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Monday, June 9, 2014

Watch_Dogs PS4 Review - 8/10

Watch_Dogs is a cross platform game developed by Ubisoft as a new IP. I've played it to the end and after that, I thought I'd give my two cents despite the majority of people already having seen the reviews as well as probably have purchased it already.

The Good:
-The graphics are solid. Amazing would have been... well, amazing, but personally I'll take performance over good graphics. That being said, the game handles fairly well. Few hiccups here and there but nothing game breaking. A few of these points where cleverly disguised as the digital brick sort of graphics where a scene is almost like a video that has trouble skipping scenes but corrects itself later. The load times are actually pretty decent and all around, the game looks fine and runs well.
-The shooting mechanics work well. Firing a gun feels like firing a gun, in the sense that there's kick back and a serious punch you feel when using them. If you've played Max Payne 3, you'll have encountered enemies with body armor who needed to be shot elsewhere or they would just tank bullets. Aside from sniper rifle fire in this game, that's here too and I actually like it. Some enemies don't really pose a challenge. Personally I'm the silenced pistol guy who takes out about 80% of the enemy force without even being noticed. That's not how it works in real life though, but hey it adds some variety and challenge to enemies.
-Driving is actually not bad. Let me just say I hate sports games, or otherwise reality games. A game that tries its best to mirror reality will fail because ultimately you can't program life perfectly... yet. Also I find them boring. My point is if I can do it myself, I need not buy a game for it. That being said, driving works well. All the cars feel different. Some cars are better at smashing into others while others excel at driving at high speeds.
-Side missions are a mixed bag but ultimately the overall product is good. Fixer missions are meh, but the Criminal Convoys and Gang Hideouts are absolutely awesome. Stop a bunch of criminals from reaching their destination in an all out gun battle and Gang Hideouts feature a character you need to knock out above all in a stealth or action scenario which you choose to go at it. Ultimately, its fun and they're the best parts of the game for me personally.

The Bad:
- The story is by far one of the most predictable and bland ones I've seen. "Straight white male with brown hair must protect family" and blah blah blah. I do like the addition of a skip button for cutscenes because I do not care about what is going on in the slightest. That being said, the writing isn't bad. Just the overall story lacks in just about every way. You can't feel anything for Aiden because you're not making real choices, you're just doing things, but I'll talk about that later. Ultimately there's a point where you're doing side missions to your heart's content and you notice every single time you're done, Aiden or another character chimes in with the exact same dialogue telling you to do the exact same thing. Then another side mission completed and AGAIN they feel the need to repeat. I just tuned it out after a while. I put this in bad because the story is really being marketed to you as good or gripping or like a movie. And its not. A very bland movie, yes but not a good one.
- An almost complete lack of choice really hinders this game. (Spoilers) At the end of the game, you need to shut down ctOS and the hacker group Dedsec calls you up and asks to let you leave the system on for 30 seconds so they can control it. "Hm..." I thought. I would actually like them to- Oh... Aiden just said no. I mean a simple, "I'll think about it," followed by a choice would have worked wonders. I felt, you know what I'm going to give the developers some credit. Maybe if I leave the final scree on for a while then a choice is made. I waited for about two minutes and nothing happened. Not even Dedsec coming in and getting in there in that time. Seriously? During the final final mission after that, you need to shoot... someone, I'm not going to say but its evident by the time you meet the character this will end violently. You go into bullet time and just kill them. Now, I asked my brother when he got to this point to try and shoot the gun. Maybe that would do something. I'd rather know I have a choice in things rather than speculation. Very few times will you even have a choice in things. Namely the very VERY end of the game you can kill someone... AFTER these long ass credits. Let's put this in perspective. Ubisoft is a world wide game developer and has employees around the globe. Thank you sirs and madams for this game but I do not want to sit through three minutes of cutscenes to get to something and this is a guy who sat through Halo 2's ending. By the way the very VERY end of the game will have the choice to kill some nobody or walk away. I haven't seen the other option but killing them is just a shooting sound followed by... blackness. Disappointing.
- There's certain points of the game that just ends. Like for example there's this new hacker who has stolen all of your files (main mission) and you have to take them down. I crashed his car, got to his body and a phone call told me I was done. Great... Another good portion of the game is investigating this serial killer who's been leaving bodies as a side mission. Pretty interesting and creepy. And then, the ending. Very disappointing. You find this guy in a park and bash him... and that's it. I thought, "Maybe Aiden got the wrong guy and we'll soon get to find out the real killer is still at large and now-" NOPE. Just... ENDS.
- In a world where games like Mass Effect 2 exists, its nice to know at least one game allows your main squad mates to die or live by your choice. So why not here? A character will die who I actually liked and I could do nothing about it. This may have been fixed by implementing a tiny little speech dialogue gameplay element and added some depth to the game. "But this isn't one of those games!" you may yell at me. This is an RPG. It should have something. Hell, Skyrim has something and that's bare bones as hell. It lacks depth. I don't connect with really any of the characters because I don't know their history. I'm not saying I need an entire book but the reason why Dragon Age is so awesome is because we get to shape things, learn things at our own leisure. I'm going to say it: I don't care about T-Bone. He's not cool, not interesting, not funny. So why does he get more exposition than our main character? Seriously, I have no idea who Aiden is. Is he married? Dating? Gay? Straight? What did he do before he hacked? How did he meet his now ex partner? I just felt like coming into the tv, punching T-Bone in the face and saying, "T-Bone is a stupid name and you're not cool in the slightest. Sure those statues, pretty cool. But made by an incredibly uncool guy. No I do not want to play as you in DLC. You should be dead instead of (my favorite character of the game's name here)" On a side not, karma feels hollow. In the case of inFamous, yes I do feel the need to see both sides of the good/evil path. Here its just bleh and never gets any steam whatsoever or interests me in the slightest. In any case, there are no evil missions so have fun shooting civilians and getting caught by the cops.

The Meh:
- Hacking in some amazingly weird twist is just meh. There are points where it really shines and its awesome to use, but the ultimate use is very basic. This could have been flushed out a lot more. Crafting for one time hacks is also annoying because you can't buy the components for two different items so you have to walk around the city and scan every Joe Schmoe just to get a stupid key component. It could have been done a lot better and its not terrible. It just lacks. The game's idea of making the game harder is to fuck with you. No, really it is. One guy gets control of the ctOS and all he does is spam cop cars (which are a bitch to get rid of on good karma because you can't kill the cops), blow up pipes and move some traffic signs. In the end, the cops are more annoying, pipes are less prevalent and now they've added bridges and blockers to their control. Ooh. Battling the system (system as in computer system) sounds awesome. I would have liked it if the system tried to cut me down and would have actually made sense, but it didn't, and that's a shame.
- Stealth doesn't really work. No real way to crouch, taking out enemies takes forever silently with melee and you only have two silenced weapons: a pistol and an automatic Uzi. No sniper rifle? You know what, I would have taken a nerf to rifles if I could have a silencer on them. Speaking of which, there is no weapons customization. In fact, apart from choosing what weapons you use and what clothes Aiden can wear, there is no customization. And trust me, there's barely any clothes to choose from variety wise. You get the jacket and a hat. That's it. Hat is mandatory btw so you will have no idea what the top of Aiden's head looks like.

If I could sum up this game in one word it would be 'disappointing'. Like that scene in Star Wars Episode 3 with Obi Wan, "You were the chosen one!" It could have been so much better and in the end the game is a shadow of its potential. This game could have been so great. Instead its just decent. Not saying it isn't worth the buy. At 60 bucks, you'll get a decent amount of play. But in the end the overall product is... disappointing.

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