Ubisoft Montreal's Watch Dogs has been on every hardcore gamers list since almost 2012. The demo launch sparked a lot of excitement among gaming enthusiasts. With the game's launch on both PlayStation and Xbox platforms, the much anticipated title almost matches all the hype created around it. But it fails to rise above the level of expectations one had from it. The anti-hero game explores the life of Aiden Pearce, a tech-savvy hacker who wants to look out for the individual or group of people responsible for the death of his niece.
As the story progresses, several conspiracies unfold as the protagonist begins to understand and discover the powers of the Blume Corporation. The company's CtOS (the central operating system of Chicago) is the interconnected operating system that the city of Chicago runs on. Thanks to Pearce's hacking skills, the protagonist takes over the CtOS and runs Chicago.
The trump card for any player in this game is technology; which is exhibited as you unlock a variety of hacks to eliminate the villains. Activating guard posts, overloading steam pipes and tripping traffic lights can take down vehicles with a single hit (what's best is that the game signals the right time to get it activated). Although it all works well, the player has to find them in the environment in order to use them. As a result, you end up roaming around different blocks and by-lanes, in the hope of coming across an already unlocked item which can be used on your enemies. The on-foot gameplay is engaging and well designed. It becomes increasingly interesting as you start unlocking new abilities. Hacking items makes the combat easier, since it allows the player to easily hop between camera feeds to get the layout of the environment, tag enemies and activate traps. The incredibly powerful shooting mechanics make full-scale firefights enjoyable, but it is the stealth-minded approach of the game that really helps it shine. But having said that, the gameplay of Watch Dogs still has a lot of issues. It looks like the developer is forcing you to play the game their way. Each mission has a tendency to end with protracted car chases. The tailing missions are frustratingly slow and over-armoured enemies that require multiple magazines worth of ammo to take down are downright boring. On the technical front, the game fails to provide a good visual experience. The landscape of Chicago makes it look like a dark and grim scary town, with a small population inhabiting the city. The visuals are so poor that you will find blurred faces, low-resolution textures, couple of screen jerks among others, that hampers the game at various junctures. Also, the driving controls are very loose.
Overall, the campaign missions are entertaining and offers a decent melange of different environments and gameplay. A decent chunk of unlockables and some interesting side content should keep a few gamers happy for a long time. A few multiplayer elements, heavily inspired by The Dark Soul, are quite engaging. Another interesting element is that the multiplayer mode allows random players to invade your game and hack your data. These players can also observe you from the shadows, which in a way makes the player rush. Chasing and observing another unsuspecting human player, while trying to remain unnoticed is exciting and amusing in an espionage kind of way. The game has it's fair share of pros and cons, but gaming enthusiasts should definitely give it a shot. Whether you are on foot, behind the wheel or in a combat, each mission has something decent to keep you hooked.
Version (tried): PS3
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Price: Rs 2999