Watch_Dogs has been in development for more than half a decade. Becoming a highly anticipated release after its reveal at Ubisoft’s E3 2012, a high bar was set for what players expected to experience in the game. However, perhaps the bar was set a little bit too high for them to make it all the way over.
In Watch_Dogs, players take on the role of Aiden Pierce, a highly trained hacker who can hack into the CtOS, the mainframe which controls all of connected Chicago. As you progress, you can choose to use your hacking abilities for good as a vigilante or evil by criminal means. The story is interesting and Aiden can come off as a character who doesn’t really show much emotion, a faceless character in a way. The game tries to make you feel for Aiden as you interact with his hacker friends and family, but it just doesn’t convey it well enough and in a way it also is a reflection on the voice acting. The story missions are relatively linear, except for stealth (get to that in a moment), and offer a fair amount of suspense and interest, but in the end the lack of characterization in Aiden is a letdown. A high point though is the variety of stealth missions in the game and the ability to choose to dispatch enemies lethally or just beat them to a pulp with Aiden’s baton. Either way, it will go towards his good or evil quota in the end.
As Aiden plays through the city, he will earn experience which will be used to level up to fifty. Players will be able to unlock a variety of upgrades based on points earned through leveling and completing missions. Some require only one and others require more. They are broken into combat, hacking, crafting and driving. You can upgrade his skills and defense of cars within driving, his adrenaline meter within gunplay, as well as his abilities with various weapon types within the combat area of the skill tree. Upgrading various aspects of the hacking will allow him to hack more things around the city of Chicago and with greater skill. Finally, crafted item sets will allow Aiden to craft various little gadgets like IED’s, blackouts, makeshift grenades and more, which ends up becoming a very useful skill set.
The expansive city and surrounding area of Watch_Dogs Chicago is a character in itself in this massive game and there is no denying that. It pulls off realism like few other games do, from the bustling streets during the day and night, shops crowded with people and riding the L-Train packed full of people. This sandbox is filled with joy and things to play with. From the wide array of mini-games available that range from chess mini-games that are test to Aiden’s brains, poker matches or silly drinking games and much more, players will not be bored for a moment while exploring this world. Digital Trips also offer insane and unique gameplay options for those who want to take a break from the norm. You can be a giant robotic spider, bounce around on giant flowers, take on waves of enemies or drive around a hellish vehicle of madness. I am not joking here. Digital Trips is one of the coolest things in the game, period. Collectibles ranging from CtOS towers, which allow you to unlock more side-missions, hidden audio-logs, privacy invasion instances, CtOS breaches and over one-hundred city hotspots to visit in Chicago, offer a lot for the perfectionist. New songs to listen to or even new vehicles can also be found on random citizens and utilized by hacking them. Hacking people is also your main source of income in the game and can be ‘cashed out’ by visiting an ATM machine.
Side-missions and investigations also offer more content. There are over ninety side-missions in the game that range from stopping gangster hideouts by taking out the ring leader, destroying criminal convoys by any means necessary, fixer contracts which are basically point A to point B car delivery missions and crimes detected which has you stop crimes in progress using non-lethal measures. Investigations offer more box hacking and trailing the white wire. It seems that a majority of the side-missions (some investigations, CtOS towers, privacy invasions and others) all involve following wires from a box or locked door to a central box to ‘hack’ and then running back to the box that was marked on your map to finish the job. There is some variety but expect to be chasing white lines a lot.Watch Dogs Review (PS3),