Set in Chicago, where a central network of computers known as ctOS (Central Operating System) connects everyone and everything, Watch Dogs explores the impact of technology within our society. Using the city as your weapon, you will embark on a personal mission to inflict your own brand of justice.
You play as Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker and former thug, whose criminal past led to a violent family tragedy. While seeking justice for those events, you'll monitor and hack those around you by manipulating the ctOS from the palm of your hand. You'll access omnipresent security cameras, download personal information to locate a target, control traffic lights and public transportation to stop the enemy... and more.
Aiden is responsive to your controls and can take cover behind objects with the simple press of a button. He has a wide range of weapons and tools at his disposal including guns (sniper, pistol, shotgun, assault etc), grenades, and IED's (both remote detonated and motion sensing) which are great to take out unsuspecting enemies. Being a hacker he also has items including a Communications Jammer, a Lure to, well, lure enemies to a location, Blackout to knock out power to the local area, and a ctOS Scan to find and mark all the enemies in the local area.
Beyond the main campaign the developers have included dozens of side tasks and missions to complete - from hacking conrol boxes to spy on people within buildings, investigate missing persons, hacking ctOS Towers (which reveals secrets on the maps), find hidden QR codes, and look into human trafficking among others. There is literally hours of additional tasks to complete here wihch are not essential to the main game, but add extra value and a few bonus missions.
We also need to mention that the developers have also created an iPhone and Android App called ctOS Mobile which allows you to hack into your friends game (while they are playing) and see them trying to escape your police control. While they are driving in the real game you can move around a police helicopter, deploy vehicles or obsctacles. We did have some trouble connecting to some friends, but for the most part it worked remarkably well. Best of all, anyone can download the mobile phone App for free!
Beyond that we have a few other issues. During the campaign Aiden will amass quite a large sum of money - mostly through hacking NPCs if you choose to do so - however there is next to nothing to purchase with this cash. Sure, weapons and items are available, but we got through the game with minimal purchases and finished up with over $700k. Unlike some other games there is no option to buy property, but even going to restaurants or magazine stands will give you a choice of, wait for it, one item to purchase. Finally, it would have been nice to have just a little more mission variety - there are some great missions, no doubt (we loved one in a scrapyard in particular), and some repetitiveness is alleviated by the side tasks however it needed a little more. It was also a little disappointing there was no aircraft in the game while the fast travel locations were a little far apart for our liking too - I mean if you're fast travelling, why can't you pick anywhere on the map or at least have Fast Travel locations more centrally placed?
As has been touted the Playstation 4 version of Watch Dogs will include around an hour of exclusive gameplay. That's not a significant amount in the grand scheme of the game however those that love to see everything should opt for the Sony version (well, that and the technical superiority over other platforms). The developers are also promising plenty of DLC and there is of course a Season Pass to
Most of the gripes however come from a game, that even on PC Ultra detail settings, fails to live up to the quality seen in the 2012 E3 reveal - a lack of texture detail, missing smoke or steam, and a reduction in small details is apparent. Indeed, we can't help feeling that Ubisoft have misled the consumer somewhat - if anything, one would expect that over two years later the game would look better, not worse, then the initial reveal.
Now, having said that Watch Dogs remains a visuall wonderful title with a rich urban envinroment that is always provides something interesting to look at, is littered with intersting landmarks, and has streets that are filled with NPC characters and vehicles just going about their daily business. Indeed this is where the PS4 excels; the world really does feel like it's living and breathing. Compared to the much more barren last-gen versions of the game there is so much more to see and do in the PS4 version and it remains a technical showcase on Sony's new system.
My biggest gripe with the audio is that while many of the characters have a personality, Aiden, voiced by Noam Jenkins, is just dull. There's little emotion in his voice, little humour, and little, well, anything. Of course we understand you don't want something too outlandish or it would alienate the gamer, but this dude is pretty dull and while I'm not the most outlandish or humours person in the world, I find it hard to relate to someone so dull.
Watch Dogs was a lot of fun, and provides a lot of value for money with all the side tasks and missions on offer although they do become somewhat repetitive so unlocking all the trophies does become a bit of a grind. Still, this is one of the few examples of what the PS4 can do and definately worth adding to your collection.
Review By: Dave Warner