Being a hardcore Grand Theft Auto (GTA) fan, there is bound to be a comparison between GTA and Watch Dogs. In the first 10% of progression, I was under impression that Watch Dogs is a boring title that cannot come close to GTA 5. However, slowly the game started growing on me. Watch Dogs excels when it comes to projecting the complex world around you. For instance, like a hacker guy from Die Hard 4.0 movie, you can trigger environmental traps to lose a trail, empty a person’s bank account, or remotely activate a grenade in your enemy’s pocket. These are the moments that made me stop the comparison, and appreciate the game.
Hack It To Crack It Watch Dogs revolves around Aiden Pearce and his partner Damien who take up a risky hack job at a hotel. The mission goes wrong and ends up with an unknown villain retaliating against the protagonist. Aiden’s niece, Lena, dies in the crossfire and so begins a tale of one man’s quest for answers and revenge. The story line is really weak and though there is a suspense element to it, I feel that the story could have been built well. This is one area where Watch Dogs really loses connect.
The city has installed a computer system called ctOS that knows everything, sees everything, and controls everything. By manipulating ctOS's systems, Aiden can steal from anyone’s bank accounts, gain access to surveillance cameras, and even discover your profession and learn what you do — including very personal stuff such as your marital life and porn addiction (if any).
Unlike most open-world games, the pedestrians in Watch Dogs don’t pick up fights or react much. It’s unusual to see citizens not confront you for damaging their cars. However, killing a civilian leads to the loss of respect. This makes the high-octane car chases very frustrating. In addition to try and not lose your target, you also have to make sure that innocent people are not killed. Plus, driving experience is not that great. The car handling is quite tricky when compared to most games.
Digital Chaos By breaking in the computer system, you can change traffic lights to cause accidents. This is useful when you're chasing someone or want to get rid of your tail. The doors of city parking garages can be opened/closed and drawbridges raised and lowered for quick escapes. After a few skill upgrades, you can even blow up steam pipes buried beneath the streets, raise barricades and tire spikes, disrupt radio transmissions, cause massive blackouts, and even disable helicopters. Not only are these abilities a lot of fun, they're absolutely necessary as Aiden is constantly being chased by both goons and cops, and he can't fire a gun while driving.
The game is not only about blowing things up, as it offers a healthy dose of stealth too. When infiltrating the secure location with armed guards, scout the vicinity until you find an external security camera. Using that you can step into the surveillance system and make sure that people don't get chance to call in reinforcements before launching an attack. Riding cameras allows you to zoom around corners, travel down hallways, see into secure areas, and navigate entire buildings, top to bottom.
Once you know where the guards are, you hack their phone and use it for distraction. You can even trigger the explosive devices they are carrying, giving them just a few seconds to frantically dig it out of their pocket. Sometimes they succumb and perish in the explosion, and sometimes they're successful, throwing the bomb away but still causing chaos. If they don't have explosives on them, feel free to explode a nearby junction box. There are entire buildings you can break into and escape from, all while standing safely outside on a street corner appearing like a normal civilian. As the game progresses, the things get difficult. Some missions require you to solve physics-based puzzles and even use your gun slinging skills.
Technicalities The graphics of Watch Dogs are brilliant. The world is rendered to painstaking detail. The gun shot effects and damage models are well done. I also loved the background sound of heartbeats, which builds up the tension. What I really despise here is the irritating checkpoint save system. If you fail a mission, you have to sit through the entire conversation you had heard a few minutes ago. The best way to avoid this annoyance is not to fail any mission.
Connecting the dots After completing the game, I went back again and played GTA 5 to make sure I don’t let any bias enter my review. Honestly, I enjoyed Watch Dogs more due to the subtle menace I can create around. Though GTA has its own charm, Watch Dogs won’t disappoint you either. Except the poor last save feature, driving experiences, and lose storyline, there are a lot of things that the gamer in you will enjoy. I would strongly recommend you to not give up on Watch Dogs easily, the real fun begins after 10% progression. Enjoy the experience, because this dog is surely worth the watch!