I love what Ubisoft have been crafting in recent years, games such as Child Of Light, Rayman Legends, and more in keeping with the discussion today, Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. Now Watch Dogs is upon us, and we have a whole new intellectual property to explore.
WatchDogs feels very much in the Ubisoft open world milieu, a tale of revenge set in a near future Chicago players familiar with the aforementioned Ubisoft titles as well as plenty of later Grand Theft Auto experience will immediately be at home.
Roaming the Chicago streets you, as Aiden Pearce use your sophisticated smartphone to hack other citizens (to skim money), traffic lights and other electronic based systems around town. This skill needs to be employed throughout the game’s myriad of challenges.
Hacking security cameras and tracing systems to control points will be the mainstay of each mission. Allowing Aiden to take out enemies with the flick of an explosive switch will be a wonderful ally where, in most cases, he will be otherwise outgunned.
The game is full of instanced puzzles (not too dissimilar to the Far Cry 3 mercenary base sections) and these can be approached in a number of ways, usually failed attempts to go in guns-a-blazin followed by a more planned stealthy and ultimately successful methodology.
For my tastes, I found WatchDogs a little disappointing, for the determined players with time on their side there is plenty of depth to be had here, despite the hacking process largely reduced to a single button push.
Instead I turned to Wolfenstein: The New Order with expectations of big stupid gunplay peppered with nostalgia for the franchise that arguably kicked off the first-person shooter genre back in 1992.
There is a significant margin between entry expectations and game-play satisfaction with this title, developer Bethesda Softworks have managed to capture the digital version of a secret sauce that sates all tastes.
This feels like a Wolfenstein game, a stripped back – by today’s standards – shooter that incorporates little more than guns, Nazis, armour and explosions but guilds with a periphery of sophistication and depth.
For instance, there are secret doors, lock picking, collectibles and perks earned through game-play objectives rather than the now rote XP harvesting and levelling systems found in other games.
The story arc is divided into two parallel paths, one of which is chosen early in the piece but both of which are a surprisingly emotional journey. One minute you will think you are playing Duke Nukem, the next The Last of Us from a tale perspective.
B .J. Blazkowicz is a square-jawed American Marine helping to take on an advanced technology supported Nazi regime. However battling robotic guard dogs, clanking mechs and genetically modified super soldiers take their toll and B.J is hit injured escaping the clutches of evil-doktor Deathshead.
Blaskowicz spends the next sixteen years in a coma that he slips in and out of while in the real world the Nazi’s achieve world domination.
Prompted back into action by trauma it is time to reunite with old colleagues and begin to take the fight back to the evil reich. This includes missions to incredible locations on Earth, and beyond Earth.
The action is tight whilst the weapon feel is a little underwhelming at times. There are also some enemy AI issues at times but overall Bethesda has crafted a challenging homage to a franchise that is deserving.
If you are looking at E3 and salivating for the titles to come, fair enough, but if, in particular you own a new console from Microsoft or Sony, it would be worth looking at either of these titles depending on tastes.