The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN& GAMES - CIARA O’BRIEN

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.

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