Community Review: Watch Dogs

Back at E3 2012, Ubisoft revealed Watch Dogs to the world. It was a jaw-dropping demo that teased gamers' imaginations with the fervent possibilities of next-gen consoles. Last week, the final product arrived — and reality has haxxored our impossibly high expectations.

The general consensus on Watch Dogs has been pretty lukewarm so far. Criticism has ranged from missions being too samey to the "press X to hack" simplicity of its unique selling point. Then again, nothing short of the second coming of Jebus would have satisfied gamer expectations — after all, the game had been enthusiastically touted as the 'Next Big Thing' for more than two years.

Interestingly enough, the same thing happened to Ubisoft's previous big IP push back in 2007. If you recall, the first Assassin's Creed game was also considered a bit of a letdown due to repetitive gameplay mechanics and a failure to deliver on lofty promises (sound familar?)

Both games ended up with a Metacritic score in the low 80s, which is slightly disappointing for a major AAA title. And yet, Assassin's Creed is now one of the most successful properties in existence. I wouldn't be surprised if Watch Dogs follows a similar trajectory. In other words, we can expect the franchise to hone itself into a far superior sequel.

But that's enough pontificating: what are your thoughts on Watch Dogs so far? (I'd normally add my own two cents, but was unfortunately sent the game on the wrong format. Tch.)

So Watch Dogs, then — is it a pure breed or a dog's breakfast? Have at it in the comments section below!


Comments

    A lot of good ideas, just executed poorly in a lot of areas and held back by last gen.

    A sequel should be really good, like assassins creed 2 was after AC1.

    I haven't finished it yet, but it's certainly a lot of fun. Not as much fun as gtav but still a good game. I don't think it lives up to the hype though.

    Needs more Dogs. 6/10

    Last edited 02/06/14 11:06 am

      I have yet to see an actual Dog in this game... very disappoint.

      So no wolf?

        I dunno. haven't played WatchUnderscoreDogs. but yeah... from what I've heard it does sound like its got a severe case of no dog make it ok great but not ok good just great ok bad.

          Especially because there is a dog in GTAV that you can teach tricks ::sigh::

    It was pretty disappointing. The story was full of cliches and the gameplay mechanics weren't all there. Best thing was car explosion, turn on Cheat Engine, enable god mode and no reload and explode every car in site.

    I'll play Watchdogs 2 if a lot of things are changed, mainly the majority of Ubisoft's tropes.

    Watching my housemate play it, it's got the promise and the potential to live up to the promise, but it's let down by poor AI, especially NPC driving (hack the traffic lights, everyone blindly drives forwards when it turns green and doesn't look and see that the other cars at the intersection are moving as well) and on the PS4 the graphics are held back by the last gen, especially interior environments which are decidedly blocky in comparison to something like Wolfenstein or even GTA V.

    As said though, it still holds the potential to live up to the hype but the execution has missed. You've got to wonder what it would've been like if it had've been a launch game for the new consoles.

      >it's let down by poor AI, especially NPC driving (hack the traffic lights, everyone blindly drives forwards when it turns green and doesn't look and see that the other cars at the intersection are moving as well)

      Yeah, well, don't believe for a moment real people won't do that shit. Maybe not on the same scale, but the amount of times I've seen people hammer the throttle on green and cause shitstorms is amazing to me

      I agree with you on pretty much everything, EXCEPT for the NPC driving, particularly in regards to hacked traffic lights. The entire idea of being able to hack traffic lights (and steam pipes, and explosives, and bollards...) is that it's a tool that you can use to reliably manipulate your environment to your advantage (mostly for taking out tailing cars or cars that you're chasing). I'd be annoyed at how the AI reacts to hacked lights if I was playing Chicago Simulator 2014 (now featuring Hacking!), but in Watch Dogs, it's purely by design.

    I want to love this game, but the game keeps pissing me off.

    The objectives are very unclear. You go from having options to forced stealth (with instant fail if spotted) or sometimes the option of escape or fight are really one sided in their outcome. For a game that was touted as making you think and plan in many different ways, there always seem to be one... AND ONLY ONE... solution.

    The gunplay is terrible with some of the most basic enemies being bullet sponges even when hitting headshots. Then the armored enemies are way too overpowered. By contrast, you are dead in a couple of bullets. The balance is way off with this mechanic.

    The driving.... Ugh. Wost controls ever. The fast cars turn on a dime or end up so slugish on their turns that you miss a turn 99% of the time. The only good thing from this is the GPS is worked into the world map extremely well.

    The hacking is the only highlight of the game. Walking around seeing all the weird status' from people is funny, and some of the text conversations are extremely funny too. When you have a bigger hack, it's a nice easy game that works a lot better than hacking in other games.

    Overall, like I said, I want to love this game, but the game is so frustrating that it's making it really hard to love it.

    It seems to be a game that's a victim of it's own hype, where expectations are built to the point where it doesn't seem ridiculous to call 8.5 out of 10 a bad score.

    I'm playing though it and I'm finding more and more fun in it the further I go. On top of all the extras such as Invasions, Mini games and Multipler, I've found it to be a surprisingly competent stealth game.

    My advice for anyone just starting to get into it, don't play it like GTA, because you'll be disappointed. Instead, start playing it like an open world Splinter Cell, and you'll get a lot more satisfaction out of the gameplay. Apart from the action set-pieces, most missions are designed so you don't have to actually shoot a single person if you don't want to, and sometimes if you're clever enough, you don't even need to enter the mission area to complete your goal.

    In short, the game's fun, interesting, and different enough to justify giving it a shot.

      Yeah this is how I'm playing. He doesn't seem like someone who should be slaughtering hundreds. I have found most missions allowed me to complete with minimal casualties. Only when I have to.
      Also the driving annoyed me until I switched to the in car view. That makes driving so much more enjoyable

    I'm really enjoying it, played about 20 hours so far story is solid, gameplay is fun. I don't find it repetitive yet. Driving around and hacking drawbridges to use as ramps is great.

    My only complaint would be the soundtrack, it's absolutely awful! Would be great if you can add in your own music.

    Runs great on my GTX 670 at 2560x1440 (only high textures not ultra).

    I don't listen to any hype so I'm not letdown or disappointed by anything, definitely worth the $37 I paid on Green man gaming. 8.5/10

      You can add your own music for when you're driving. Did it last night. Brilliant.

        Oh really, how do you do that?

          You can use the in-game sound/music app (can't quite remember what it's called)!

      The sound track is a bit hit and miss but there's stuff like Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, Public Enemy, Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins etc...

      To be honest I looked up the song list and I haven't heard most of them in game yet. Maybe it depends on the car or the location or how much of the game I've unlocked.

      It could be better I guess but I don't think it's as bad as everyone seems to make it out to be. Bit too much hip-hop for my taste though.

    People be crazy. I went out this weekend, bought a PS4 with Watch Dogs included. Have held off buying a next gen console until a next gen game came included.

    Looks amazing, is brilliantly fun to play, using my VITA as a remote-play function is just freaking brilliant (played some Fifa with a mate, couldn't have been more fun) and feels like a solid start for my next-gen console.

    Side note, my girlfriend watched me play then made a profile and started playing herself. She's played probably 3 times more than me and loves it also.

    Love Watch Dogs, great new IP, great game.

    I wasn't planning on getting this at release, and only picked up this game on a whim for PC. Sure enough the discs were faulty, and I had to sit and download the bloody thing, so you could say I was a tad annoyed going into this to begin with.

    I booted up the game and it looked pretty good, seemed kinda fun. Then I got to drive a vehicle, and the frame rate turned to arse. It was stuttering so bad I could barely drive the thing, even when I turned everything down to low. My PC is pretty beast too, drivers all up to date, etc. so I was pretty pissed that it ran so poorly.

    Then my wife walked in the door and told me she was pregnant.

    Now I don't think I could be mad at the game if I tried.

    Well played Ubisoft. Well played.

    Last edited 02/06/14 5:22 pm

      Grats man!

      im guessing you are using an AMD Radeon GPU. AMD users got screwed over

        Thanks man!

        It's our first baby and we've been trying for a while, so it's pretty awesome.

        I'm actually using an NVIDIA card in my PC, so I don't know why it's running so poorly. I'm assuming it'll get better with driver updates in the future, so I might just hold off on it for a while.

          Enjoy your games while you can Yumpy - when the baby comes any games will be played one handed on a mobile and you won't even care

    Meh 6/10. Loses a point for the overhype. The rest of the game is just mediocre at best and definitely not worth dropping $89-99 on.

      You shoulda gone to Dick Smith and got it for $70.

        Meh I had leftover credit with EB games, so just used it there =p

          Price match!

            Do they price match for games bought with credit?

              Yep, you can use your credit towards any promotion etc as well as price matching. :)

              Price match all of the things!

    Only had about 14 hours with it so far, and I've barely even touched the story missions. I've mainly been running around doing side missions and activities like fixer contracts, apprehending criminals, running away from cops, unlocking CtoS towers, playing chess etc. And I'm having a lot of fun with it.

    Been listening to, and enjoying the soundtrack in my car as well.

    I fully expect them to do a sequel which no doubt will be even better, and probably even be announced at E3 next week.

      You can play the soundtrack when on foot as well!

        Lol, I meant IRL. Got the Dedsec edition, which came with a soundtrack CD.

    Got halfway through and took it back to EB Games.

    Copy-pasted from elsewhere, but here's the review I wrote last week:

    While I haven't finished it yet, I figured I'd give my basic thoughts on Watch Dogs thus far to my gamer friends. Warning: I essentially never give above a 9 to anything. Here we go:

    A bit of background for me when it comes to open world games: I haven't played GTAV. I haven't played much of GTAIV, but I played plenty of the earlier ones. I have never finished one, they always ended up being games where I'd jump in and just run amok. I loved Far Cry 3, but found Far Cry 2 repetitive. I haven't really played the Assassin's Creed games, but I found Crysis 1 and 2 to be fun when I wasn't fighting aliens (I prefer human-based combat in games when possible). Edited to add: Just Cause 2 was another open worlder I really enjoyed. It was campy as hell, but I had a blast with it.

    As for Watch Dogs: First off, it's not perfect. I've been looking forward to it a lot, so my expectations were probably a bit high, but I wouldn't say I've been disappointed per se.

    The story is sort of thin (albeit enjoyable), and not much narrative ground is broken. That said, I'm trying to take my time with the campaign to draw out my experience a bit, so I've been doing a lot of side stuff between main missions. It gets a bit of a "I am biased" bonus because I too am a tech guy with a bad temper, so your opinion might differ from mine more than in other categories. (8/10)

    The driving mechanics aren't exactly Forza, but they're tolerable. Cars are probably a bit heavy and understeery compared to what you might expect, with the obligatory spin-o-rama with a few cars whenever you look at the throttle with the front wheels not centered. (7.0/10)

    The combat is a blast, often literally, with explosions being entirely too much fun to set off. I'm not a huge fan of the Magic Trenchcoat that lets me carry All Of The Things™ at the same time, but that's just how games tend to be these days. "Focus" mode which essential gives bullet time for a few seconds is nicely balanced, because it lets you have a chance in heavy combat without being a "press to win" situation. (9.0/10)

    The hacking, though, is where hilarity lies. Raising and lowering bridges, opening and closing gates, blowing up transformers and junction boxes and steam pipes hasn't yet gotten old. Raising a set of bollards in front of a speeding car is immensely rewarding, as is changing traffic lights to cause large-scale accidents. Sometimes I do it because I need to escape from an enemy, sometimes just because I think it's funny. (9.0/10)

    The AI is… not quite what I wanted it to be. It's not horrible, mind you, but NPCs will sometimes freak out for the smallest reasons, such as barely touching them when you're walking through a crowd. Not a big deal, but a bit disappointing. On the other hand, they make a satisfying *thump* when you hit them at high speed. (7.5/10)

    : I want to give a separate judgment to the NPC stories, actually. I do like the variety, and how there are people doing things besides just walking around. The little bit of back story you get from the "profiler", and the ability to digitally loot their bank accounts is awesome. I've found that, even though I'm an evil, cold hearted bastard I do vary my behavior a bit based on what the hacking tells me about that person. If someone's unemployed I'm a little less likely to loot their bank account. If they're someone who is listed as a lobbyist and making $200k/yr I'm not gonna feel bad about it. I may or may not have quietly killed a few people based on their profile. It's interesting that there's any sort of moral variable in a video game for me, normally I'm sort of the indiscriminate killer type. (8.5/10).

    I'm not much of a multiplayer gamer, but I've been enjoying the online modes more than I expected. When you find out someone has invaded your game, it can be sort of an "OH SHIT WHAT" shock while you try and find out where they are and eliminate the threat. Kinda like being back in school, right? Even the "race around like a jackass" mode is more fun than I expected, courtesy of the hacking and such. HOWEVER, the huge huge huge unforgivable fail in the online mode is that I can't specifically invade the game of someone on my friend list. Hopefully they add that. (8.5/10)

    On the PC version there are some performance hiccups that they've acknowledged and are apparently working on, but it's still not too bad (my machine is fairly high end, but not super cutting edge). The graphics, however, are pretty wonderful, especially in the rain, at night, or near water.

    Overall: 8.5/10 (not an average)

    Last edited 02/06/14 11:59 am

    Pre-ordered it and where it doesn't live up to the hype I am still enjoying it BIG time!

    Story is great (about half way through just now) and even though at times he seems a bit "lighter shade of grey" about why he is doing stuff I'm still enjoying him as a main character.

    Collectables are GREAT! Loving the QR codes, Missing Body missions and just hacking into peoples lives.

    Hacking just makes you feel like a god at times and I love it! Love setting up traps for bad guys to stumble upon and jumping around cameras, great fun!

    Overall I'm really impressed and totally agree with everyone else, do NOT play this like GTA!!! You will hate it!! Slow down and take it easy, you will enjoy the game a million times better.

    I am loving Watch Dogs. I've had 5-10 hours with it now and have played various story missions, side quests and had a go at the spider tank. The spider tank is awesome, by the way.

    While I can see why people may think it's repetitive, I haven't found this an issue. There's plenty to see and do, the map is pretty huge so you'll be able to drive around for a long time while continuously finding new areas.

    It's also nice to be able to drive around without the worry of being chased by police because you're speeding. Car handling isn't great, but it gets the job done.

    Graphics are quite nice on the PS4. Not quite up to Infamous, but given the size of the world and how much is going on, they did a great job.

    For me, it's what I was hoping for. It's what I saw all those years ago when they first revealed the game. It's lived up to my hype, and I'm so glad that it has.

    For now, I'd give it an easy 9. That may change as I get further in, but I can't see myself getting bored of causing havok with my smartphone any time soon.

    The main character is a knob head.
    6/10

    Last edited 02/06/14 12:37 pm

    It has been going great so far. Purchased a physical edition because of my relatively slow internet and the servers were down. No matter! I waited a day and it installed fine. Then my Activation Code had been apparently used already (WTF it was brand new) and so I typed it out three times to make sure I had no typos and now my account is temporarily banned. The account I had just made.
    It is going greeeaaat.

    Never bought it, wasn't hyped for it. I'm pretty glad I wasn't looking forward to it as most be seemed to be pretty disappointed with the game.

      Did you read the comments? Seems to me like most people who actually played it liked it.

    Playing on PC, Raedeon 290x, ultra settings, not a hicup at all, but its not that pretty a game (Let down by low-res textures I believe).

    Have played all AssCreeds and GTAIV, this seems closer to AssCreeds (naturally I suppose).

    My thoughts would be the game is good but a bit "meh" until you get to the online component, and then BAM does it take off. I deliberately let my bounty build up just so I get randoms dropping into my game. This is a great concept executed just well enough that I'm pumped for where this leads in future games.

    It turns an average "GTA" game into something more like Bourne Identity. Chasing some dude while the cops chase you is an exciting predicament that rarely ends well, and thats good. Running around hacking into cameras trying to find whoever is hacking you in a busy square is an adrenaline pumping experience that escalates when it turns into a mad dash. They jump in a car. You run in front of the car and put a few pistol rounds where the drivers seat. Phew that was close.

    Its something that could never be encapsulated in a single-player game or really even a multi-player game, its like something in the middle, and the one reason why the game is under-rated.

    My advise, do as many side missions as you care too before the campaign proper, invest your skill-points, then between campaing missions let your bounty increase or jump into other peoples games. Don't worry about the score mechanisms, do it for the experience alone, and you will be left very satisfied.

    Ubisoft's latest icon simulator is providing me with hours of entertainment. I'm currently clearing out the ctos towers to unlock even more icons to collect. Good times.

    The game is definitely not as good as people expected it to be. But on the whole it is a decent game, with some fresh concepts that you won't find in other open world type games.

    Storyline: Haven't finished it yet, but from what I've seen so far the cutscenes do help you get into the story and the characters. Of course, like with all storylines, you have to wait till the end before you evaluate the whole thing. Would maybe like to see this made into a movie in some way.

    Hacking: Having a game centered around hacking was a good concept, but doesn't live up to the hype that gameplay fottage suggested. It seems a bit dull that everything your character can do revolves around his smartphone - without it he'd be a dead man. Holding down one button to interact/hack any hackable object in the game starts to get a bit boring; the hacking puzzle they have is a bit interesting but again repetitive. As if it was that easy to hack at the press of a button.

    Driving: Like most others would say, the driving in the game is leaning towards the "terrible" end of the spectrum, and somewhat unrealistic. Cars are a bit too "slippery" and most of the time you'll spin out (oversteer) or understeer and can't make turns at a high speed (compared to other driving simulators). This is combined with the unrealistic effect of being able to ram/be rammed by other vehicles but not having your direction affected that much (eg: if you were rammed towards the rear of your car, you would expect to spin out, but this doesn't happen as much as you would expect).

    Combat: I do like the element of being able to stealth missions or go loud (when given the option). Much like in games like Dishonoured, stealth can be a bit challenging but still the preferred option over going in guns blazing. Despite your low health pool, it isn't too hard to win a gunfight against a whole mob of 20 enemies, you do need to check your flanks , stay behind cover, etc.

    Overall, not worth that huge price tag, and specifically for the PC the issues around graphics and that whopping "6GB RAM recommended" makes it seem like a really unpolished game (for PC) despite having an extra half a year to fix it up.

    Apart from all the false advertising the game is kind of bland, lack of interesting characters and there is just something about the world that doesn't interest me as much as it should.

    I've put in a good couple of days into watch_dogs now. Haven't finished Act 1 yet.

    I was looking forward to the game but didn't get too hyped up, especially after the delay. It would have been nice to have the game that was first demoed at E3 but I'm playing it for the game that it is, not what it could or should have been.
    And because of that, I'm enjoying it.

    It's not perfect, it's got plenty of issues and plenty of things that could be better. However there is heaps to do, and it's fun.
    The story seems OK at this early point even though the main character is fairly bland and forgettable.
    Driving is terrible and "arcady" but once I got over the "this is unrealistic" feeling, I don't mind it anymore. Same goes for the gunplay.

    Online components are pretty fun but connection issues continue to be a problem. Same goes for the companion app.

    A lot of my gameplay issues are fixable. They're the kind of things that can be easily changed in future patches. Things like not having all your weapons still in your possession after you die... or returning me back to where I was after an online race instead of leaving me on the other side of the map from my mission... These are all minor things that annoy me but not enough to ruin the experience.

    Performance wise, it's been running perfectly fine. I have a HD7970. Yesterday I got 2-3 random crashes where my whole rig would lose power. I haven't narrowed down whether that's a watch_dogs issue or a hardware issue or something else.

    Also I bought it for under $50 on ozgameshop and don't regret the purchase at all.
    I hope ubisoft put a bit of effort into some patches in the near future.

    TL;DR
    Good game, it's not the second coming of Christ like the internet seemed to think it would be. If you come in with reasonable expectations you will enjoy it. If you want some super "next-gen" graphical masterpiece with awesome driving and gunplay then you will be disappointed.

    PS:
    Please Ubisoft, learn from your mistakes with watch_dogs and don't repeat them for "The Division".

    I'm about 12 hours in, enjoying it for the most part, but it feels like every part of the game has been pulled from somewhere else. The shooting and cover mechanics are great, but feel the same as Splinter Cell's latest iterations, without the mark and execute mechanic. The combination feels good, but it does feel a little too familiar, like an open-world Splinter Cell with a technomage protagonist.

    The hacking is certainly a highpoint when neutralising pursuers during a car chase, however the pipe minigame for intrusions is terrible - whoever thought it was user-friendly to control the viewpoint with the right analogue stick, and interaction with X must have had two right thumbs. I hope it's just a PC-gamepad thing, and isn't actually the control scheme for console releases...

    Combat is a mixed bag - details like having to shoot enemies wearing helmets in the face to get a headshot is nice, but requiring four IEDs and a full shotgun clip to take out a heavy is just ridiculous. That said, when you have the option to use the cameras to hack explosives to clear the more troublesome enemies before you even enter, they're not really much of a problem.

    The story is pretty cliché (I was not expecting it to get as bad as a "damsel in distress" plot, but it did), and Aiden seems to be a general bastard, but the supporting characters are pretty well realised. I'll reserve judgement until I've finished it, but so far it's pretty uninspired.

    Overall, the gameplay is solid, and the missions are enjoyable the first couple of times. But once you start to notice the recycled mission objectives, it gets a bit boring. I'll probably just stick to the Fixer contracts and campaign missions from here on out.

    Side note: is it just me, or are there an inordinate number of people with liver cancer? It seems like every time I read a sick person's profile, they've got liver cancer or are on dialysis.

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