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PC Review: Watch_Dogs

There was a lot of hype surrounding Watch_Dogs. It made a huge impression at E3 2013 with the gameplay trailers and the mind blowing graphics. It seemingly had everything people were looking for in a next-generation game. It had a new way to interact with your environment and this kind of “hacking” was relatively new to the gaming industry. I did my best not to buy into the hype because I needed to keep myself objective when I actually got to play the game. In the end, I still got somewhat excited for the game. I have to say I am very disappointed with Watch_Dogs. For this review, it is difficult to write because there are two sides that are conflicting. One side of me really wants to like this game. The atmosphere, the story, the way you can play Aiden, it has a lot of what I am looking for in a game. The other side is how disappointing it is, how everything was all hype and it didn’t feel like any promises were delivered. The disappointing aspect is something I think will not be relevant in the coming months after this game’s release. My end result is that I take it into account, but it is not a deciding factor for my final score.

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The story of Watch_Dogs has some nice moments. A man named Aiden Pearce is a professional hacker and he stole from someone who did not want to be stolen from. His partner got cocky and it resulted in his family getting killed. Now Aiden hunts down the person that put the hit out on him and his family. The story’s immersion factor is increased when you can either choose to become a hacking version of Batman-esque vigilante or a criminal. The story starts strong, but it does get rather sluggish. If you are patient, you will most likely find a lot of joy in Watch_Dogs.

The version of Watch_Dogs I played was the PC version and as usual, in Ubisoft fashion, the game’s controls were not optimized for PC. This game strictly felt like a Console – PC port of the game and it frustrates me. I found many aspects of the gameplay to be very difficult to get used to like the AR phone games and driving. Of course the shooting was top notch on the keyboard but everything else feels so clunky with a keyboard and mouse it just doesn’t work. I ended up getting that driver for the Xbox One controller and I played the game with it. Much to my dismay, the control hardly improved. The driving is too aggressive and I never actually feel in control of Aiden or his vehicles. This results in plenty of needlessly failed missions or the unwanted attention from the authorities.

The best part of the controls for Watch_Dogs is the simplistic hacking. You can easily hack street lights, car dividers, electrical boxes, etc while driving or running away from someone. Hell, this is helpful when chasing down criminals too. If everything wasn’t overly sensitive Watch_Dogs would have been a game I could not stop playing. It is a shame that the controls are so bad both on a controller and with a keyboard/mouse.

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Typically I am not one to complain about video game graphics. To honest I prefer it that my games do not look hyper-realistic. If I wanted to see nice green trees I would go outside. Since I am playing video games I sort of gave up on the chance to go nature watching. In the case of Watch_Dogs, everything advertised and promised in terms of visuals were downgraded heavily. I understand that all footage and gameplay is subject to change until the game’s release but you have to draw the line somewhere right? The game in no way looks bad, but when you saw some of the trailers, it looks very different.

The final result of Watch_Dogs is this. The game is certainly playable. There is a lot to do outside of the story missions. You can do fixer contracts with stealing cars, you can catch criminals, or steal money from a cancer patient. The game has some niceness to it, but the difficult controls can make it challenging to continue playing. I give Watch_Dogs for the PC a 6/10. You can get it on uPlay as well as your other respective PC gaming outlets like Steam.

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