Watch_Dogs came out a couple weeks ago and I was initially apprehensive about picking it up. I’m still pretty into Titanfall and occasionally go back to Call of Duty: Ghosts, so I wasn’t sure I needed another game thrown into the mix. Along with that, I’m not a huge fan of the open-world games. The only open-world games that I’ve truly enjoyed are the Borderlands games , and that’s probably because they are First-Person Shooters as well as being open-world. I did play through the Crackdown series and really enjoyed it, but even though it’s not an FPS it still plays totally different than a GTA or a Saints Row… or a Watch_Dogs in this case. So I’ve never been a huge fan of these types of games, but I decided to give it a try mainly because I wanted something different, and it takes place in Chicago.
On launch day, I downloaded the digital version of Watch_Dogs and got going right away. After getting used to the controls and the hacking abilities, I got right into the campaign and never looked back. I was able to blaze through the campaign after a week and a half of off and on playing for an hour or so after work, and a few hours Saturday morning. It’s not the longest campaign in the world, but it’s definitely longer than some of the FPS games these days. However, you can extend the game infinitely if you decide to go back and do all of the side missions and things like that. I just wanted to get through the campaign and then I’d decide if I wanted to go back and check out the side missions, but I will say, once I did get through the campaign, I kind of lost interest in going back, but that’s not to say it still won’t happen.
The story follows Aiden Pearce as he tries to track down the killer of his 6 year old niece who was killed when a hit man tried to come after Aiden, but instead ended up killing the girl. The story weaves it’s way throughout the corrupt Chicago political world as well as the gang world. It’s not the most interesting story in the world, but honestly, these days, I don’t play games for the stories, I play because I like the gameplay. Hell, I even skip through cut scenes at times because, frankly, I just don’t care. I know that’s probably not what you want to hear from a video game review, but isn’t the whole point of playing video games to have fun? So who cares if the story is amazing if the game itself is boring to play… So the story isn’t the most amazing story, some of it is actually quite ridiculous, but it adds the common thread throughout the gameplay.
The gameplay is actually pretty fun. The aspect of “hacking” things throughout the city adds just enough to the open-world gameplay to actually make it more fun than the GTA series for me. The ability to hack things adds another way for you to go about completing missions. Sure, you can just run into an area with guns blazing and kill everyone until you have a clear path to your objective, or you can wait in the shadows, hacking cameras, creating diversions, and setting off explosives in order to stealthy sneak your way past the guards to reach your goal. Both ways are fun, but I found myself enjoying the stealth abilities a bit more than the run-n-gun. Of course there were times when I would pick a terrible hiding spot while hacking and be ambushed by guys with guns, at which point I would have to mow them down, but for the most part, I tried to stay unseen. I also thought that the aiming mechanics are very tight. My usual complaint with these types of games is that it’s impossible to be accurate with the weapons, but I didn’t have any problems in Watch_Dogs. I also didn’t find the driving mechanics to be as bad as everyone online was claiming. Maybe it’s different on the PC, but once you get past the initial car they start you with, the driving is pretty good.
I haven’t dipped into the multiplayer too much, but I have been invaded numerous times and found it… interesting. The multiplayer is pretty seamlessly integrated into the game, so if your console is online you can basically start multiplayer right from the in-game cell phone. The only mode I’ve played so far is the 1 vs 1 hacking mode. This mode allows you to enter another players game without them knowing and then install a bug on their cell phone. As soon as you activate the bug, the other person is alert to the fact that they are being hacked and has to track you down and kill you. In order to complete the hack you have to remain within a certain distance from the player as well, which adds to the difficulty. Also, when you’re in someone else’s game, you look like Aiden Pearce to yourself, but to the other player you just look like one of the AI characters. The key is to try and blend in with the AI, or hide, so that the person you’re hacking can’t identify you and kill you. This mode is quick and can be a lot of fun, but it gets pretty frustrating when you can’t track down the person that’s hacking you. I haven’t played any of the other modes, so I can’t comment on those at all.
Overall, Watch_Dogs is a fun game, especially if you’re from Chicago. They took some liberties with the city, and had to change a few things due to licensing, but their representation of the downtown area is pretty good. Would I recommend buying this game… unless you’re the type of person that is going to go back and do all of the side missions and get all of the collectibles and stuff, I would just rent it, or borrow it from a friend. I blazed through the campaign in less than 2-weeks, with off and on play, so if you really grind it out, you can finish it in less than a week.
Funny enough, it’s this purchase that made me sign up for Gamefly. I find myself buying way too many games, beating them in a couple of weeks, and never playing them again. There’s no reason for me to continue to waste $60 a pop on these games, especially when I’m going all digital, so I can’t even sell them back. But even if I were to sell them, after 2-weeks I could probably get maybe $45-50 for Watch_Dogs (if I offered free shipping), so I’m losing $15, at least, which is the same as what Gamefly costs a month.