Watchdogs was fun, a little fiddly but more importantly an eye opener. When I first saw the first look demo of the game being showcased on YouTube as one of the games coming on the next generation consoles, Playstation 4 and Xbox One, I was excited. The graphics looked good, the gameplay looked even better. The gameplay actually looked like it was over-promising too many things that had never been done before in a game.
The games story line is based on the premise of hacking a city that is digitally interconnected in a modern day first world city. That is a dead giveaway when you watch any of WatchDogs’ trailersor look at the game’s cover image.
Without going into too much detail and revealing too much, the game does have a decent storyline but not one to rave about or one that will be winning awards anytime soon. Some characters where underdeveloped or just felt unnecessary or a bit too try hard. This I partly felt, was because a lot more had been put into gameplay’s physics and environment. The concept of hacking however is the thing that makes the game unique and is where the value proposition is, and therefore it’s biggest drawing card.
In WatchDogs you feel that a lot was invested into the inner workings of the world, way more than the story. The more you play the game and become comfortable with the way it works, or frustrated depending on your gaming level, you connect the dots and realise this game trying to compete with Grand Theft Auto (GTA). After all, GTA has a monopoly on a third person, free roaming, mission optional and story driven adventure game built in a modern day city.
The only other game that came close to competing with GTA would be Assassins Creed but we all know that is predominantly a game staged in the past. As a result, to compete with the King of the hill in this genre Watchdogs had to do GTA one better and hacking was the key. Most people are intrigued by the concept of hacking or find hackers themselves cool, so Watchdogs just had to execute the concept with some killer gameplay.
“This was made to feel easy to do in the pre-release walkthrough but had some shortcomings in execution.”
To be honest, Ubisoft just gave us a game that is not smooth but works without major bugs. The gameplay isn’t riveting and you will definitely hate it when someone tries to hack you, well at least I never found them. This was made to feel easy to do in the pre-release walkthrough but had some shortcomings in execution. One’s you will be willing to overlook while enjoying your imagination connecting with the game’s overall concept.
Design & Engineering
The textures in the game are good and glossy enough, granted I only played it on a PS3 so there could be a drastic difference on the next generation consoles. Defining the rules for a whole city, especially one where a player can choose which part to explore randomly in a non linear fashion is hard. I won’t even pretend for a second that these guys have not ticked all the functional boxes but it does feel like there is room to make Watchdogs a well balanced game.
One thing to remember is this is a first version of the game. That is impressive considering the standards we now expect from a GTA type game weren’t built in a day.
While GTA has definitely set the bar high, Watchdogs makes a great start in this genre as the newcomer. It definitely feels like someone wanted to make a game about hacking, went and figured out how to make it work, then later on realised they needed a storyline. After that realisation, they then figured out a way to work it in while trying to figure out how to make the player explore all corners of the map.
From here on out, things can only look up as Watchdogs has a solid starting point. I am expecting great things from the next one. Even between now and then, I am willing to pick up this game again and give it a whirl as the concept is just unique enough to explore again.