After an endless wait, Ubisoft’s open world contender, “Watch Dogs” has finally arrived. The question on everyone’s mind is of course, was it worth the wait? In truth, WD has been garnering positive, but somewhat mixed reviews, with a lot of critics seemingly unable to get past the fact that it isn’t Grand Theft Auto 6. Say what you will, but this game is something of a technical marvel and is jam-packed with enough content and nuance to satisfy even the most jaded gamer.
At its core Watch Dogs really explores two main concepts, story-wise – one, it’s a revenge tale, and two, it introduces a sort of surveillance state version of Chicago. The plot provides lots to contemplate and mull over as well as the incentive to explore and complete missions, but it’s the title’s gameplay that ultimately makes it worth delving into. For all intents and purposes it handles like many of the familiar open world sandboxes we all know and love, only with some very nice additions to sweeten the deal.
Basically, you assume the role of a vigilante hacker who is on a mission to punish those responsible for the death of his niece. Throughout it all, your character, Aiden Pearce remains somewhat two-dimensional (just a hollow shell you reside in, really) and that’s probably by design. Rather than force a bunch of personality on the audience you are basically left to fill in the blanks yourself. Naturally, as you progress through the game the heat gets turned up and the story becomes even more convoluted, to great effect. Moreover, you can even use your abilities to peer directly into the lives of random NPC’s, which ends up making the game feel enormous and deep.
Graphically speaking, Watch Dogs is a true beauty of a game. There is an incredible amount of detail present in this version of the city and surrounding countryside. Those who really love open world titles can’t help but feel a bit giddy with all this sprawling landscape and territories to explore. Unlike a lot of other similar titles however, you actually get to access a more diverse cross section of scenes (internal and external) that what you find in a lot of other similar offerings. While you’re really meant to learn to perform all the relevant tasks in certain settings which correspond with the larger mission objectives, those who just like jumping in a car and going will find plenty to do and see. On the PS4, Watch Dogs provides some truly spectacular visuals, interspersing arcade-like fun with segments of realism, freely. This will certainly keep Sony fans busy for quite a while.
Naturally, the real star of the show here is the title’s gameplay, which comes off a bit like an evolution of GTA or RDR (by Rockstar). Aside from the combat or driving, the main mechanic here is the hacking, which isn’t quite as involved as we might have wanted to be, but it remains fun and engaging nonetheless. In essence, the entire world is chock full of hackable items, which Aiden can manipulate quietly in order to facilitate other goals and so forth. It might not sound like much, but this simple addition really opens up the game and makes it feel more dynamic (while also providing something to do aside from simply moving around or following the storyline).
They also managed to include some satisfying stealth combat as well, with certain warehouses allowing for infiltration and silent takedowns. As if that weren’t enough, there are also several engaging and slightly unconventional multiplayer modes to play around with as well. Most can be triggered in-game while you’re tackling the story mode, with one basically being a sort of cross-play affair where tablet users can interfere with your player’s path and progress. Clearly, they put a lot of thought and effort into developing an interesting online component, which basically comes as an added bonus to an already stunning package.
Watch Dogs is basically just what the doctor ordered if you’re a PlayStation 4 owner that’s been waiting for an awesome open world sandbox experience. There’s an incredible amount of activities and content inside as well, with plenty of territory to explore. Hands down, this is a must-buy for all PS4 owners.
Rating – 9.4
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