Platform: PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release Date: 27th May 2014
Note: This review is using an older format that I have since enhanced and iterated on.
Watch_Dogs is an open world third person shooter developed and published by Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry developer Ubisoft Montreal.
The theme of WATCH_DOGS is hacking, cybercrime and crime in general. You play as Aiden Pierce a street mercenary AKA “Fixer” out for revenge on those that are responsible for the death of his niece. The game takes place in Chicago where everything is networked to a central operating system known as CTos.
As is expected with Ubisoft titles this game shares the generic Ubisoft open world game mechanics and side quests found in most of their other games. Including scaling a “tower” to open up the features on the map, various types of assassination side quests, and sometimes immersion breaking collectable items and locations.
The available weapons in the game are the generic pistol, shotgun, SMG, rifle and explosives mixture you will find in most third person shooters. The weapon I found to be most effective and fun to play with was the 1911 pistol, I had no reason to use anything else unless I was facing a heavily armoured enemy or a convoy of vehicles. Aside from firearms and explosives another weapon/tool at your disposal is the smartphone. Using your smartphone you can blow up gas pipes in the road, raise bridges to escape the police or “ride” CCTV cameras to locate and tag enemies. The hacking is not very complex, all hacking abilities are controlled the same way by pressing Q.
Driving in this game feels heavy, cars don’t handle very well on keyboard or gamepad and it will get frustrating fast as you will occasionally find yourself unable to prevent a crash killing several civilians which the game will penalize you for. Car chases mostly end the same way as the last, the enemy drives near a hackable object, you hit Q and their car will explode or crash depending which hack was used.
Story telling in this game is decent, which is more than I expected for a game about an emotionless psychopath hacking and killing his way around Chicago. You meet some really interesting characters and explore some interesting places. Characters met throughout the story will either help you on your quest or try and find some way to hinder you.
The multiplayer is an interesting mixture of Assassins Creed hide and seek and Dark Souls invasions. Players can invade your world and cause havoc, you need to pick them out from the crowd and stop their actions before they can complete their task.
Bottom Line: WATCH_DOGS is a decent open world game with generic gameplay and some interesting characters and places. There isn’t much re-playability once you finish the story and side quests. But the game has a solid 20 – 30 hours of game time on Hard.
Buy if you like: Grand Theft Auto, Person of Interest, Assassin’s Creed
Ignore if you prefer: Interesting mechanics and challenging gameplay.