Ubisoft Stumbles … again. Reviewed on: Xbox One
Watch_Dogs has without doubt been one of the most anticipated games this year. Stuck in development hell, the game was pushed back several times only to be finally released a full six months after the latest generation of consoles. For this you might expect something great, and while Watch_Dogs does manage to pull off a few good tricks they fail to outweigh the bad.
Don’t get me wrong, its certainly not on the same level of releases like Ride to Hell: Retribution (widely seen as the worst release of 2013), but it doesn’t live up to the hype. With its new hacking mechanic, Watch_Dogs gives a fresh spin on the open world genre. It also leads to some tactical planning of combat with the use of CCTV cameras to aid you, but after a while this can become repetitive.
A game such as this inevitably draws some comparisons to GTA V. However Watch_Dogs gives the player a whole new city to explore that has never previously been used in a game. While the GTA series has recreated New York, Miami and most recently LA, Watch_Dogs gives us Chicago, one of America’s most iconic cities. Ubisoft did a good job with the game environment. The city is alive with NPCs both on the streets and in cars and the level of detail does match that of its Los Santos counterpart. Youtuber TotalBiscuit said in his recent review of the Amazing Spiderman 2: ‘the video game that is an open world game must be alive, it must be interactive like GTA’ and Watch_Dogs most certainly delivers on this front.
However despite the innovation, there are significant downfalls. First and foremost is the graphics downgrade. In its presentation at E3 2012, Ubisoft showed a game with exquisite graphical fidelity which had never really been seen before. However with its delays, the game has suffered a relapse on this front most notably on PC. The PC version of the game has been widely reported as being poorly optimised and not living up to the standards that were set. In terms of console, particularly on the new systems, the game still looks next-gen but it runs at 30 FPS on both when it should really run at 60. Wolfenstein: The New Order has shown that 60 can be achieved on the new consoles. Theories have now started to appear suggesting that the PC version of the game may have been handicapped on purpose by Ubisoft in order to help console sales. This has arisen in light of an individual discovering the E3 level graphics files and enabling them. If this is the case then Ubisoft’s reputation would be severely damaged which is not ideal for the company considering the Assassin’s Creed releases coming later in the year.
This is the main source of controversy for Watch_Dogs but not its only . The story tries to take itself far too seriously and as a result it is unnecessarily complex and somehow not very deep. It lacks the charm and quirkiness of the story in GTA V. This is not helped by the main character. Aiden Pearce is a vigilante hacker trying to track down the people who ordered a hit on him and killed his niece in the process. Ubisoft is known for creating strong and likeable characters such as Ezio Auditore and Edward Kenway from Assassin’s Creed. However Aiden does not fall into this category. He doesn’t have enough about him to be truly engaging and enjoyable to play with. Ultimately its hard to really care about this character. However all of the issues with story could be explained by the fact that this is set up for a sequel. This was something that Angry Joe suggested in his review of the game. It seems that Ubisoft wants to create a new series to go alongside Assassin’s Creed to compete with Rockstar’s GTA series and this game would be perfectly set up to do this if improvements are made.
Overall, Watch_Dogs is certainly worth your time but perhaps not at its full price. It may be better to wait for it to reduce in price before picking it up since it isn’t as good as we were led to believe. If you are on PC you may also want to wait since there are still issues over performance being reported.. Perhaps the greatest shame about this game is that it didn’t stray far enough from the last-gen GTA titles when it had the opportunity to do so. 7/10