Watch Dogs Review: Does this Sci-Fi Open-World Game Meet Expectations?

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulFeUCAI5xM?rel=0&w=650&h=366] As one of the major game development companies in the world, Ubisoft is widely regarded as a “top dog” in the realm of open world games, mostly thanks to the well-received Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series. Quality and appeal is the French developer’s forte, so when word came out it was working on brand-new open world game, one with a sci-fi bent, we had high expectations. Watch Dogs is out, and having sunk dozens of hours into it, we can gladly say that it met most of our expectations.

Story

The main character is Aiden Pierce, a brilliant hacker situated in a virtual Chicago that. As a result of a theft at the beginning of the game, he becomes a prime target for an unknown organization that seeks his death. While Aiden tries hard to protect both himself and his family, his niece gets caught in the crossfire and dies. Her death pushes Aiden into an all-out war with said organization as he tries to find out who controls it and how he can bring it to its knees. Aiden’s personality doesn’t really show in the game, as the main character is quite bland, but the other characters are quite unique and they all have numerous traits that will appeal to gamers. Partner in crime Jordi Chin is a class act.

Gameplay

The X-factor in Watch Dogs is the ability to hack virtually anything in the world, which surprisingly adds a lot of value to the gaming experience. Playing as Aiden, you can hack just about any traffic light, person, car or door. You can steal money from their bank accounts and transfer them you’re your own, steal cars and roam the streets, complete missions and/or just have a lot of fun exploring the vast location at your leisure. There are quite a lot of guns available and they all cater to different situations. The only major problem is how similar the missions and task become. As interesting as they initially are in the first hours of the game, they can get a little too repetitive at times, a quantity-over- quality issue that plagues virtually all open world games. A lesser issue has to do with the driving. Considering that there are many opportunities to enter races against various AI characters or even against other human players, the cars that you navigate sometimes move too fast or too slow, making the controls a little difficult to get used to. One of the biggest highlights of Watch Dogs is how single-player seamlessly integrates with multiplayer. If you agree to it, random people can enter your game session to steal your money, challenge you to races, and engage you in numerous other activities. This idea overall is very interesting and greatly enhances the gameplay experience. The number of things you can do in this game is simply mind-blowing. Fortunately, the trailer above breaks them down into digestible bits.

Graphics & Sound

Watch Dogs was the first next-gen title to be announced, and while it doesn’t make use of all the graphic technologies showcased in the E3 2012 demo, it still is one of the best looking games out there. The game world is large and beautifully designed; lighting, shaders and high quality textures all blend well together to create a unique, amazing world brimming with life. We were impressed at how well everything looked. The user interface is cleverly designed and is very intuitive to use, showing you only the information pertaining to the equipped gun, the game map and the current objective. There is no unnecessary clutter whatsoever. Sounds quality is superb and is befitting of a game as grand in scale and ambition. Everything sounds realistic, be it shooting guns, chatting with people or driving around the city. Noteworthy is the diverse music soundtrack, which features an eclectic mix of well-timed tracks that play at the appropriate times. We especially like the pieces that play during the driving missions.

Verdict

Watch Dogs is an intense, action-packed game that offers fans of the open world genre a fresh and unique gameplay mechanic. Its robust hacking system is a strong pull, while its graphics and sound quality are among the best to date, especially on the Xbox 360 and PS4. As with most sandbox games, it ends up suffering from repetitive missions down the line, but we think there is enough originality to keep gamers plugged in for hours on end.

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