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Watch Dogs Review (PS4)

Watch Dogs is something that everyone has been looking forward to since it was first announced. It’s obvious that many people have pre-ordered the game already in the hopes of it being as awesome as we all thought it was, and thankfully, you can relax.

The game is really awesome and has a number of really cool aspects that I will touch on a little later. In terms of a quick comparison though, it’s almost like a sneaky Grand Theft Auto. Obviously there are a lot more features to the game and the functionality is quite far beyond that of a GTA but it has certain points that are really positive and some that are just a little negative.

Let’s kick it off with the story for this open-world action-adventure. Players take control of Aiden Pearce, a skilled hacker and due to some incompetence from him and his partner; he ends up getting implicated in something which leads to the death of his niece. Pearce then seeks to bring justice to the killers through means of information warfare. This involves the player hacking, controlling and out-smarting their enemies rather than just gunning them down. The city runs off one central operating system, the ctOS. Pearce is able to hack into the system and manipulate things the way he wants to. You are able to gain access to bank accounts, surveillance cameras, personal details on other citizens and a whole bunch of other information that make hacking a solid and integral part of the game, especially against enemies. However, gunning down enemies is a perfectly viable option as the game has some really solid mechanics in that department.

My first choice for the review would have obviously been on PC although the PS4 version does get some extra content, but the PS4 version runs at 900p at 30 frames per second so it’s not ideal. In terms of visuals though, the game does look great but I think the PC version may be the best-looking one of the lot. It most certainly feels like next-gen but doesn’t look as good as some other titles I’ve come across on the platform. It has some very appealing night-time views and locations and the character looks very good but there are some brief animations, especially on vehicles that look a little out of place.

Talking more about the game though I think all of the fundamental mechanics are really there. The driving, while a bit arcade-like is definitely manageable. I found the physics to be a bit off but at least the damage model seems rather accurate. It‘s a bit strange when driving though because it feels like the city almost loses a little life and when comparing walking on the street with driving around in the car, there is just less hustle and bustle. The world is really alive though which is a great aspect that Ubisoft has been able to get just right. However, Chicago seems to have a load of scumbags in it because it seems like every second person has done something heinously wrong and is under some sort of huge pressure because they have something hidden away. Perhaps it’s Ubisoft’s way of telling the world that nobody is perfect and that’s okay.

More of the core gameplay resides in the world of information. It’s a real thinking game which is where it may differ from other games in the genre. Players will switch across from camera to camera, disabling gates and hacking little units to get the information needed. There is a nice aspect to the game where players can really play the way they want to play by doing things a certain way. I found this to be quite often the case but a few missions resulted in just having to shoot my way out, which while fun, may not have been the ideal method. Distractions also work really well when trying to go the silent route. Many people may have thought this was a gimmick coming into the game but it’s definitely a huge addition. It makes the gameplay so diverse and the stealth can really work if you have the patience. It feels like each and every situation presented to you is more like a puzzle than something straight forward.

Core fighting mechanics are definitely there too. The AI is quite intelligent and will often try to flank you and come up from different angles. There is no separation in combat and hacking which is a nice added bonus because while gunning down one enemy, you could detonate another enemy’s explosive through your phone. Using specific hacking tools every now and then works wonders too. Things like the Jammers work ridiculously well when in the heat of something big and the cops start to follow your trail.

The game does quite well in its soundtrack and with an added multiplayer, should be something worth playing again. In terms of soundtrack, the game has a somber, yet fitting orchestra to it and has well-voiced characters to boot. The game is obviously very high quality and Ubisoft has done it justice but perhaps may have slightly missed the hype train in some aspects.

The somewhat clichéd story leaves something to be desired though but with so much to do in the game, you will always find something else to distract you and keep you busy. The game really hits its stride when you come into contact with your close, newfound friends.

Overall it seems that Ubisoft has taken quite a known open-world formula and put its own spin on things. The hacking in the game is just so much fun; you could sit and do it all day. In fact, I did mostly sit and do it all day. I was able to find a number of interesting people and take many a dollar from them by infiltrating their bank accounts. The game is perhaps let down a little bit by the driving mechanics and having the next-gen version not running fully up to scratch may disappoint some gamers. Interestingly though, you will soon forget about all the negatives when you get lost in the world of hacking.

Score: 85 / 100