Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Watch_Dogs: PS4 Review

Watch_Dogs: PS4 Review

Platform: PS4
Released by Ubisoft


Delayed for the launch of the PS4 amid much consternation and gnashing of teeth, Watch_Dogs arrives with a whole heap of expectation on it.

And this open world stealth video game lives up to the hype.

Set in Chicago, you are Aiden Pearce, a vigilante, whose method of getting around is hacking the central operating network, aka cTos, to achieve your ends. Nefarious or otherwise....

But these days, you can't have a hero without a moral dilemma and a story arc. Pearce is out to avenge the death of his niece, and is looking for those who killed her after a robbery he was central to didn't quite go according to plan. So, armed with a smartphone and an ability to go wherever you want, Pearce is on a mission - complete with a world full of citizens to use, exploit or aid in his journey.

Watch_Dogs gives you so much power.

Like Grand Theft Auto V, the scale is pretty impressive - even amid criticisms that it's set within just one city. Personally, the first few hours of the game, after a fiddly opening set piece, was spent just roaming around the world Ubisoft have created, marvelling at the surroundings and also the depth that the world had to it. Each person you walk past is given a character trait by simply pulling up your smartphone and basically accessing cTOS. It must have taken forever to assign all of these and it's a great touch, because unlike other crowd based games, they're all individual and all different, giving the world a genuine feel of a proper cross section of a population.

There's an also an overarching story line here for you to follow, and to be honest, it's very hard at times not to get completely distracted by the world that's been created by Ubisoft. Reliant on your hacking there are a series of ways which you can use and abuse this privilege. From pressing Square around people on the street, you can empty them of portions of their bank balance or listen in to their conversations; if you're in a chase, you can use it to change the traffic lights or pop up bollards, wreaking havoc on any would be pursuers. And then, you can use it to get into the story missions, using cameras to unlock doors and secure areas to access towers (a la Far Cry 3) to open up the world around you. Then there are the minigames within which see you needing to use skill and prowess or wreak havoc - the possibilities are endless in many ways.

People weave into your lives as the story dictates - from Jordi Chen, the smooth operator who helps to a Girl With The Dragon Tattoo-esque hacker who reveals herself early on right down to the quietly spoken menacing bad guy, there's a rich tapestry of life within. Each is involved in Pearce's quest in one way or another (and there are further characters down the line - but to spoil those is to ruin your game) and adds to the mythology and life of Chicago in some form or another.

Combat is smooth as well - from the moment you reveal a gun, it all just gels. But what's even better, is the world reacts to that as well. Pesky passers-by call the cops, presenting you with a dilemma; intimidate them and see if they'll hang up ; or kill them outright to stop your world coming crashing around you. The great thing about it is this is a living breathing world around your character, it's a real step up from the relative lifelessness of the likes of Grand Theft Auto where the side characters do very little.

Along with the characters which you have to interact with, the world of Watch_Dogs is a truly incredible and enjoyable one to be part of. It's the scope of the game which impresses and which will keep you engaged for months to come - particularly with the fact there's due to be plenty of DLC on the way.


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