Rating

B+

Specific Ratings

GraphicsA-
SoundA
GameplayB+
Replay ValueB
Learning CurveB+

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Open World
  • Hack Nearly Anything
  • Variety of Gameplay
  • Cool way to play with/against others
Cons
  • Other gamers dropping in and interrupting you
  • Hack a camera to hack another to hack another...

Watch Dogs (PC)

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Summary

A quality GTA knock-off, expect that and enjoy it.

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Description

This is my first review and I did it because I felt like this game got a lot of flak for maybe not living up to its hype, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'll explain why. I say it's a GTA clone or knock-off but truth be told I haven't played a GTA beyond 3 and some Vice City in a long while. I enjoy open world games though and played Saints 3, 4, Crackdown and others and really I've enjoyed Watch Dogs the most in the genre. Saints was too flashy and over the top while Crackdown was meh. Watch Dogs is set in reality and it mainly sticks to that - no double jumps, fall damage, real weapons, etc.

Watch Dogs hit a really well balanced level of gameplay. Being open world there's tons to explore and try to collect, but since it's tied to realistic tech (to a degree) from present/near future all of the collectibles can eventually be found on the map. Speaking of the map it takes several cues from Assassin's Creed, where you have to unlock the towers to expose the map - sure you're not climbing them and diving into hay bales, but you have to figure out how to reach the control box. The main missions are a decent variety of fetch, track, kill, steal and others and it never felt like a grind. Even considering the unique side missions that was the case; however, there are 'crimes' that occur a lot, all over the map near you, and they get repetitive. Completing them is pretty simple and quick and that affects your social meter that defines how the NPCs will react to your vigilante character. I generally had my meter maxed as I'd do those crimes, but killing civilians when driving around or being reckless will lower it back down.

The story I felt was decent. I wasn't expecting much and after beating it and fully wrapping up the extra stuff 2-3 weeks ago I can still recall decent amounts of the main story and that generally doesn't happen. So the story was good enough for me. It at least helps give cause to the mayhem and killing you end up doing. And I believe the killing was what some had issue with as they figured that Aiden (main character) would be an 'ethical' hacker, or a nerd. But Aiden is clearly shown as a 'fixer' with the skills and means to do what needs done. What gets missed in that is many missions, especially some of the side ones where you're tasked with taking down a pimp, drug dealer, gang leader, etc. You have to actually take them down and NOT kill them and you're then given the option to escape or kill the remaining guys, so you can go with a less lethal approach. That option was nice as I often preferred to just escape doing my best to maybe take down/kill 1-3 guys, then the target(s) and escape leaving the majority of the enemies either fully or largely unaware of my presence.

The setting is Chicago and I liked that. The well-known bridges provided plenty of interesting ways to prevent guys from following you but the map was diverse to a degree with sections in a nearby town called Pawnee plus plenty to do in the suburbs, industrial, docks and downtown districts. I'd get lost every so often, but enough land marks and the map were enough to find my way quickly. Overall the setting and layout were cool. The day/night cycle was also decent even if I found myself avoiding doing too much at night because my PC monitor was next to a window and the bright light made it difficult at times to play during the games night hours. Graphically I wasn't impressed, but equally wasn't let down by how it looked.

Online aspect - Whenever you're not engaged in a mission your game can be invaded by other players seeking to do 2 main things - either harmlessly trail you or hack your phone and steal some data from you. The first is often completely unnoticeable by you, but the 2nd can be a pain, but is also some of the most exciting aspects of playing. The invading player gets 5 minutes to get close enough to hack the other players' phone, and then has a minute and a sizable area to find a place to hide and perform the data dump. That takes around 2 minutes. The hacked player needs to find the hacker and profile and kill him, if possible. While getting hacked can be annoying and frustrating if the hacker is very smart at hiding, doing the hacking and remaining hidden during the time, when every 25% narrows the area you can stay in, is often heart pounding excitement. It sucked to do the hacking and get profiled (sometimes killed) and lose the hacking event, but you'd almost always learn from it and it was thrilling overall. Getting hacked was fun too. Trying to and, for me, often at least spotting and scaring off my hacker was satisfying. There are a few other multiplayer things to do - races, a challenge to get through the city while another player controls the cops trying to stop you, and a team event where you try to get and hold a key while it's decrypted - all 3 are fun, especially the last one.

Overall the game was solid and easily worth the $5 I paid. That said, based on my enjoyment I would have been happy to have paid easily $20, if not upwards of $40, and I don't buy games when new. So if you haven't played it and can snag it for $20 or less it's well worth it. The PC community was still decent when I played from April through May of '16.

Last note - Using Uplay was a little crappy, especially compared to Steam, but oh well. And I put 2 days, 12 hours and 12 mins into the game according to AMD Gaming Evolved. That's likely a little high as I left the game running a time or two, but 2 days, 6 hours sounds about right, so it's not a quick game.

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