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Watch Dogs
Watch Dogs

Nintendo Wii U | PC | PlayStation 3 | PlayStation 4 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One
Genre: Action
Developer: Ubisoft Official Site: http://watchdogs.ubi.com
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date:
2014
Watch Dogs

Genre: Action
Developer: Ubisoft
Official Site: http://watchdogs.ubi....
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date:
2014
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Watch Dogs Review
Review By @ 05:04pm 27/05/14
PS4
Watch Dogs’ biggest downfall might be in its intimacy. The game works hard to engage you as a beacon for justice and revenge; to right the wrongs of a dystopian modernist society in its digitally-recreated Chicago -- but in doing this it forgets players have choice. It’s not a bad thing, rather the role of a vigilante is perhaps less defined than the game would like it to be and, through its touching story of family and loss, this player-choice is at odds with how Ubi want you to play the game.

As an open-world entry Watch Dogs is right up there with the best of them. Its city is alive with personality and charm -- you believe the game’s NPCs are going about their business and that they have purpose. It’s perhaps one of the biggest differentiators in the space and an area I’ve pointed out in other pretenders -- a living city needs life to feel alive so that you can function, believably, in it and in this department Watch Dogs delivers in spades.



On PS4 Watch Dogs is gorgeous. Whether it’s a gusty, sunny Chicago day or a rainy night, the game never ceases to amaze. Its draw-distance is second-to-none and the engine always feels like it’s two steps ahead of what you’re doing. I never encountered any slow-down or performance hiccups, except for a few times in multiplayer, and given the deliberate trainwreck that can become (in a good way), I can see why. We’ll get to the wonderful asymmetrical design of multiplayer shortly, but first we need to talk peripheral.

While I alluded to the game’s misguided sense of player-choice earlier, it’s important to point out that outside of its story, Watch Dogs is a heck of a lot of fun. There’s a lot to do in the stunningly recreated city and most activities do lead towards the progression of your character and therefore your game. You can check into myriad locations as if you were using Foursquare, and you can also leave goodies for other players in the real-world as rewards. These also come with historical notations which works to further that sense of this Chicago being alive and functional, but does feel a bit borrowed from Assassin’s Creed.

You can pick up different music tracks playing around the game-world like you were using Shazam on your phone and add them to your collection, or you can engage in fun augmented reality games riddled throughout the playspace. You can even dabble in what’s called a Digital Trip to arcade your off-story experience up the wazoo -- these are perhaps my favourite breaks from the story in the game, and I sincerely hope we see more and more in post-release content -- combine Carmageddon and Mad Max, and you’ll know what I’m talking about with these.



Collecting cars, buying clothes, crafting and more are all cogs in your peripheral gameplay machine. It’s these parts of the game that keep it all moving, but they’re perhaps too disconnected to the game’s story to be driving components meaning you’ll often find yourself side-tracked with them forgetting your quest or, you’ll get too tied to your quest to worry about sinking yourself into all the city has to offer.

It’s not an entirely diametric situation though. Early on in your story the game will guide you through most of what you can do outside of revenging and the hacking component is a tether between you and every activity in the game. In fact it’s in the hacking side of things that you learn to make the journey your own, and playing with the city in this way is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the whole experience. Initially you might feel overwhelmed at your options, but once you learn restraint and recourse, it really does become the slogan: “Hacking is your weapon”, and you’ll wonder how games like this ever existed without it.

It’s important, however, to make note that where the GTA series usually fails, Watch Dogs succeeds and this has nothing to do with your in-game mobile phone and its superpower. Movement and combat are sublime in Watch Dogs -- switching into cover and remaining stealth is handled here with aplomb, while your contextual movement through the game-world while in action mode is slick and stylish -- it’s here you can feel the Ubisoft pedigree at work, but rather than copying the AC series, Watch Dogs holds back on the parkour to give you a more believable and grounded set of movement tools. It’s the sort of design sensibility you don’t often see, where less is more, despite ‘more’ being popular and marketable elsewhere.



There is a sense of familiar design though, and it often doesn’t gel with what the game is working towards. Unlocking ctOS spots and opening up your peripheral activities, for example, is borrowed a little too heavily from other Ubisoft games, and works against the game being its own beast. Missions are also a bit linear, and the narrative feels a bit on-rails at times. This works heavily against the idea of an open-world, and as I’ve mentioned a few times, its design is at odds with the peripheral activity available to the player. A more coherent sense of freedom from the story component would have been good, but it’s clear how the two just don’t get along.

But is it acceptable? That’s a question for you and your requisites for this type of game. Multiplayer here, for example, is so much fun it should be illegal. It’s also asymmetrical in design leaving it so far outside of what we know in the space that it might not even be wholly adopted. It doesn’t feel tacked on by any measure and in many ways, it manifests as the sort of directive the campaign should have strived for. It’s important to understand and know that the game isn’t boring or broken because of its narrative linearity or disconnection between the city and the story, but it lacks a level of cohesion that would have tipped it in the right direction.

What you can walk away with is, like Assassin’s Creed before it, Watch Dogs has walked into a genre otherwise owned by one of the most popular and rewarded developers in the industry and holds its own. The question will always be “is it better than GTA?” and at this stage the answer is invariably no, but it’s early days for a game that builds on the strengths of its core marketing line, while balancing itself out on various fringe areas. It fails to expand upon its own principles though, and as a result remains slightly out of line with its potential. But damn, what potential it has.
What we liked
  • A technical marvel - Chicago feels real and alive
  • Peripheral activities are fun and engaging
  • Hacking really is your friend
  • Movement and combat are fluid and fun
  • Multiplayer is not your normal affair and is fun for it
  • Digital Trips are awesome
What we didn't like
  • Linear narrative breaks the player-choice of an open-world
  • City diversity is lacking
  • Disconnect between progression and using the open-world
More
We gave it:
8.9
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
Eorl
Posted 05:22pm 27/5/14
Finally got my GMG code, downloading now. Super excited to jump into the world of Big Brother Chicago and profile all the pedestrians. This really seems like an open-world game where I won't feel forced to run from point A to point B as quickly as possible, instead soak in that gorgeous view and really vibrant city life.
Ice9ine
Posted 05:33pm 27/5/14
I was torn between PS4 and PC only so I had had SOMETHING to play on my PS4. Chose PC on the eleventh hour and damn, am I glad I did. Running ultra looks genuinely stunning. From what Ive played, this game is an incredible open worlder.
Deviouz
Posted 05:35pm 27/5/14
Going to grab this now, I needed that Ausgamers seal of approval!
Eorl
Posted 05:41pm 27/5/14

Oh for those sporting Nvidia cards, the green team has posted up a great guide on tweaking Watch Dogs to the max, including a really in-depth table on optimal card settings: http://www.geforce.com/whats-new/guides/watch-dogs-graphics-performance-and-tweaking-guide


RuleofBooKz
Posted 05:53pm 27/5/14
cheers for nvidia link eorl -

Built on Ubisoft Montreal’s new, scalable Disrupt engine, Watch Dogs brings advanced graphics, effects and technologies to the table across multiple platforms. On PC, gamers benefit from higher-resolution textures, city streets teeming with additional NPCs, richer effects across the board, support for resolutions up to 11520x2160, an unlocked frame rate, and additional NVIDIA technologies that further improve the game’s graphical fidelity.


From the link yeah id say getting the PC ver was the way to go.

the new beta drivers also look good
Jeffro
Posted 06:01pm 27/5/14
8.9/10 huh. Yea I thought it would get good reviews. I'm only playing it on Xbox One and am happy with it.
Audi
Posted 07:15pm 27/5/14
Downloading now.
infi
Posted 07:38pm 27/5/14
I really want to start playing this but my key seller is holding out! ffs

Well in the meantime Tropico 5 is kick ass. Very difficult too, no walk in the park for strategy fans.
glynd
Posted 08:07pm 27/5/14
1 hour left with download ... can't wait
Mosfx
Posted 09:59pm 27/5/14
There is one thing I feel missing from this game, I intruded onto someones webcam and it's a 73 year old cancer patient dead on the floor of his home, I hack his phone and his son left a message saying "hey haven't heard from you in a few days hope all is well you should see the kids your not a bother" and I had 'dem feels' but thats it I wish I could call the police or ambulance or notify the son of the death or have the option to break into his house and steal all his s***. Just those open world options are missing
Viper119
Posted 10:41pm 27/5/14
Nice, I'm reassured by the positive reviews. I'd though it was going to be s*** based on some press a while back.

it's doing well on Metacritic too: http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/watch-dogs

Any word on if the PC version is ace? Or if should grab it on PS or Xbox?
twenty1
Posted 11:51pm 27/5/14
The PC controls are awful.
From horrible mouse acceleration in the menus and the game and then differing sensitivities in game between aiming and camera control, to then a terrible console system of weapon switching and handling of the in game phone which is used to upgrade stats etc. it all leads to a very frustrating experience thus far.
I certainly hope that more time with the game and progressing the story will keep me interested despite these annoyances.
Eorl
Posted 09:15am 28/5/14
Haven't had your problems at all Twenty, though I guess I've just adapted. You can turn mouse acceleration off if you'd like, just go to C:\Users\[name]\Documents\my games\Watch_Dogs and you'll find a folder with GamerProfile in it, open up with notepad.

Change these lines to be 0 (if they aren't already): UseMouseSmooth="0" Smoothness="0"
ph33x
Posted 11:53am 28/5/14
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twenty1
Posted 09:46pm 28/5/14
and now the mouse scrolls onto my other monitor whether full screen or windowed causing the game to minimize whenever i click, i think i'm done with this game :(
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