Game Review: Watch Dogs

2014-06-09 16:17 - Neville Lennox
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Cape Town – Beautiful cars, intricate missions, a massive open world and a huge arsenal of weapons, what more could you want out of a game? Well, that’s what you’re getting out of Ubisoft’s new game, Watch Dogs.

You play as Aiden Pearce, an anti-hero that has been wronged, and it’s your job to set things straight. Your world is Chicago in the not-so distant future, where technology has taken over and everything in the city is connected by one operating system.

The main hook of the game is your ability to use this system using your very special set of hacking skills to control the environment and find out anything about anyone by using your phone. You can steal money, steal cars, control traffic lights, bridges and gates with your phone.

Right from the get-go, you are thrown into a massive open world, and the world really is your oyster. I really struggled at first to get into the game’s main story, as there were just so much other fun things to do.

Every time I decided that I was going to do one of the main missions, I was sidetracked by information on my phone that there was a crime taking place very close to where I was, or other side missions that I could do, and instead of sticking to my guns, I gave in and diverged from my plans to do main story missions and explored the rest of the game.

This resulted in me gaining access to a lot of different skills and weapons which made my playthrough of the main missions much more enjoyable and easier in some cases.

The game has received a lot of praise since release, but there is one major flaw in the PC release of the game, and that is that it has not been properly optimised for PC hardware. Since release, people with monster PCs complained about frame drops and horrible lag in the game, which made it unplayable.

I myself have a high-end gaming rig, and had to resort to playing the game on Low settings as I also experienced the lag everyone was moaning about. Playing on Ultra settings was fine, until you started driving around and the game had to quickly load in assets of your surroundings of the large open world, which caused huge frame drops and resulted in quite a few unwanted car crashes and massive frustration.

It was especially frustrating when it happened while on a mission, as the lag really made the game unplayable. This is such a shame as well, because the game is so beautiful. Driving around at sunset is really something to behold, as well as the light reflections while driving around at night. It almost seems as if they rushed to complete the PC port, as the graphical integrity of the demo shown at an E3 show last year was exceptionally beautiful, and it doesn’t seem as if that was what we got in the final product.

Back to the main story. The storyline is intricate and full of plot twists. It was really fun finding out more about Aiden and his family, and of the people who betrayed him. I could really relate to Aiden’s cause, and the characters were well designed and interesting enough to make an emotional connection to.

I only started getting into the main story later in my playthrough, as I got sidetracked by so much other things, but once I got into it, the story didn’t take me long to complete. I’m guessing this is also why they try and sidetrack you so much, as by just running through the main story would make the game a lot shorter and forgettable.

Another thing the game sports is multiplayer support. You would be running around the world, doing missions, when all of a sudden you get an alert that another player is in your world and attempting to hack you, and you have to stop them or lose your precious data. This proved more tricky that I initially thought, as people really chose some weird places to hide in. In my playthrough, I only stopped one of the three hackers hacking me. It was anger-inducing running around frantically and not being able to find them, but also a lot of fun. You can also compete in online races, tailing, and data stealing, with support for up to 8 players in a single game at one time.

Much like other sand box open world games, you can literally just run around and destroy things and people if you so choose. But, as with other games like this, Watch Dogs is different, as I really never felt like just cruising around and getting into trouble, as the actual other events you could do were so much more rewarding.

For PC gamers who enjoyed the Grand Theft Auto series and were upset at the lack of GTA V on PC, this game is a must-grab. For console-gamers, I would suggest picking this title up as well, as it is the most beautiful game out on console at the moment, not to mention a lot of fun.


Despite the flaws in the PC release, the game as a whole is brilliant and entertaining, with a nice storyline and a massive amount of activities to keep you playing for hours on end.

* Game reviewed on PC. Review copy supplied by Megarom.

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