Ubisoft continues to show love to the open-world genre with Watch Dogs. Too bad it’s the same Ubisoft formula.

What’s Watch Dogs about?

You play as Aiden Pierce, a hacker who is hell-bent on vengeance after a hit against him kills his niece. Why was the hit placed? Who ordered it? You’ll find all this out as you traverse Chicago and take out anyone related to the hit. Things get personal again quickly after Aiden’s sister gets kidnapped by a former associate.

The story is nothing groundbreaking. Most of it is serviceable, but the portions of the story between Aiden and his sister will have you groaning in boredom. At one point, they’re having a sibling squabble over the phone while Aiden is still trying to get her released from her kidnappers. It’s silly.

How does it play?

Watch Dogs’ primary gameplay hook is hacking. Chicago is your weapon as you access everything from streetlights to cell phones to security cameras. Some enemies can be distracted by hacking their comms, or you could remote arm their grenade for a bit louder of a distraction. The most common hack you’ll perform at first is on people. Item components and money are the main thing you’ll get from NPCs throughout Chicago. Some of them will also have information leading to gang hideouts or crimes about to take place.

Besides hacking, useable items also play a major role in Watch Dogs. Everything from comm jammers to triggering mass blackouts to IEDs can be created.

The more you play the more hacks you can perform. Each level up nets you skill points that can be used to upgrade everything from what you can hack to how much damage you take from explosives. Hacks against bridges and helicopters are a couple examples of unlockable hacks.

XP is earned from completing story missions, side missions, mini games, multiplayer matches etc. A mix of story, multiplayer and side missions will net you all the unlocks before you complete the story.

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Watch Dogs is your typical open-world game. There’s tons of content to play through. Some of it’s fun, other parts are dull. The achievement and trophy hunters among you will have plenty to sink your teeth into.

Multiplayer comes with several different modes. There’s a forgettable 4v4 mode called Online Decryption. You and your team have to hold onto a package until the decryption hits 100%. The more teammates around, the faster it goes. If an enemy player gets close to the player holding the package they can steal it. There isn’t separate decryption meters for each team. You can hold it until 98%, but if the other team manages to snatch it from your team, they’ll win. A racing mode makes an appearance in Watch Dogs as well. The real fun comes in the 1v1 multiplayer modes. Hacking and Tailing.

In hacking, you invade another player’s single player game. Once you initialize the hack, the player will be made aware of your presence and the hunt is on. There’s a set area you have to stay in once you start hacking a player. This area shrinks as time goes by, so you’ll need a good hiding spot if you want to complete the hack. If you’re spotted, you can try to make a run for it.

It’s a fun take on multiplayer and my favorite part about Watch Dogs.

What’s Awesome

Chicago’s Playground. Hacking all the different infrastructure around Chicago is a blast. It offers a unique spin on cop chases as you speed through Chicago blasting steam pipes and raising blockers to shake pursuers.

Hacking multiplayer. I had more fun getting hacked and hacking other people in Watch Dogs than doing anything else. 1v1 gets the blood pumping as you try and find the perfect spot to hide while hacking.

It’s a new game. It’s sad, but the summer drought has hit the new generation of consoles hard. PS4 and Xbox One owners have been waiting for months for a new title to play. Why more developers don’t take advantage of this time of the year is beyond me.

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Spider Tank. This is one of several mini games called ‘Digital Trips’ in Watch Dogs. Spider Tank brings the rampaging mayhem often seen in other open-world games to Watch Dogs. You pilot a massive spider tank as you try to complete several objectives. Climb up skyscrapers? Check. Leap from building to building while you rain hell down on everyone below. Check.

Shaking Head Moments

Story. Watch Dogs’ story doesn’t do anything special. Aiden’s pretty much Batman with the cool cell phone tech from The Dark Knight. Plus, there’s a twist near the end that feels like it’s there just to be there.

Car handling. The driving in Watch Dogs feels sluggish and definitely takes a bit to get used to it.

The Ubisoft open-world formula. Ubisoft knows only one way to make an open-world game. Towers that unlock parts of the map ala Assassin’s Creed/Far Cry? Check. Dull side missions? Check. Tail missions? Check, check and check. You thought there were a ton of tail missions in Assassin’s Creed? That’s nothing compared to Watch Dogs. Watch Dogs even adds a new type of mission that has you guiding an NPC through a maze of enemies using security cameras. It’s terrible. Please nix tail missions in the next Assassin’s Creed Ubisoft. Please.

Should you play Watch Dogs?

Fans of open-world titles such as Saints Row and GTA will find things to like with Watch Dogs. Are you tired of Ubisoft’s open-world formula? Skip it. Need something new to play until the fall deluge of new games? Watch Dogs will help fill the void until Destiny hits in September.

Played Watch Dogs on Xbox One. Completed the story, and played a ton of 1v1 multiplayer.

Just Played is our take on reviews. We are just starting out so we’ll be taking a look at some of the games released over the past month or so before moving to more recent titles.

Watch Dogs review score

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