants. Sparks fly when blowing fuses, or water coming out of fire hydrants once run over. One complaint and this is for people using ATI cards, is that when the lightening was going on in the background the screen was tearing. This is probably due to having Nvidia be the sponsor for the game. This is sad that this has not been fixed yet. It was really annoying and can break the immersion feel for the players.
The sound was great with the realistic gun sounds, that made if have weight to each shot. Even the lack of sound from the silenced weapon sounded great. The tired screeching from accelerating the car. Even with everything that can be destroyed, sounded realistic and that the player was actually in the world. The voice acting was superb. All characters had their own personality, but the voice actors, gave a great performance to bring the player into the world.
Is It worth it?
This game is worth a buy. There is enough value to last the working world weeks of fun. It's fun to just tour the city and see what the NPCs are doing. Or just simply destroying half the city. The game will rarely leave you bored. The many different mini games can be fun as well. There is more than enough value to keep on bringing people back to Chicago.