Andy Naylor reviews Watch Dogs….
After a creepy debut trailer at E3 2012, followed by one containing mind-blowing visuals, it seemed the first must-own game of the next generation of console gaming would have to be Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. It promised to take gaming to the next level, the story, the world and everything connected seemed superb. However, there was a setback; originally scheduled as a launch day game it was pushed back 6 months. After the initial disappointment dissipated, the realisation that Ubisoft were ensuring their next franchise was released to a level of high quality, rather than to make an instant profit, oozed through the internet. After six long months of waiting, Watch Dogs is here.
The truth of the matter is that Watch Dogs could’ve been delayed for another six months and it still wouldn’t come close to the game that was promised, or that gamers had hoped for. The main thing that stood out in all the footage that we saw was how impressive the graphics looked. While that doesn’t make or break a game, we all are taken in by pretty looking things, the truth of the matter is that Watch Dogs looks incredibly average. The character models show a modest improvement, but there are other next-gen games out there with better. The world the character inhabits, despite being on a superior console than GTAV, looks no better than last year’s smash hit. In all honesty, you would forgive the average person for confusing the PS4 and PS3 versions of the game. The only noticeable difference is the superb game physics that the next-gen consoles allow.
The story is very generic, bog-standard revenge. Man has bad things happen to him, man seeks revenge on people who caused it. It’s all very predictable and dare I say boring. It fails to hold any grasp on the player’s interest; at no point will you be sat there at 2 o’clock in the morning thinking, “I must know what happens next!” The best games of this genre immerse the player in a world which they never want to leave; Watch Dogs simply doesn’t have that addictive plot running through it.
The one big strength that Watch Dogs does have is the quality of the voice acting. While lacking the star quality of something like the Mass Effect series, it does boast the odd fairly well known actor, Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica’s Chief Tyrol) being one. Despite this being a very strong point for the game, the lead character’s voice soon becomes irritating. The nasal, gravelly nature of the voice of Aiden Pierce will grate on the nerves of even the calmest individual after a while. It seems like they’ve tried to duplicate the voice of Solid Snake (voiced brilliantly by David Hayter, and now by Jack Bauer) but somehow came up short, which is a big shame considering how well the rest of the voice talent has performed.
The gameplay, again, disappoints. It is very much inspired by what Rockstar has done with the open world nature of the GTA series but everything feels a bit clunkier and slower to respond compared to it. It manages a decent enough impression but just falls short of the quality needed to match or exceed GTA V. The side missions within Watch Dogs are a particular disappointment; they never quite manage to be interesting or challenging and feel like a forced addition to bump up the playing time. What Watch Dogs really sells itself on is the ability to hack and control everything within the city to aid the player in their quest for revenge. Put simply, the whole hacking process is far too easy to be of any challenge and feels like a cheap marketing gimmick to suck in the masses to buy it.
While Watch Dogs is not a terrible game, after promising so much the level of disappointment will be very high amongst gamers. It’s very much an average game that promised the world and delivered a barren little lifeless moon instead. You’d be better off returning to the much more impressive and immersive GTA V as Watch Dogs is not the first next-gen defining game we were told it would be.
Andy Naylor – Follow me on Twitter.