Ubisoft: PS3, PS4, XBoxOne, XBox360, Nintendo WiiU, PC
The first game of the post-Snowden world is here. Meant to rock your world, it will only do so if you’re kind of uninformed and paranoid by nature. Nevertheless, the ride is interesting as Watch Dogs flings its players into a tech-heavy maelstrom of violence and corruption in a modern-day Chicago chock-full of surveillance cameras, sociopathic hackers, and ruthless criminals. It’s WikiLeaks-vs-Grand Theft Auto with a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and Julian Assange. As such, you can control the city of Chicago from anywhere in the world with the Watch_Dogs: cTOSMobileApp. You can play the game as a mobile with your Kindle Fire HDX device, or play live with anyone playing Watch_Dogs from their home console or PC.
The game’s protagonist, Aidan Pearce, is a rogue hacker on a vendetta after his niece is murdered during a failed hit attempt. Disguised in a baseball cap and trench coat, Pearce trolls the avenues of Chitown, stalking the murderer while he is simultaneously being stalked by a system out of Big Brother/Person of Interest. This ‘system’ is an omnipotent program called the ctOS. The evil overlords of ctOS monitor every city function, yet they’re vulnerable to Pearce and his hacking ways. Meanwhile, in the game you use your smartphone buttons, to tap into nearly everyone’s device, listen in on phone calls, read private texts, steal ATM PIN codes, and can even jam communications altogether. Lording it over an entire city’s electrical grid can make you drunk, especially once you figure out how to black out huge parts of the Gold Coast.
Consequently, you can go in to play on your console online, you can even add your friends who have the game, invite them, and troll them to prevent them from reaching their destination. The CPD also lets you hack police business in the city. Unfortunately, sometimes you may have a hard time setting up the app. Hopefully Ubisoft will fix these glitches and it will eventually run consistently. Another bright side is the usage of the app doesn’t require you to own Watch Dogs. If you want to play the game but don’t have any cash on you, this will help calm your desperate craving for hacking until you do.
The coolest thing about the game is its seemingly endless number of car chases and your brilliant manner of being able to control them thanks to your position as overlord of the grid. If you catch a pit-bull-like tattooed thug on your tail while you’re at the wheel just push a lever to unleash a set of tire spikes to rip his souped-up gangstamobile a flat. Better yet, trip the city’s traffic signals and watch him get repeatedly sideswiped, his nice shiny set of wheels eviscerated.
Chicago locals have actually been complaining that Ubisoft, a Montreal company, are getting away with more than a few geographical errors… If you’re upset, get in touch with our mayor Rahm Emmanuel and let him do the heavy lifting with Ubisoft.
Do you like shooting at things? If you can’t hack into locked doors or CCTV, you’ve got an arsenal of automatic weapons. It’s all a bit too mucho macho to suit me, but if you enjoy tossing grenades, decapitating villains with an RPG, or varying things up to allay the violent boredom by switching from Sig Sauer to AK47, carving up gutless screamers with a Randall commando knife or even a machete, this game offers up a multiplicity of means of creating gory mayhem. The plot is fairly clichéd, to be sure, but the funny sourpuss presence of your right-hand man, Jordi, makes up for it.
Best of all, and for me the most positive side of the game, is that you can choose to ignore the plot and just utilize Watch Dogs’ scores of hours of content. A few diligent hours in and the game’s map of Chicago will be loaded with missions and distractions of mini-games, random criminal acts, hacking opportunities, street muggings, carjacking incidents and lots of others.
Last, but not least, it’s got multiplayer mode, too, and it really is cleverly woven right into the fabric of the main game mode should you choose that alternative. Beyond psycho-speedy online games of keep-away, this game is the first one I’ve encountered that allows you to invade another player’s game, or else be invaded yourself. Trying to stay hidden and steal data from another live player is fantastic stuff.