Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Watchdogs Xbox One Review

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Buy | Rent | Pass 
Buy this game if you want, but don't feel like you need it.  You could even wait until it is on sale which is likely to happen sooner than later.

Memorable | Forgettable
Sadly, this game is going to be forgettable.  There is nothing in this game that is groundbreaking and the major part of the game, the hacking, doesn't really distinguish the game from any other open world game.

The combat and cover system are well done and are in the style of Splinter Cell which is enjoyable.  The details on each NPC are interesting to read. The game does feel solid and it plays well which will provide hours of fun if you decide to pick it up. 
Hacking does not feel all that fun after you do it a while.  It feels less like hacking and more like you are just spamming an action button.  Graphically this game did not deliver what we saw 2 years ago and that is hard to pass over when I play the game now.  It doesn't look bad, but it is untiringly average and that is a bummer.

Last night I had the opportunity to get a lengthy session of Watch_Dogs in and I will say from the outset that it is not a bad game.  It didn't blow me away in any way, but it was a good game.  I feel that there is no doubt Watch_Dogs is a victim of being overly hyped for over 2 years.  There are so few games that end up living up to expectations what people have 2 years to envision its unbelievable greatness in their heads.

Obviously in one night I have not beaten the game yet so I cannot give a full review of the story, but I am am going to give a review of the gameplay after a little over 5 hours experience with it.  So far there is nothing about it that wows me.  The hacking is an interesting concept, but I honestly do not even use it that much.  There is a whole tree that needs to be unlocked yet, but right now the things I do have seem a little useless and that is because of perhaps my biggest gripe about the game.  The police!

I do not know why, but just like GTA 5 the police are painfully unrealistic.  I can run over someone accidentally then drive away most of the time and nothing happens.  Yet I an get into a fender bender with a cop and there are times where a helicopter is flying overhead seconds later.  It just does not make sense to me and it actually becomes irritating as hell.  The other part about the cops that drives me nuts is their superhuman ability to drive a car which renders my ability to hack stoplights irrelevant. They can be any varying distance behind me and if I hack a stoplight they just fly around it full speed and never lose an inch on me.

I am not looking for the real world in my games, but when I see cops running innocent people off the roads to catch me and driving over other people I do kinda feel as though the game shouldn't be taken as seriously as its premise suggests I do.  Since the game is going to be compared to Grand Theft Auto by so many I will do the same.  The cops in that game are meant to be ridiculous since the entire game is ridiculous in nature to begin with.  Even R* do not seem to take themselves too overly serious.  That has always been their thing.  So having some silly reactions in a Grand Theft Auto game is more acceptable--at least to me.  Watch_Dogs on the other hand I have a difficult time with because the entire story is somber and dark.  So when I see cops acting in a more reckless fashion than I am I get a little pulled away from that.

OK, enough shitting on the cops.  Lets get back to hacking.  Outside of hacking there isn't really anything in the game the separates it from most other open world games.  While hacking is a neat premise it just doesn't feel at all I need to be hacking anyone outside of the story.  The funny quips about each person are humorous for a while, but ultimately I just kinda stopped doing it because I had seen it enough and it lost its luster.

The story I've played thus far has been interesting.  (Don't worry I will not talk spoilers.) The reason I like it at all is that I am a big fan of the dark and gritty tale it is trying to tell even though it is sort of similar in nature to many other games where you play someone who has lost a loved one.  

The Breakdown:
So what exactly separates Watch_Dogs from other open world games?  From my perspective it is just one thing.  The hacking.  Hacking is central to the game and they seem to even pigeonhole it into as many situations as possible.  The problem is though that hacking just is really not all that fun if you ask me.  It is a neat concept, but running around spamming X all the time doesn't exactly feel like I am doing anything other than hitting an action button over and over.  Then the big kicker to all this is that is feels like when I need hacking the most it actually doesn't work because the AI is insane.

Not being able to utilize my abilities with effect to evade the police is upsetting to put it mildly.  For instance.  The photo to the left is when you can hack the barriers to evade police.  It seems like such an awesome idea!  The issue with it is that when you are in a high speed chase trying to evade police you do not have the opportunity to use them.  The police are often times quite literally on your bumper.  So you may have 3 cars on your tail in which you knock out possibly the last one, but the other two never lose an inch.  The other thing that happens is they simply go through the gap on the side which I have seen countless times.  Stoplights work the same way.  They will either go around the accident at full speed or they are too close to you for them to ever get caught in the debris.

My bottom line is that the game is not bad, but the hacking you do despite the power it comes with is rendered pretty minor in comparison to the ridiculous AI of police as well as NPC's on the street.  I feel Watch_Dogs is a good game that is going to be forgotten in short time.  Ultimately I feel Ubisoft's reputation may be hurt from this more than improved just because what they showed off to the core fans 2 years ago is nowhere near what was delivered both gameplay and graphically.   With emphasis on the latter!

Enjoy the game if you bought it, but mark my words you will not be playing it a few short months from now.



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