June 4, 2014

Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs is the Ultimate Ubisoft Collection

Ubisoft has many hit franchises, each known for their distinct gameplay. Splinter Cell. FarCry. Assassin’s Creed.  What would happen if all of these franchises were amalgamated into one ultimate collection? Well, you might say you’d get something called Watch Dogs.  That’s exactly what this behemoth new franchise feels like.  Watch Dogs wants to compete with the likes of the open world giants such as Grand Theft Auto, and it succeeds with ease.

In Watch Dogs, players take the role of Aiden Pierce, a criminal hacker who hacked the wrong people at the wrong time and got his niece killed.  Now he is on the search for the people responsible for her death.  Utilizing the power of the always on, always connected world of Chicago’s ctOS, an ever present monitoring system, Aiden can tap into any camera or any individual devices to do whatever he wants. Spy on people, steal sensitive data, obtain access to vehicles, bank accounts, and much more.  It is an allegorical view of what our connected world is potentially becoming even today with the security cameras and systems we have everywhere.

Watch Dogs Screen 1

It is the hacking mechanic that really sets Watch Dogs apart from the other open world games we’ve seen.  It is also this ability to hack that gives players the ultimate freedom to play this game however they see fit.  In order to gain access to the many points of interest in the city, there are several ctOS buildings that need to be hacked.  Players can stand outside the zone and, by hacking security cameras, can look around the compound, find the guard with the security code, hack his device, then hack a door, hack another security camera and get into the ctOS mainframe without ever setting foot inside.  Alternatively, if players like the direct approach, they could simply hack the front gate and walk inside and take out each guard stealthily or even in a deadly firefight.  There is incredible choice presented in Watch Dogs making each encounter completely unique to every player.

The unique experience of Watch Dogs doesn’t stop with the single player either.  Players can choose to go online and hack any available online player which places them into another player’s game with the sole purpose to hack and steal information.  When this happens, the hacked player must use their abilities to search for the hacker and stop them before the hack is complete. Should the intruder be found, they must then get away without getting killed.  This is definitely an incredibly unique online experience, but the randomness of it does become intrusive if you are in the middle of completing a side quest, for example.  Unfortunately, this online hacking is completely random. Players have a choice to turn this on or off, however, and there is no ability to choose to hack your friends or only allow friends to hack your world.  Should you choose to turn this feature off, you will lose any and all points and unlocks you have obtained so far through online hacking. It’s an all or nothing choice and one I hope gets modified sometime soon.

Watch Dogs Screen 3

Every aspect of Watch Dogs, whether is it the cover based shooting, the stealth, or the all out action packed racing through the city, is very well done. Controls feel tight and responsive while every vehicle feels like it has its own unique set of quirks.  Big muscle cars ‘feel’ heavy, while the motorcycles zip through traffic with ease.  As I said above, Watch Dogs really feels like the Ultimate Ubisoft Collection.  It is the culmination of everything that has come before it and, perhaps, what is coming next too.

The main story will take players many hours to complete and the numerous collectibles, side quests, and activities added to that makes Watch Dogs an incredibly massive game. There is definitely something for everyone here and the variety of activities keeps things interesting.  The main story never feels like the same thing over and over again as all the different types of side quests and activities are integrated into the story at one point or another.  One mission might be a simple hacking mission, while another may be an all out gun battle, and yet another a race through the city with cops and helicopters on your tail.  Watch Dogs is a huge game and is a wonderful taste of what this next generation of games can truly bring us.

For more on what is available in Watch Dogs, be sure to listen to Episode 105 of The OMG! Hour podcast where we talk extensively about the game, the city, the content, and even the next generation crowds.

Watch Dogs Screen 2

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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