Some of you might expect me to start rambling on and on about how Watch Dogs isn’t the game everyone wanted it to be. You might expect me to spend a few paragraphs trying to explain why it’s not the greatest open world game ever. You might even expect me to say I don’t like it and it’s overrated. I hate to let you down, but my focus is elsewhere. My intention was never to belittle Watch Dogs. I’m not interested in bad games. It doesn’t help me as a gamer when there aren’t good games to play. What I am interested in, is what the games actually mean. And Watch Dogs means a hell of a lot in my humble opinion.
Watch Dogs was championed when we first got a glimpse of it, only to then face a rocky road back to the mountaintop. It was only right for gamers to be worried, because we have dealt with a lot of letdowns. Watch Dogs had the task of being the first open world game that could potentially take the GTA foundation and build on it. At least in my mind, others may feel different. There have been many open world games since GTA III set the world on fire. However, I feel like none of them did anything to make me feel like GTA would ever pass the torch. I kept waiting for someone to create a similar experience that made me feel like I was witnessing a evolution of that formula. I’m not ready to say I’m witnessing it with Watch Dogs, but I can say I feel like the day is coming.
Ubisoft obviously felt the same way I do, or they stumbled onto this conclusion by accident. As I play, I see things that make me feel like they knew what was at stake. There is a great level of love baked into this meal, and I can taste it. There are also a lot of ingredients in the recipe. Heavy on the GTA, add some Assassins Creed, sprinkle in some Temple Run, a dash of Foursquare…..the list goes on. I can appreciate what lengths the team went to in order to make Chicago BREATHE. The NPC’s are great in this regard as well. While I’ll admit that Ubisoft did a great job in romanticizing how things would be in game, it’s still fun to overhear random conversations or learn random facts about the NPC’s littering the city streets.
I don’t want to talk all day about this, even though I could. I just can’t properly convey how happy I am to see someone add a little to the GTA blueprint. Or at least redesign it and clean it up some. Everything about this game is streamlined and natural. The menus are slick. The hacking is super slick and intuitive. I mean, I hacked someone’s phone and stole money while I was chasing someone down on foot! I didn’t have to stop running, hack the phone, and then resume chasing. Small things like that can REALLY make a world of difference. I can appreciate stumbling across a side mission in the middle of a story mission. I can FURTHER appreciate being able to complete that side mission without canceling the story mission. These things seem trivial, until you can’t do them anymore. Then you’ll realize how great they are.
I’m not here to review Watch Dogs. Too many people think I have a bias against it. So I’ll leave it to someone else from the team. I just wanted to say that it has me excited. Regardless of how you may feel about the finished product, there is enough here to prove that open world games are far from maxed out on potential. Imagine if the sequel makes a leap similar to Assassins Creed. Imagine what we could see! Even if you feel the game isn’t great, Ubisoft did a great job of building a base to work with. Go play GTA III and compare it to GTA V. We all have to start somewhere. But that somewhere should ideally be an ideal starting place. I feel like Watch Dogs succeeded in that regard. Kudos for a job well done. Now excuse me, I have crimes to prevent.