18 cert, Ubisoft, PS4 (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
It’s been a long time coming, but Watch Dogs is finally here. It may not quite reach the hype, but if you take the weight of expectation away, Watch Dogs offers something a bit different from your usual videogame fare. The story may be a little hackneyed (a man on a mission to protect his family), but it quickly gets lost in a maze of subplots that will tie you up in knots.
The game is set in a futuristic Chicago. The entire city and its inhabitants are connected by Ctos, a central operating system that watches everything that goes on and stores the information. Sound like something that could be exploited? You’re right.
As modern-day vigilante Aiden Pearce, you can hack your way through the city, using the very items that monitor citizens’ daily lives against the mysterious powers-that-be. Finding out what you can do is exhilarating, and everything from traffic lights to communications systems can be controlled.
The appeal of Watch Dogs is the open world, an entire city in which you can play. The main story is linear enough, and there are side missions that take you all over, helping out citizens – or not – and gaining karma points accordingly.
As you’d expect, stealth is as important as brute strength. Dodging security cameras, hacking at just the right time, blending into a crowd: it all pays off far more than busting your way through security and attracting the wrong kind of attention.
The game isn’t perfect. The driving missions are clunky, meaning you’ll want to skip getting behind the wheel in favour of making your own way across the city. And while the environments look amazing, you can’t help but feel Second Son has the edge here.
But what Watch Dogs does bring is something fresh – and a whole helping of paranoia for our increasingly connected world.