Ubisoft’s “Watch Dogs” hit shelves for the PC Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4 on Tuesday – and the reviews are in.
“Watch Dogs,” which is told from a third-person perspective, took five years to develop and utilizes Disrupt, a new game engine built specifically for the title.
“Watch Dogs” was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft (EPA:UBI). The single-player story takes place in Chicago and follows Aiden Pearce, a hacker seeking revenge for the wrongful death of his niece. Pearce is a vigilante who can hack into various electronic devices connected to the city’s central operating system, which allows the player to complete a number of goals and objectives. Players electronically break into objects using Pearce’s smartphone, which is equipped with several applications designed for that purpose.
Do critics love or hate “Watch Dogs”? Though the reviews are generally positive, some players had complaints about the gameplay.
“This game tries to hold this meandering series of missions together with the loosest of threads, as Aiden tries to remind the player (and maybe himself) through constant expository monologues,” said Kyle Orland of ars technica on Tuesday. “'Watch Dogs’ could get by with a sloppy plot if it had a strong, intriguing set of main characters. Right from the start, though, Aiden is a jumble of conflicting, often nonsensical motivations that never really coalesce into anything close to believable.”
“In the end, Aiden comes off as a confused, meandering, center-less nothing of a character, swept along by a ridiculous sequence of events without any real agency or consistent sense of self,” Orland continued.
Despite his assessment that the characters are weak, Orland felt that “Watch Dogs” was somewhat enjoyable. “I spent a good chunk of time enjoyably wandering the city doing nothing but looking into the backgrounds of random citizens (it takes quite a while before you run into a repeat). This is fun in its own right, but at times it can also have some subtle implications on the way you play the game.”
“The advanced technology in ‘Watch Dogs’ is not just indistinguishable from magic – it IS magic. The game would have you believe you're the world's most powerful hacker, bending surveillance cameras, traffic control and all manner of personal electronics to your one-touch whims,” the site said, adding that this feature could be distracting.
“There are, as you'd expect from a game hinged on a smartphone, a huge amount of distractions in ‘Watch Dogs,’” Joystiq added. “Your phone can unlock tongue-in-cheek, alternate-reality games, such as a chase for virtual coins, or work as a gateway to ‘digital trips,’ hallucinations of sorts that are never fully explained.”
“'Watch Dogs’ considerable progression system provides enormous potential for growth in Aiden’s abilities. If gadgets and one-time-use items are your thing, you can put points in crafting that allow you to build more and more complicated devices. Improved hacking, driving and combat options are also available,” Polygon’s Arthur Gies said.
“In many ways, ‘Watch Dogs’ feels like a synthesis of some of publisher Ubisoft’s flagship series, mixing the open world and navigation of more recent ‘Assassin’s Creed’ games with the shooting and modern environments of series like ‘Splinter Cell.’”
“You'd suppose that information is your most powerful tool in ‘Watch Dogs,’ but this open-world game's joys come not from voyeurism and information brokerage but from chaos and destruction,” Gamepot’s Kevin VanOrd said on Tuesday. “Combat encounters are structured like puzzles. Aiden hunkers down and you survey the area, choosing whether to dominate your enemies with firearms and grenades, press against cover and distract your enemies so that you can pass by without raising their suspicions, or settle on a compromise, silencing enemies with well-aimed headshots and taking them down from behind with a swift takedown maneuver.”
Though VanOrd agreed that the main protagonist’s identity is flimsy, he praised the overall gameplay of “Watch Dogs.”
“'Watch Dogs’ is a lushly produced and riotous game with an uncanny ability to push you from one task to the next, each of which is just as fun as the last.”
“If you come in expecting a polished, high-budget venture on par with the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ series, you're going to be disappointed,” Destructoid’s Chris Carter said. “But if you think of it like a more arcade-y take on the open-world genre, you'll have a lot more fun.”
“Despite the fact that ‘Watch Dogs’ hasn't made any meaningful impact on the genre, I found myself having a ton of fun with it,” Carter added.
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