If Watch Dogs is to be believed then the most dangerous and potent weapon one can wield in Western civilization is a smartphone. In Ubisoft’s tech-noir thriller players can use a 21st Century handset to hack CCTV cameras, open electronic locks, set off car alarms, hijack the camera on a laptop and even make bollards leap out of the ground in order to stop oncoming traffic.
It’s compelling stuff and made all the more paranoia-inducing since, according to the game’s line producer, every smartphone hack in the game can be replicated in real life.
Watch Dogs: Story and characters
This twitchy, creepy premise has driven much of the game’s appeal thus far, since Ubisoft has been resolutely cagey about revealing anything at all about Watch Dogs’ over-arching narrative. The demo T3 was sat in front of opened fittingly with the game’s protagonist, Aiden, piloting a black car through the rain-slicked streets of Chicago at night.
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We were told that he was on his way to help a mate called T-Bone who was in a spot of bother. Turns out that T-Bone had uncovered some information about Aiden’s missing sister, but some goons were on their way to his apartment. It was up to Aiden to save his friend while evading a police dragnet that was prowling the streets in search of him.
Watch Dogs: Gameplay
Since the protagonist’s Wanted Meter was lit, the Ubisoft representative demoing the game said that it was probably best to stay under the speed limit and avoid shunting other vehicles. To demonstrate, they immediately accelerated and, lo and behold, the boys in blue were soon in hot pursuit.
To evade them, the demo expert drove Aiden’s car into a tunnel and hacked a security gate off to one side of the road. Once parked, Aiden’s car was shrouded in darkness and the cops whizzed past him, oblivious to his presence.
Still once Aiden had left the car and approached a junction box outside T-Bone’s apartment, we caught sight of an NPC being alerted to Aiden’s presence and promptly dialling 911. In a flash, Aiden grabbed that character’s phone out of his hands and smashed it with the heel of his boot.
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The pesky NPC now dealt with, Aiden set about accessing the camera on a laptop in T-Bone’s apartment using the junction box outside it. T-Bone waved a motherboard at the camera, claiming it was what Aiden needed, but that he’d need his help to escape from armed thugs who’d begun to hammer on the door.
As they entered, Aiden triggered a radio in an adjacent room attracting their attention and allowing T-Bone to slip past them unnoticed.
Outside T-Bone’s apartment stood some sort of car display with movable barriers and, by hacking into a nearby CCTV camera, Aiden was able to get a bird’s eye view of his surroundings. He was also able to rearrange the barriers and set off alarms in the stationary cars to help T-Bone evade the police who had inconveniently arrived on site.
Watch Dogs: Tablet Gameplay
With T-Bone now safe, the developers decided to show off the peripheral tablet gameplay. Players can download an app for Watch Dogs and help out the player controlling Aiden by remote hacking devices in his environment.
As Aiden fled from outside T-Bone’s apartment, he was cornered by a couple of cops. To aid in his escape, the second demo player used a tablet app to short out the lights in Aiden’s immediate surroundings while the player controlling the protagonist knee-capped the cops and made good his escape.
Watch Dogs: Verdict
The only complaint about the demo was that any questions concerning deeper plot details were deflected. This, in a way, is a good thing as it hints Watch Dogs will live and die on its story, which means that as much work has probably been done on the plot as the gameplay.
In light of how enticing the latter looks, if its narrative matches up, we may be standing in the presence of greatness come this November. In the meantime, remember: every hack in this game is possible in real life. Oh, and sleep tight!
Watch Dogs release date: November 2013
Watch Dogs price: TBC