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A Fun Concept with a Flawed Delivery

Watch Dogs was the showstopper at E3, giving gamers a whole new definition of "the world is yours." Fast forward to today, and you get a serious drop in quality. The story is rushed and uninteresting, the characters are generic and boring, and some moments in the game are just plain weird.

First, Aiden Pearce, easily the most boring character in the game. He has little personality to work with. His whole adventure is fueled from a family tragedy, but it's not a good delivery. It almost feels like the game is saying "This thing happened. Feel sad." To top it off, he also has a laughably horrible voice. The only thing I can say about it is, well, think of Batman with a sore throat and you have it.  Then we have the side characters, which are a mixed bag. First, we have the interesting ones like Clara, which are disapointingly understated. It's sad, as she serves as little more than a filler and awkward love interest for Aiden. Again, it's the game is saying "These two are talking. Become interested." Their interactions feel off, and rushed, as though the script were torn from some embarrassing Romeo and Juliet reboot. Then we have the douchebags like Iraq, a dangerous gang leader. His first impressions are actually very good, as he shows little compassion or patience for those who screw up. However, he quickly overstays his welcome. And, of course, he's around 24/7. The story in itself is bad, too. Missions, will sometimes end at a climax, and the next mission will have nothing to do with anything that transpired just minutes earlier. But they'll probably have something to do with Ubisoft Montreal's creepy love for tailing missions.

So the story is upsetting, but what about the most important aspect, gameplay? It's superb. Scratch that, it's amazing. The city of Chicago is so big and diverse that I often just walked down the street, listening to side conversations and stopping petty crimes, finding any excuse I could to avoid the next objective. And excuses are in no shortage. Crimes, like peple being assaulted and criminal convoys serve the most fun to me. Hearing people talking to each other on the side of the road was something that I was interested in a little more than I'm willing to admit. Driving is a mechanic that takes getting used to. Steering requires more strategy when tearing down the road at high speeds and the only effective brake is the E-brake. The reputation system is extremely fun as well. Depending on how you handle certain side scenarios, the citizens see you in a certain way. Like, instead of apprehending a criminal on the run, you decide to just off him, then the citizens will trust you a little less. And if you go all GTA and open fire on a crowded area, like I did many times, the citizens will really lose faith in you. A system like this warrented two playthroughs, one where I'm the villain, and another where I'm the hero. The way citizens percieve you has no real significant impact on the game. If you're a villain, then citizens will try to call the cops when they see you, or just try to run away.

Then, there is the highly acclaimed hacking which...is very limited at the beginning. But as you level up and earn more skill points to upgrade, then your smartphone indeed becomes the most dangerous weapon in the game. Hack street lights, steam pipes underground and blockers to get enemies off your back while driving. Hack forklifts to provide dynamic cover in a gunfight or cause distractions to sneak past enemies. Hack people's phones to eavesdrop on their conversations or hack their bank accounts through their phones for some quick cash. The options are virtually limitless. Just walking down the block can open you up to some great opportunities to immerse yourself in the world even more.

Online is hard to get into as servers are unreliable at this point. But the few games I have been in are fun, minus the online tailing objective. Yes, it's now an online PvP mode. Online hacking brings you into another player's game, unbeknownst to them. You have to find them and hack their phones for a reward. If you don't like being bothered during single-player, don't worry. You can turn it off in the options menu anytime. Online decryption, my favorite, is a fast paced team deathmatch with a single objective. You and your team must capture and hold it until decryption is complete. My only complaint with this is that the maps are limited, and are boundaries are pretty small, at least in the ones I were in. Online free roam is literally GTA online with hacking ability. Nothing more needs to be said.

Playing Watch Dogs was a fun tribute to the dangers of a connected world. It's missing a lot of polish since its delay, but it's still a game worth playing.

Comments
  • To be honest, I didn't find Pierce a boring character. Sure, he's a "I'm going to do this" guy, but you have to think about how he could be connected to anyone's personality in real life. I'm kind of the "Hi, I'm here" guy, but so is Aiden. I think I would talk like that if I were doing some narration. Really, the narration might be average to you, but at least it gets the story going.