Chicago is one of the grittiest cities in the United States, the home of violent gangsters and he Winslow clan from Family Matters. Ubisoft has managed to create an open world Windy City that feels just as poignant as the real one. Though the game certainly isn’t without its share of flaws, the complaints don’t outweigh the fun of Watch Dogs.
Aiden Pierce’s story is a revenge tale that sees him playing the strong brooding type, who also apparently likes to keep his neck warm. Its narrative is fairly predictable and that wouldn’t be a bad thing if we had more from our protagonist. His personality is a bit to wooden for the audience to grab on to, but luckily the game is filled with a cast of shadowy supporting characters you’ll meet along the way.
Watch Dogs doesn’t look as good as its infamous E3 demo would have you think. There isn’t a whole lot of detail in the game’s environments, many models look plain, and in some instances, it looks worse than the last-gen Grand Theft Auto IV. But that isn’t to say Ubisoft’s virtual rendition of Chicago isn’t without its own luster. Watch Dogs offers up multiple themes (downtown, suburbia, and rural areas), all of which are packed with secrets and detail. A lot of work went into crafting every NPC, which seemingly all have their place in the world. Scanning random citizens will inform you of their salary, as well as a tiny tidbit about their life, from affairs to crimes. This feature could have been better utilized in the gameplay but the departure from traditional NPC’s gives the game a more –anything can happen– appeal.
Where Watch Dogs tried to set itself apart from other games in the genre is the hacking. It was all we ever heard about for months on end, the promise of the city as a weapon. A promise that has been fulfilled in the the game to a minimum extent. Yes you’ll be able to over charge electronic devices to blow or raise barriers to stop cars, but it all feels like after thought. Luckily hacking isn’t a slew of mini games that get boring after the 3rd time you do them. Ubisoft is on to something with this type of gameplay but they need to make it truly feel like an extension of character.
Watch Dogs also comes with various online multiplayer modes for value. There’s a whole lot more to do in the city of Chicago. There are tons of minigames to find, collectibles like QR codes to hunt for, and a ton of well-crafted arcade games.
Ultimately, Watch Dogs doesn’t hurt the genre but it doesn’t feel like the evolutionary leap hyped by Ubisoft. It’s a solid game experience that can keep gamers occupied until the fall games roll out.