When we first saw Watch Dogs three years ago, Ubisoft promised a lot; dense open world, hacking as a weapon, and complete control over a city. Even though Watch Dogs doesn’t completely fulfill these promises, it has definitely paved a road for a franchise to build upon.
The first thing to note is that despite all the internet hate, the game runs very well on next-gen consoles. Visually it’s nothing ground breaking but it is nice to look at. Playing on last-gen consoles is where you will run into problems. The draw distance is greatly reduced and while driving at high speeds you will run into some texture popping. Last-gen versions also have a few less features; no online death matches, interior cockpit view, and other features are omitted which might upset some, knowing that it isn’t the full Watch Dogs experience. It’s safe to say that Watch Dogs is in fuller form on PS4 and Xbox One.
What Watch Dogs does well is gunplay. The combat is quick and fluid with a simple cover system and satisfying weapon sound design. Every shot and melee packs a punch and you can feel it. Hacking objects while in combat can come in handy but it basically changed the “shoot the red, explosive barrel” to a single button press. The driving at first can take some getting used to; since it takes on a more action movie feel rather than realism. This works in favor of the game, most of the time, especially when drifting around corners or taking quick turns into hiding spots.
Watch Dogs’ story, on the other hand, tends to fall into the tradition action movie tropes. The hero’s personal mission is tied to something much bigger than he intended and he goes down a rabbit trail of conspiracy, betrayal, and cheesy one liners. Aiden Pierce, the protagonist, is a very flat, one-dimensional character; he always has the same expression…angry. The supporting characters and villains ultimately out shine Aiden, especially Lucky Quinn the main villain and Jordi one of Aiden’s allies.
Where Watch Dogs lacks in story it makes up for it in an extremely dense world. There is always something to do. Gang hideouts, fixer missions, stopping random crimes, digital trips, and more give the player a plethora of entertaining distractions during and after the completion of the games campaign. Just taking a stroll through Chicago is enjoyable; profiling the random citizens gives the world a good amount of depth and makes you think twice before hacking their bank account. The digital trips are a welcome addition as well, with Alone being my personal favorite where you sneak around an abandoned Chicago and avoid ctOS robots, disabling their “power towers” one by one. You can spend a lot of time inside these games within a game. The multiplayer also keeps things fresh, allowing players to hack into your game. It’s also fun to invade another player’s world and try to blend in with the crowd. All of these distractions contribute to building a universe around Watch Dogs, leaving you entertained for hours on end even after finishing the story.
Even though Watch Dogs doesn’t do anything gamechanging it sets a good foundation for a franchise and based on the day one sales, it appears as though it will indeed become one. Which has me excited to see where Ubisoft takes it next.
4 out of 5 – Good
Watch Dog’s needs more work when it comes to story but does a good job at creating a deep, entertaining world.