The lights are on
Watch Dogs had some big expectations surrounding it leading up to launch. With a fantastic first showing a couple years back, building hype with such a unique and original concept. No pressure. Now that the game is released to the public, does it withstand all the hype?
The story follows a man by the name of Aiden Pearce. A hacker who has the ability to hack into just about anything, all with the use of his phone. It starts off with Aiden and his pal, Damien Brenks, trying to pull off an electronic heist. Not all goes accordingly and Aiden decides to abort the mission. Paranoid of what just took place, and fearing the worst for his family he decides to get them to safety. Unfortunately this takes a turn for the worst, as Aiden is pursued by a couple of hit men, hired to take out Aiden. During all the commotion, Aiden’s niece (Lena) is killed in the cross fire. This sets off the story, as you try to uncover all the mysteries surrounding the opening scene. It isn’t an original story and doesn’t necessarily grab your attention, I often found myself looking at my phone during the story cut scenes. The characters aren’t memorable, Aiden plays the raspy gruff guy who wants answers, and all the surrounding cast is forgettable. The story in general isn’t to plausible, having a gigantic city run on one operating system just sounds way to crazy. Makes sense why hacking things is so simple.
The big gameplay mechanic is based around the use of your phone. By using it you have access to hacks such as, calling a draw bridge up or making road blockers pop up. These simple yet neat tools all come accessible with just a push of a button. They mostly come in handy when in a vehicle. Anytime I’d get in a car chase with the law, I would lead the officers through an intersection. Using my phone, I’d call all the lights to turn green, making all the traffic collide with each other. This caused the cops to get either sandwiched in with the other cars, or be blocked off, allowing me to evade them. While on foot you can hack protector walls, this allows you to find cover if nothing is around during a gunfight. The gunplay mechanics are solid, it has your typical third-person cover system and over the shoulder aiming. The driving felt at time a little light, as if my car was driving on the moon. Going off ramps at high speeds would send your car soaring with barely any weight felt in it. However, your car seems to be the stronger one than any other cars on the street. Ramming head on or T-boning a vehicle leaves the victim in a mess of twisted metal, while you gladly drive on with not so much as a scratch on your car. It helps you out to avoid any frustrating moments like getting stuck on a car or light pole, but at the same time doesn’t feel too grounded in the type of game the developers are trying to pull off.
The game looks decent, but isn’t a big step up for the next-gen systems. There will be occasional pop ups in scenery in the distance, a common thing in most open world sandbox games. The cut scenes at times show some impressive work, than other times it looks jagged and robotic. The animations during gameplay are great, enemies will ragdoll when blown up or fall to the ground if shot in the leg. Aiden will dramatically vault over cover while avoiding bullets and explosions. I found myself getting more into the game when guns were drawn and shootouts took place, rather than the sneak and hack technique. Another cool concept is the ability to invade other players’ games and hack their data. It turns into a game of cat and mouse, as the victim must search in a specific area for the hacker. As I was playing I was told that a fixer (term for hacker) was getting into my database. I had only a few minutes to find him before he successfully takes all of my information. I am running around profiling every citizen in my site, but nothing is showing up. I finally found the person hiding in a parked garbage truck, patiently observing me. He noticed I spotted him and it proceeded into a car chase until I end up shooting him down.
FINAL SAY: Watch Dogs promotes itself on the technique of hacking anything. While the concept is cool and its online connectivity is very interesting, its uninspired story and bland stealth gameplay suffer. When the action picks up the game becomes a lot of fun. It is just unfortunate the overall experience didn’t deliver.Story: 5.5Graphics: 7.0Gameplay: 7.5Sound: 8.0
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