Review: Watch_Dogs (PlayStation 3)

Watch_Dogs: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation 3 4,227 views 5 likes 10 comments
Reviewed by Tom White, posted Jun 14, 2014
To believe Ubisoft's hype they were coming out with a GTA killer. They got closer than a lot of other developers that have taken a shot at GTA, indeed they had some great gameplay ideas sprinkled throughout it that would be good to see in other games similar to this, but there are some flaws that hold it back and make it a bit less than the sum of its parts.
Jun 14, 2014
  • Release Date (NA): May 27, 2014
  • Release Date (EU): May 27, 2014
  • Release Date (JP): June 26, 2014
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Genres: Open world, Third Person Shooter
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • PEGI Rating: Eighteen years and older
  • Also For: Computer, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Sicklyboy and FAST6191 were sent copies of Watch Dogs for the PS3, Ubisoft's multi-platform, would-be GTA killer. We each played it separately and these are our thoughts on the game and a short discussion of what we thought.
Tom White

attachFull8388

Watch Dogs (PS3)

Disc copy reviewed. PS3 exclusive DLC also included, download less than 30 megabytes which is actually smaller than the 1.1 update which ran to 84 megs.

Game homepage

Game length.

Main story clocked about 22 hours. Side missions and extra content, a lot of which is definitely more than just padding, could easily double that.

In addition the copy given to us for the PS3 had audio for English, French, German, Italian and Spanish though you do appear to have to install the other languages. Text was available for all of those plus Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Portuguese (Portugal), Dutch and Norwegian. You can choose any combo you like, they appear to work but for the most part we played the game in English where the only non English one tended to hear came from the mouth of the tattooed French speaking hacker lady you can see in the banner above. A quick test of French had the game appear in French (right down to the flavour speech on the streets). We can not speak to any errors (bad wording or lingering Canadian French) or inherent quality in it or any of the other languages though.

attachThumb8406

The main menu brings back memories of NFO files from scene releases.

Summary and introduction

For this review each section will be broken up and what each reviewer said will be separated out with a coloured bar.

FAST6191

For those that are not aware Watch Dogs is a new IP from Ubisoft and seemingly their attempt to get into the open world game space, more so than their Far Cry and Assassin's Creed franchises anyway. What will be three E3s ago as you first read this saw it teased a bit, it saw a second E3 and also some delays before finally coming out in 2014. First reactions after that first teaser were “Ubisoft is basically making Person of Interest, the game” but after that Ubisoft and those that had seen things began to talk it up as though it would be a super game of sorts, something that people would point to and say “that” for years to come. On the other hand reality exists and “company without too much experience in concept attempts to make open world game from scratch” came into play, though such a thing is probably not as bad as attempting to take on World of Warcraft it is probably something that only a company of similar magnitude to Ubisoft should take on. Read on for the full review but the short version is they clearly had some good ideas and good designers but the result may well be less than the sum of its parts. It never quite reaches Peter Molyneux levels of promise vs delivered reality but it gets uncomfortably close at points.

The story

A game like this does not necessarily live or die based upon its story but Ubisoft were clearly aiming at making a worthwhile one for this game.

Sicklyboy

Set in a fictional Chicago, Illinois, protagonist Aiden Pearce sets out to exact revenge for his niece's death. Following a hacking job gone sour, the man who contracted the job called a hit on Aiden, only to have the ensuing car accident kill his niece instead. Aiden works with his accomplice, Jordi Chin, to find the people who wronged his family via the use of a security flaw in ctOS, the computer network that connects virtually all electronically controlled devices, to spy on the inhabitants of the city to gather leads on who is to blame and where he can find them. Along the way, Aiden must make many complicated decisions and look inside himself to see if he is really the person he has known all along. 

The story dumps you right into the action from the opening cutscene, admittedly in a bit of a frantic state, as you interrogate one of the hitmen who came after you. Beyond that, you overcome various encounters of discovering identities of people who tried to keep said information private, the locations of people who have long since fell off the face of the earth, and numerous threats to you and your loved ones as you come closer to your ultimate goal - finding who is responsible for your niece's death. The is without a doubt gripping, but it is unfortunately quite predictable at points. Without going into too much detail, so as to not spoil the plot, you end up doing similar things throughout the campaign a few times, the game lacks surprise for a decent portion, and the ending garnered a "Well, that is what was supposed to happen, and it did" from me when I got to the final cutscene. However, for what it is, I never once was bored while playing, and there were actually many nights where I would not have stopped were it not 6 AM or I had to go to work in a few hours.

attachThumb8401 
I sure hope nothing happens to my family

FAST6191

The setup.
It largely runs “What if non amnesiac Jason Bourne was a script kiddie and decided to visit near future Chicago where an easily hacked “internet of things” is available?”. Plot wise it is your fairly typical “outlaw brings pain upon their family and now wants to save them and get revenge” plot, mixed with a dash of magic computer hacking. To do it you become “the vigilante” and have to take down the, conveniently non governmental and oh so very corrupt, entity responsible for running the computer spy system.
Being an open world game though there are usually all sorts of things you can be doing at the same time, personally I had some difficulty doing the main missions as I kept getting sidetracked with the side missions. There are a reasonable variety of side missions and side activities, many of which are almost soft training for the missions themselves.
It is something of a plot twisty story, nothing you can not see coming from a ahead of the pop in, but spoiling it would serve no great purpose so I will not. I will say though for a game seemingly dealing with the hot button issue of privacy they do try to hammer any one message home, whether this is an attempt at good story writing or not I will leave to someone more cynical to decide.

The game engine

Though a story helps an open world game lives or dies based upon how it plays. Watch_Dogs is something of a mixed bag here and we now to get to explain how it plays out.

Sicklyboy

Gameplay

All throughout playing, I was left with extremely mixed feelings about how the game plays. The controls were overall decent and typical of a game of this type, with the sticks being used for character and camera movement, while the triggers are used for weapon and vehicle controls and face buttons being used for contextual interactions. However, a few quirks... first, the oft-referenced "jump off of the roof" button (circle) displays on screen when standing near the edge of a high ledge, leading you to believe there is a difficult to see ledge that you could jump down to, however it just leads you do your death as you plummet down from multiple stories in the air. Second, there is no discernible way to mount a ladder from the top and descend it. The game does offer a mechanic to climb a ladder from the bottom and descend a ladder if you've already mounted it from the bottom, but if you're at the top you seem to be left with no option but to fall down. When you aim down the sights with your gun (L2), you're given a welcome but not overpowering aim assist which will automatically snap your crosshairs to the enemy nearest the center of your screen. You're also presented with a "reputation meter", which gauges your reputation in the public eye from "Menace" (extreme negative) to "Citizen" (neutral) to "Protector" (extreme positive). Your reputation is changed based on your actions, and as such, performing bad actions such as injuring cops and civilians will lower your reputation while performing good actions such as completing the story and incapacitating or killing criminals will raise it. However, your reputation seems to have no effect on gameplay or story whatsoever, and is more of a gauge to see how good or bad of a person you are in the game. During my play I've found it quite difficult, yet obviously not impossible, to die. This is in large from having a considerable amount of health and the AI having disgraceful aim at a distance. Despite their terrible aim with guns, though, the AI seems to have no problem landing a grenade no further than five feet from you, every single time, even if they can't see you. This also happens when they never had seen you, they were just alerted to your presence due to killing one of their friends a bit loudly. While they can sneak up on you with grenade throws, though, you have the power of jumping from camera to camera to do things like stun them, disable their ability to call for reinforcements, and even detonate any explosives they may be holding!

attachThumb8403 

Zoom in and destroy?

attachThumb8411

You do not just shoot people, you can also beat them senseless.

 

Missions
The missions, side missions, and minigames were overall quite fun. Though the missions did feel a little bland at points, it added a level of excitement to the game if you let yourself get drawn into it with a "x person is in trouble, I have to get to them, FAST" attitude and sped to the next objective with little regard for your in-game safety. The final mission was an adrenaline filled blast and I would love to play it over again but sadly the game offers no convention to replay previous missions aside from starting a new game. I ended up feeling a mix of GTA (open world, driving) with a sprinkling of Dishonored (primarily the stealth or guns-blazing aspect) and Prototype (the hand to hand combat). The hand to hand combat is nothing more than running up to an enemy and hitting (circle) to execute a takedown when you have no weapon equipped (when you have a gun drawn you will execute them with it in various ways), but combines nicely into the option to play the game stealthily, running up to someone and quietly taking them out before they can alert their allies to your presence. The side missions are a bit difficult early on in the game but after a few upgrades most of them will become much easier. As you progress further through the side missions though it ends up making the game radically easier by way of giving you a large number of upgrade points, weapons, and money to buy supplies, so you may want to hold off on them if you're looking for more of a challenge. Then there are minigames that offer quite a bit of lasting worth, which range from your more mundane chess and poker to more intense drinking competitions to the psychedelic "Digital Trips", in-game alternate reality experiences that put you in absurd scenarios with progressive objectives, such as piloting a giant mechanical spider and destroying the city of Chicago or one where you must use your profiler to uncover and kill cyborgs hidden among the citizens before the timer expires.

 

 attachThumb8407 

 

They said wireless headsets had people look like they were talking to themselves, now you can simulate the odd looks you will get playing AR alien attack.

 attachThumb8410

Spidertank, for when everything in three city blocks must die.

Game handling
Sadly, the game's physics leave a lot to be desired. While character movement is generally decent, vehicle physics are atrocious. While driving a car, nothing can stop you aside from the indestructible trees and saplings, certain fences, buildings, and few other props. Even something as large and sturdy as a telephone pole stands no match against your car, and snaps like a toothpick. Crashing into other cars has no negative effects other than slowing you down and eventually destroying your car after it takes an insurmountable amount of damage. While driving a motorcycle, the same physics apply, although you now have a very small chance to fall off when you hit something that can't be destroyed. Though the physics are the same, they feel even more ridiculous when you're on something as fragile as a motorcycle. Rain also seems to have no affect on anything and is purely visual, and cars never want to stop drifting.

attachThumb8409

Apparently flying vehicles for the everyman is a thing in fictional Chicago.

 
Sound

The game's soundtrack offers a wide range of music from different genres. Gun sounds are impressive, as are environmental sound effects, however cars and other vehicles leave a little to be desired in the audio department. Voice acting is crisp and clear and I did not once have a hard time understanding what any of the characters said.
 
Graphics

Graphics were overall quite pleasant. Played on the PS3, I experienced very few, if any slowdowns. I did notice a slight bit of micro-stuttering at points, especially when there were a large number of enemies following me, but otherwise, gameplay was quite smooth. Player models were believably lifelike in cutscenes with the exception of Nicky Pearce (Aiden's sister), who I just feel looked ever so slightly too cartoon-ey considering the appearance of the other characters. Cars looked good, if a little bland, though the motorcycles had a very nice look to them.  Shadowing in the game was okay but fairly jagged, though I would assume this is improved upon in next-gen consoles and PC. Cutscenes were very nicely done throughout the entire game, and flashbacks are a trip in and of themselves.  Flashbacks will go through sections where they alternate between greyscale and color, and then they will also start to glitch like a corrupted video file.  A very interesting idea, I don't necessarily know if it's a good one, but I liked it.
 


 attachThumb8400 

A guardian angel, with a rifle

 attachThumb8402

Hold on a second, I will burn it just for the extra tearjerk potential.


 

FAST6191

Graphics

It is about as pretty as one would expect from a game made by a big dev for an end of life console. I am not inclined to get into the “bullshots” debate as I am inclined to judge a game based on what I can play, even if I will acknowledge the existence of hype. As such it is pretty good looking with some nice effects, I have not seen the PC or newer console versions to compare it to at this point though. I may need to invest in a TV with better contrast though as various points got a bit hard to see, maybe Mr Pearce should have also borrowed Mr Fisher's night vision gear along with his combat movement. I used the extra costume that came with the DLC and there were occasions in cutscenes where you could see through the character's hat, equally occasionally people had a glint in their eye in dark scenes (Riddick style) which was kind of freaky. Unlike some other times when we see high powered games crowbarred onto lower powered systems it ran smooth enough.


Chicago

The Jason Bourne mention was not entirely unforced earlier, in that series the character visits all sorts of cities but keeps the establishing shots of landmarks to a minimum all while still very clearly being in said city. It feels much the same here, this is nothing new in a game with real world locations replicated for years now and even open world stuff doing real cities for quite some time. Normally I quite like this as it makes for a pretty good tour guide, here though I think I suffered GPS syndrome, otherwise seen in things like why nobody can remember phone numbers since mobile phones have address books, thanks to the nice blue GPS line the game provides. However when I turned it off and reverted to my usual “try for as the crow flies” method I often found myself looking at a nice freeway with no on ramp in sight or hurtling down a pedestrian area and hoping that I would not hit one (such a thing drops your vigilante bar and makes pedestrians more likely to call the police when the guns come out). Mind you with the map being more "inspired by" than "we took detailed photos" means that is less of a problem.
It is probably a good point to mention the music. Radio stations do not have any of the anarchic senses of humour seen in things like GTA or even Just Cause 2, though you do get a few nice changes as the game progresses. Chicago has an amazing musical history and the devs very wisely acknowledge this with fair bit of blues and jazz from around the area as well as other local bands from various eras and various styles. There is also a nice feature where you download new songs from the occasional passing pedestrian. You can play it in a car (an autoplay option is available) and you can play it on foot (magical hacker phone that can not play music would have been up there with lack of gaffer tape on Mars in Doom 3), previously it had been something of a guilty pleasure to go on a rampage to a song not geared for it but now I reckon a gunfight without Howlin Wolf or Curtis Mayfield playing in the background is a missed opportunity. Speaking of missed opportunities I was left to recreate my favourite scenes from Blues Brothers by myself, fortunately the hacking skills meant I was able to rack up a similar car crash count, equally the iffy driving physics did lead to something that could have been from other scenes.

Once you activate CTos in a district you can view and sometimes hack the pedestrians, most hacking is just to gain side missions, money and flavour text. Speaking of flavour text you usually get some info on the people your hacks are directed at... it seems there are a lot of engineers and a lot of cancer suffers/survivors in fictional Chicago.
More annoyingly though they always seem to want to comment on my driving, even when I am actually just pulling away fast or moving into a parking spot.
Aside from comments on my driving the pedestrian management was pretty good and there would often be street performers, conversations, the occasional car crash (nowhere near as annoying as GTA Vice City's car crashes), the occasional mugging/attack by a random pedestrian, people getting on with work and it was all quite area sensitive (one did not typically find high paid tax accountants wandering around the ghettos at night).

Said pedestrians also seem to be your main method to get money. You hack them and then get the funds at the next cash machine you pass, quite why your master ninja that is also a hacker can not do a repeat of the opening mission where hundreds of thousands is obtained in short order, actually hacking the cash points themselves (there is even a mission where it seems several have been stolen) or something else you can do with such a skillset never seems to be explained. Personally I normally avoided hacking people, totally because cars and motorbikes are on every street, stealth and your silenced pistol is an awesome tactic and everything else more or less falls into your lap and not because I felt bad about taking from average people, though the little flavour text things did not half help to justify it at times. On the flip side as I was sneaking through restricted areas there did appear to be the occasional low paid security guard just doing a job sprinkled in among the hardened killers that composed the bulk of the security.

attachThumb8405

A tale of revenge and the importance of privacy, in which you still take lunch money from nerds.

Balance

Though not everything is available right away it might as well be, give or take the unlocks for doing side missions which were often nice but nothing I truly would have sought out. With the experience, weapons and skill points gained in side missions the game gets pretty easy, indeed I put off putting any points in bullet resistance to increase the difficulty a bit. By the time I was less than halfway through the story missions my general messing around had left me with a nice collection of weapons and many useful skills, and if I had really wanted I could have had more. This also meant I was mainly playing the game as a game rather than as a reviewer, I would have to wonder if there would be enough side content to sustain that level of extra things to do throughout the story missions. The worst thing about the side missions though meant there was not always as much time for pause and reflection as there might have been, in a world where a short attention span is not considered truly detrimental though this may be a point in its favour.

Level design
Often one of the weakest aspects of open world games, it seems Ubisoft really tried to do something good here. Quite surprisingly they manage to have some stuff happen organically at times which is a real feat, most notable for me was one of the times early on where a considerably less well armed me, one that did not even have a proper assault rifle, decided to do a convoy takedown side mission. After several retries (by the way if you fail the game loads you at the last objective, makes dying or failing considerably less frustrating, even if it does have a habit of sometimes acting like the quicksave reality warp you see in many other games) where I attempted all sorts of strategies I found a place I liked, the resulting firefight might as well have been a recreation of the scene from Heat, it was in such moments I caught glimpses of what it could have been.
The more structured stuff does well too. In some cases it has a habit of telegraphing the fight to come – “there is an awful lot of cover in this two way in, two way out section enclosed by buildings that I “just” have to hack into” but given it did actually lead a nice freeform firefight I am OK with that.
Missions are usually longer segments of the things seen in side missions, though a stealth section in a prison does pretty well.
That said they are pretty free form, give or take the pursuit sections where the drivers will tend to take a specific route when allowed to. Likewise there is something fiendishly satisfying about jumping through 4 cameras, landing on an enemy's hidden camera and then blowing something up when as they get into range.

One possible criticism is the lack of reward for stealth. There were times I managed to do a mission with only single guard or two taking a nap, all that I got for my trouble was less experience than if I had gone in and headshotted a lot of people.
Similarly failing stealth can lead to a “there's the guy” situation reminiscent of the earlier far cry titles where enemies would instantly lock onto you and have somewhat unerring accuracy, especially with grenades.
Going for a more picky criticism you are a hardnut of the old school game sense and at one point I was packing two sniper rifles, including a 50 cal, a grenade launcher, several shotguns, at least 5 assault rifles and twice as many pistols/sub machine guns, however I could not fit a set of boltcutters in there with all that. Such a thing would have made several hacking sections that much easier, even the classical car mat to throw over barbed wire would have done. If we are heading down that path though you then have to ask why there is nobody monitoring some of the cameras as you do all you do.

Until you get dobbed in by a pedestrian or otherwise trigger a police chase it seems there are very few police in Chicago. Running from the police, or general enemies, feels better than GTA4 but is often too easily solved by going into the water, getting up high in a level or just driving fast. The CTos scans that sometimes happen after you have original got away make a nice change of pace though. There was one amusing moment where I was surrounded by police and being fired upon, suddenly they stopped firing at me and wondering where I was. My trick.... I had found a random scissor lift to nowhere in a car park and gone up in it.

Controls and physics
These took some getting used to. My favourite thing was the contextual “jump off a building” button, several times my character decided to quite literally do that and jump from several floors up and see me have to restart a section. On the flip side the radial menu used for weapons works quite well.
They did add quite a bit to the standard open world controls, seemingly by ripping them directly out of other Ubisoft games and simplifying them a bit.
In shooting the cover mechanics might as well be the new Splinter Cell without the target marking options and a serious downplay on the stealth/visibility mechanic.
Gunplay itself feels pretty similar to later Splinter Cell titles. There is no hand to hand beyond a button press, as it tends to leave you exposed, and exposed to any gunfire that might be going on, then it is not a magic button. Annoyingly it leaves the body exposed (and unmoveable) which can hamper stealth efforts a bit. Occasionally enemies will attempt to rebuff your hand to hand which can add that little bit longer to the time you are exposed. More annoyingly though is if the enemy is on the floor for whatever reason you do not seem to be able to take them out until they get up. The player character strikes me as more on the "no better time to do it" end of the spectrum when it comes to kicking a person when they are down.
In running around on foot the movement appears to have been directly ripped from Assassin's Creed, albeit without the focus on varying heights, the ability to jump gaps and the ability to climb anything.
City life and options within also owe more than a passing nod to Assassin's Creed.

Oh yeah there is bullet time (called focus here), most of the time I only remembered it when I accidentally pushed in on the stick which activates it. It works well enough, give or takes its rather large changes on driving, but for the most part I did not feel I needed it.

Theoretically with this it should make for a far superior alternative to a lot of its open world competition and they are improvements.

The options menu had options to change sensitivity, invert either axis and some token left handed controls.

Driving appears to have come largely from the later Far Cry titles though with the questionable physics and Far Cry not being noted for its driving that might not be the best. Indeed it is less Jason Bourne as script kiddie and more "what if Neo was a race car driver?". Ubisoft does not really have any driving pedigree though so such things could be a tiny bit more forgiveable. Anyway for a game aiming a tiny bit at realism you will have to suspend disbelief during the driving sections, especially if you are on the awesome motorbikes. Motorbikes at times feel a bit like cheat mode has been activated as you zip between traffic, however filtering is a well known and oft performed real life motorbike manoeuvre so I am willing to let that slide. Sports cars were often quite unwieldy so I often tried to get some of the higher end sedans or muscle cars if I could not or should not get a motorbike for a section. What I will say is you need to use brakes, handbrakes and acceleration, possibly also in addition to “pinball mode”, driving by Braille and other road user assisted braking and cornering. The frequent pursuits and escapes did provide a fair bit of excitement though, especially once you start opening up a few hacking abilities.

Speaking of motorbikes though I once got into a shoving match with a car during a mission, I was losing but only just and that is typically not how motorbikes work.

Hacking sections

For the most part hacking is a single button press, some have called this unrealistic but in some ways it is actually quite realistic as your character does not tend to sit down to do much hacking as much as use premade scripts (the script kiddie part of the intro). Occasionally you end up with a pipe dream style hacking minigame, other times and for many of the evasive hacks you can do for driving and the like take “battery” on your phone to do or consumables in your inventory (which you can build from parts, find more of or eventually buy from a shop).

attachThumb8404

I know they said the internet was a series of tubes but this is ridiculous.

 

Extra content, Digital trips and AR games
There was a fairly famous video made of the Skyrim “game jam” where the game's developers did all sorts of weird and wonderful things with the Skyrim engine, many of which were much desired by players of the game. Similar concepts are seen in all sorts of other creative, programming and engineering fields. I bring this up as many of these feel like the results of those and as such I would be somewhat interested to hear about how a lot of these came to pass. Anyway the game comes with 4 “digital trips” and more seem to be coming out as DLC.
The four the game comes with are one called “Alone” that focuses on stealth, one called spidertank when you play as a wall crawling spider tank messing up a city, one that is basically a version of Carmaggedon (you run over pedestrians demons in a car) and one that is basically a 3d version of those launch/keep them in the air games so popular on mobile phones and places where flash games reside.
All feel slightly barebones to me, more handheld game collection than Warioware 9Volt sections, however the Alone game was pretty good for stealth and that made up a bit for the mission stuff not doing as well at it. Probably the last thing I really got this on was some of the minigames and “quirky” multiplayer modes in later Tony Hawk's skateboarding titles.

In addition to the digital trips are AR games. They are dotted around all over the place but come in two flavours. One is a free running style affair where you are put at the start of an obstacle course and have to go through checkpoints, the other is an augmented reality game where you shoot aliens. Both add to this in game training concept, indeed giving you a perk in the case of the latter, and are similarly not quite fleshed out like the digital trips but they are amusing enough to try a couple of times.
Beyond that there are a few places where you can play poker, engage in drinking contests and do chess puzzles.
Beyond that even there are still more things you can do ranging from an investigation of missing persons to finding hidden QR codes.

Speaking of extra things is the DLC Ubisoft sent along with it. If digital trips were the sorts of things you often see in game jams then I would be shocked if these were not some of the things that resulted from such a task (DLC often is). For the most part it was another spin on normal missions, however here the devs mixed things up a bit and avoided some of the groundhog day thing that some of the main missions, and especially side missions, devolved into. One such example would be it did fun things like starting with a police escape and chase rather than ending with one.
The DLC does come with its own rewards above and beyond what are available in the main game, for the most part it is minor and not just another equally functional gun but it is something above what players of the vanilla game will get.

There is also some extra content if you sign up/into uplay (Ubisoft's download/customer account service) but I did not get that. You are rather helpfully offered the chance to sign up every time you start the game up.

Online

Though the online is not as big a component as something like Call of Duty has ended up having it is still a big enough part that it probably warrants a bit of discussion to itself.

Sicklyboy

Online interaction is fun but difficult. There are a few different modes of gameplay online, but the one I focused on is virtually hide and seek. You spawn into someone else's world and have to hack them without being discovered. They need to use their profiler to find who is hacking them, and then kill them before they get away. As you complete your hack on them, the game will progressively narrow the area that you can hack them in, and the other player is able to see that as well, making your chances of being found higher. Other online modes include racing, "Tailing", which consists of following behind your opponent in a vehicle without being discovered and then killing them, and "Online Decryption", which is essentially a "king of the hill" styled game.

attachThumb8408

"I am not hiding, I am tying my shoe"

FAST6191

Barring experiments like Just Cause 2 multiplayer most open world games seldom feature multiplayer of note, until such a time as you end up playing something that wants to be World of Warcraft. This is mainly because trying to have any sort of statefulness, balance and more is very hard to do.
Ubisoft tried to add some multiplayer to their game and they did it in two ways. One way is the conventional way where you select such a mode and warp into it and the other sees you get invaded.
Their netcode seems pretty wonky at times with me locking up, only to come back and die, my opponents often behaving like nightcrawler on the xmen or generally not being great. I tried them all a couple of times, sure there are certain things that work better with a human than an AI and there is the nice extra skill bar you only get with online. It is closer to the left 4 dead end of the spectrum than Mindjack in the games that have griefing as a multiplayer mode though. It will be interesting to see what happens next year when Ubisoft release Tom Clancy's The Division which looks to have a fairly similar engine to this but is fully geared for multiplayer.
Most of the time online is optional, however in a rather nice touch there is the occasional civilian that pops up under the hacking scan to remind you of one of these modes. Sometimes though you will be invaded between missions and that can get slightly annoying. Probably the most annoying aspect though is as you never see any NPC riding a motorbike then any you do see are the would be hackers, something a loading screen tip seems to make light of.

Conclusion
Sicklyboy

Watch_Dogs - Though not the GTA killer it set out to be, Watch_Dogs offers a compelling story and addictive open world gameplay despite its shortcomings.  I'd certainly recommend it to whoever is looking for "The Next Big Open World Shooter" that isn't GTA, has a solid story and tons of side missions.  Personally, I don't think I'll have an issue playing other games of the genre because i tend to take each game for what it is as a whole, not what it does or doesn't have that its competition may.

FAST6191

Many years ago I had a copy of True Crime for the gamecube, it was not a great game and did very little all that well, especially as it arrived some years after GTA 3 and Vice City. However it was the only real open world game available for the gamecube so I got on and did it. However many years later this is such a thing is not the case and I have unfinished or unplayed copies of various GTA titles, Saints Row titles and copies of Far Cry, Just Cause 2 and beyond all within spitting distance, though I never quite sat there thinking “I wish I could be playing one of those instead”. In many respects it is sort of similar to the feelings I had for L.A. Noire the other year in being something that is worth playing but maybe not something you would miss out on by skipping. As far as the PS3 and 360 go this is probably going to be the last major open world game, only Sniper Elite 3 and Risen 3 are going to be close to this sort of thing. As a mid year/summer game you could do worse, on the other hand you could get a box set of Person of Interest and a copy of one of the Saints Row games (or any of the other open world games you might not have played) for less.

When Watch Dogs 2 rolls around though I will be there day 1.

Discussion

The two reviewers of this game played it independently and come from slightly different backgrounds as far as games they like and things they seek in a game. Some discussion of what the other wrote is then in order.

Sicklyboy

I tried my best to get immersed in this game and it really did pay off.  The story, if you let it, certainly has a way of drawing you in as you try to protect who you feel are now your family, if you really try to put yourself in Aiden's shoes.  The physics really, really kill it for me though, and I hate to say that that is likely the biggest issue with this game at this point in time.  Looking past that though there is a surprising amount to do.  I clocked about 22 hours on just the story alone and I can easily see all of the side missions adding 10-15 hours, and then the infinitely replayable minigames and digital trips adding yet more to that.

FAST6191

No argument that the driving physics is really not up to par. Indeed I usually forewent sports cars in favour of family sedans or just went for motorbikes instead. Doing that made things quite a bit more enjoyable, it is probably one of the few open world games where I used the brakes as well. With something like Just Cause 2 I will occcasionally pop it in and surf a fighter jet. I can see myself starting a new story game here though and also doing a few takedown missions.

More pictures and video

Sicklyboy streamed much of the game as part of the review, we will have it so you can downlod the streams from filetrip before long and we also had some more pictures extracted from those sessions.


 

attachThumb8412

Well, what do we have here?  A QR code?  Wonder what it does...

 

Verdict
Pros
+ Lots to see and do, much of which is interesting.
+ Several things other open world games would do well to adopt. You will miss them when you go back to other games.
+ As far as open world games go a tight story.
+ Some of the controls (combat movement, more general movement, shooting)
+ Nicely presented graphics.
Cons
- Vehicle physics.
- Some of the missions can get a bit repetitive.
- Can be a bit easy.
- Online lacks polish.
- Stealth is given as an option but is generally unrewarding.
- Some of the controls (driving, "jump off a building button")
- Some of the AI could use work.
- Environment is too easily destroyed at some parts.
8 Presentation
Sicklyboy 8.5/10 The game looks great, cutscenes are extremely well done, world and scenery look quite nice even on a last-gen console. FAST6191 7.5 Yeah it look fine, had good cutscenes, a nice UI and pretty good music options.
7 Gameplay
Sicklyboy 7/10 The game is generally positive though it does have its issues. The physics are mediocre at best, the AI can't shoot but can land a grenade with pinpoint accuracy, there seems to be no convention for climbing down a ladder, vehicles are nearly invincible. On the other hand, the missions are fun, the minigames and side missions provide plenty to keep you busy, and the story was quite gripping. FAST6191 If you can look past the driving and slightly easy nature of the gameplay then there is a lot to enjoy. I really do think the movement and level design would do well to be copied by any open world game that comes after this.
7 Lasting Appeal
Sicklyboy 7.5/10 The minigames and side missions add quite a bit to do, especially if you hold off on completing them until you've completed the story. The side missions provide you with more experience, money, and weapons if you want to complete the game 100% and the minigames are surprisingly good and actually worth playing. Unfortunately if you want to replay a specific mission, you have to start an entirely new game and progress back to it. FAST6191 The playthrough always saw me have something to do where I often exhaust side missions, or even worse find myself compelled to play side missions to unlock the real ones. I can see coming back to play some of the minigames as well. Whether I will return to cruise around the city is a different matter.
7.5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Sicklyboy 7.5/10 Watch_Dogs isn't the GTA killer that it was hyped to be, but it is still definitely worth checking out. Despite its flaws, it still has a good story and plenty to keep you entertained on the side if you don't want to move to the next main mission. The game provided almost 22 hours of story-only gameplay on my first time playthrough, and when combined with the vast amount of side gameplay and online content, the game feels to be a worthwhile purchase. FAST6191 Not a GTA killer and time will have to tell whether it carves itself out a Just Cause 2 or Saints Row style niche. However Ubisoft have done what many have previously tried and failed at -- to create a new open world game from scratch.
Share
Logan97, EZ-Megaman, Costello and 2 others like this.
10 comments

  • soulx
  • medoli900
  • FAST6191
  • Luckkill4u
  • FAST6191
  • Jiehfeng
  • necr0
  • Sicklyboy
  • Dedale
  • Jiehfeng