Jun 5, 2014

Video Game Review: Watch Dogs

In Watch Dogs you take the role of Aiden Pearce, a vigilante hacker in the city of Chicago on the path of revenge. Prior to the start of the game Pearce and his partner Damien have a hotel heist go awry, upsetting an unknown antagonist who wants Pearce to pay for his screw-up. Pearce's niece gets caught in the crossfire and now he has to avenge her death by using his smartphone to hack into Chicago's central operating system. This gives Pearce the power to access just about anything and anyone.

Watch Dogs has roughly 8 hours of gameplay which isn't a long storyline, but average for a First-Person Shooter. The problem is this game isn't a FPS, but it's a 3rd person free roam, the likes of Grand Theft Auto. A longer story with less emphasis on the hacking abilities would have really added a lot to the enjoyment level of this game. Hacking into a server, phone, or other device takes up much more of the game than desired.

Besides the story there's plenty of side-activities to spend time with. All kinds of mini-games from chess and poker, to drinking games or cash runs. Then there's over 80 side-missions including investigations, gang hideouts, contracts and convoys. Investigations can help to unlock perks for the perk tree and are a nice change to the average "go here find this" collectible. However, after doing a few of each activity, I felt it as more of a chore to complete the rest. There is also some online hacking to partake in including hacking into someone, or avoid being hacked, and races. This feature feels kind of unnecessary to even exist.

Speaking of perks, there's four branching skill trees: combat, driving, crafted items, and hacking. Each have different special abilities tied to them. The majority of them can be unlocked through the storyline, while finishing off special cases gains the rest. The driving skill tree seems to be the most useless, while crafting and hacking are extremely useful.

Graphics wise, the game looks amazing. Occasionally texture screw ups or a random floating bush can be found but nothing game-breaking or downright annoying. Controls handle fluidly except it is painfully agitating to have to reload with the left stick.

Final Say: Watch Dogs was a game meant to hit shelves in November 2013 but got pushed back until May 2014. After having to wait an extra five months and beating it in roughly 8-10 hours in, it's unclear what the extra development time was used for. Overall I thought the game had cool things and some fresh ideas but not a lot that hasn't been done or seen before. A halfway decent storyline, great graphics, solid controls, and an abundance of activities to keep you busy. Watch Dogs rates at...

7.5 / 10.

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