Who let the dogs out?
When Ubisoft first lifted the veil on Watch Dogs, it was one of the most talked about next generation games. The fact that it was a launch title was enough to make numerous people pre-order a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, so when the company delayed the game, pushing it to a spring release, it was hard for some gamers to handle.
While the delay impacted the launch purchasing plans for next generation console owners, it also gave Ubisoft Montreal the time necessary to polish and fine-tune its product. Now that Watch Dogs is finally available, it's clear the time was well spent. It's easy to imagine the game would have fallen short had it debuted eight months ago. Ubisoft's decision to delay the release was in everyone's best interests.
This isn't your dad's Chicago
Watch Dogs takes place in Chicago in the very near future. A new system called the ctOS was put in place, which basically turns the city into a giant computer. Everything is connected and automated. Luckily for Aiden Pierce, the main character in the game, he's a fairly skilled hacker with some equally skilled friends. That means he can access almost anything, from changing traffic lights on the fly to finding out how much people make and some of their darkest secrets.
The hacking aspects of Watch Dogs is what sets it apart from most games, it definitely adds a unique aspect to the sandbox style of gameplay. If a police car chases you, blow a steam pipe under the street to disable the vehicle and get away. If you need to take out a few guards, hack into a nearby electrical panel to cause an explosion.
Grand Theft... Assassin?
On the surface, Watch Dogs is essentially what happens when you take Assassin's Creed and merge it with Grand Theft Auto. The game feels like GTA, only perhaps a bit more polished; most of the time you steal cars and randomly get into gunfights. What makes the two titles different is the hacking aspect and a more structured direction.
In GTA, it's easy to forget what your primary objective is and get caught up in the excitement of all the side activities available. The same thing can happen in Watch Dogs, as it features a wide variety of side missions and fun mini-games that will keep you entertained for some time. However, you never feel lost in Watch Dogs. Tired of running through side missions? Just pull up your map, look for the yellow arrow that points to the yellow waypoint and indicates where you need to go.
Multiple ways to play
One of the best things about Watch Dogs is that there are multiple ways to combat almost every situation. If you need to infiltrate a building, you can hack into the cameras and systematically take down every guard. Disable the guard's ability to send for reinforcements, set off any explosive devices they were preparing to use on intruders, blow nearby electrical panels or a number of other hacking options.
Once you take out most of the guards (before even entering the location), you can choose to sneak around in an Assassin's Creed or Metal Gear Solid fashion, or run in guns blazing. You level up a little bit faster if you don't use deadly force, but the difference is so minor that trigger-happy players will still make great progress shooting first and sneaking later.
Hacking is an acquired skill
To improve the abilities of your character, there's a fairly elaborate skill tree. You earn points by completing missions and levelling up. You can obtain a large number of new abilities for hacking, combat, driving and crafting. Once again, your priority is based on how you play. While many will say hacking is most important, if you like to go into every situation making noise, the hacking abilities won't be as important as increasing your combat skills.
If you really enjoy GTA, Watch Dogs could possibly be game of the year for you. However, it also offers an array of new aspects to the sandbox gameplay that will keep you hacking your way through Chicago for nights on end. Whether you want to go in all guns blazing or sneak past your enemies, Watch Dogs gives you that all important power, choice.
GAME's Verdict: 8/10
- Large open-world environment with lots to do
- Branching skill tree to level up the way you want to
- Multiple ways to play for different types of gamers
- Controls take some time to adjust to
- Different approaches dont have a huge impact on your character progression