Well it finally happened folks. Cory, the owner, backbone and shorn leathery scrotum of this beautiful website, has granted me permission to write a game review. Before I begin though, I have a confession to make; I am not in any sense of the word a “gamer”. I don’t know or care about a K/D ratio. I don’t lose my mind to perfectly rendered lighting and interactive leaf physics. And I’ve never given a shit about ethics or journalism of any kind. Before the internet, I had no idea that last one was some important to gamers, but apparently it is.
But that’s neither here nor there because I believe the entire point of gaming is to immerse yourself in another life or environment you normally wouldn’t be able to experience. Whether that’s overthrowing a demonic alien conspiracy or replicating the life of a certain cloven-hoofed, ruminant mammal it’s your choice. Speaking of choices, it’s my choice to make you all suffer and discuss a game that came out over 2 years ago. Yeah, I don’t get nice new things that often. You’re not better than me. Enh, you probably are. The point being, it’s a game you may have heard about, Watch Dogs. And lucky for you, I have my trusty video game journalism crib notes by my side so, aside from all the violent sexism, let’s talk about:
The game primarily takes place in Chicago and the outlying areas in 2013, with a bit of a prologue/bullshit tutorial session taking place in 2012. You play as Aiden Pearce, a no nonsense hacker with a love of trench coats, cool bandit handkerchiefs and revenge. Aiden goes on a hot streak of vengeance after his niece is killed in an accident caused by the hitmen out to get Aiden, due to events from his past. From there, the story takes off as Aiden hunts down the person responsible for tearing his family asunder. Along with the main story, there are a ton of little side plots along the way involving an aging gangster with a hackable body part, a stereotypical gang leader who’s a hacker, a white guy with dreadlocks who’s a hacker, a walking French accent with tattooed boobs who’s a hacker and Ubisoft Montreal’s interpretation of deadmau5 if he was (wait for it) a hacker.
The game’s plot itself plays out a bit like a film noir (except for, you know, being able to hack helicopters and stuff) with the side characters all playing a larger role to make the main narrative roll together. Eventually, Aiden and the story come to an end when his past partner/present enemy Damien takes control of the massive citywide network (ctOS) that runs Chicago’s infrastructure. I’m willing to admit, I easily died about 80 times. I won’t give too much away, but you probably already know the ending. You kill someone. Well, you kill multiple (if not genocidal amounts of) people in the game, but this one’s important. Sort of. At least important enough for the main storyline to come to an end anyway. From there, it’s finally time to dedicate the rest of your life (only kinda kidding) to the massive amounts of side quests and treasure hunts that this game has to unfold.
Being a part of the sandbox genre, the world that you’re immersed in is stunningly massive, but surprisingly doesn’t feel that way due to the nice little addition that you don’t see a lot in other games like this. Being based in Chicago, you can take advantage of the mass transit system that allows you to fast travel all over the city. And take that advantage because you’re going to be using it a lot due to the insane amount of small side games, mini quests and eensy-weensy investigations. There has to be, without too much exaggeration, roughly 100 million thousand hours of this shit. Ubisoft, in all of their mystical wisdom, put so much effort in to creating this open world, made sure you never, ever fucking leave it.
But there is no “replayability” without the most important factor of this game. Can you guess what it is yet? No? I’ve only mentioned it about 40 times.
YES! The entire reason you wanted to play this game, to be a magical computer hacker guy. You can hack in to everything by just pressing a button on your phone. Cameras, road blocks, traffic lights, doors, helicopters, steam pipes, anything that explodes, people’s phones, people’s lives. Other players can even hack in to your game while you’re playing. Can you do anything like that in real life? Enh, sort of, but don’t be that guy that wants realism out of a fantastical medium. If you really wanted to learn how to hack in to something, you’d go learn code and live on the deep web you fucking nerd. You don’t expect the bodies of our service men and women to come back with ”Suffocation by Teabagging” as their cause of death, so why would expect any more out of this?
Ah, the main reason you came here. You didn’t read any of that shit. TL;DR right? Look, for all intents and purposes Watch_Dogs is a great game. It’s smooth, seamless and all of those other adjectives people who write video game reviews say. But I won’t belittle myself with stars or numbers with decimals to rate this game. No, no. I’ll give it, how good I felt the second or third time I jerked off to that one scene from the 1995 classic, HACKERS. You know the one.