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I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
I've been playing Watch Dogs for the whole day, and so far I'm very impressed with what Ubisoft accomplished here. I think people are rushing to the GTA comparisons because of the modern day setting, the driving, and the freedom. Honestly, the best comparison to make with this game is with the Assassin's Creed franchise. Both feature freedom of choice in how you handle situations, the notoriety system is very similar to the one in the AC universe (albeit 10x more aggressive), and the game punishes you for trying to play the bad guy, much like AC does. Look at it as a modern day AC, and it'll make more sense.

Now onto my actual opinion. The biggest gameplay mechanic is the hacking of practically every single electronic in the city of Chicago (which is huge in this game). The game gives you the chance to use them strategically during missions, allowing for semi non-linear mission progressions. There's still a point of interest and a goal to reach, but reaching it takes some creativity. You can survey the area with security cameras, and decide for yourself whether or not to take the stealthy approach of carefully placed electronic explosions, distracting guards so they're less aware of things, or even catching some off guard with burst pipes and random ghost movements.

Or you can go in guns blazing and make it a chore. Using guns is the easiest thing to do in this game, but much like the AC franchise, it wants you to go the stealthy approach if you don't want to get overwhelmed. Not that gunfights are challenging, but enemies quickly swarm you and can even flank and corner you, as the AI is pretty intelligent. If you get chased by the cops or by the enemies you make, the streets are filled with traffic lights to interfere with, road blockers for vehicle takedowns, steam pipes to burst and distract, bridges to lift, and all sorts of other goodies for shaking the local men in blue (which are even more psychotic than in GTA5 in terms of AI aggression).

I have to admit, being a vigilante in this game is very gratifying. Taking down criminals that you've profiled and tracked feels like you have more power than you know what to do with. From random street crimes to large scale felonies and gang busts, the sheer amount of variety and creativity to take down criminals is staggering. You can fall into a rhythm of sorts with how you take some of them down, but I guarantee you the AI will give you a run for your money in terms of either taking you down or evading you.

The story itself is a revenge story (almost typical of Ubisoft lately), but it very quickly evolves into a great social commentary on the nature of surveillance and just how far is too far when it comes to invading the privacy of your average citizen. It takes on an Orwellian atmosphere very quickly, and proves to be almost cautionary in nature so far. I like Aiden Pearce as a character. He's likeable and you know he cares a lot about the people he loves, as well as having a burning hatred for those who corrupt the justice system. The rest of the cast is memorable as well, without falling into obvious stereotypes.

There are some mini games like digital parkour races and 8-bit score attacks with 8-bit guns, but the single best mini games are the digital "trips" which allows you to live out one of 4 very fun digital games. Control yourself as a flaming zombie, or duke it out with cops as a giant mech spider. I'm surprising by how much detail went into these mini games. They could almost be entire games themselves by how well they're crafted.

The biggest surprise for me, however, was the graphical fidelity on the PS3 version. It's nowhere near the levels seen on the next-gen consoles or PC, but holy crap was I stunned by just how great it looks. The lighting, the textures, the insane human animations are all spectacular to behold. The water animation took a massive hit, as did some of the facial and hair detail, but for what is almost a decade-old console, you'd be surprised by how much they're pushing the graphics. There's almost no noticeable framerate slowdown either, only dropping maybe a few frames during a hectic chase, as well as stuttering a little when entering a brand new area after having been in one for a while. But other than a few hiccups, the game runs buttery smooth.

I highly recommend getting Watch Dogs. If anything, the only gripes I have with it are the occasional AI lapses, a few glitches typical of an open world game, the cars being a little too slippery in their controls, and the cop AI being overtly aggressive. Other than that, it's a massive load of fun to hack everything in sight and become a powerhouse of technology. I'm barely 10 percent into the game already, and I've been collecting as much as I can as well as unlocking the map more. This game is packed with content.



VFN
Winter Calls Thy Name
The several reviews I've seen criticize the story for being underwhelming which is too bad.



I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
Well it is a revenge plot, which is about as trite as you can imagine it. What makes it fresh is how it gets uncovered through the digital age, and how much you connect with the characters. I personally love the characters, so I'm going to enjoy the story, stock as it might be. From what I've seen though, the reviewers are either nitpicking the game, or are at a loss as to what exactly they think the game is supposed to be.



VFN
Winter Calls Thy Name
The reviews I watched weren't nitpicking the plot; they simply remarked it was lacking. One felt it's intriguing for a while but runs out of steam. Haven't read or watched all the reviews of course so others may disagree.



there's a frog in my snake oil
I got killed by piglets!

And I'm now a woman. Not quite sure how.

Making some minor inroads to the fiery tower at any rate. And getting the jump attack etc a bit more - just gotta really nail the analogue to full extent it seems.

Fun
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Virtual Reality chatter on a movie site? Got endless amounts of it here. Reviews over here



I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
The reviews I watched weren't nitpicking the plot; they simply remarked it was lacking. One felt it's intriguing for a while but runs out of steam. Haven't read or watched all the reviews of course so others may disagree.
Well that's understandable, I suppose, but so far I'm having a blast.



I'm a few hours in--only a little in the campaign, doing more general roaming--and it's pretty interesting so far. I expect the campaign houses a lot of the cooler mechanics, and I'm still woefully inept at taking advantage of all the power on display. But I can already imagine getting better and doing some really, really slick things. It seems like if you play long enough and try stuff you're almost guaranteed to do something super slick.

The "camera surfing" across the city is a really, really cool idea, too.



The People's Republic of Clogher
Golg - You shouldn't have gone in the coffin.

I'm in two minds about Watch Dogs, having put in 6 or 7 hours. It's filled with interesting ideas but it fails the crucial test I set with all sandbox action games - Is it fun? I'm not having fun.

Maybe it's the clunky controls which have caused me to fall off ledges or murder someone you're meant to be profiling. Maybe it's the pointlessness of clothes (different coloured weird trenchcoats R Us) shopping and car buying. Maybe it's that all the fancy hacking is a bit useless when the easiest way to win a fight is to shoot people with your starter silenced pistol - This might open up later in the story.

I've heard it described best, not as GTA with hacking, but Ubisoft Sandbox Game: Chicago Edition. It really does feel like Assassin's Creed with better combat - 'better' here being shooting guns and having no melee at all apart from a Takedown button.

It's ok, a 6/10 from what I've played. The game doesn't do anything particularly badly but nothing really well either. I'm finding Watch Dogs a wee bit 'by the book'.

It doesn't have the gorgeous looks, slick driving and crunchy combat of Sleeping Dogs. It doesn't have the stellar production values of GTA. Here's the kicker for me: There's a game which does the conspiracy laden near future hacking simulator theme a lot better, and that game is Deus Ex Human Revolution.
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"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how the Tatty 100 is done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Behan



I've heard a lot of people say that, to have more fun, force yourself not to use the easy way out, IE: guns. Always a bit silly when you have to do this by choice (rather than because the game is balanced enough to make it an equally viable choice), but that's what I'm gonna try to do.

I agree with you about the controls, but no more than I did with GTA IV. This kind of third-person clunkiness must be unavoidable, given how ubiquitous it is.



The People's Republic of Clogher
Oh yeah, GTA's (and RDR's, and Bully's) controls are awful too. I never found myself screwing up missions in an Assassin's Creed game due to laggy inputs though.

How's it performing for you Chris? I'm stuck at a steady 55fps on High with a few things turned down to medium but have heard that the game really doesn't like AMD cards and was designed with an Nvidia GPU in mind. It's not the stuttering mess I feared though, and a lot better than, say, GTAIV was at launch.



Meh, so-so. My graphics card's about two years old now so it's not exactly high-end any more. I turned everything down to Medium, basically, and it'll still get choppy during car chases sometimes. But otherwise bumping that down seems to have made it perfectly playable, at least. According to SpeedFan though it's getting my GPU up to about 79--which certainly isn't high enough to make me worry, but it's higher than any other game I've played on this setup has gotten it to date.



I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
I hear this talk of clunky controls, and I'm finding them to be just fine. I never really had any problems with it other than the slippery cars in this game. They're not as bad as in GTA IV, but they do seem to wanna fishtail a lot, even on cars that don't normally have that problem. I don't like using guns in this game, as it feels stale and unsatisfying. It might be the easy way out, but I'm having much more fun using my arsenal of hacking skills.



The People's Republic of Clogher
Meh, so-so. My graphics card's about two years old now so it's not exactly high-end any more. I turned everything down to Medium, basically, and it'll still get choppy during car chases sometimes. But otherwise bumping that down seems to have made it perfectly playable, at least. According to SpeedFan though it's getting my GPU up to about 79--which certainly isn't high enough to make me worry, but it's higher than any other game I've played on this setup has gotten it to date.
Yep, my PC's running at 100% (both CPU and GPU) in the game which is kinda silly because I've seen nothing so far which warrants the power it's sucking.

79C on my card is fine - my stress tests usually top out around 70C but modern cards run hot and I find mine even performs better once it's heated up past 60. If only it didn't make so much noise.

EDIT - I might install the game on my old PC and see how it performs. That rig's pretty similar to yours.



In the Beginning...
I've heard a lot of people say that, to have more fun, force yourself not to use the easy way out, IE: guns. Always a bit silly when you have to do this by choice (rather than because the game is balanced enough to make it an equally viable choice), but that's what I'm gonna try to do.
This is an interesting point: how prior games force the rules of a genre. GTA has sorta set the standard for how all of these "modern" cityscape sandbox games are played. I like that Watchdogs was designed to curb that a bit and introduce a totally new gameplay element. But it doesn't surprise me that folks are perhaps falling into old habits and relying on gunplay.

That happened to me with the Bioshock games. It took me a while to adopt the plasmids/vigor gameplay because I had been reared on so many first-person shooters that operated almost exclusively on gunplay. It's no surprise that I struggled trying to lean on Bioshock's firearms, which—taken as a standalone element—is actually pretty dated.



I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
Old habits die hard, and I think this is the case with any GTA inspired sandbox game. Ubisoft always tries to do something different with game genres, and so far they've been successful. Assassin's Creed brought new levels of verticality with the climbing and parkour mechanics, Splinter Cell refined the 3rd person stealth mechanics that Metal Gear Solid innovated, and now Watch Dogs is making a completely interactive city that you can exploit and take advantage of in so many different ways.



Yeah, I think that's right--that the gun play is probably prominent in part because they knew people would "expect" it. And because they wanted to have a bit of the "more than one way to get through a mission" feel. But it sounds like they probably mucked it up a little, if guns are often the OP option, especially since that shunts the player away from the thing that makes Watch_Dogs different.

It's a pretty delicate thing getting players to play a certain way, especially in a sandbox game. But I think the best games don't avoid this, they just do it in elegant ways that don't feel like the player is being pushed to them. More like they're discovering the best way to do things. The best open-world game is one that makes the player want to do things without feeling like they had to.

Anyway, I found guns in GTA IV really clunky, too, and I expect I will here as well, so I'm going to spend a bit of time exploring, adding hacking perks, and getting better with those mechanics before proceeding.

Anyone else a little stymied in the early going by the vigilante side-missions? Apparently I have to approach the potential victim or suspect (this is basically Person of Interest, The Game) from an angle that won't let them see me, but that seems weirdly hard sometimes. The first handful have just been straight up footraces, too. I keep looking for a pipe or fuse box to burst but the opportunity hasn't arisen yet.



All this really feeds into the idea that the next installment could be really fantastic, by the way. The foundation is there. Streamline the hacking, downplay the gun play, add a few new mechanics and better dynamic reactions from the city at large, and sink a lot more time into this stuff now that the engine's done and the technical hurdles are more familiar and you can afford to go completely next-gen.

I remain very optimistic about where this franchise can go.



I don't remember asking you a ******* thing!
I've managed to take a few runners down using fuse boxes. But mostly, I just sneak up on them right when the crime probability meter is dangerously high as they're committing the crime. There's a timing element to it, and it takes a bit to master.



there's a frog in my snake oil
Golg - You shouldn't have gone in the coffin.
All things considered, coulda been worse



The People's Republic of Clogher
Just hide behind a skip/car/beatboxing homeless dude until the crime is actually committed then chase after them LA Noire style until you get the 'Press B to restore justice' prompt.

I mucked up my first few as well but then learned the way to do it. Subsequent missions played out exactly the same, so I've been ignoring them.

One thing has stuck in my head that I forgot to mention. I was doing some benchmarking yesterday with one of the first in'game cut scenes (when you leave your apartment) and must have run through it ten times tweaking various settings. It's the one where you're introduced to the profiling thing: A hooker and her John, three women chatting, a guy and a girl chatting.

Each time I ran the scene the npcs had different names, occupations and stories. And coats.

It's a shame that everything's randomised like that but goes some way to explaining why every third person you meet is a white, short-haired Rastafarian...