Watch Dogs or Watch_dogs is an open world action adventure third person video game that hit stores worldwide in May 2014. The game, which is published by Ubisoft Montreal, the makers of Assassin’s Creed, was released across multiple platforms including Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The game is set in Chicago, Illinois and revolves around Aiden Pearce, a hacker who is looking to avenge the death of his niece that resulted from a job gone wrong. The game allows you to travel freely around Chicago and its surrounding countryside and suburban areas as you work your way through the single player campaign while also giving the option to partake in numerous multiplayer activities. You can travel through Chicago by a number of means including by foot, car, motorcycle and train.
As with all games of this nature, the first and major problem is lining up next to the Grand Theft Auto Series created by Rockstar and if you are looking for a game completely on par with that, you’ll be disappointed. But that isn’t to say that a game still can’t be a good. For me, given that it was made from Ubisoft and that I am such a big fan of Assassin’s Creed, I thought I’d give it a go. Here are my thoughts:
I first attempted to play Watch Dogs in 2015 around March time with high expectations. I had not long ago completed Grand Theft Auto 5 and was psyched to get into my next challenge. When I started the campaign, I was intrigued. It’s a decent premise and the opening does pull somewhat on your heart strings. Then you dive into the game for the first time at a sporting arena in Chicago and herein is where things got a little less enjoyable.
Now, it may be my age but the controls for Watch Dogs didn’t at first feel natural. I found myself awkwardly scrambling around the controller to hack, run, hide and so on. This didn’t endear me to the game. But I persevered and got through the opening bit including a car chase with police not too disimilar again from GTA. That being said, I think the police in Watch Dogs were slightly more difficult than in GTA. But anyway, you carry on and my first impressions were that the game wasn’t particularly gripping. I felt distracted from the main missions and I wasn’t comfortable with the controls. Furthermore, it became swiftly apparently that the achievements weren’t easy to come by and if that is something that is important to you, you might get frustrated by the lack of “progress”. After about three hours. I stopped playing and didn’t even attempt to again for over a year.
In July 2016, I gave Watch Dogs one last try to see if my feelings had changed. Again, I felt the controls were uncomfortable and the storyline wasn’t the most gripping but this time I persevered and began to appreciate more the art of stealth. This time I got behind the idea of sneaking through without going through all guns blazing. I also started to enjoy levelling up to unlock more abilities which helps you in your quests. To speed up this process, I did a number of the side quests including the convoys and courier missions. The story itself improves too and you become invested in the characters and the backstory with the campaign moving at a good pace. Some of the side stories too like the serial killer missions are also pretty fun. Just don’t expect to be picking up tonnes of achievements. This game makes you work for your meal.
If you come into this game expecting it to be like GTA V, then you will be disappointed. The GTA series is special and it would take a hell of a lot to come close. The controls furthermore are not best laid while the story is somewhat of a slow burner which means you will have to invest some time in it to appreciate it while some of the side tasks can become a bit repetitive. That being said, the pay off with the story is worth it while the back stories behind the side missions also give you more depth into the story and could potentially influence your final choice. In summary, Watch Dogs is a good premise that doesn’t quite deliver, yet it is still an enjoyable experience. And if Ubisoft properly invest in ironing out the wrinkles of this game, it is quite possible that Watch Dogs 2 could deliver something special. As for Watch Dogs, if you have the time and the patience, why not give it a go? If you go in with zero expectations, you will probably come out the other end a lot more satisfied.
Final Grade: B-