Watch Dogs (PlayStation 4) review

Ubisoft lets you hack the future

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Pros

  • Detailed game world
  • Solid narrative and characters
  • Responsive controls

Cons

  • Not as ambitious as it could be
  • Unexciting car chases
  • Graphics could be nicer

Bottom Line

Watch Dogs does not revolutionise the adventure genre, but it is a well crafted and enjoyable title.

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Not content with letting people explore the past with the Assassin’s Creed series, Ubisoft has created another open-world adventure set in the future with Watch Dogs. New there are motorised vehicles and gadgets to interact with, and the parkour gameplay from Assassin’s Creed has been replaced with a more conventional open world adventure like Grand Theft Auto V.

The world of tomorrow

The story of Watch Dogs takes place in the city of Chicago in the near future. You play as Aiden Pearce, a skilled hacker who carries out the occasional cybercrime.

One of Aiden’s hacking jobs goes wrong and he has to deal with the consequences. His niece accidentally gets involved and is killed in the crossfire as a result.

Aiden blames himself for the incident and decides to get revenge by becoming a cyber vigilante. In a world populated by devices and cameras, Aiden’s ability to hack technology is the most useful tool in carrying out his vengeance.

Using Aiden’s mobile phone, you are able to control in-game objects, such as cameras and doors. Aiden can also access a limitless amount of information from the people around him, which can then be used to exploit enemies and the authorities.

Hacker in control

When you begin the game, it seems the possibilities of interaction are limitless. You can access the digital information about any citizen in the city, as well as overhear their personal conversations.

While the hacking mechanic in the game is innovative, Watch Dogs is still a third-person adventure reliant on gunplay and vehicle controls. Once you realise there are limitations to this digital representation of Chicago, you’ll promptly return to running and shooting, as you do in other games.

The gunplay in Watch Dogs works well and the controls are responsive during battles, though you do have the option to sneak around without needing to resort to any violence. The vehicle controls are not as responsive, with the cars turning a bit sluggishly around corners and high speeds.

In addition to navigating the game world, the purpose of vehicles is to get out of tense situations with the Chicago Police Department. Unfortunately, the police car AI is not very intelligent, so escaping a pursuit is often more of a chore than a challenge.

Room to innovate

Watch Dogs wowed crowds when it first appeared at Ubisoft’s E3 press conference in 2012, sporting impressive graphics, smart gameplay and an immersive world. The final product has nice visuals on PlayStation 4, though it does not look as impressive as that original E3 demo or new games such as Infamous: Second Son.

Having already established a popular franchise with Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft likely wanted Watch Dogs to reinvigorate the adventure genre through the inclusion of hacking. The final game is not as innovative as it could have been, but it is still a fun experience.

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