Free on XBOX Live Gold was Watch Dogs this month. Having played the 2nd game and loving the heck out of it, I felt impelled to play through the first game, despite overwhelming bad reviews from my brother and brother in law. They had both tried to play it and didn’t get far before quitting.
I went in with this in mind and also knowing that the game was released several years ago (2014 to be exact). Plus, it’s hard to go back and play old games after you’ve played the subsequent games first.
The beginning was annoying. The first Act which was the tutorial for the game was straight up annoying to me, but I was grateful for it because the controls were very different from Watch Dogs 2, the gameplay less intuitive (of course) and I’d been playing Mass Effect: Andromeda so I was really of jumbled mind. As the game progressed, it got less and less annoying, but that’s not a good sign when you’re trying to keep a gamer hooked to finish the game. If I wasn’t compelled by the intention of learning lore behind the second game, I would have quit after Act II, half the game. I must, admit, however, that the end was good. At least it had that going for it.
Overall I’d give it a 6.5/10. If I’d played it 3 years ago, I would’ve probably given it an 8/10.
It suffers from what many games suffer from, where all of the characters surrounding the main one are much more interesting than the protagonist himself (something number 2 did not have a problem with). The voice acting was quite good for all characters except Pearce (just mediocre) and whose character in general I found terribly obnoxious. The story was only OK, as it barely kept me playing halfway through the game, and good gravy the script for the Aiden, Clara parts were awful and cringe worthy. In fact, ALL of the cutscenes with Aiden and Clara were off-putting to me. For a player who enjoys doing all sidequests before the main story, I found myself trying hard to fly through the game as quickly as possible just to get it all over with. The only side quest I enjoyed and sought out were the intrusion quests where you get to spy on the citizens of Chicago. Half of them were lewd and inappropriate.
There’s where my next grievance was: I am not a teenage male. Even though the game is rated M for 17 and up, you know darn well the tweens are playing it. The game tries hard to make Pearce this hard ass, cool individual and yet I never feel that about him at all. Yes, he steals money from people’s bank accounts to fund his high powered weapon and dangerous explosive crafting needs, he steals cars of all tiers of worth, all because he delves into the crime heart of the city…so as he chases after the mob boss of Chicago because their dealings caused the death of his niece… Yes, that would put him into the less than appealing crime dealings…but it annoyed me to see all the sexual acts in the game. The topless prostitute/wife (can’t remember) playing Russian Roulette with a revolver and a man, laughing and giggling drunk, the prostitute getting throat-rammed inside the gang hideout, a naked girl getting screwed by a clothed man in the same hideout, both with audible moans of pleasure, the man masturbating to porn while his baby is crying in the next room, the naked girl that messed up Crispin guy was supposed to use tools of BDSM on, another man rating girl’s boobs and therefore bang-ability on some site, the mostly naked sex slave auction, and the conversation about some guy getting jerked off by a girl’s hair and then coming in her hair and getting her hair stuck in his zipper. All completely unnecessary in my book. I understand that sex trafficking is a real problem with mobs and crime organizations but so are drugs. They put an inordinate amount of focus on sex in the game, more than likely because sex sells and the audience is young men to begin with. Pearce isn’t interested in all that, and is supposed to be striving to shut it all down, but it still annoyed me.
The beginning of the game made it seem like it would be Assassin’s Creed style sneaking around, since you have a silenced handgun and you were supposed to use cameras and environmental triggers to get through a level…something I love because it’s your choice: either sneak of shoot your way out. I prefer the sneaking route, but eventually they force you into several major shootouts anyways. Why. And it got really old, the police chasing you around the small map. All the cars sucked and were super slow except a small handful and my gosh the police got really hard towards the end (understandable I guess, but I had it on easy!)
So here’s the short of it:
Pros: background lore for number 2! I probably missed the references when I played through…maybe it warrants a new play through? In retrospect it was probably quite good for 2014. Voice-acting overall was great in my opinion. A myriad of guns to choose from. Enjoyable secondary characters. Looks good for 2014. Smooth gameplay overall, with some lags.
Cons: weak linear story, dislike for the protagonist, couldn’t feel the emotions the game wanted you to feel, low immersive quality, poor replay value, repetitive gameplay, unnecessary “cool/hard” additives.
If you are looking to get into the series, definitely play number 1 first and then number 2. The stories are completely different from each other in vision and in quality. The second game was much more enjoyable and light-hearted though they substituted excessive and unnecessary profanity for unnecessary and excessive sexual themes. All for the teen boys, eh?
I guess I should be used to the male skew in video games by now. hah. Otherwise they’d be too boring and “kiddie.” Cue the eyeroll.