Review: Watch_Dogs

If you’ve bought Watch_Dogs and just have it sitting in your Steam or game disc collection, I’ll skip to the end for you: play the game.

I’m a fairly huge fan of open-world games where you can just go and do whatever you want. I guess I’ll specify that it’s really only when you can do what you want to do out of the list of things to do in any order. Watch_Dogs gave me a lot more freedom to be able to access my inner paladin more than almost any other game. When you get reports of a crime about to happen and you can u-turn and stop it. It was freaking sweet (even if it got a little played out near the end).

If you want to get away from the cops, jump into a boat. If you want to play Watchdogs on a more "hardcore" mode, never use a boat to get away from the police... it's way to easy!
If you want to get away from the cops, jump into a boat. If you want to play Watch_Dogs on a more “hardcore” mode, never use a boat to get away from the police… its way to easy!

Watch_Dogs basically starts with a job gone bad and hit on you gone wrong. You end up on a full city run-a-muck to figure out what in the world is going on and who’s to really blame for the death of your niece that died on the hit gone wrong (basically). Watch_Dogs has a few twists and turns that kept me interested the whole way through. Well, enough to have me come back and finish the game. Granted, there were a lot of interrupts in my playthrough, but sometimes that spells a non-finished game for yours truly. This was obviously not the case here.

Proof, I actually did beat it! For some reason it kept the cursor on the screen and it feel very unprofessional, but whatever...
Proof, I actually did beat it! For some reason it kept the cursor on the screen and it feel very unprofessional, but whatever…

There are a ton of things to experience besides the main story (which is why it took me 72 hours to complete the game after I stopped myself from doing all the random stuff). You can investigate people smuggling, stop crimes, play AR games and find QR codes hidden at funky angles. One of the things I didn’t do too much of were the Fixer jobs where you help whoever has a problem that needs “fixing”. The issue I had with them is sometimes there are good causes, but more often than not you’re helping some less-than-savory type of person and that didn’t jive with my good-guy approach to gaming.

How you approach the action in Watch_Dogs is mostly up to you. You can go for the stealthy or full guns-blazing approach. The only issue here is the same issue I had with Deus Ex: Human Revolution before and after they patched the bosses. You could play through the whole game and not kill anyone, but as soon as you got to a boss you had to have a shootout which killed the completely stealthy approach they were going for. Even after they patched Human Revolution you still ended up killing the boss in a cut-scene. While Watch_Dogs dances on the same line, the situations that “force” you to use your guns that aren’t attached to your fists seem to be less forced and completely suited to the situations. Whether the situation is that you’re suddenly and completely out-numbered or something extremely horrible happens to a buddy. When you are put into the position of whipping out the pistol it feels exactly like the right thing to do. I was still reluctant to do so since I’ve spent hours sneaking around gang hang-outs taking everyone down with stealth, but it still didn’t really break the immersion.

It's always the church goers that want a peice of me... what church are they attending? Are they sure it's not Fight Club instead? And if it is... when did Fight Club become a church?
It’s always the church goers that want a piece of me… what church are they attending? Are they sure it’s not Fight Club instead? And if it is… when did Fight Club become a church?

I have only two gripes with my time with Watch_Dogs and one of them isn’t the graphical settings. When Watch_Dogs came out on the PC, it was pretty buggy if you played on the high-end settings so people had to set the specs down and that was a huge negative for some people. It didn’t affect me as much, but I really had to turn the settings down when I did my CToS challenge on Twitch. I didn’t have the processing power to stream and play the game at the same time. It’s probably time for an upgrade and that’s completely on me.

The driving was such a pain in the butt. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to PC gaming. I love my mouse and keyboard and will usually prefer them over any other option. Most of my shooters don’t really have driving in them or it’s a tank and then it’s fine. In actual driving simulations there is a gradual increase in speed that a keyboard cannot duplicate, but a controller is specifically designed for. I have to use a controller whenever the driving starts. I’ve been able to play some of the game with a controller since I usually just sneak and melee, but still having to jump back and forth since I am more comfortable with the mouse and keyboard was kind of a pain. I have no fix for this because I understand what they were going for and you can’t achieve it with a keyboard. I still lament because I suck at shooting/aiming with dual joysticks.

The above video is part of the CToS challenge I put forth to my readers and streamers where they could use the Watchdogs app and try to wreck me before I get to the end, it was a lot of fun… most of the time. Having a random person control the cops and traffic while trying to get to specific checkpoints was a very fun addition to the game.

The other and biggest gripe was the hacking. Now, it’s cool that you could walk around and hack people and get more music and stuff, but stealing is where I draw the line most of the time. That is, of course, unless you’re stealing from some scumbag. What’s funky in Watch_Dogs is that while you have all this hacking power and can do all sorts of cool stuff, you can only hack 45-ish% of the people walking around and it’s completely random. What? Do so many of the people walking around have a way to beat me at my ability to hack their smartphone?!? Really? That’s just dumb… if I walk by a some jerk that uploads child porn and can’t hack and steal money from him/her, but then ten feet later walk by someone who gives money to homeless shelters if up for grabs? Why not everyone? That would make more sense. That’s some seriously messed up mechanics. Maybe they didn’t expect me to read all the little stuff, but… I did. Bad call Ubi, that’s just a dumb and crappy decision.

My goodness, what a ride.
My goodness, what a ride. Walking around, stopping crimes, racing people online and stealthy gameplay? Watch_Dogs was easily one of my favorite games at the time and when I finished it recently I have to say that I still enjoy my play time. That story was pretty good for one of those generic action movie flicks. So it wasn’t super deep, but it had some “twists” and while I may have seen them coming, I enjoyed taking part in it. I did feel a little cheated by some of the mechanics built into the game, but in the end that didn’t ruin the experience. Some even added to it. This was a game I would say shouldn’t be missed by almost anyone. Action/FPS/stealth fans are all welcome here. I bought it for the straight $60 when it launched and while I couldn’t play on ultra settings, it was money well spent.

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Jonathan Amarelo Sig

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