The next few paragraphs you are about to read can be summed up in one word: disappointment.
Ubisoft fooled everyone in 2012, hinting that they might actually make a unique game worth loving. Then, as time went on, we began to see that it was just a cyberpunk copy-and-paste open world Ubi game in the vein of Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed. At that point, we still had hope that at least it would have the pretty E3 graphics to assuage our preemptive disappointment. Ubisoft then decided, three weeks before release, that it would be a good time to delay the game six months and in that time downgrade the PC version’s graphics (and possibly the consoles’ to achieve a reasonable frame rate) and maximize sales potential as the GTA V hype died down.
And after all this fuss, the game ended up being bland, uninspired and technologically unimpressive.
While the game is inoffensive in terms of entertainment, it’s not even close to what it was presented as. What might have passed itself off as innovative, revolutionary game play from an E3 demo stage boils down to a never-ending quick-time-event when played from your couch, and it’s just not all that entertaining.
Watch_Dogs excludes a lot of popular open world features such as airplanes (GTA) and the ability to shoot from cars (Sleeping Dogs, where you could also suicide leap at cars which was REALLY cool) in favor of reliance on the player’s smartphone. While the “tap X to make big boom happen” gimmick works early on in terms of entertainment, it eventually dissolves into just another boring way to get Aiden Pearce from point A to point B. Even the more visually striking powers in the player’s arsenal, such as the blackout ability, doesn’t really feel all that special due to the game’s shoddy graphics.
The characters in the story all get a decent amount of screen time, but only the protagonist gets any actual character development. He goes from lost middle-age thug to vindictive douche bag. That is the one real character arc you get. Not to mention, he shows sympathy for the weirdest and most unworthy characters. In short, he’s a mentally ill protagonist who goes from unlikable placeholder to an actual character who is still extremely unlikable. And everyone else gets to remain in the realm of “we got as much character development as anyone in the recent Transformers movie” category.
The online aspect of Watch_Dogs is the only portion of the game that I can say rises slightly above abysmally average. It’s got neat concepts, and the ability to hack other players and objects in real time to disrupt other players’ operations is actually pretty cool. Sadly, the community for any of this died within the first week, so have fun with the unexceptional single player.
In short, if you aren’t into open world games that much, I recommend actually SKIPPING Watch_Dogs just so Ubisoft can’t use your player data to add to their bullshit statistics. If you really love sandboxes, get the game used or however you can without directly supporting Ubisoft. Between misleading advertising, deliberate downgrading of their product (at least on PC), season passes before launch and a sub-par game in general, this publisher has committed just about every crime you can in this industry. Fuck you, Ubisoft.