Posted 02/06/2014 by BrightHouse Team
Watch_Dogs is a new open world action-adventure game from the creators of the Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy series. Set in an alternate modern-day Chicago, the game follows Aiden Pearce as he seeks revenge for a personal tragedy, unravelling a web of conspiracy as he does.
It’s a set up that will sound pretty familiar to most of us, and indeed the game will look pretty familiar to anyone who’s played a Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row game. In Watch_Dogs, as in these other games, you navigate from a third-person perspective, exploring the city, stealing cars, and annoying the authorities, but the big difference here is the extremely clever smartphone that Aiden carries around with him. This remarkable little device allows Aiden to hack into and control all sorts of systems, as well as view people’s private information. With a simple key-press he can see a person’s texts, listen to their phonecalls, download their banking information, and find out interesting and unsavoury facts about their private life.
Aiden can also use his phone to access ctOS, the city-wide computer network that manages all of Chicago’s systems. You can look through security cameras, cause power-outages, overload circuits, burst water mains, and even bring down a helicopter without firing a shot. If you’re being pursued in a car chase, just change the traffic lights behind you to cause an accident, or raise some bollards to block off your pursuer. The possibilities are immense, and the city really starts to feel like a playground for you and your magical mobile phone.
There’s also a very exciting multiplayer element, where another player can slip into your singleplayer experience and start ‘hacking’ your data. You receive an alert that someone is stealing your information, and then a frantic search for the intruder begins. The other player will look like a normal NPC, so you have to scan each one to reveal the hacker. These events create a real sense of tension and vulnerability, as a human player may have been tailing you for several minutes without you even knowing. You can play in offline mode if you don’t want to be bothered by these multiplayer events, however.
These dynamic aspects of the game are what really make it so enjoyable. Getting yourself out of scrapes, and infiltrating enemy strongholds with creative use of the city’s digital systems never gets old. The game does fall a bit flat where its plot and its protagonist are concerned. Both are fairly predictable and well-worn formats, with Aiden Pearce as somewhat of a Batman-type character: mopey, bent on revenge, and always talking in a gravelled whisper. The game does touch on the moral implications of being able to see into everyone’s private lives, and how this affects your actions when it comes to killing or sparing an individual based on snap decisions of their worth, but it certainly doesn’t reach any great depth of thought on these ideas.
Overall Watch_Dogs looks like a game that’s been made many times before, and it certainly can feel that way at times. However, when the focus is moved away from the bland narrative and moody protagonist, the gameplay is very fun and engaging, and will give you many hours of fun as you play with the city’s systems to cause havoc.
Watch_Dogs is available now on Xbox One, PC, and as part of the PS4 Bundle at BrightHouse.