Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Also Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed by: Darryl Linington
Ubisoft seems to have a way of drawing a player into a world that is both fascinating and well thought out. While the developer has had more hits than misses with past titles… the world now looks toward the developer’s latest release, Watch Dogs, with an eager, yet critical eye. So, should you be running off to the nearest store to pick up your copy of Watch Dogs… or would you be better off waiting for it to hit the bargain bin? Well, check out our Watch Dogs Review to find out!
The hacker we have all been waiting for!
Watch Dogs is essentially an open-world, third-person shooter, which is set in a futuristic version of Chicago, Illinois. The story of Watch Dogs follows Aiden Pearce, a highly skilled hacker who is as equally deadly with his phone as he is with a high powered rifle. While Aiden is an extremely skilled adversary, he is neither a protagonist nor is he an antagonist. Aiden is more of a vigilante, who is dead set on avenging the death of a close family member.
Aiden is an interesting and complex character, who really captures your attention from the get-go. While Aiden seems very in control, he tends to come across as paranoid and even dangerous at times. His underlying rage and hostility really comes out during certain sections of the game; however, he tends to balance these emotions when the situation calls for it. While Aiden seems like a bit of a loose cannon at times, you actually start to understand his situation. He blames himself for the death of a loved one and will not stop until he destroys the very people who not only betrayed him, but also had a hand in her death.
In addition to Aiden, you will come across a variety of interesting and well portrayed characters. I personally enjoyed the rather crazy antics of Jordi Chin. Jordi is a charismatic, highly intelligent character whose playful way of explaining things really adds to the storyline. While he may come across as a bit of a psychopath at times… Jordi brings in a lot of humorous moments that really even out the tone of some rather serious situations.
When it comes to the game’s storyline, Watch Dogs is not entirely the run-of-the-mill third-person shooter that we have come to expect. The storyline is engaging and unique, and will most definitely keep you hooked right until the very end. In addition to this, the voice over artists should be applauded for portraying each and every character in the game to perfection. I truly believe that if the characters were not voiced in the way that they were, then Watch Dogs would have ultimately failed to impress. Thankfully this was not the case.
Hack your way through the city!
Aiden is much like everyone else these days and is glued to his mobile device 24/7; however, while we use our mobile device’s to essentially catch up with the latest news, sports and social media antics… Aiden uses his device to hack into and gain control of the city’s central operating system (ctOS). With the power of his mobile device, Aiden can hack security cameras, traffic lights, bridges, and even the bank accounts of unknowing citizens.
While Aiden’s mobile device plays a key role in surveying enemy locations as well as gaining extra cash, it can also be used as a rather devastating weapon. Aiden can essentially arm a nearby enemy’s explosive device, which, if timed right, can blow away anyone within his vicinity. Additionally, Aiden can cause ctOS Junction Boxes, Regulators and Transformer Vaults to explode by overloading them with the touch of a button.
Watch Dogs offers players the opportunity to take a different approach when it comes to certain missions. You can either go in guns blazing, or hack your way through the situation. While I chose the guns blazing approach many times, I found it more satisfying when I successfully managed to take out a plethora of enemies using Aiden’s hacking and distraction methods. This ultimately makes Watch Dogs an extremely fun and challenging experience, which will keep you coming back for more.
In addition to the game’s main storyline, players will be pleased to know that there are a host of side missions and mini-games to keep you occupied. These include scanning the immediate vicinity for potential crimes as well as some rather trippy AR (Augmented Reality) games. The AR games are truly something to write home about. One moment you will be running down demons and the next you will be controlling a giant military style Spider-Tank. These games really come in handy especially if you want to take a break from the game’s rather serious storyline.
Throwing in all the bells and whistles.
While I mentioned that Watch Dogs has a great voice cast, it also features a fantastic musical soundtrack. When accessing Aiden’s media app you can listen to a variety of songs from the likes of: Rise Against, The Vindictives, Vanattica, Alice Cooper, Kid Cudi, and a host of other popular artists.
Speaking of apps… Aiden can access a variety of in-game apps. Each app has a different use, which includes keeping track of your progressions, accessing the skill tree, checking out the online leaderboards as well as accessing the online features of this title. Furthermore, Aiden’s Car On Demand app will deliver a vehicle to you in an instant in case you are stuck without a decent set of wheels to hijack. There are a host of other apps available; however, I will let you experience these apps for yourself.
Graphically, Watch Dogs is a beautiful game; however, it does feature a few minor issues here and there. For a start, I noticed that if the area you are in becomes too crowded (loads of vehicles, enemies and explosions happening around you) then the framerate tends to suffer slightly. Additionally, there are some sections of the map where textures fail to load and NPCs magically appear out of nowhere. While this won’t ruin your overall experience, these issues are noticeable.
Apart from the slight graphical glitches, which can be expected from a game of this size, Watch Dogs is surprisingly beautiful. Ubisoft has paid a great attention to detail especially when it comes to the picturesque city of Chicago, the beautifully designed character models, and the sleek and sexy vehicles featured within the game. In addition to the rather stunning city, Watch Dogs features some rather impressive weather and water effects. There were quite a few times when I would stop to inspect the wet roads and puddles that were left behind after a storm. This made me realise that the development team tried to cover all the bases when it came to their remarkable weather system as well as the game’s day and night cycles. When playing Watch Dogs, be sure to travel down an alley way, just after a storm, and you will see what I mean.
Then there’s the multiplayer!
Alongside the single-player campaign, Watch Dogs also features some rather unique multiplayer modes. Players will essentially participate in a variety of online modes, which include:
Online Free Roam:
The Online Free Rome mode allows between 1-8 players to join a session together. While you can either work with each other to take down Rival Fixers, you can also decide to hunt and kill every player that joins your game.
In the Online Decryption mode you face off against Rival Fixers in order to hunt down a file that has been lost in the city. The first person to obtain this file will ultimately reap the rewards.
Online tailing is all about stealth. You are tasked to profile another player as well as monitor his/her activities. While this sounds simple enough, if you are caught the Rival Fixer may just place a few bullets in you as a thank you gift.
The Online Hacking mode places players in the role of a Rival Fixer. The objective of this mode is to install a backdoor, steal your rival’s data, and ultimately escape before he/she can track you down.
ctOS Mobile Challenge:
The ctOS Mobile challenge is quite honestly an intense experience. While one player plays on their platform of choice, the other controls the Chicago Police Department in order to hunt you down. You will find yourself racing across the city in order to evade a police pursuit which not only features squad cars, but helicopters as well.
Want to test out your skills as a driver as well as a hacker? During the Online Race mode, you will go up against a variety of players in order to find out who can cross the finish line first.
Watch Dogs features some rather great multiplayer modes. While the servers were only populated with a few players at the time of this review, I honestly enjoyed the overall experience that these modes had to offer. Overall, Watch Dogs features a clean and crisp online multiplayer counter-part that will most definitely keep you entertained once you are done and dusted with the single player campaign.
I never entirely wanted to compare Watch Dogs to the Grand Theft Auto series; however, this seems inevitable. While Watch Dogs feels very similar to Grand Theft Auto, I would have to say that I quite honesty preferred what Watch Dogs had to offer. The character depth is truly well thought out and each character has a certain charm and originality to them that I have been waiting to experience for quite some time now. The gameplay is unique, innovative and extremely addictive, which made me want to return to the game as often as possible. Combat is pretty solid and Aiden’s take down manoeuvres are a spectacle to witness. I was suprised at first when I tried to take down an enemy, by hand, while holding a shotgun and watched as Aiden incorporated the weapon in his take down. It is the finer details like this that separate Watch Dogs from other titles in the same category.
While Watch Dogs has indeed impressed, it does however fall short in a few areas. The framerate suffers slightly when too much is happening on screen; however, most games do these days. Additionally, Watch Dogs could use a bit of improvement when it comes to the game’s driving mechanics. I found that a great deal of patience is needed when it comes to driving around the city, but once you get used to it, you will rarely ever use the fast travel system.
So, as stated earlier should you wait until Watch Dogs hits the bargain bin… or pick it up as soon as it releases? Well, the answer is simple one… Watch Dogs is most definitely a day one purchase.
Lasting appeal: 9.5/10