Watch_Dogs Review - Chicago's Vigilante


Craig Richards (Twitter, Google+)
6th Jun 2014, 3:15pm

Your name is Aiden Pearce, a vigilante living in Chicago. The future is now with CtOS running everything, the whole world is connected under one central system.

Together with DedSec you have access to anything in the city that you want, bank accounts, traffic lights, cameras, steam pipes and just about anything you can think of. The question is, what will you do with all that power?

Story

Watch_Dogs hit store shelves at the end of May after being delayed from it's original November release, and quickly became Ubisoft's best selling new IP, breaking pre-order records.

The best way to describe Watch_Dogs is that it is a game set in the future, similar to GTA but instead of going in to everywhere guns blazing, you have the ability to hack anything that you can to aid in your mission.

Gameplay

The majority of the missions involve a lot of stealth, using your silenced weapons and hacking abilities, and sometimes you can do it all from the comfort of your phone. You will have to get the guns out in some missions though when things start to get a little heated.

The hacking is simple enough, get your phone out and point at a camera, traffic light, etc. to interact with it. You can get around the city using cameras, and thanks to everything being connected, you could hack someone's bank account using a camera two blocks away.

If the traffic is in the way in your high speed chase then simply switch the traffic lights and try to hinder your pursuers. If that doesn't work then there's always the option of raising the blockers in the road to dead stop anyone still on your tail.

You can also profile people on the street using CtOS' facial recognition, allowing you access to private conversations, bank accounts and "extra" info. Some of which is rather personal and sometimes kind of creepy.

One thing to note is that you're not exactly a super hero either, yes you're a vigilante but it won't take many hits before you go down. You screw up and get shot at and you're probably going to be dead in a few hits.

I found that the ability to choose whether or not you go in guns blazing or not adds a lot of variety to the game, bringing in a lot of different play styles.

Do you run in with the guns, do you take them on with a silenced pistol or do you do your best to stay hidden in the shadows and hack everything whilst the enemies stand oblivious.

The weapon handling isn't the best on PC it has to be said, I felt that it seemed a bit iffy, with things feeling sluggish and inaccurate. Admittedly I didn't try to increase the mouse sensitivity due to it being almost impossible to navigate the menus with the mouse speed. The problem was more that things didn't feel smooth, like you were trying to move the camera through a tub of treacle or something.

With this being a Ubisoft game this has the usual, well, Ubisoft vehicle handling. If you're going at low speeds then it isn't very easy. However, depending on the car, things do seem a lot better at higher speed, it just takes a bit of getting used to really. I had most success driving with an Xbox 360 controller rather than the keyboard.

There's an awful lot to keep you busy if you ever get bored of the main story line as well. The open-world environment always has something going on whether it is a fixer mission, stopping a crime, or simply unlocking CtOS towers and command centres. The insane amount of skills, collectibles and much more will keep you entertained for hours, probably long after the main story line is finished.

Watch_Dogs does have multiplayer and it is a lot of fun. There a various different modes to play such as 1 on 1 hacking, racing or attempting to outrun the police force being controlled from a mobile device. These are just a few of the activities available online.

The Ubisoft servers weren't exactly playing ball so I only managed to try the racing and mobile game modes but both of these worked well.

There wasn't any issues with sync and the racing was fun with a lot of variety to the tracks, shame there was only one other person in the lobby instead of the maximum of eight.

The player vs mobile device/police is always a fun little game, they have access to blow everything up, call in reinforcements, you name it, and it is your job to try and escape. Sometimes it felt like the mobile player gave up and I did have a few occurrences where they would simply just quit on me.

Hopefully Ubisoft can sort out the issues with their servers soon and allow for the multiplayer to work nice and smoothly, because from what I've played so far, it is looking good. I would think that the issues will slowly resolve themselves as the popularity of the game begins to die down after the initial release surge.

Presentation

If you want to get this game running on the PC you will need some pretty hefty requirements for the higher end stuff. The game ran ok on just the medium settings but if you tried to crank it up any further then you will notice a massive hit on the performance of the game.

The game does run on just 4GB of RAM despite the minimum being 6GB RAM and it seems to hammer the GPU more than anything else, which is really where you need all the power.

It is recommended that you have at least 1GB VRAM on your graphics cards otherwise you will face issues with textures not rendering as they should or sometimes be missing altogether. Hopefully Ubisoft can fix this in a later patch.

I did have a few issues with the menu, with the mouse speed being incredibly fast and at one point I couldn't actually get the scroll wheel to operate correctly. It seemed to rectify itself after restarting the game though. This issue could've been down to having the Xbox 360 controller plugged in at the same time, so it might have got confused between the two.

Despite the issues with controlling the menus, they look nice, don't have any of the 3D crap associated with them and are nice and functional.

The sounds are good, ambient sounds work well and it helps tie the whole thing together in making the city feel alive and like there are people actually using and living in Chicago.

Despite the fact that they released this game on the last-gen of consoles (as well as current-gen) the Xbox 360 version stacks up surprisingly well in the graphics department. It was easily on-par with GTA 5 and is one of the nicer looking games for the 360.

Overall

Watch_Dogs is a solid game overall, there is plenty to do, the story grips you and makes you want to keep playing and there is a lot of fun to be had simply just hacking into everyone and everything.

I think a lot of people were expecting Ubisoft to re-invent the wheel or something with Watch_Dogs, which it doesn't do. What it does do however is a bring a very new and interesting experience to gamers whether it is on PC, Xbox or PlayStation.

Honestly the only major downside to Watch_Dogs that I found was that you have to use the dreaded uPlay. If Ubisoft could remove this from future titles and have the game just on Steam, without having to login to Steam, then uPlay, just to get the game running it would make things a whole let better. All uPlay is doing at the minute is hurting those that bought the game and delaying the pirates by a day or two. Hell, the pirated versions for the consoles were online before the PC.

Overall I would recommend that you pick this game up. It is a very interesting twist and even though it may look like GTA, it is a very different game compared to that. The price tag might be a bit hefty for some people and I myself would probably agree with them.

I'm not really sure on what sort of replayability there would be in the future and if you want to play online with friends... I couldn't really see a way to do so. If you're not sure, wait for a sale, if you must play the game this instant, go for it. You do make your own fun after all when not on a mission.

9 / 10


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