Friday, 6 June 2014

First Impressions: WATCH_DOGS

I have been looking forward to this game for well over a year. Until it was delayed. Twice. I was originally going to get this game on the Wii U as it is the only next-gen console I have but since that has been delayed again, I settled for buying it on the PC.
In anticipation for this game I pre-ordered the digital deluxe version on Steam and when it finally arrived I loaded it up pressed play, turned the graphics up slightly and... Got a blue screen then my laptop restarted. I thought this was a one off, new game and all, so I turned my graphics down to the lowest setting, loaded it up again and... Got another blue screen then my laptop restarted (again).

After a few times of desperately playing around with the settings, I managed to start the game. However, there was a catch, I could hear the game but could not see it. None of the graphics loaded and the only option I had was to turn it off and ask the internet if anyone else was having problems. Now, my laptop isn't that bad with an AMD Quad-Core A8 series 1.9ghz and 8gb of RAM so I thought I could run the game.

After a little bit of research, I found out what the problem was. The graphics card! Ubisoft (who made Watch Dogs) had struck a deal with Nivida which meant that the game was failing to run on AMD PC's. The day after launch I checked on the internet again, not happy with the fact that I spent £45 on a game I couldn't play and was surprised when I found out that AMD had given out new drivers which would improve the performance of this game. I downloaded them and was even more surprised to see that it worked! I could now play the game and with a few more settings tweaks, I reduced the lag of the game a bit and it was finally playable.

And thankfully I stuck with the game too. The story is brilliant and really pulls at the heartstrings in terms of the characters making you really want the good guys to survive and win and the bad guys to **** off and die. And I'm only in the first act.

The hacking is a great addition to the tired open world genre and really makes the game world come alive with everyone having a story and maybe even a bank account to hack. The random events are nice even though I normally just run into the victim/villain, making the crime never happen. Also, they seem to happen every five minutes or so which gets a bit tiresome after a while (especially if you're like me who wants to help everyone) There are two types of random events: events which you get marked on your map and where you are there before the crime gets committed or there are spontaneous crimes with someone suddenly getting mugged and you have to stop the mugger etc.

These are much like the random events in GTA V, however these ones seem to have no reward, rather the person you just saved runs away and calls the police on you! They are so ungrateful!

This brings me onto the next topic of police and their AI. The scale of police chases is really good with road blocks and helicopters (even if it does make my laptop lag a lot) and there are many ways you can evade them from using you phone to hack traffic lights, out speeding them or just hiding out of their sight. The AI is all right but could be better with you being able to just hide around the side off a building and they just stay round their side.

The cover system is good and works well with the stealth and hacking mechanics. Being on foot is great and while you can only jump/melee in certain situation/areas they are still responsive and can help you out. Driving on the other hand is awful. Couple unresponsive controls, huge amounts of lag, unrealistic crashes and acceleration with the tight streets of Chicago and you get a mess. Hacking while driving is limited in use just by the fact that you go by so fast that you just can't register the spots you can hack. Focus helps by slowing you down slightly but it still is really difficult to do.

The selection of cars and guns is good though with a wide range of utilities for you to use including the crafting mechanic which allows you to create jam coms, lures etc out of things you find around you. You can get a new gun and car from Uplay as well but don't buy them at the moment as they have a bug which makes it difficult to load your game after you die.

Levelling up gives you skill points which you can use to upgrade your hacking, driving and combat capabilities, which opens up even more of the world to explore.

If you kill a civilian your reputation goes down, if you save a civilian or if you take down a villain your reputation goes up. Now I don't like this to much as it limits the 'sandbox' part of the game meaning if you do go on a rampage you have not only the police to worry about but your reputation as well. Not that you would like to kill anyone, even the guards to the bad guy's lairs, as they all have their amazingly in-depth story lines.

You can see and hear this all over the place, from people talking on the phone about business or someone (who was a video game enthusiast) kicking their boyfriend out for having action figures. Being able to hack some people's phones and watching or interacting with their text messages adds to this feeling of you actually being in the game.

The graphics (which I haven't seen much of as I have to play on low graphics) look good from what I've seen on YouTube etc. and the world is full of advertisements and landmarks for you to view at your pleasure.

Overall this has been a good game from what I've played but the biggest let down is just the poorly optimised PC port we have gotten from Ubisoft. Hopefully this will become more optimised with patches but who knows. With even more things I haven't tried yet, including the online section of the game, it is looking to be a pretty good game in all. Pick it up on consoles or a very high-spec PC.

Thanks for reading, Satamer

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