Reviews: Watch Dogs

A mediocre game, but a great idea

This review is edited from its original and edited formats.

So, I replayed the game, and my opinion has substantially changed, with me paying much more attention to details. Essentially, I missed out on several more subtle aspects that made me come off as a dick. However, now that I've replayed it, I believe I can offer a more valid opinion.

First off, in my original review, I stated the game isn't misogynistic. Upon replaying it, I realized I was wrong, but not in the way I thought. The game is accidentally misogynistic. It has few female characters, not a single Action Girl in sight, and the only female characters are a Damsel in Distress and a Ms. Fanservice, respectively. One of whom dies by the end. However, I'm not docking points for that, as I feel it was accidental.

But the writing has far more issues than that. For one thing, the protagonist, whilst cool and likable, is ridiculously one-sided. He has a gravelly voice, and no emotions other than "angry" and "angrier". The characters in general, excepting T-Bone and Clara, are generally quite dull. Ironically enough, Iraq, one of the villains, comes off as much more interesting. Kinda like Vaas, he makes you wonder what a game focused on him would be like.

However, where the game's writing shines is in its reinterpretation of classic Pulp and Noir ideas. Effectively, Aiden Pearce is very similar to a modern version of The Shadow, and it shows in the writing. Sadly, it has its issues with that, as the Noir and Pulp stories were often quite racist and sexist, if indirectly.

The shooting, whilst rather generic, is quite fun. A lot of the hacking, however, is too slow-paced, and the driving is awful. That said, it's a neat idea, and the sequel improves on it substantially.

Overall, it's a firm 7.5/10 in my opinion. A neat idea, and a playable, enjoyable game, but just not enough to make it a good one.

Ultimately a mediocre cover-based shooter

The game starts off well enough – the protagonist, Aiden Pearce, is confronting the man who caused a car accident that ultimately killed his niece. It was a hit on Pearce in revenge for Pearce doing a job at the Merlaut hotel, where he walked in and hacked into the system along with his partner, the shady Maurice. After beating up the man in search of the men who sent him on the job, Aiden still doesn’t get the answer he wants. He is forced to sneak out of the stadium and create a distraction while his new partner, Jordi, smuggles the man out.

Aiden is forced to cause a blackout, turning out the lights in the stadium and creating distractions so he can get past the cops unseen. When he gets out, the police chase him in an exciting car chase, and after Aiden finally escapes, he goes back to his hotel to talk with a mysterious hacker who might be able to get him some more information.

This sequence is really great and does a great job of selling the game to the audience – we see a number of characters, we get a revenge plot going, we have a central mystery to solve (both who ordered the hit on Pearce, and why), we see the comedy relief in the form of Jordi, and we see… okay, Pearce himself sucks, but whatever. How can all of this not come together into something awesome?

Ubisoft found a way.

The trouble, in the end, is that the game is very scattered. The central premise of the game is that you are a reformed “fixer”, a hacker/thug, but a great deal of what you do in the game is not only blatantly criminal, but the main sidequests are taking out hits on other people and stealing information. For a supposed vigilante, you’re pretty much just blatantly a criminal, possibly even worse than the people you’re facing off with given your body count and reckless use of various military grade weapons, including the game-breaking grenade launcher that one-shots almost all enemies and vehicles. And three quarters of the game's rather scattered and disappointing plot is devoted to Pearce being blackmailed - and Pearce himself is a boring character.

Indeed, for an uber-hacker, you really just feel like a thug with a gun and a magic smart phone that various real hackers soup up for you – which would be fine if the game actually called you out for that, but it really doesn’t do much to do so.

The only real highlight is the drop-in multiplayer, which is really brilliant - you have fixers on your tail, and you are after bad guy fixers, so you dropping into other people's game works well, and them dropping into yours wholly unannounced to start hacking you instills a brilliant sense of paranoia.

Sadly, the rest of the game isn't up to that standard, and in the end is just a mediocre cover-based shooter with a gimmick.

Women and The Videogames Who Hate Them

!!!spoilers!!!

Christ, this story was a letdown. Despite the hacking plotpoints, the conspiracy plot, the paranoia plot and the gang related plot, it's all just a ruse to cover that old classic "Women are dead, and men are upset about it" plot. Your love interest and only useful female with a plot important backstory, is killed abruptly in a cutscene.

She is killed because you rescued your kidnapped sister. Your sister was kidnapped because your niece was killed. Your niece was killed because Rose Washington was killed. Rose Washington was killed because...[blank space].

Rose is most frustrating, because the mere inkling Aidan found out about her is what caused hitmen to try to kill him. When you first hear her name it sounds like she was involved in some some major conspiracy...no, the only important thing about her is the man who killed her.

Aidan Pearce is a trenchcoat and phone on a mission for revenge of dead niece, and then rescuing his living sister, then revenge again but for dead love interest this time. That's as complex as he gets, while never speaking above a growl-whisper regardless of circumstance. There are also no cutscenes or dialog about how Aidan an his niece got along before she died. Sister has no background, no portrayal on her feeling on her own daughter's death, and a son that just gives her something male to talk about besides Aidan.

When you confront the Big Bad and his big reveal is that a woman died, you screwed up the story somewhere.

The big hacking gameplay watch_dogs boasts is only interesting at first. Becoming repetitive after a while and even unnecessary sometimes when you can just shoot people quicker. Car chases can go exciting to annoying as they drag on because you can't shoot without exiting the car. And that fucking hacking mini-game over and over. Interest only returned when you must guide someone through cameras to safety a few times.

If you hated the GTA 5 protagonists and Kratos from Go W because they're not nice people at all, at least they had actual (horrible) personalilties beyond a pair of clothes and vaguely good intentions. Aidan needs no less than three girls endangered or dead to justify his bad actions where GTA 5 guys or Kratos wouldn't really need any.

Which is why I play Aidan as a total psychopath.

Best played on PS 4

A New Take on Vigilantism

Watch Dogs is a surprisingly refreshing take on the "vigilante" concept.

You step into the Trench coat wearing shoes of Aiden Pearce, a hacker by trade with a dark past. He was originally a criminal, hacking into the bank accounts with a partner named Damien Brenks. Everything changed when the duo decided to hack the bank accounts of the rich people inside the Merlaut Hotel. Aiden had a hit put on him when his partner recklessly chased data that they had nothing to do with. His niece paid the price.

Aided by a colorful cast of characters and his smartphone, he began a quest of vengeance and redemption.

While some gamer's may be irked by Aiden's blandness, I feel that this initial game is sort of like a prequel in of itself. Setting up events, characters, and gameplay for future installments of this series.

Aiden is a character that has potential, but he needs to be desperately expanded upon before I can make a total decision regarding him.

With everything taken into account, gameplay, characters, setting, etc. I rate this game at a solid 7/10. It was alright, but there is a good bit of room for improvement.

A speed review of Watch Dogs.

Story: Weak (Seriously it is weak)

Characters: Jordi is a hired assassin and it is hilarious (Oh and something about Aiden, he’s kind of bland. Better fix that in future.)

Driving: Kinda buggy

Gameplay Mechanics: Bullets, guns, crafting, shooting, bullet-time, hacking, different kinds of hacks, contraptions, non-lethal takedowns. Is good, buggy still.

Setting: Oh my god the US is slowly being filled with a high tech AI system that watches over people while being used by a shadowy corporation? I wanna learn more! (Sadly no we focus on finding the man responsible for a death of a family member)

Sides items: Digital trips are awesome. Missions that take down a human trafficking ring? FUCK YES! Hangouts! AR stuff! Whoo!

Final View: This would have been better as a straight up sandbox game that lets you play around with the mechanics, with the ability to customize cars and such to make each your own. Or if they wanted to focus on story, make it about the implications of having ctOs, and how that effects the city and the individuals when their lives can be predicted by a machine that watches them everyday.

Overall: Fun game with a weak story, it would have been a bit more forgettable if not for things like the digital trips. Will play again and I look forward to the sequel (Cause hopefully they will fix their flaws).

Seriously if they make a sequel it better be improved.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/reviews.php?target_group=VideoGame&target_title=WatchDogs