a bit of AC, a bit of FC, a bit of GTA, a bit of Hitman...
Avaliado nos Estados Unidos em 31 de outubro de 2014
Personal review of Watch Dogs - unauthorized, unproofed, unedited. Spoiler-free, for those thinking of buying the game
Usually I go to Youtube to see if I like a game enough to buy it. But I'm not one to produce a full-on review video, so here is a written, old school review. I wrote it for people who do not have the game but want to know if it's worth buying. I played in on a PS4.
Is it like GTA?
Let's face it: Grand Theft Auto has had such an immense impact on sandbox games that any other game featuring open world gameplay in a modern urban setting will be compared. So, is it like GTA? No. Is it worse or better? No, it's different. While GTA keeps a keen sense of self-effacing humor with pedestrians on silly phone calls and adolescent boy humor on billboards etc, the environment in Watch Dogs is much more serious. No silly commercials or crazy talk show hosts. In this Chicago, you're surrounded by a sinister society full of sociopaths, shut-ins, perverts, and other questionable charcters. And that's just the freeroam portion. Wait until you start campaign, you're really going to get to see sick s***. but I'm getting ahead of myself...
How's the freeroam?
I love sandbox games. I almost exclusively play games that are open world, because I love to role play as much as possible, and enjoy the freedom of chosing my own pacing. The second I exit the instructinoal sequence, I'm off, running aimlessly around looking at architecture and scenery, ogling at textures and running like an ant on hot summer pavement...
What's it look like?
Watch Dogs got bad press upon release because of a number ofthings that simply do not live up to the hype. On PS4, which is my system, the graphics simply aren't perceptibly better than the latest stuff you get on a 10-year old PS3. I know not to belive a release trialer of course, even if they say "actual gameplay". But still, It's a huge let-down for New-gen console owning graphics whores like me, but I can get over it, if the gameplay is fun (sure, PC... but I'm not buying a $600.- GPU anytime soon, so... please leave the comments about PC superiority to another thread, I beg you). I'm going to rip Watch Dogs to shreds for a moment, but hear me out... in the end, the game redeems itself. I blame it on the release timing: no AAA game right now can afford to not release on Old-gen consoles, and as a result, this game suffers from neither-here-nor-there syndrome. On New-gen, the graphics aren't taking full advantage of the hardware, and on Old-gen, it's stretching the system so much that people report stuttering that is occasionally bad enough to get in the way of gameplay. It's too bad, really, because on a New-gen system, there are notable things that really make this world stand out: details. And I'm not just talking about high-res textures.
How's the ambient environment?
The Chigago you inhabit in this game is more realistic than I expected. This is not imediately apparent but once you start exploring nooks and crannies, and also walk around the back alleys and industrial sectors, you will notice the amount of detail that has gone into the world. Thanks to the 8GB of RAM on New-gen consoles, the number of NPC's, the amount of clutter, the high-res textures and procedural animations, weather systems, rain drops and dynamic bullet holes on wind shields, the variety of cars spawning around you, the light rays between tree leaves, it all really adds up to a feeling of being in a place that is alive. It's funny, because you immeditely get used to it and start expecting more. I found myself wanting to talk to any NPC, Skyrim-style: hey how's it going, got a light?, attempting to pick up clutter because I thought I could use it for crafting, and often got frustrated that a high-res window texture that looks like real glass can't be shattered with a blow from my sawed-off shotgun. Because, you know, destroying stuff is fun! On that note, I recommend the completely overhyped activity of hacking a traffic light and causing a crash. Pro tip: choose a high traffic intersection and wait for a bit, maybe toss a grenade.... rarely do you see such magnificent explosions in any game. Ubisoft, thank you for making destruction truly awesome-loking and sounding. After the mayhem dies down and the fire engine and ambulance leave, engage in a little bit of car collecting: park them all on top of each other in a huge pile, and drop a couple grenades. I promise you, you will be pleased with the result, even if you're a veteran of the Los Santos Pyrotechnics crew.
What's it sound like?
Another thing that really stands out in Watch Dogs is the soundtrack. Modern beats that sound like a real movie score give campaign chases and invasions a truly cinematic feel. Same goes for the radio in vehicles. When it comes to radio programming, Watch Dogs eats GTA's lunch. The music collection is far more modern and varied. Unfortunately, the total number of songs - even including those you can unlock by hacking NPC's cellphones for their music collection - is not as high as in GTA, so you're bound to get bored soon, but especially in the beginning hours of your freeroam playthrough, keep skipping stations because you're bound to find something you like. A music app on your phone supposedly lets you edit the play list, but for some reason it wouldn't work for me. Ambient sounds are a bit generic, as I've noticed more audible ambient details (such as sparrows chirping in trees) even in shooters like Battlefield 3. Worst of all: the civilian car horns all sound the same. I'm into role-playing freeroam games, and I like to enter the car, switch to interior viewpoint to make it look more realistic, and honk at stupid idiot NPC cars that - get outta my way, bitch! - drive 4 mph. Of course they don't react, so I just careen into them... duh! Car engine sounds, especially sports cars, sound terrible. The exception are muslce cars, but even those are a bit one-dimensional. It's this kind of detsail that requires a multi-year commitment across several releases to get it all sorted out, so it's not really a complaint, more a realization: the meat that is in the game is actually so good that I start noticing the little stuff, and I'm happy to have a game that is good enough to get me annoyed at the lack of car horn variety.
How's it play?
The very first thing you will notice is the absolutely horrific turning radius at higher speeds, and the overzealous acceleration from low to high speed. Most cars are RWD and immediately spin out as soon as you tap the gas. It sucks. Big time. The driving is one mechanic that truly kills the early enjoyment of this game and almost caused me to put the game on Ebay after playing it for a couple of hours while I did nothing but destroyed every lamp post, fence, ran over 1,043 pedestrians and totaled 624 cars - all without even trying to. After a while, I noticed that motorcycles are actually pretty well balanced, and the road bike that looks like a Harley Davidson is now my favorite vehicle in the game. You can get used to the driving physics, but even after roughly 40 hours of game time, I'm still not really liking it, it's more a means to an end, since fast travel options are limited. If Ubisoft issues another iteration of this franchise - and I am certain they will - I do hope they will spend a lot of their efforts on improving this one aspect. The saving grace are the totally unrealistic but very forgiving impact physics. Drive into a bolted-down mailbox at literally 2 mph, and watch it essentially explode. Same for plowing your dinky little Kia lookalike into a fire truck on the freeway (in oncoming traffic, of course, I mean, like, who drives on the freeway in the same direction as everyone else, right?)... you will barely have a scratch from that one.
It's much less annoying than the puzzles in Assassins Creed. The puzzles are all of the same type: figure out how to complete a circuit. It befits the story line and it's not too hard to get the hang of it. Cam-surfing, as I like to call it, will soon become second nature as you case a joint to plan an invasion/infiltration. Ubisoft clearly repurposed it's engine from Assassins Creed and Far Cry. If you liked how those games play as far as strongholds go, you will be right at home in Chicago. Hacking Towers unlocks map icons, and once you know how many goons are patrolling the place you won't have to worry about random new spawn shotgunning you from 4 feet behind. Boss fight = grenade, just like in Far Cry. No surprises there.
A new thing I liked and had a hard time getting accustomed to: light materials like windows or fences allow you to hurt enemies if you shoot through it. I'm still used to thinking: oh, there is geometry in the way, I can't snipe your ass now, bumer. Not so! This in fact opens up some interesting stealth murder opportunities, if you're into that sort of thing. Overall, guns are not upgradeable, but you unlock them as you pick them up or buy them, and yu'll quickly find yourself having more guns than you know what to do with. I found that dumb. The point of a sniper rifle is to be hard to pinpoint, but even the low-caliber rifles don't have silencers. You shoot an enemy from 4 blocks away and they still all start their chicken dance. Generally, the various guns do have some differences, so it does help to switch to the right gun for the job. Enemies are as dumb as they ever were in Assasins Creed and Far Cry games: scripted paths and zero intelligence - I was quite disappointed that Ubisoft did not work on a more refined version of their stronghold defense gameplay mechanics. It convinced me that initially, this was probably an Assassins Creed game (plenty of threads on this theory, and a handful of easter eggs, too), but then got developed into its own franchise. But beware of enemies you hunt down with a vehicle, as that variety has the nasty habit to pop out of the car before it crashes, leaving you to have to wait through your car exiting animation while they start turning you into a sieve with bullets. Not fun at all. I hope Ubisoft will provide a fix for this bug. My solution is to make sure my car is positioned favorably before I exit.
The architectue around strongholds and some mission objectives is so varied and detailed that it's not always apparent how to get to the right place. One area called the Bunker does require you to think outside the box, and I was really satisfied once I finally figured it out, after casing the joint for a good 20 minutes realtime (cue comment section for people stating how easy they found that one). I suppose the game has to appeal to players with less patience or curiosity than me, but I wish they had made a lot more of these scenarios that are just not so straightforward. Most of the time it's really easy and hacking that area will take you 1 minute tops. A few missions have cavernous interiors with lots of enemies and require a stealth approach. That's when you have to remember your training from playing Hitman. Because you're not in an exterior bouncing about on rooftops like some templar assassin, these missions become a little more challenging, in my opinion. But rest assured, there are plenty of scenarios that allow you to choose the Rambo strategy. With crafting skills and its resulting toolkit at full disposal, you will be able to put any Dolph Lundgren/Bruce Willis action scene to shame. If only those enemies would stop simply ferreting back and forth between 2 scripted spots, it could be challenging. But I'm not complaining - I'm a hero, gunning down 24 guys in the time it takes to post something on Twitter. Finally, a really fun part is a new twist to the cam-surfing mechanic. I won't spoil it for you by getting into detail, but trying to find a path though enemy territory without actually being there does present some unique challenges that I haven't yet had to deal with in a game before.