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Watch Dogs: A Game Deferred

/ Jul 16th, 2014 No Comments

Watch Dogs 2

Hype is easy to get lost in; you find yourself caught up in pretty promises and the potential of slick presentations and trailers showing off the latest and greatest in graphics and innovation. All of it sucks you right into the hype. More trailers and presentations further ratchet up the anticipation and hype until it is at a fine boil. Then, a release date is announced. Now there is a target for the hopes and expectations. November is going to change everything.

Nothing will be the same after you get that sweet new system and that epic new game. But a month before that time comes, the news breaks. That new game is no longer coming out alongside the new console–in fact, you don’t know when you’ll be able to play it because no new release date has been announced. Hype is also easy to lose. There are always new games, so that one game and the hype associated with it become distant memories.

Every game publisher and developer always wants to build excitement and enthusiasm for an upcoming video game. Attaining this goal is difficult. Trailers and slick visuals are only going to go so far. There needs to be substance behind the product. The gameplay and vision need to work together. Hype builds lofty expectations, but if everything goes well, a game can be judged on its own merits despite the hype.

Waiting to Watch Dogs

When a game is delayed, the expectations continue to build but the hype dissipates. When consumers finally get their hands on the product, they still have unrealistic expectations without the same excitement and fervor of hype. Such was the case with Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs. Watch Dogs is a solid game (The Ryan Bloom of Gaming Illustrated agrees in our review). It is simply not the game Ubisoft initially teased at E3 2012 nor the game built up by hype and expectations.

Watch Dogs

This is not the Chicago we were promised.

Ubisoft unleashed a litany of excuses for what happened between the 2012 reveal of Watch Dogs to the final product–“The gameplay wasn’t “fun” yet,” “We were designing for unfinalized machines two years ahead of their release,” “Watch Dogs is not about the graphics, but the true expression of next-gen gameplay.” None of that matters now. Ultimately, the hype machine and hope of “true next-gen” experience cannot change what Watch Dogs is.

Into The Open World

Watch Dogs is not a bad game–in fact, it shows flashes of brilliance. However, it is mostly a standard open-world game bloated with boring side missions. Watch Dogs lacks the ability to create carnage that keeps open-world games interesting. The world is populated with NPCs, but there isn’t anything exciting to do with them. In Grand Theft Auto, causing mayhem is half the fun, but Watch Dogs doesn’t inspire the same desire to climb to a high building and wreak havoc. Without that exploration factor, Watch Dogs’ decent storyline is overshadowed by monotonous side missions and poor driving controls.

Watch Dogs Gameplay

Moments of greatness are overshadowed by a boring open world.

Despite its flaws, gameplay in Watch Dogs is exciting. Aiden Pearce’s ability to hack allows for a number of options when performing tasks. Players can choose to take on enemies with guns blazing, but it is much more compelling to use stealth and set off traps. Unfortunately, gameplay is integrated into uninspiring missions that seem culled from other Ubisoft properties.

Delayed Satisfaction

Rather than setting a standard on new-gen consoles alongside their release, Watch Dogs was forced to compete with all the games released before it. Infamous: Second Son‘s version of Seattle is no match for Watch Dogs’ Chicago. Even Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes‘ open-world experience topped Watch Dogs.

Watch Dogs probably wouldn’t have been a significantly better game if it released in November, especially considering it wasn’t ready at that time. However, the climate for its release would have been more positive. The constant delays and years of anticipation deflated the game’s marketing hype. Had it came out alongside the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Watch Dogs would have been a must buy.


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
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