The problem open world games have when it comes to telling gritty stories is the fact that players have a lot of freedom to go off-script. The best examples of this genre toss moral considerations into a rubbish skip before the plot even gets going.
Watch Dogs: Characters
The world of Watch Dogs is the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. The game’s protagonist, Aiden Pearce, is a hacker and as such is used to seeing most people in his environment as obstacles, targets or non-entities.
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Watch Dogs: Environment
It’s a neat trick positioning a borderline sociopath at the centre of an open-world game as it allows the developers to grant players freedom, but not at the cost of the story they’re trying to tell. Watch Dogs isn’t the first game to do this, but it may be the first title to take a crack at pushing guilt on the player to steer them onto the straight and narrow.
They’ll hear a phone call in which a woman tells a friend she’s worried her nephew is being neglected by his alcoholic mother. They’ll read texts between two lovers patching up their differences. They’ll see a post on a social network site from a young girl who has just been stood up on a first date.
Watch Dogs: Features
Make no mistake, they’re able to do all of this – and a whole lot more with Pearce’s phone, which isn’t so much a communications device as it is his all-powerful pellet of smiting. With it, players can jam communications, hack into CCTV cameras, unlock and start cars, scramble traffic lights, deploy sleeping policeman, plunge streets into darkness and more.
Watch Dogs: Plot
And then of course, there are the main campaign missions. The over-arching story here has Pearce trying to track down those responsible for his niece’s death while taking out a shadowy authoritarian group called cTOS that controls the city’s data infrastructure. In our hands-on, we were tasked with meeting a member of DedSec (a hacktivist collective) and then breaking into a cTOS server.
Watch Dogs: Verdict
So for the brief hour we had at its controls Watch Dogs played like the illegitimate offspring of Grand Theft Auto and Splinter Cell Blacklist. It’s not a bad combination, just not the one we were expecting.
Watch Dogs preview
Watch Dogs previewT3
Watch Dogs offers players an immense power trip, provided they are prepared to exercise a little caution now and then
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