Time for a little Watchdogs review. [Edit]Not as little as I thought this was going to be [/Edit]
Let me start this out by saying that I have been very excited about this game ever since I first heard of it. When Playstation 4 was announced, I took to Amazon that same day to secure my Watchdogs/PS4 day one on your doorstep bundle. Needless to say I was pretty let down when the game was postponed. However, after reading the reasons for the delay, I left my faith in tact and told myself that it will just make it for a better game. They aren’t going to push out a half finished game and work on updates(or just skip those too… *cough*Looking at you and your Arkham Origins RockSteady*cough*
As of the time of writing this, I’m about 20-30 some hours in.
As I mentioned I have been playing on PS4, and the game looks great. The city is modeled very closely after chicago, and I think they did a really great job of bringing it to digital life. The game feels a lot like a Grand Theft Auto game (in a good way) in the sense that the world is open to explore freely, and all the citizens are there to be taken advantage of, or aided in almost any way you can think of. One nice added twist to this, is your reputation. The more good you do, the more liked you are, the more people you mow down as you fly down the sidewalk in your SUV, the more notorious “Vigilante” you become. So far, I have found that your notoriety affects the reactions of citizens to your presence. The less “good” you are, the more likely they will recognize you and call the cops on you… even if you’re just going through a Chicago scenery stroll. No big deal really, but the cops can actually be pretty relentless. I mean they’ve taken down my giant spider tank a few times.. but more on that later.
As I said gameplay is very open, of course there is the main campaign which thus far has had a solid story. Its got its back story, character development, and seems to explain most things (at the right times). Non spoiler concept of the game is that Chicago has had ctOS installed into the city as kinda a all seeing, ever connected monitoring system. Think Minority Report. Facial recognition combined with databases of all personal information linked with bank accounts, cars, and pretty much any electronic system all integrate back to ctOS. Problem is, its a flawed system with vulnerabilities. Here’s where Aiden Pearce, the main character, hacker extraordinaire, comes in. He utilizes this flaw to monitor, track, and hack his way through the city to do his will. The quick and dirty explanation, is that he is tracking down some unknowns that did him and his family wrong. He has no idea who it was that came after them, but finding them and serving them his own form of justice has become his obsession. The characters that he meets, good and bad, seem to have plenty of personality and look great on screen.
Hacking is all done through the phone, you go into profiling mode, and this is how Aiden utilizes ctOS to find out all about the citizens. Names, occupation, salary, and some little tidbit. Likes bunnies, Frequents porn sites, Spies on his neighbor, recovering addict, or is a furry are all things you may find out about these citizens of Chicago. Sometimes you might just have to take a Karma hit if you find someone with a dirty enough secret. It feels good. While in profile mode you will be able to access cameras, explode transformers, set off car alarms and more. Or when creeping about with guards nearby, you can text and call individual guards to create distractions. Or just remotely detonate their grenades and bring about a full on gun fight. Your choice.
Aiden handles a gun pretty well. Maybe not as well as he hacks and sneaks, but definitely holds his own against a swarm of baddies. He has a magic arsenal of guns by the time you’ve played for a bit. You can buy guns, or pick up from enemies. Either way its added to your inventory for you to use whichever gun whenever you like.
Enemies AI is honestly pretty damn good. Sneaking is never easy, and during a gunfight you WILL be flanked and distracted and shot and challenged. They do call out what they are doing, but if you don’t pay attention you will end up with a guy with a shotgun at your back. Or a grenade at your feet. Either way those don't end pretty.
Outside of the main campaign are several different side missions and mini games and more. If exploring and learning the city isn’t fun enough, there are full on Poker (Hold ‘em) matches in various locations. Which thanks to some randomly placed cameras, Aiden can typically manage pretty well through his hands. Also street games like the find the ball in the cup thing and some others. There are missions in which you go up against or work a contract for “fixers” and missions against thugs. This could be anything between delivering cars in good condition in a time frame, to stopping a criminal in during a convoy. These can unlock skill points, money, or increase reputation. They are repetitive in a sense, but they do not get boring. They vary the perfect amount in my opinion. I see my self completing them all, and I am not a patient person when it comes to repetition.
One of the funnest things in the game is the digital trips. Its an auditory “drug”, that presents an augmented reality mini game. My favorite two so far, Madness and Spider Tank.
Madness you run around running over demons to devour souls. Spider tank, well you’re in a fucking spider tank shooting down the cops. I made some clips for each of these.
Online play is interesting (I haven’t done much yet). What I know of is basically one on one hackers. One person hacks the other, while the victim looks for the hacker. As the hacker collects more data, the search area shrinks. Whoever wins the match wins online notoriety experience. Whoever loses, loses experience. The experience unlocks different perks like steady weapon faster pistol reload etc etc. For the most part you initiate the online pieces, (which is really slow to join at least during launch week) but you can actually be invaded while not on a mission. Things that you do can increase these odds, such as getting a bounty placed on your head for hacking the wrong civilians.
Honestly my only complaint is that driving can be a bit off. Most things work well, but collisions are pretty pathetic, cars get damaged and they blow up, etc. But hit a car or a wall ( or a tree…) at full speed, head on and you just kinda crash to a stop, minimal damage to the car, and none to Aiden. I want the GTA 4&5 effect and to go flying out the windshield. Its always a good time when that happens.
The game isn’t necessarily well rounded, but it works. There are a ton of elements to it, and although it feels like there were several groups that all worked on things indepently, it all manages to come together for a really fun game. I think they used their extra development time on this game well and the game is a must play for most gamers.
I’m going to give a strong recommendation to play the game for anyone interested and give it a soft 8/10. Some fixes/tweaks and it will be a hard 8. If nothing else play it just to drive a mother fucking spider tank.