Now we see what happens when Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto hook up for a one-night stand: they give birth to a bastard child known as Watch Dogs.
In Watch Dogs, from AC maker Ubisoft, you play a hacker whose sister, and her family, were murdered by some mysterious bad guy as a way of getting said hacker to back off an not interfere with their Deep and Sinister Plans ™. Left unexplained is why they didn’t just kill the hacker, but games like this aren’t generally known for their lack of plot holes (hello, entire Assassin’s Creed franchise!).
The game play is smooth, and familiar to anyone who has played Assassin’s Creed or GTA. There’s some slight variation in the controls and, sadly, you don’t seem to be able to climb up every building in creation, then drop down and assassinate them, but you can’t have everything. What you do get to do instead is go around and hack into everything. And I mean everything. Soda machines, power grids, traffic lights, possibly toasters…if it has a computer chip and an internet connection, you can apparently hack it.
Now this can cause some problems for you. I tried hacking traffic lights and the like while in a high-speed police chase. This did not end well for me, nor for the four or five people I ran over in the process (sorry, guys!). I’m also unclear why causing a power outage in a baseball stadium causes light figures to explode and power outlets to spark. Apparently this universe’s version of Chicago managed to develop pretty much all the same technology that we have, except, alas, for the circuit breaker.
But speaking of Chicago, the whole city seems to be lovingly rendered for your amusement, and it looks just gorgeous. The whole game does, really. On my PC (which is what I’ve been using to play), the graphics are just amazing! Textures on cloth, reflections, etc, everything looks wonderful.
On the other hand, the sound. I have very good speakers. I have them turned up all the way. I have the volume on my PC turned up all the way. I could barely hear any of the dialogue. I went in and adjusted the sound settings in the game, and there was no real change. So I think we might have a glitch. Hopefully this will be fixed via a patch sometime soon.
That minor complaint aside, this really is an impressive game, and I look forward to logging many, many more hours.