PS4 Review: Watch Dogs

Has this dog had its day?

Hype is a double-edged sword, if a game lives up to it then it’s seen as one of the best there is…but if it fails to deliver anywhere near what was expected, then gamers get angry and bitterly disappointed. I remember seeing Watch Dogs back at E3 two years ago and was blown away, but the big question is whether it can live up to the promise of its reveal…
The game stars Aiden Pearce, known as the Vigilante. He’s a hacker living in Chicago, after a hacking job went wrong a hit was put out on him and his 6 year old niece paid the price with her life, Aiden never lets it go and vows to find out those responsible which sets him out on a quest across the city, hacking into the ctOS network that runs through Chicago and has everyone’s secrets. It’s a decent story overall and I for one wanted justice for Aiden’s niece, no matter how small.

Watch Dogs is an open world experience with a difference, you can hack pretty much everything…people’s phones, laptops, security cameras, street lights, bridges and even the steam pipes that run through the city. On top of that, in combat you can scramble the enemies’ communication and even set off the explosives they carry. The beauty of combat is that you can do it all through the lens of a security camera without having to actually engage with them. You can choose the stealthy approach or go in guns blazing, but sometimes being stealthy is forced on you as you can fail missions by being spotted, which is a shame.

Aiden has a full arsenal at his disposal, but I personally went with the stealth option with a silenced pistol. You can also slow down time for a brief period to take out enemies without risk of being spotted; you can also do this while driving to focus on activating the objects around you, neutralising the vehicles you are chasing or being chased by. Besides the campaign, there are tons to do including side quests involving hacking buildings to spy on people or get access to hidden weapons caches, as well as a “Check-in” option for 100 locations throughout the city.
While playing you can be “invaded” by other players online as they try and hack you for XP, you can also do the same if you wish. It’s a great mode of hide and seek as you try and find the player hacking you. They can be hiding anywhere and using cameras to keep an eye on you, other modes include tailing another player and online races as well as some other fun modes to keep you busy, there’s one annoying trophy that requires you to be tailed 5 times that may stop a lot of people from getting a Platinum as it’s random and almost impossible to know you’re being tailed unless you have your phone out, which stops them anyway.

A lot has been said about how the game looks and I have to say, it looks amazing. It runs smoothly, I didn’t notice a drop in framerate at all and the city looks stunning in 1080p, the character models aren’t too bad either. I did come across some weird bugs like when stealing a car for the driver to jolt to the top of the car and still be sitting down as if they were driving. But other than that, it’s a polished game. Voice-acting is decent while the music is impressive to boot.

The Verdict

So does Watch Dogs live up to the hype? More or less, it doesn’t change the open world genre that much…but it’s a truly impressive game with a great story, characters and an addictive multiplayer that will keep you playing for a long time to come. I hope this is the beginning of something special, Watch Dogs 2 has to be on the cards now…