I must confess: I was impressed when Ubisoft introduced Watch Dogs to the press at E3 2012. Two long years later, I’ve completely changed my mind. Frankly, with just a week left until it’s release, I don’t expect much from this new game.
As I said back then, I followed Watch Dogs closely during its development. Where the game once created surprise and expectation, it all seems to have blown away in the past few months.
The gaming world has changed a lot in two years, and the tricks of the new Ubi game no longer impress me. Why am I not particularly fond of Watch Dogs? Let me explain why I won’t be lining up on May 27th to buy the game.
A sedated Tom Cruise
The game’s creators have said it themselves: it won’t be easy to grow attached to Aiden Pearce, the Watch Dogs anti-hero. Personally, I feel no empathy for this sedated Tom Cruise clone. Taciturn, rough, and with an explosive temper, it almost makes me miss the deplorable Ezio from Assassin’s Creed II.
I feel no empathy for this Tom Cruise clone on Valium.
Do we know anything about his personality, his desires, or motivations? Apart from a vague story of revenge, we have nothing. At a time when video games give life to heroes as complex and intricate as those in Papers, Please, The Last of Us or The Walking Dead, the Watch Dogs hero seems like a relic of the past.
United Colors of Ubisoft™
In addition to his unpleasant personality, our poor hero Aiden seems to be a victim of a typical pathology we find in games from the previous generation: he is the stereotype of your average white male hero in his thirties, a change for Ubisoft, who, in the past, wouldn’t hesitate to include characters of a Persian, Arab, American-Indian or Caribbean descent.
The average hero with brown hair in his thirties, or, zero originality in gaming.
Becoming a character who spends his days playing with a smartphone doesn’t make me dream. That’s what I do in reality all day. All things considered, Watch Dogs is more depressing than anything else.
I found an open wi-fi… Yippee!
The game takes place in a future that is so close to the present, that most of the super powers of our dear Aiden aren’t really that extraordinary. So, yes, while the game may be more realistic, I think I’d quickly get bored if my options are limited to disrupting traffic, creeping Facebook accounts that belong to people I don’t know, or watching videos from surveillance cameras.
All quiet on the Western front…
Aiden Pearce’s hallucinations remind me of Saints Row and GTA missions…
Although Ubisoft’s game will launch May 27th, you can experience some of its key mechanics playing other games that are already available. Inspiration? Emulation? Coincidence? Judge for yourselves.
Assassin’s Creed (doesn’t matter which)
In each episode of this excellent saga, you become a vigilante on the margins of society throughout an adventure rooted in the real world that will lead to a more complicated plot. Sound familiar?
If what you want is to roam freely through a city recreated to perfection, GTA V is the game for you. Even better, Rockstar’s game includes missions under the effects of hallucinogenic substances similar to the digital trips we can find in Watch Dogs.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
With Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you’ll be able to enjoy the cyberpunk atmosphere of Ubisoft’s game. It’s the ideal way to become a hacker’s apprentice and familiarize yourself with the societal issues addressed in Watch Dogs. Start with the original.
If you dream about becoming a hacker, I recommend Republic, a game for iPad that combines hacking and infiltration stages perfectly, something we can also find on Watch Dogs.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Do you want to drive the most amazing cars through the busy streets of a U.S. urban area and play hide and seek with the police? Try the excellent Need For Speed: Most Wanted.
Split/Second gives the most aggressive drivers the chance to activate deadly traps at full speed. Let me know the day when Watch Dog’s Aiden Pearce is capable of bringing down planes or entire buildings onto those following him.
I hope I’m wrong
With only a week to go, I’m not too impatient about the Watch Dogs launch. In the past, Ubisoft has given us much more ambitious projects, and this new release doesn’t thrill me as much.
But, to be honest, I hope to be pleasantly surprised by Watch Dogs. Ubisoft has rarely disappointed me in the past, and the new game could well be a surprise with an unexpected storyline twist, or an unusual balance between its game mechanics.
In any case, we’ll see how the game is once it’s released at the end of the month.
In the meantime, check out the rest of this month’s game releases. Believe it or not, there’s a lot more to life than Watch Dogs.