Watch_Dogs is perhaps the most anticipated game this year spanning both consoles, the only other cross platform that comes close is perhaps Destiny. The launch on Tuesday (27th May) came almost a year to the day that the dozens of editions were announced, months later than first planned. The biggest triple A title to be released so far, had the most hype since sliced bread, as there’s posters everywhere, trailers on every hour on some channels, YouTube adverts, Facebook adverts and so on, which I’m sure will be the case for Destiny as well, seeing as it’s got a humongous $500 million budget to spread around on marketing. I will stress this is the first of 2 articles, this being my first hour in the game, with my full view of this title due out once I’ve given it the hours it deserves. These views are very early and obviously my thoughts will change and my ratings will be very inflated at the moment, compared to what they will be in the second article – but I’ll be interested to see the change of scores.
Perhaps I’d hyped myself up too much, but the start of the game didn’t go as planned. Despite being very surprised at how small the download was to put the game onto my console (what’s up with this by the way, I don’t think enough people moan at this factor), I was bogged down by quite lengthy loading screens before the usual Ubisoft trick of slowing down after one mission to give you a long cinematic clip. I’m all for cinematic clips, but this dragged and it got to the point where I seriously considered stopping playing and picking it up again at another time. The same happened with Assassin’s Creed III for me, I was so bored by the time I’d done the first two/three missions and cinematics that I packed the game in as a whole, as a consequence I never picked that back up and to this day (almost turning June), I’ve not been overwhelmed to try out IV: Black Flag either.
The game’s introduction also lacked much difficulty. Not once did I feel like I would be caught or figured out during the ‘training’ mission I suppose, which perhaps doesn’t test the player as much as you should be during training and getting ready to play a game that has up to 50 hours of gameplay inside. This feeling was reflected about 30 minutes later – whilst attempting to stop my first crime. The guidance was piss poor in my opinion. I was told to find the suspect, so I scanned the area using the phone as instructed … all fine and dandy, spotted etc. I go to the area that the suspect moved to, to apprehend him and stop him doing the naughty deed. This suspect, who had a ‘potential criminal act’ rate of 20%, walked down an alley, when the task changed to ‘stop the crime’. I ran down the alleyway and intervened and interrupted, for the commentary to tell me that I had no evidence against him so he can run away and he’ll try ‘again another day’. It gave me no clear guidance to collect evidence or listen in or anything and worst of all, it gave me no second chance to attempt what was the first criminal act I’d stumbled across.
From here, I decided to cut the story/missions/side-missions for a bit and investigate Chicago and the districts within the city. Wow, I loved what I saw. It’s great cruising a city and more fun changing any lights you’re approaching. The smash mechanics on the cars was something I personally hadn’t heard much about in the run-in to the release, but it’s one of the most noticeable differences between Watch_Dogs and similar titles. Although you may not go smashing out of the car through the windscreen like GTA IV, the motion of the cars upon impact is fantastic and hacking the lights to change signal always leads to damage, chaos and death. Despite choosing to stay away from the missions for a bit, there are plenty of symbols of mini-games around, all of which are not immediately available until you’ve started to unlock them through the story.
After a while, I finally got round to doing what I wanted to do since I’d seen the first trailer – target a CtOS point and cause mayhem and wreckage. This was fantastic. I loved switching from camera to camera outside the red square on the mini-map, the perceived area that would mean I’d be attacked on site. Hacking the phones, triggering car alarms to scare people, before moving construction machines up and down to move the enemies in bulk to the next point, where I exploded an object. This is the most fun I’ve had during my short time so far in this game. Hacking is quite fun, but I can understand how it may become quite stale quite quickly, but for the time being I’m enjoying it, especially weaving hacking cameras and phones and causing explosions into the solid combat. The shooting mechanics are simple, dot on the screen, shoot to kill, but chasing down enemies in my cars before seeing them crawl out is seemingly fun. I enjoyed it so much, that I even tried recording a clip of it, but for some reason (despite going through the snapped upload part), it popped up with a recorded message about 5 minutes later, thus being totally redundant. I’m actually quite interested to see how many people are also having the issue with the recording function seemingly being delayed by a number of minutes. It seems to be a real issue on the PS4 that you can’t even save a video clip, just a screenshot, but my version of this problem is on the One.
The game’s open world is fantastic to traverse and really sucks you into the different zones, but the look of flashbacks really annoys me. They try to interweave the look of real life into the dream with the matrix in grey/ black and white, and it looks ridiculous and clunky. Every time one of these cinematic clips occur, I get so pissed off and put off, I leave the room or look away from the screen at something else for a relief from it. Words can’t comprehend how much I dislike it actually. One thing came of this … I really listened to the voice of Aiden Pierce … What the hell Ubisoft? Am I playing as Batman or something? Aiden “Who’s calling you up”, Sister “just a crank call”, Aiden “a grown man don’t make crank calls, I better look into this”, it’s a bloody mockery. This back and forth is one of numerous instances where Aiden pretty much wants to don a cowl and become Batman.
Shame to leave my first look and hour into this game on such a sour note, but I look forward to reviewing this once I’m neck-deep in Watch_Dogs, instead of just ankle deep. Check back for more coverage of Watch_Dogs, as well as videos if we can sort out that issue.