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Review: Watch_Dogs

One of the most anticipated games of last year finally arrived on different consoles. Watch Dog’s first trailer was so unbelievable, since it was the first step to next gen: different new mechanics, a big open world, and an interactive environment… The bar was set high and it became even higher when they delayed the game. Will the game rise to one of our favorite games or will it crash like a phone being hacked?

Watch Dogs is set in the near future and plays out in Chicago. Chicago adapted to a world that prefers easiness instead of security and that’s why everyone puts their faith into a big corporation named Blume that lines everything up into one big operating system: CtOS. In other words, Blume controls everything from public mechanics(traffic lights, bridges, …) to personal matters ( bank account, job description, ethical opinion,…). Everyone goes by their daily lives accepting the fact that only one corporation maintains every single feature in town, thinking no one will abuse this very valuable resource for their own good and maybe for the sake of others. But then there’s this one vigilante that’s skilled in hacking that goes by the name, Aiden Pearce. With the click of a button, he hacks into the system and tries to make the world a better place by rescuing damsels in distress, making assassinations, fill up his bank account with the public ATM’s and if he has time left… he’s even looking after his loved ones.

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Aiden’s phone gives him a lot of opportunities to influence the environment in his advantage as he hacks his way into the CtOS operating system. The combination of a low level security operating system and an awesome hacking phone forms up a big playground! At first the CtOS gives you a huge load of information on every citizen, like hobbies, ethical ideas, bank accounts, ,… and this information seems like nothing but it is pretty much a big deal! It can give you clues for a certain mission, predict where the next crime will be, unlock new songs, etc. But let me give you some other ideas of what you can do with this adorable device! Imagine you’re chasing bad guys and they are almost getting away… What now? No problem, activate traffic lights to give them a hard time crossing an interstate. Or think about a situation where you are the fugitive! Is the Police chasing you and giving you a hard time? No biggy, open a bridge to remove access to a certain street or even better, block the entrance of a street by activating traffic bollards. Not only will you control the streets of Chicago in your car, but you’ll also have some big surprising advantages for you to access on foot. For example: explode an electric cabinet, steam pipe, … all in favor to catch runaways. So the stage has been set! Camera’s ready and action!

Did I say cameras? Exactly, cameras are also a big deal in Watch Dogs as they give you some interesting ways to approach a certain mission. The use of these camera’s give the setting of Watch Dogs a more realistic way. Let me explain why! You can access the view of every camera’s you see and you can jump from one camera to another as long as they are in each other’s view line. What can you do with these cameras? These cameras lets you control everything you see from the camera’s point of view, even when you’re a mile away! It’s very useful in stealthy missions: lure a guard away and then get rid of the guard by exploding his phone in his side pocket. If the mission fails, you’ll be safe since you’re a couple of blocks away.

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The main missions of the game are very fun to play. The most fun thing to do, is thinking about how you’re going to complete the mission. It doesn’t feel like a copy- paste work to fill in the time. Of course an open world game wouldn’t be big without its side missions. Side missions are easily found, since you’re being contacted through your phone. You still choose if you want to accept the mission or not. Even if you missed your call, you’re still able to pick the side mission up by recalling your contractor. Of course, not all side missions are unique; it does have a repetitive feeling about it. Each mission is different but then again all side missions in the same category has been built with the same standards like the previous one. The main goal of the side missions will often be the same but just with a different topping!

 

I’m looking forward to play the sequel! 

 

Throughout the game, you earn points by doing missions and of course how you complete a mission, will affect the amount of points you’re getting! For example: If you’re chasing someone, you’ll get more points by knocking him out rather than killing him. If you earn a certain amount of points, you level up and get a skill point that can be used to unlock different skills in the skill tree! The skill tree is varied from hacking skills to driving skills. You can even unlock a “ focus skill” which lets you “ slow time” during combat, very useful! Thanks to the skill tree, you’ll be able to form your own play style!

We can all confirm that the game is good and that it has its unique play style but there are some performance issues. The ambition to make a game this big and unique, gets ahead of the smoothness of the game. I played the game on the PS3 and the console has to make a big effort to play the game fluently. There are several frame rate issues and the graphics aren’t that great. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks good, but I have a feeling that the game may be better off on the next gen consoles such as PS4 and Xbox One. The loading screens take a while to be fully completed but then again, once you get into the game it doesn’t bother you that much. After all, the PlayStation 3 is like 6 years old! It’s amazing what it still can do!

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The multiplayer is fun but the single player kept me hooked for most of the time. It’s very easy to access the multiplayer, just access your “in game phone” and get involved! There are different modes: hacking, tailing, racing, decrypting and being chased by the police that use a real CtOS app on their tablet. Hacking is all about installing a backdoor in the mobile phone of another player without being captured. Tailing is about following your target with them noticing. Decrypting is a game mode where 2 teams of 3 persons have to get their hands on an encrypted file, where the opposite team has to steal the encrypted file by killing the person with the file or by hacking into their mobile phone. The last mode needs to have another person using a tablet with the CtOS app installed. The game mode is about the console player running from the police that are being controlled by the tablet player. The tablet player can also use all functions of the CtOS app such as releasing the traffic bollards, exploding steam pipes, …

Conclusion:

The game delivers the expectations thanks to the whole playground Ubisoft is offering you and the strong story with its excellent characters. There are some improvements that Ubisoft can take into account such as the side missions, the performance issues and the arcade driving. But all in all, Ubisoft delivered a fun game that sets that bar of uniqueness a little bit higher! I’m looking forward to play the next Watch Dogs! Maybe even with a collector’s edition that gives you access to the same mobile phone that Aiden Pearce uses!

8/10