Entertainment Magazine

Videogame First Impressions: WATCH_DOGS

Posted on the 28 May 2014 by House Of Geekery @houseofgeekery


By Hedge

Available on: Windows PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, WiiU

Played on: PS4

Watch_Dogs was announced back in 2013, and was listed as a launch title for the PS4 and Xbox One only to be delayed from the original November release and pushed back to ‘early 2014′, later refined to May. This, understandably, caused a lot of conjecture; was the game going to live up, was it delayed to polish or to fix, would the game become vapourware (that one was pretty unlikely, let’s admit it). For me personally it meant I had a games console, but nothing to play on it, as I’d preordered my Playstation 4 and Watch_Dogs set as a sort of unofficial bundle from Amazon. One arrived, the other wouldn’t. I replaced it with Battlefield 4. Which was fun enough.

Ubisoft Montreal have since confessed that the original release date was not one they had ever agreed to nor expected themselves to meet. But what would this extra six months allow for? They claim it gave the game a spit-polish and from what I’ve seen in the early parts of my playthrough the game is certainly that. This is just a first impressions review though; I’ve not finished the game, and given my current track record it’ll be so long before I do that any real review would be irrelevant by the time of posting. Perhaps another housemate from the site will pick up that slack but here, below, are my first impressions of Watch_Dogs, sorted by category.



I don’t know what the early players, mostly those who pirated the game to be fair, were complaining about because Watch_Dogs is a gorgeous game on the Playstation 4. Is it as stunning as the initial trailer? No. Nothing ever is, and I was always under the impression that the announce trailer was taken from a high-spec PC rig anyway. The PS4 iteration is, however, easily on par with InFamous: Second Son. The world is rendered crisply and with glorious detail. There’s a variety to the locations and weather; between day and night, rain or shine, the world responds accordingly. When driving in stormy weather, the tires made that distinct sound of rubber on wet asphalt. The following morning the skies were clear, and there was no such effect.

Lighting is atmospheric; the nights are lit by neon, streetlamps and the glow of building interiors. The ambient weather sends leaves fluttering down the street. There’s fewer pedestrians in inclement weather than on a sunny morning. It feels very alive.



The game is an open world sandbox with all the freedom of games like Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto and InFamous. Instead of limiting you to only small sections of the map, the game allows you to go where you like but limits ctOS integration to certain unlocked areas. This gives the game a much less linear feeling than many previous games in the genre. Cars are freely available from early on, either by theft or through the Cars on Demand App. As well as displaying GPS info on the world and mini maps, the game places a navigation system directly over the map. It’s a nice touch although with so many layers of wayfinding they do feel a little redundant.

Much of what players will be doing involves hacking devices throughout the city. Upgrades and skill point buys allow you to access new or more secure devices. You can scan people’s phones to find out about them and every NPC seems to be unique. If there’s any repetition, I haven’t yet encountered it. Sometimes you can hack them to steal money, then acquired from an ATM, or to find minor crimes that you can then intervene in, protecting the innocent.

It’s very Person of Interest and as a massive fan of that series, I’m enjoying the little hints provided by my ctOS interface. With new skills you can hack bridges and road blocks. It’s up to you how you want to play it.



The game follows Aiden Pearce, a DedSec hacker  who steals from the wrong people, and is thus targeted for an untimely demise. In the process of this, his young niece is killed and Aiden swears revenge on the people responsible. The game’s narrative is deeper than that, and I’m not really far enough in to address the complains of a weak ending, but I can tell you that the early hook of a vigilante on a quest for revenge drew me in nicely.


Watch_Dogs is a game that was one of the selling points for me when moving to the new generation of consoles. It was a new IP, something I craved in a world of sequels and threequels, and one that seemed to emphasize a stealth and hacking gameplay style over the run and gun of similar open world games GTAV and InFamous: Second Son. It took a topic I’m already interested in – security and privacy in a super-connected world – and wrapped it in a package similar in theme and tone to one of my favorite television series, Person of Interest.

So it wasn’t exactly a hard sell, all things considered. We’re early in the life of these new consoles, and many of the games are being held back by the necessity of running on old hardware at a comparable quality. Watch_Dogs seems to suffer from this less than many others have, and even holds its own visually against new-gen only titles like InFamous: Second Son – which I’ve mentioned about once a minute in this review only because it was another stellar title, and the closest one to this title in terms of quality. It’s fun, handles nicely, the touch-pad integration isn’t super annoying (just press it for the map like another button) and it’s got an intriguing world to play in. It looks great, has a variety of things to do, and it’s telling a story that (at least initially) grabs my attention.

Play this if you like properties such as GTA, InFamous, Person of Interest, Neuromancer, Hackers (ahh the glory of 90s tech) or recently cancelled but not-altogether-that-bad series Intelligence.

Verdict: 8/10

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog