Watch_Dogs: Review

Hack Everything Very Specific Objects
Ubisoft | Playstation 4 | May 27, 2014

If you ever wondered what a design by numbers, open world action-adventure game would look like, Watch_Dogs has you covered. Players are able to run through Chicago, steal vehicles, attack random civilians, taunt the police, disrupt gang activity and cause mayhem. The gameplay challenges players to complete missions however they see fit, but ultimately there is an ideal WD Hackerpath (sometimes a very specific path) to victory. None of the mechanics are done poorly enough to call bad; but nothing stands out from the crowd either.

What is Meh…

Aiden Pearce is on a mission to take down a clandestine organization which targeted his family. He puts on his best Batman voice, baseball cap and turtleneck to hunt down those who wronged him. He lectures foes about how they stole someone important to him…and then proceeds to murder hundreds of police officers, foot soldiers and assassins.

The meta-narrative of surveillance and individuality that Watch_Dogs attempts to tell is constantly undermined by the gameplay mechanics and side missions. Players can peek into people’s lives in one moment (which offers some of the game’s crudest and over-sexualized moments) but then characters will give a rousing speech about privacy. There is no consistency between story and actions.

The city of Chicago is enormous and there are plenty of side missions, collectibles and campaign segments to explore. Almost too many. There is a sense of overcompensation with the various widgets that players collect and inconsequential side missions. They don’t improve the narrative or reveal character arcs, but are available if you want to engage in more Watch_Dogs.

Missions will contain three types of gameplay: hacking, combat and driving.

The hacking portions encourage players to explore the world, or travel virtually through cameras, to unlock doors or data. There WD Drivingare sections where you need to follow a data line to reveal a device to hack. The game will trick you into thinking this can be accessed by camera, then you will have to travel on foot instead because of a bad angle. Other times a camera is required. It is a constant guessing game of which is the correct choice.

Combat can be completed by sneaking and ninja-striking enemies, but most of the time it devolves into gunplay. There is a varied arsenal available of handguns, smgs, shotguns and heavy artillery. Chances are you’ll find one of each that you like and won’t bother switching between options within the class. Aiden is surprisingly proficient with firearms and can take foes out with easily lined-up headshots. Unfortunately, he is also fragile and can encounter situation where he defeats seven enemies in a row but falls victim to a well placed sniper.

While driving through Chicago, it feels like the roads are constantly covered in ice, the tires are smeared with butter and park benches are made of adamantium. On straightaways sports cars and motorcycles will feel like they are traveling at light speed and players can outrun the most persistent of police officers. In the city, every car floats across turns, is easily knocked off course and WD Guncan be stopped by randomly placed trees or mailboxes.

Status Summary

Watch_Dogs is not a bad game by any stretch, but it isn’t a great one. It tries its best to be Grand Theft Auto and create a world of satire and mystery, but is unable to. The characters have no depth, the narrative follows the obvious path and the missions just exist. It isn’t the worst way to spend your time, but there are better ways.

If you prefer your games to focus on great gameplay or an engaging story then you don’t need to catch this dog. If you like experiences with a plethora of assignments and a “jack of all trades, master of none” mentality, then this game is worth watching.


Score: 5.0 /10

+ Myriad of Missions
+ Competent Gunplay
+ Unique Hacking Mechanic
– Underutilized Hacking Mechanic
– Driving Sequences
– Specific Actions Required

Trophy Analysis

Most of the trophies require time, if you are willing to complete driving missions, assaults, delivery assignments and collect a hundred widgets you’ll practically have a platinum. There are exceptions. Multiplayer trophies require completing three different mission types ten times. If you are good this won’t’ be a problem, if you encounter difficult opponents this can be a time suck. It is easy for your foe to run around like a crazy person and thwart your efforts. The rage educing controller smashing moment occurs when you try to complete the Social Lubricant trophy. This bronze requires players to complete a mini game where a wobbly cursor moves across the screen with a life of its own and requires precise control by the player; only 00.9% of gamers earned this trophy. Good luck, trophy lovers.


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