Specialist Technician. PC Gamer. Stargate and Star Wars Fan. Computer Geek. Military Enthusiast. Science Enthusiast (Nut). Mountain Biker. Photographer. Cinematographer. Audiophile. SketchUp Modeller. Video Editor. Audio Editor. (No, my name isn't really Shane M. Schofield...it's an inside joke.)
Let me start off by saying that this review is entirely subjective and all opinions my own. That said, any and all comments are welcome for discussion. Be warned, some spoilers ahead. A fair while has passed I started playing WATCH_DOGS (which will be referred to as Watch Dogs from now on) and now that I've finished the campaign and a rather large number of side missions, I feel that it's time for a review/reflection/retrospective (maybe?).
It was E3 2012, Ubisoft premiered the Watch Dogs teaser trailer and had many gaming sites in a buzz. Wow, a game about a hacker with information about the environment at his finger tips and control over things in the area to offer creative solutions to combat situations. Look, you can invade someone else's game and steal their money. Damn, the visuals look pretty sweet. Man, this game looks so different to what is currently around. Can't wait!
I had pre-ordered the game like many others who got caught up in the hype, time to play the waiting game. The game was released in 2014, after a delay in 2013, which left me somewhat disappointed, but more hopeful for the final quality of the game. Launch day, and I was excited! Watch Dogs was downloaded and installed, then played. It was laggy and stuttering for no reason at all, it's not like my machine was old, and I had turned the graphics settings down. Pretty disappointed to have issues that should have been caught in testing.
There is a lot to do in Watch Dogs, plenty of side missions with different styles which makes the open world quite rich. I really enjoyed this variety in gameplay, you can go around stopping crimes, solving mysteries or leading the cops on car chases. Driving in Watch Dogs is a mixed bag, at first it was like driving a car on ice, but eventually you can control the car for some good fun. The loose physics make for some spectacular crashes but it makes accidentally running over civilians during a car chase an all too common occurrence. The inability to shoot from vehicles is a let down, as it removes a lot of combat options.
To me, the hacking mechanics of the game were a bit hit and miss. On one hand, you have the ability to gather intelligence, manipulate the environment to your advantage and even kill enemies. The blackout ability is very powerful, letting the player sneak into or out of areas unseen. On the other hand, hacking is useless in some situations where only firepower will suffice and it was used as a kind of puzzle feature. In short, it seemed that hacking was kind of a secondary element added onto the game, sure using the hacking ability made some missions a lot easier, but there wasn't really anything stopping me from running in guns blazing. I think the game was missing consequences for morally questionable decisions made while hacking.
One of my biggest gripes is the gameplay breaking weapons. When I first started playing Watch Dogs, I attempted some criminal convoy side missions, where you have to eliminate a target travelling with number of hostiles. Since you only have a pistol, you have to think carefully about where to set up an ambush and use hacking to your advantage, it was difficult. But then I thought "there must be a better way" and went around hacking every NPC's bank account to buy a pump-action grenade launcher. Armed with the newly acquired weapon, I blocked off the road with a truck, waited for the target to pull up, climbed on top of the truck and pop-pop-pop: mission complete. Missions became really easy now especially with assault rifles and machine guns at your disposal. I think I would have enjoyed the game a bit more if the player had to rely on hacking a bit more than weapons.
Another criticism I have is the multiplayer. Sure it's fun to drop into a random person's game and hack them, but it's more fun to play with friends. But what can you play with friends? Just some races and open world. I would have really liked to have been able to play side missions with friends.
TL;DR: Not all bad but it's not all good. Lots of potential, but it's basically GTA with hacking on the side. 6.5/10.
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