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Watch Dogs (The killing fields of the information grid)

Ubisoft’s ambitious open-world hacker shooter, Watch Dogs, chases a unique idea, while providing very familiar gameplay.

>: Enter Aiden Pierce

Aiden is an intelligent and lethal man who has a strong understanding of the omnipresent information grid that has taken over the city of Chicago. Aiden, like most hackers, tries to exploit the grid and hide from it at the same time. His personality is marred by his not so pristine past that drives the narrative, but it lacks depth and intensity. Aiden is a shadow and yet is well-known in the underground world.

The story is driven by Aiden’s involvement with some seedy people that ended up getting his sister tangled up in his mess. Aiden is picking up the pieces of the relationship, and also trying to the find the people responsible. Its not the most interesting, but its slow pace make overly boring. Unearthing the heart of Chicago’s ctOS is far more interesting. The characters introduced are other hacker types that include friends and villains that gamers will find a tad cliche. Personality wise, characters are hallow and need stronger motivations. Only a few really shine through in the cyber narrative. ‘Jordi Chin is very well written.’

>: Enter Chicago

Aiden’s digital exploration takes place in Chicago. (A lovely place outside of Chi-Iraq.) It was nice to see a rendering of my hometown, but it wasn’t a great example of city planning. The downtown Loop area feels authentic as does driving on lower Wacker Dr., but the surrounding areas that depict the ‘Northside’ and the poorer ‘Ninth Ward’ seem pasted together with the bustling inner city.

Very similar to the Grand Theft Auto series, stores and ads are named by cliche, which takes away from the authenticity of the game. Also, it becomes noticeable when leaving hideouts that NPCs respawn in the exact same places and say the exact same things. Bah!

The cleanliness of Chicago was also too polished for the millions of people that live there. Unless in the future the homeless were systematically removed…

The night time atmosphere is extremely well done. Lighting looks fantastic. The day time lacks personality, but the glare from the sun is the best I’ve seen; too bad the shadows don’t stand up to it.

Overall, Chicago is a perfect place for travel and getaways with trains, underground roadways, and a lake. Chicago is extremely detailed which provides the bulk of its realism, but the poor execution of defining the day-time atmosphere takes away from its presentation.

>: Enter Gameplay

Ultra similar to open world games such as GTA and Assassin’s Creed, main missions are tucked between a plethora of side missions that include Fixer missions, ctOS towers, ctOS control centers, weapon caches, hideouts, poker games, chess matches, digital trips, and so on. An all too familiar visual for gamers. 

The ctOS that controls Chicago’s electronic assets helps Aiden impose his will during every moment. His phone keeps him jacked into the system to control cameras, change street lights, spike strips, laptops, bridges, ATMs, and of course phones.

Aiden uses the grid to his advantage, while unleashing a full arsenal of weaponry that would put Chicago’s South-side gangs to shame. Aiden is a walking tank, but he does lack the rigidity as he dies quite easily. Falling from height of 20 feet or more will also end him, usually by accident.

To make due with sudden deaths checkpoints are plentiful especially on segmented driving missions. ‘Thank you for not restarting the timed driving portion!’

The connectivity of Watch Dogs is quite compelling. Multiplayer cues pop up on the HUD and can be accepted or ignored. There are a handful of different game types and players can even try to outrun mobile gamers as well. The idea is fun, fast, and is not mandatory so it works rather well.

>: Error

As a few hours pass it’s apparent that the cut-scene detailing is lacking. Facial details are visually under preforming. Shadows could be better and things like steam or fog are badly done or non-existent.

It is quickly noticeable that there is far too much in mission driving and, in addition, vehicle handling is dreadful. The lack of shooting from a vehicle is bothersome, since Aiden must wait for an environmental cue to take out enemies on the road.

The entire metropolis of Chicago is wired, so environment cues tend to be a little overwhelming. What is important and what is not takes time and requires fast eyes and decision making, which for some gamers may be too difficult to do efficiently.

>: Rendering in progress…

As technology creeps farther and farther into our lives Watch Dogs utilizes a familiar topic. Hacking is all too real in our reality and bringing that to the forefront helps build Aiden’s world. ‘Knowledge is power.’

Watch Dogs brings an exciting idea to the table, while providing a fun open world to unleash hell in. Aiden’s story is weak, but his world is modern, interesting, and sets a good precedent for the future. 8.5/10.

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