The genius behind the marketing strategy of Watch_Dogs is that the game itself has been a mystery. Ever since it was first unveiled in 2012 it has hooked itself into our veins and never let go, despite us not knowing that much about it. Since then Ubisoft has been slowly feeding us more information about the upcoming game; and like the addicts we are, our appetites are never really satisfied.
Now Ubisoft has switched things up and as the release date comes closer, the company has revealed yet another look at a standard mission, which I saw while at NYCC 2013 this weekend. Before the game started there was an introduction by the game’s creative director Jonathan Morin, who explained the main plot points, giving a little knowledge on protagonist Aiden Pearce’s troubled background. He also reiterated how smart phones and the interconnected city can be used as a tool and a weapon depending on who is controlling them.
From the very beginning the pre-recorded demo had problems; there were so many technical difficulties that I felt exhausted just watching images frozen in time, action sequences completely stalled, screens flicking in embarrassment. One could easily say it was not making a good impression on me. However, just like the demo I powered through I tried to put whatever technical difficulties aside and focus on what Ubisoft was trying to show.
In the PlayStation 4 glitch-infested gameplay demo Pearce enters the mean streets of Chicago in order to get some weapons for an upcoming mission. In one of the numerous stores available in the open-world environment players can purchase and upgrade their gear. Customizing weapons and gadgets plays a vital role throughout the game. After the shopping trip an unseen driver takes Pearce through a single mission in the game’s campaign in a futuristic yet realistic and attention-detailed gritty version of Chicago. Pearce is given the duty of interrogating a crime lord. For him to accomplish this task he must sneak his way into a construction site filled with enemies. Using his stealthy ways he must not be detected as he makes his way towards the crime lord’s territory, under the cover of darkness to either hide from enemies or take them out in one swift motion. It’s like Splinter Cell Blacklist but on steroids.
If there’s one thing we know is that Pearce is a genius hacker: he is in control of all things electronic. He can orchestrate anything from small distractions that will just startle someone to full-on collisions that will cause death, or cause people to run away or run towards his diversion.
While that was great and makes you feel like a badass, the gunplay is a whole different story. Just imagine a beautifully choreographed dance or music that is suddenly ruined by a misstep or wrong note. Once that mistake is made it forever changes things. The gunplay is that misstep or sore note; it just doesn’t flow alongside the stealth-like qualities that make up Pearce. I know this was technically just a demo and a lot of changes can be made between now and the game’s release date, but I am concerned. It seemed too…random.
I understand Pearce is multi-talented, he can be sneaky, battle you with his fist and shoot; however, it is not a smooth-looking transition. In fact, its kind of schizophrenic. Pearce goes from being a mysterious shadow to random people just attacking him and chasing him for really no reason – at least a reason not explained. And when I say random people I mean everyone: if a cat happened to be in the area, I’m sure kitty would have attacked him as well. I would have rather seen more hacking. Yes, for a gameplay demo this was entertaining as ever, with players witnessing Pearce having to deal with everyone by either fighting them or shooting at them. I’m sure in a larger context this makes sense and that there’s really nothing to worry about. It’s just that for a character so complicated and a game shrouded in secrecy it was a head-scratcher for sure.
Despite its bouts with schizophrenia, the game is gorgeous. Although the futuristic version of Chicago is bleak, it is attention grabbing. I was in awe looking at the streets and how the game was lit. The future is depressing: it looks cold and feels cold. The other characters just passing by were well detailed and fully scripted. They carried on conversations on their phones or with others. This is where Watch_Dogs truly shines. It is easy to lose yourself in the environment, there are so many conversations you want to listen in on or places you want to visit, I was very curious as to what I might find or learn.
Although I wasn’t fully impressed with the game, I will say it still remains the most interesting game so far.
Watch_Dogs will release on PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360 on November 19th. The game will release on PlayStation 4 on November 15th, and on the Xbox One on November 22nd. For more details, screenshots and videos on the game, check out all of DualShockers’ Watch_Dogs news.