Friday, 30 May 2014

Why I Love Watch_Dogs

Two years after its stunning unveiling at E3 2012 ushered the first glimpse of the next generation of gaming. Ubisoft's cyber crime open world game, Watch_dogs was released this week. I was there at my local branch of Game at midnight, ready to embrace this on my new shiny Next Gen platform, the PS4. There is a part of me that can't believe that I am actually getting to play this on Next Gen kit. I had expected to still be rocking the PS3 when this came out.

There have been alot of people on the Internet heavily criticising Watch_dogs for lots of reasons. I have seen comments about its bland lifeless world, shonky driving, pointless hacking, not next gen at all and the list goes on. Normally, I steer clear of these kinds of debates, but I want to tell you all my experiences with Watch_dogs.

Smile Aiden... Smile! That is your best

The opening of the game is brilliant, you get to see the possibilities of the game world. Hacking in camera feeds at the touch of a button, jumping from camera to camera, using every angle to get the advantage over those trying to stop you. You can go aggressive and use that info to take guards down, or take the stealth option using distractions to sneak around them. Then towards the end,  you get to perform your first blackout, which means hacking a transformer to overload and causing a localised power cut. Watching the crowd panic and the cops dropping their guard as you silently sneak past them all in the darkness is an awesome experience.  Finally you have to make a dash in a car out of the police search area. Which means speeding head on into oncoming traffic,  racing down backstreets and alleys,  until you finally lose them and and you are told to make your way back to your hideout.
Except I didn't. In fact I spent the next hour wandering the streets profiling citizens with my smartphone, hacking money, music and vehicle unlocks from their personal data. I listened into their phone calls, read their texts and used the security camera network to monitor them. I used the ctOS crime detection system to be Batman and race to the scene of potential crimes and saving the day at the last minute. It was fantastic and for the first time in a open world game, there was no urgency to progress the story. The game just allows you enjoy the world straight away.

Obligatory KABOOM! screen

Alot has been levelled at the games visual quality and how it does not compare to the original showing at E3 back in 2012. Well, to me it does compare to that level. The games engine seems to be suited to night time and rain. The virtual Chicago looks incredible during a rain soaked stormy night. On the other hand, bright sunny days do look stark and harsh in comparison. It is still a great looking game and still makes me happy to be part of the future. Although for the first time in my gaming life, I can noticed the difference in the screen resolution and can see that the PS4 version is only running lower than 1080P.

Comparisons are being made to GTA V, which is expected. Although, I don't feel that you can rightly compare them. Whilst both games are open world epics, Rockstar's crime opus is brash and loud. It is all about the action and guns and the chases. Watch_Dogs, in my opinion, is the opposite of GTA. It is about stealth and espionage in an open world enviroment. Early on in the game, you do a story mission that requires you to infiltrate a ctos central server, which is heavily guarded. I had watched several Twitch streams of people playing this section in the run up to the games release. I saw players sneak over the perimeter fence and silent take down every guard until they reached the goal. Likewise there were players who went in guns blazing, killing everyone who crossed their path. So when I came to this mission, I was amazed by what I did. I parked up, took cover around the corner from the server site and by using the cameras, I was able to infiltrate the site, steal the access codes and even hack the server without stepping a foot inside the site. One finished I walked away and not a single used even knew what had just happened. The sense of power at that moment was incredible, I felt that I could do anything in this world.

Your Smartphone can give you information on anyone in the city

Alot has been made of the online aspect of Watch_Dogs and the way it is implemented in the game. There is not a separate multiplayer component to Watch_Dogs. The multiplayer element is integrated into the single player game. In the similar way to Dark Souls, players can invade other players worlds. Whilst invading you can the other player's data to earn prestige to unlock more tools and abilities. The person being hacked has to try and find you and then kill you to stop the hack. I have been invaded several times and it really adds a level of tension to the game. I saw one reviewer recommending to turn this off to allow you to concentrate on the campaign. DON'T! By doing this you are turning off part of the games unique features. Unfortunately, there is no way to hack your friends worlds, yet. Hopefully, this can be rectified by Ubisoft. I haven't even had time to dabble into the other online modes like racing, free roam parties and the ctOS Mobile app that allows you to control the police from a tablet or phone, in order to capture a escaping player in-game.

The Theatre from the E3 2012 reveal looks amazing.

The time I have spent in the world of Watch_dogs has been great. I can't wait to dip deeper into the game and the storyline. The game is exactly what I wanted it to be and I hope that many other Gamers can enjoy this to level that I have enjoyed first few hours with the game.

Oh, one last thing, I must be a enjoying this game as I bought the season pass. First time I have ever bought a season pass.

Watch_Dogs is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. Wii U version to be released this summer.

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