Watch_Dogs: The view from here

This is my POV of Ubisoft’s latest game, Watch_Dogs.
Warning, there are minor spoilers in this rundown! 😉

Fixer spotted you                 source: gamespot.com

I was lucky enough to get a first glance at a demo of this game at last year’s Gamestop Expo.  The demo booth was run by one of the Frag Dolls (Esper!! <3) and one of the play-testers from Ubisoft.  Aiden was voiceless, and we saw the vigilante miss an opportunity stop a crime, hold up a shop owner and evade the police, flawlessly.  I was mesmerized.  Since its announcement at E3 2012, I have wanted this game.  Nothing stopped me from wanting it.  The hype, the trailers, the gameplay footage, the other news outlets talking about it. Nothing.

Picking it up on May 27th — I find myself intrigued and ultimately pleased with how the game turned out!

So far, I’ve managed to put a few hours into this massive game, playing most of the story missions to pass time.  Here and there I’d stop to play some poker, even managed to become entertained by the puzzle solving games they’ve made with chess and I’ll even grab a few of the incoming transmissions to stray me from the linear way.  However, I’ve found that the incoming mission offers, the phone calls from various characters in the game, the mini-games along the way, all the way down to the HUD, the game is very very busy.  Normally, this would bother me but this actually poses a very nice mirror to our own lives.  You hear your phone buzz, you go for it. It’s a text message from a friend.  You hear that ringing on your computer, it’s another friend on your social media page  Then a little notification pop-up from the television.  It’s your console alerting you that another friend has logged into their account. I won’t really dig too deep into the meaning of this, but it seems like a very symmetric juxtaposition of our reality with technology and what is to come.

Hacking the City                        source: ubisoft

I haven’t had much experience with the online portion of the game, other than a handful of fixers coming into my game.  It’s frustrating sometimes; when I’m trying to get across the city to a mission I try to start the mission but am blocked from this since someone is trying hack me. It is random which is a bit realistic as life is unpredictable but with this mode overall I am a little disappointed we can’t hack our own friends yet. Even though I see something like that possibly getting out of hand — I think being able to log into someone else’s game to create some havoc would be quite entertaining.

Another thing I have noticed, and I’m sure your other friendly neighborhood gamers have said the same, is that Watch_Dogs has no sense of morality; there is no consequence for your actions.  A close comparison to this game is Infamous, the open-world sandbox type of playground, but what that game had that this title lacks is its meter that leads to a different ending if you make “wrong” or “right” decisions.  I put them in quotes simply because it is definitely up for interpretation whether or not certain actions are deemed in good faith or with bad intent.  For example, in Watch_Dogs, you are allowed to hack into a bank account of a woman walking down the street.  When the analysis pops up that she is a cancer survivor with a gross income of only 20,000 a year, there’s no remorse felt by the lead character Aiden Pearce.  Hell, even the trio of GTAV had some scruples.

This now leads into my next point: Aiden Pearce has not found his way onto my list of “likeable” characters.  Now, I understand each character has a reason for their attitude or actions but I’ve been playing this game for a while now and I’ve only come to find that he’s somewhat of a douchebag.  Driven by the anger which stems from the death of his niece Lena, we meet Aiden on a mission, already in a state of despair.  As we move beyond the mission to its completion, we meet a couple of his colleagues — to whom he is a complete jerk, blowing off any assistance.  I find him to be very cold, and because of this, he is detached from absolutely everything.  Not sure if this was done on purpose to give us an undesirable anti-hero, something different than the norm, but I can honestly say I’m not entirely sure how to understand him. While I admire his determination to seek justice, he just seems like such a downer with a one-track mind. The others featured in the game, like his partner Jordi Chin or Clara Lille seem to have more of a three-dimensional aspect about them, I’ve found them quite entertaining and bring some life into the story.

Jordi Chin & Aiden                source: ubisoft

Don’t let my opinions of Aiden fool you, though. Watch_Dogs is actually a pretty spectacular game. The controls are pretty comfortable, aside from the driving (I prefer the motorcycles!), and the scenery looks amazing.  It makes you wonder what sort of surveillance is being run now, and how far we are from a fully electronic city like this future-Chicago.  Even with the reservations I’ve listed above, I am still enjoying the game.  I’m hoping to see some things turn around for Aiden in the end.  I still have a long way to go before the end of the main storyline, but Stay tuned for my followup to this as I progress!
Thanks for tuning in!!
-IC Krys

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