Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: 5/27/14
Gaming Platform: PS3
When I heard about Watch Dogs, it sounded like it might be one of those "Must Own" titles. It boasted a large open world, and it sounded sort of like the jacked-up crack baby of GTA and Infamous. Considering my love of the Infamous series, and my at least grudging respect for GTA, I thought that this was going to be a winner. Originally my plan was to pick this title up for the PS4, but fortunately, a rather inattentive staff at a local store, lead me to pick it up for the PS3 from a Red Box. These are my thoughts after 3 extensive days with Watch Dogs.
Watch Dogs offers up some fun ideas. As I stated, the world is very open, giving you the freedom to run around all over digital Chicago. There is a lot to do, while you are unlocking bits and pieces of the story. Mostly, it involves solving crimes, but occasionally, there are strange augmented reality games inside the game, that add another layer to this often by-the-books game.
The game itself is mostly fun. The story is clearly delineated on the map, and you can even set way points so that all you have to do is follow the big blue line on the ground. It also offers the ability to call for a car at just about any time, and it will be dropped not far from your current location. There is a decent variety of vehicles available, including garbage trucks, motorcycles, and offroad pickup trucks. While it offers a great deal of diversity, the cars are one of the largest downfalls of the game.
I have played a few driving games in my time, and they have ranged from good to downright awful. When several missions are dependent on driving, and getting around in general is made much easier by driving, one would think that there would be a solid driving engine in the game. Instead, you are left with a driving portion of the game that leaves me frustrated, and angry, and glad I only spent money to rent this game from the Redbox.
In the end, my initial impressions from the previews I saw proved to be on the money. This is the jacked-up crack baby of GTA and Infamous. You get the GTA-esque ability to hijack cars, while getting the more Infamous-like superpowers. In this case, it is just hacking... but, still the way it works is sometimes so nonsensical, it is easier to just refer to it as a superpower.
The hacking offers some nice bits, when you can make them work. Being able to hack people's cell phones to steal their money, is an interesting way to earn cash in the game. Some of the other hacks offer up fun ways to disable vehicles, or just to generally dick around with the citizens. The problem is, I was often left spending too much time trying to navigate the control scheme to properly use many of the street hacks.
This game is definitely not for everyone. I recommend trying it out through the Redbox if you can, to see if this is the sort of game that you will enjoy. Sure, if you decide to buy it, you've essentially tacked on an extra 2 dollars or so... but, if you're like me, and wanted to buy it, trying it out first can easily save you over 50 dollars, and that is nothing to sneeze at.
When push comes to shove, this game was a pretty offering, that presented a severely flawed driving engine, that robbed the game of fun. It has some good ideas, and some interesting mechanics, and I would not be opposed to seeing if they can improve on things for the sequel. For now, it's best to let sleeping Watch Dogs lie...
P2 Rating: 6 out of 10