Thursday, September 4, 2014

Watchdogs [PS4 Review]

I appears that I'm quite slow to review highly games that were, at one time, highly anticipated.
Perhaps the problem that I have is a desire to complete most games before writing a review. I've finished Watchdogs, now for that aforementioned review.

At least the cars are pretty.
A lot of people have compared this game to GTA whatever number... I won't. I've never played GTA any number. That makes this review different.

3 out of 5 stars
There are a lot of things this game does right, and a lot it does very wrong.

I really wanted to post a spoiler here, but chose not to.
I have no real issues with the story, save that many of your actions do not seem to have significant consequences. Once again morality is binary. Shoot a cop or kill a citizen you are bad. Stop a crime and you are good. This has got to stop in games. Morality is not binary, it is all the shades of grey between the light and the dark. This is an area that so many game designs from Mass Effect to Infamous: Second Son to this, they all fail at it. Morality is a complex idea and to render it as simply a binary system is just miserable.
Kenny, all grown up.

The weapons wheel.
Before I get too negative, lets cover what the game does well. Graphics. Things look great. Rainwater wetting a leather trenchcoat looks excellent. The story is a simplistic story, but still acceptably good. I never really cared about the main character, and in many ways I think he was a real ass. His actions were certainly questionable. There are consequences, but he never seems to dwell on them. Combat is passable, sometimes frustrating... but that is actually good. Being shot should never be taken lightly. The best idea of combat in this game is to never get close or to never get out of your car.

Speaking of cars... lets get to the bad / hilarious aspects of the game.

Great, now the game is just being cheeky.
Driving. Whoever designed the button layout should be literally forced to listen to car horns for 24 hours a day for the rest of their life. The control to drive the car is the L-stick, the Horn is located at L3. This means that you will be sounding the horn constantly. For proof - watch as Conan drives a little Fiat knockoff. Just click HERE. This is the stupidest place to put the horn. Put it under the camera controls on R3 - that way we can mostly ignore it.

But that is not the worst bit of driving.
No. That award goes to the pedestrians - aka: lemmings. Lets quickly cover their stupidity.
I back out of a parking space - they freak out.
I pull out of a parking lot - they freak out.
I slam into a wall at top speed - they stand there like morons.
I make a quick turn - they jump off sidewalk right in front of my car.
I drive on sidewalk - they jump in front of car.
I honk at them - they stare at me. 

But wait. That is not the end of it.
If I hit a pedestrian directly I lose morality points if they are injured or killed (obviously more for killing them). However if I use tremendous speed and a strong vehicle to launch another car into them... I lose no morality points. I can only be blamed it seems if I am the proximal cause to their deaths, not a distal cause. So to note, safe driving is simply a Fire Engine pushing a sedan in front of it.

I also remember one really irritating incident where I was chasing a criminal, they shot at me, I caught the criminal, a bystander called the cops and said that there was gunfire, and then the cops chased me around Chicago. Maybe this was reasonable, but boy was it irritating.

The mini games were also annoying, so I stopped playing those after I tabled some guys at Poker.

Here's the breakdown.

Game Play: This was tainted by stupid things like bad driving mechanics and silly physics. Simplistic hacking also meant that in general I was not mentally taxed either. Using your phone to make mischief was fun... but there was no reward for ending the game with over $2.5 million in cash. There should have been a trophy for that. There should never be trophies for Multiplayer unless that is what a game is specifically about, but that is my bias.
2.5 out of 5 stars
Graphics: This is the one thing that was really good. I have no real complaints at all about the graphics. I don't think they were quite Second Son level, but they were really good.   

4.5 out of 5 stars
Story: I'm so torn right here. They story was not bad, but it was not great either. Moral consequences needed to be bigger and more important. Character deaths are not important enough. I was pissed and angry and sad, but my character was rather emotionless and cold. The other problem in the story is this: there is no re-playability, no alternate paths. Spoiler: There is a scene where your nephew witnesses you murdering a bunch of goons, even if you only knocked them down (out). Yes, if you kill or you simply knock them out the result is the same. C'mon, this is 2014, you can make some alternate paths. 

3 out of 5 stars
Music / Sound: The music in this game was so annoying that I finally just shut it off. Is it modern music that sucks, or just the stuff made for this game? It was awful. Then there was the aforementioned Car Horn of endless sounding. There was also a hideout right next to a couple that spent every hour of everyday making out. That just got annoying... the typical city sounds, the cars driving, boats... that was fine. The voice acting was generally good.
2.5 out of 5.
If you want to play this, wait till it goes on to the best sellers discount list. I'm just glad that when I traded it in I got as much as I did. It has no re-playability... and I was not dropping any money on DLC for it. 

Yes, if you want you can perv out on wire frame nookie.

Oh, and seriously... who thinks that the idea of wiring an entire city up to a single massive OS is a good idea? Smart cities are a good idea, this... the idea in this game is a bad idea. A very bad idea, a terribly stupid idea actually.

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