We’ve seen the hype, we’ve been amazed by the trailer, but for all its glory, some have said that it has been overrated, and did not meet some of its expectations, but in the middle of all the glamour and mud, how did Ubisoft’s newest Open World Action Adventure really fare in the hands of an avid gamer?
Before you read pass this point, be warned that there might some spoilers and exploits especially for those who haven’t played the game yet.
Watch Dogs’ storyline revolves around the character Aiden Pearce, a hacker whose career of siphoning bank accounts in mid-air suddenly plummeted due to a job that got badly compromised. The setting is near-present day Chicago, dominated by a technology called the ctOS (Central Operating System) run by the company called Blume, ctOS, basically connects nearly every electronic device into one network for “Security Purposes”, built in such a way that it helps in profiling individuals for signs of potential crime, tied with the network is sensitive individual information, one example is bank accounts. Having mastered the backdoors of Blume’s ctOS, Pearce, partnered with programmer Damien Brenks launched a series of hacking jobs, targeting people with hefty bank accounts full of cash. The career continued until a sloppy gamble turned things into worse, with a compromised job which lead to the death of a loved one, which in turn turned the Hacker Extraordinaire into a Vigilante fueled by Vengeance, Aiden Pearce, partnered with a “fixer” (a man employed for certain “questionable” jobs) named Jordi Chin, scours throughout Chicago in search of her niece’s killer which was revealed as Maurice Vega, now that Aiden has the killer in hand what he needs is Mastermind, with Maurice refusing to talk, Aiden continues shi search which would eventually lead him to his old partner, Damien Brenks who opens up a proposal with Aiden in working together again in which he promptly turned down. A decision that made turn for the worst, Damien, then opts to kidnap Aiden’s Sister and forces him to play his game by doing a number of jobs, mainly involving hacking. Along the way, Aiden proceeds to make new friends, DedSec hacker Clara Lille, ex-Blume employee Tobias Frewer, Gangbanger Bedbug, and ctOS developer Raymond Kenny.
Aside from allies, a number of enemies, including Damien himself, along the way Aiden performs a series of jobs involving hacking, infiltration and as well as Assassination with the targets including contractor Angelo Tucci, Senior Gang Member Robert Racine, Businessman Nicholas Crispin, Gang Leader Delford “Iraq”, Wade, Hacker JB “Defalt” Marcowicz, various fixers and as well as Chicago Mob Boss Lucky Quinn.
The game goes through a series of twists and turns as it turns out later on that it was Clara Lille who tracked Aiden in the first place which ultimately lead to the mess-up in the Merlaut Job, perhaps the biggest twist in the game is the fact that the Hit ordered on Aiden and Damien was due to a misunderstanding, Lucky Quinn, owner of the Merlaut Hotel thought that Aiden and Damien was after the biggest stockpile of Secrets in Chicago, a database containing all the blackmail paraphernalia ranging from the City’s upper class personalities to the poorest folk with some of the biggest being the City Mayor’s murder of a former Blume Employee, and an Election Scam.
As the story progresses, Clara Lille, in order to make amends with Pearce for what her act lead to made a deal with Damien and offered to trade herself in exchange for the freedom of Aiden’s sister. The deal ultimately lead to Clara’s death, having been set up by Damien which further fueled the rage of the Vigilante, Pearce.
As the final confrontation brews, Damien was able to gain full control of the ctOS which forced, Aiden, through the help of Raymond Kenny, ex-ctOS developer to reboot the whole system leading to a massive city shutdown. With the control of the ctOS now cut off, Aiden then proceeds to face Damien Brenks and kill him, getting his revenge.
The final act of the game would involve mending loose ends, as Maurice, who has still yet to face his maker, is confronted then confronted by Pearce, is it at this point where the player, forced to play god, will have to decide the final fate of Maurice Vega.
Gameplay and Combat
Watch Dogs follows the traditional Open-World gameplay from a third person perspective, although a few tweaks in combat is something to really notice in the game. Removing the Melee-to-Melee factor and replacing it with a “Take Down” system instead, there’s not gonna be a brawl in Watch Dogs meaning that even if its Open-World you can’t go on punching civilians like you did in GTA games. Guns are still present in the game although for most campaigns and side missions would force you to take on them with a more stealthier approach. Taking advantage of the ctOS system, Aiden Pearce can hack through various doodads such as Junction Boxes, Cranes and even Frag Grenades via the Cameras to blow up or crush opponents in the most fabulous way possible, though in some situations gunfights are inevitable, the presence of scoped weaponry can still mean that you’d have more option to take down opponents without their allies noticing it, even in broad daylight. Knowing that your a criminal, or a Vigilante, Watch Dogs also feature a Reputation System which measures your overall appeal to the people of Chicago, the Reputation Bar will go up positively by completing Criminal Takedown side quests, kill or injure civilians and the bar will go down, which would result in higher risks of Police Chases or people reporting your presence. Speaking of chases, different vehicles are present in watch dogs and some are near perfect replicas of the popular vehicle brands in the US. Add that to the constant Hacking that the player can do in game both while completing Missions or just by Exploring the world of Watch Dogs itself.
Perhaps one factor that could make Watch Dogs exciting is its variety of Side Missions, present all throughout the map, these quests involve peeking through security systems, taking a sneak peek inside building cameras, scanning awkwardly placed QR codes, decoding circuit boxes, finding missing persons and even deliberately going into police chases or taking down criminal convoys. Although the latter 2 is evidently redundant, the procedures on how you choose to complete is not really that repetitive. Completing side missions would results into achievements obviously and will help in unlocking some more of the game content and, well, more side missions. Needless to say, Watch Dogs is full of puzzles and one of them just might be waiting around the corner.
Although now deemed as one of the best Open World games to be released, Watch Dogs still was not able to totally deliver some personal expectations, and the map being just a little redundant due to its overall size, however, I’d still rate it an overall 7 our of 10 for its creative style of gameplay which, in a subliminal manner, forces the player to take on the Stealth Approach Challenge, in contrast to the regular “Burst in, Guns Blazing” combat style of other Open World Action Games, partnered with its Compelling, though a little cliche, storyline, and other innovative mechanics.