Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs is a game worth keeping an eye on

4:27 PM, May 11, 2013   |    comments
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Video game 'Watch_Dogs' from publisher Ubisoft.

Currently in development at Ubisoft Montreal is the upcoming open world vigilante justice video game Watch_Dogs, and it's a game that's well worth keeping an eye on.

In Watch_Dogs, players will experience the realities of living in our fully connected society, where individuals and corporations are at risk of exposure by our ever-increasing reliance on networks and technology.

Players will assume the role of anti-hero Aiden Pearce who, with the help of his smartphone, will use his ability to hack into Chicago's central operating system (ctOS).  This gives him the potential of controlling almost every element of the city regardless of whether or not that element is public (ie: city traffic cameras) or private (such as a PC webcam accessed via public WiFi).

Through this unprecedented access, he can also download personal information to locate a target and control systems such as traffic lights - as was shown during a live behind-closed-doors presentation last week.  Furthermore, the game's developer Dominic Guay pointed out that the result of something such as changing all of an intersection's traffic lights to green will be different every time in an attempt to make the game as organic and natural-seeming as possible.  This is thanks to the game's new Disrupt Engine, which combines parts of the FarCry and Assassin's Creed engines along with a few new bits to allow for dynamism within a static environment in terms of user-triggered events.

Watch_Dogs does have a centralized story that centers around Pierce's quest for revenge against those who murdered his family, but his case of Batman-like vigilantism is only part of the bigger picture.  As with the real-life Chicago, there is much more going on at any given time than just what's going on in Pierce's world.  As such, Guay promises a potentially unlimited selection of non-story-critical side missions such as preventing (or allowing) a crime in progress.  Simple exploring and data-gathering itself seems like a pretty good game-expanding element in its own right.  Even Pierce's smartphone has a few extra perks to it including an augmented-reality game and an in-game version of the popular Shazam app that allows players to tag music found around the in-game environment and add those songs to the game's normal soundtrack for playback.

But there's more to this game than just cool technological toys and the mayhem that can be brought upon Chicago with them.  There is also what looks to be a bit of rival company Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto in the game.  For example, there's a chance that Pierce will get caught in the act (either accidentally or on purpose).  When that happens, his "wanted level" with Chicago Police will rise, possibly leading to a police chase.  Of course, Pierce can avoid such an inconvenience by running from the scene of the crime before the police arrive or even by intimidating those who are in the progress of calling 9-1-1.  It should be pointed out, however, that it doesn't seem like Ubisoft Montreal is copying Rockstar by any means.

Also revealed by Ubisoft is the inter-connectivity of the game itself.  Watch_Dogs will have support for multiplayer, though there is no mandatory requirement for players to have their system of choice always online.  In fact, the entire game can be played just fine offline as a strictly single-player game.  For those wanting a connected experience, however, Guay states that it will be a "Full-blown multiplayer that makes use of the entire city."

Aside from those key items, Watch_Dogs is a game that also looks like it will "wow" in the presentation department.  The city, at least the slum area that was shown during the demonstration, looks quite authentic.  Not only to the various NPCs appear to be highly-detailed and realistic in their mannerisms, but the city blocks themselves have aspects to them that makes the player feel like he's actually there in the way that live-action movies do.  If the rest of the game's areas follow suit, this could be one of the highest quality video games (visually) on the market.

Watch_Dogs will be available on PS4 at launch, along with its release on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and Windows PC on November 19.  It is also expected that the game will release on Microsoft's all-but-revealed Xbox 360 replacement.

There is currently no ESRB rating posted for this game.


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