Three Purchases in the last 6 weeks I regret – 3) Watch Dogs

*In Ewan McGregor’s Obi Wan Kenobi voice*… you were supposed to be the chosen one! My last purchase probably comes as no surprise to people who’ve read my first thoughts on Watch Dogs. To say I was underwhelmed, disheartened, disappointed and indeed even gutted, doesn’t come close to summing up how I felt whilst playing Watch Dogs. The hype around it perhaps meant it was never going to live up to what was expected of it, a fact that I feel is best highlighted by using Metacritic – the Critic reviews are all around 80 out of 100, whilst the User ratings come closer to 50. This huge difference points out one thing – getting the game for free adds quite a lot to what you think of the game!

I just feel so negatively about this game and it’s hard to describe what went wrong and why precisely it’s so, so bad. The rise and fall of this game will be examined by everyone, not just Ubisoft. It’s not been a flop by any means – 8 million units sold testfiies this, but the scrutiny around whether we were shown images that were better than what were actually released and many other points makes me ponder the future of this IP. It’s obviously going to get a sequel; it was always going to have a sequel, it’s Ubisoft for Christ’s sake. This is all of our faults…we all hyped this game and now we look at probably an OK game like it’s a surprise someone would want to release it.

Considering it’s such a new IP and a step into the future, Watch Dogs doesn’t actually offer many new concepts or ideas, with the idea of the hacking concept being drilled down to its bare roots and being so simple to do; which we should all be thankful that its not as easy as this game makes it! The city isn’t too bad either – it’s just in comparison to GTA V, this game is hugely lacking in feeling like a city. That feeling of driving for minutes to get end to end of the map for your next mission is not present like GTA… disappointing for next-gen open world, although the driving handling is pretty good in terms of it holding well and responding to crashes well.

For a crime-fighting vigilante, Aiden Pierce/Batman, seeing as that’s what Ubisoft pretty much put in front of us, we commit an awful lot of crimes and not just the violent kind (I know this is what the word vigilante means, stop crime by being a criminal). But the fact we’re hacking bank accounts for our own gain, makes no sense, especially as the plot revolves around the payback for him doing this to someone wealthy, it’s funny just how many more times he’s willing to do it (despite saying no more..)

The gunplay is strong, realistic in the sense of getting shot will probably kill you, but it’s easy to use the environments to your advantage in terms of hacking to blow up whatever you can until there’s nothing left then gunning any that have managed to survive. Hiding whilst being shot is where the struggle occurs, as hiding behind cover is a bit clunky and hard to get fully into.

I haven’t actually got much against this game, despite my constant criticism about it. There are some parts that are fun, but the video clips and stop start of the missions takes out any momentum that it tries to pick up, which just kills a game like this. Of course, you want to be able to do stuff in the open world, that’s why we want games with an open world after all, but it just seems to have no flow – Whereas GTA V seems able to pull you back in whenever you want to go back into the story mode instead of just roaming, killing, having fun. It’s definitely one to pick up and play, perhaps even just to understand the frustration, but it is fun and with the hype train fully turned over, it could be fun for those who didn’t actually expect much in the first place from this IP. The comparison to GTA doesn’t end at open world, as walking around the city, you hear more than your fair share of profanity – It’s an 18, so it’s not a negative, but the level of swearing does get ridiculous at certain points; coming from a man who’s tongue is dirtier than a raccoon that’s been run over many, many times. What bothers me about this, is the fact that CtOS that’s watching over them all can hear them all swearing and they don’t care that it can hear? Surely not so many people would be so brash in public? Maybe that’s what people are like in Chicago.

What kills the game is a slow generic plot (fair enough, they changed the lost one to his niece and it revolving around his sister and not a wife or girlfriend), but Yahtzee was correct when he said that Aiden Pierce seems to be having a much harder time dealing with it a few years down the line than the girls actual mother. The slow plot isn’t helped by the fact that Hacking isn’t used to the degree it should/could have been, and insists instead on using go here, shoot that, or avoid that, the generic mission stance for these games.

Oh well. I’ve bought it now… think twice before you buy yours.