Why Watchdogs is Awesome

“Not quite a GTA killer but still a damn good game. Bravo, Ubisoft! 

Watchdogs is, quite possibly, the most anticipated new game title to have been released in recent years and with it’s delayed launch from last November, I was certainly chomping at the bit to get my hands on it! By the looks of it, I wasn't the only one either, as Ubisoft announced on Tuesday that the game had sold over 4 million copies in its first week, making it their fastest selling title ever and also the fastest selling new IP at launch in the history of video games. Well played Ubisoft!

“Say Los Santos one more time! 

For the minority of gamers out there who haven’t yet picked up Watchdogs, here’s everything you need to know: Watchdogs is set in Chicago in the not so distant future, where the entire city is controlled by ctOS, an operating system that is used for literally anything. From traffic lights to prison security, the ctOS runs it all and like any technology it can be exploited by someone with the proper know-how - or in this case a dude with his phone. Aiden Pearce is the rather talented hacker you play as, who is using his particular set of skills to uncover the truth about the death of his niece, Lena. Along the way, Aiden faces old friends turned enemies and is aided along by Clara, a member of an underground hacking collective DedSec. DedSec turns out to be the kind of organisation that have just the hack you need at key points in the story, so basically a plot device (albeit a very cool one).

“Has as many special hacks up her sleeve as she has piercings

With any open-world game, the major question that will almost always be asked is: “How does it compare to GTA?”. The latest, greatest installment of the criminal franchise is still fresh in everyone's minds, but I think Watchdogs is different enough to distance itself from its world dominating rival whilst still having many similar elements - any game where you can walk down the street and shoot innocent passers-by, steal cars and drive them like a lunatic until they explode and just unload that pent up aggression we all have built up inside will be compared to GTA. The main weapon used in Watchdogs is Aidens phone, a tool with potentially infinite power (within Chicago) that can hack and manipulate pretty much any electrical device at whim. The hacking system is perfect and is an extremely enjoyable and easy system to use; it allows you to access CCTV cameras and then access other security cameras in the field of vision of the previous camera, hack security doors, change traffic lights and raise bridges to block enemies chasing you, and even hack peoples phones to access their bank accounts or intercept their phone calls to locate nearby criminal activity. The possibilities are endless!

"Woah! Some people should really delete their browser history!”

The side missions in Watchdogs are enough to keep any completionist busy for a good while and with the massive variety of things you can hack in the city each mission can be completed in any way you want. My favourite side missions are definitely Criminal Convoys, where the objective is to, you guessed it, take down a criminal moving in a convoy with his goons (pretty simple concept); this can be achieved by well timed hacks to stop the convoy, giving you time to snipe the guy from a distance and then quietly slip away undetected, or by ramming the guys car and machine gunning him, his goons and most likely many innocent bystanders, but that’s completely your choice. The other side missions include Gang Hideout missions, where you

have to locate a hideout and kill it’s unlawful leader via stealth tactics or simply kill everyone inside the building; Fixer contracts, which require you to locate a rival hacker and take him/her down before they hack you - this type of mission is perfectly used in online multiplayer, as you can be playing your game happily and then get randomly hacked by another player somewhere else in the world and you have to take him down before you’re hacked and lose online reputation points; and finally, Crime Detected missions, where you hear of a crime about to happen via eavesdropping or hacking someones phone, and you then go and intervene at the opportune moment to save the victim and stop the criminal, vigilante style! This massively adds to your reputation bar, which basically swings from good to evil and will determine how the people of Chicago see you and ultimately decide how they react to your various criminal activities around the city - for example, if you are a good protector then people are less likely to call the cops when you’re shooting criminals.

On top of the many side missions in this game, there are many smaller activities you can enjoy in Chicago, like playing poker or wasting your time and money on slot machines in the many bars. A strange added extra to the game are the digital trips that transport Aiden into a strange virtual reality akin to the stoned hallucinations in GTA V, just minus the drugs, or akin to Ubisofts already established franchise, Assassin's Creed. To be fair, this wouldn’t be a Ubisoft game without a few forgivable similarities to best-selling series, but I’m happy to say that they aren’t a hindrance to the game. The major one is of course the movement and parkour elements utilized by Aiden when traversing the back alleys and rooftops of Chicago – fortunately, he doesn’t have the ridiculous acrobatic and climbing abilities of Ezio, but you can still notice the similarities. The most obvious similarity is the ctOS towers dotted all over the city that require you to work out a way to unlock the security doors guarding them in order to hack the tower and fill in a portion of the map surrounding the tower - all you’d need to do is jump off the tower and land in a hay bail and these would be Viewpoints.

These points are only small blemishes on an otherwise awesome game and I think if I went into any more detail we would all be here for hours, so I’ll wrap things up: Watchdogs is a fantastic new title and with it being such a long time coming it’s great to not be massively let down by it. With great story, gameplay, plenty of things to do and an all round enjoyable experience that is both refreshingly different and comfortably familiar, I am happy to say that Watchdogs is Awesome!

Final Score 8/10

This has been Deedsy for The Awesome Update, over and out!

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