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June 11, 2014

Watch Dogs Full Review


All this advanced hacking and still not one person has figured out who let those dogs out? 

Parental Guidance Advised for the following review.

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg

Verdict: Mature Gamers Only (For Sexual Content, Nudity, and Strong Language)

Release Date: May 2014

Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC.

Genre: Open World Action



Areas of Concern:

Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--A man is stabbed in the chin with a knife; we see blood spurt out on his throat and he gurgles and falls over dead.

--In an X-rayed scene, a man picks up a severed hand, cuts off the fingers and puts it into a cocktail cup, and he puts one in his mouth to eat. (The scene stops at this point.)

--A man is beaten in the face with a suitcase, knocking him over and he is then beaten several more times with crunching being heard. The suitcase is shown smeared with blood afterwards.

--Several people are gunned down during the game; cries of pain and small mists of blood are shown, with large blood splatters on surrounding walls and puddles of blood form beneath fallen people. Players can grab enemies and shoot them in the back, face and chest up-close, with blood mists being shown. Some of these sequences are in slow-motion, with more focus on the blood splatter.

-A character is shot in the chest, blood smeared on the neck and chest, before they fall over in a puddle of blood, dead.

--Players can use batons to beat enemies with, thuds and cries of pain being heard as your character hits torsos, legs and heads until enemies fall over unconscious.

--Explosive weapons like grenades, objects, and projectiles are used, sending people flying backwards and cries of pain being heard and large explosions with wreckage being shown. Cellphones can also be hacked, with the enemy panicking and screaming before blowing up, sending them flying.

--We see two frozen and bloodied corpses riddled with bullet holes in their bodies and foreheads, with lots of blood smearing the environment.

Context of Violence: Shock Value (The violence is clearly inserted to be jarring or shocking to the gamer. Especially the cannibalism scene. Yep.)

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Players can perform Privacy Invasions by hacking into houses and spying on occupants:

-In one scene, a man is shown stimulating himself to porn, both of which are obscured; we see motions under the table and hear graphic sound effects from the computer. He makes a remark about forgetting to wash his hands.

-In another scene, a topless woman plays Russian roulette with her lover.

Both scenes carry on for quite some time. 
--An X-ray outline of a scene shows a man having a liaison with a woman, with suggestive noises before noticing a camera and slapping the man away from her.

--A woman talks about her neighbours, referencing a prostitute in crude terms, and that her profile looks like stones in soggy paper bags. She also says that she can't wait for a drughead to be killed and then assaulted in a profane manner .

--Players can learn several embarrassing secrets about people using the Profiler: References to a frequenter of Phone Sex lines, a woman who posted nude photos online, men who look at porn sites, a woman who frequently purchases prophylactics and sex toys online, a man using the search term "rape", a woman who made a porn film in college, a pro-choice activist, a man who visits S&M clubs, a self-proclaimed necrophiliac and a man taking medicine for low libido.

-In a text message, a man asks a woman for a "whistler", to which she replies that she can't but she asks him for a "hummer" instead, a woman's friend mistakenly thinks that she bought lotions and tissues for devious purposes, a man talks about friction and teeth, a woman bluntly mentions that a suspect who they are tailing had an abortion the year before and a man remarks that he has a 6GB stick full of "lesbian porn."

-In an elevator, a man remarks that if it broke down and this was a porn movie, they'd "[expletive] like gorillas." 

--In an extended sequence, we see several trafficking victims with toplessness shown when you walk through a warehouse stated to be used for human trafficking. This can be seen for quite some time, but never focused upon.

--Two people act out a scene in an apartment, where a man plays the role of a plumber and talks about trying to check plumbing, to which a woman makes suggestive remarks.

Context of Sex/Nudity: Fanservice, Shock Value, Realism (While the sexual content is not exactly necessary, it is realistic because webcams, cellphones and such are often used in real life to invade the privacy of others. As for the human trafficking, it is clearly shown for shock value and not for fanservice at all.)

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Semi Frequent Uses of C**t, F**k, S**t, with various anatomical terms for both men and women used explicitly.

--God and Jesus' names are used in vain.

Context of Language: Realism (The game puts a lot of detail in the realism of it's world and it uses strong language to convey the way people communicate in real life and through text messaging.)

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--The Profiler lists several religious aspects of people, such as people being Wiccans, Scientologists, frequent donators to televangelists, Muslims, Christians, Mormons, and so on...

--In a virtual trip, players drive through a crimson skied city and run over "demons" who are people with flaming heads.

Context of Spiritual Content: References Only, Realism

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Players can take part in an interactive drinking game where you consume lots of alcohol, causing the screen to become blurred and distorted. Players have to hold out longer than their opponent, who eventually falls asleep from being drunk. 

-In another scene, several junkies can be seen "dosing up" with needles.

--References to "Your brain on Acid", characters being regular consumers of hallucinogenics, dealers, hashish, people overdosing, an X-ray scan shows a lot of weed lying on a table, and so on.

-Players can plug in earphones and experience "Digital Trips", one of which involves bouncing on psychedelic flowers as the screen flashes with all kinds of pretty colours.

-Several characters are shown smoking cigarettes and drinking beers.

Context of Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Usage: Realism (Once again, the game tries to be realistic, and drugs are a firm part of today's society.)

Gambling:

The game features extensive gambling with (virtual) money where players can bet on shell games, gamble money at slot machines and play poker.

Lyrics/Music:

Some of the songs featured in-game contain swearing and references to violence, cop-killing, selling drugs, etc.

Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

Performing illegal activities are unavoidable in Watch Dogs, although players are never encouraged to kill civilians and doing so will damage your "Reputation" and make people far more likely to call the cops on you.

Morality Type: Shades of Grey, Life of Crime (Aiden Pearce, the main character, is shown to be living a double life, one of crime, but he is also shown to be doing so in order to rid the city of organised criminals.)

Review of Game:

Yes, this actually appears in the game.

Ah, Watch Dogs. Anybody remember the little bit of hype this game had before release? Come on, I'll wait---Oh, I see I didn't have to wait too long! Somebody remembers, and it isn't just me! Wow! So surprising!

Sarcasm aside, I knew this game was being over-hyped. As a result, I adjusted my expectations realistically and I'm glad to say I wasn't disappointed.

Watch Dogs tells the story of Aiden Pearce, a modern vigilante who uses his hacking skills to break into systems and engage in a game of cloak and smartphone, all in the name of avenging a deceased family member.

The gameplay proceeds at a slightly slower pace than most Open World games. Much more focus is placed on the finer details of life in Chicago, because of the game's biggest selling point: Hacking.

With the single push of a button, players can access camera's, tap phones and eavesdrop on conversations, lift bridges, jam traffic and mess with cellphones to make them explode in the pockets of enemies(!).

Players can also use the Profiler to scan and uncover secrets about people. While this may sound like an earth-shattering feature, most of the information is only superficial and it doesn't add much depth beyond the obvious cool factor.

The driving sections are also noticeably finicky and repetitive. In fact, much of the main story missions get tiring quite fast. While it's nice to have a lengthy game for once, I would've preferred this one to be shorter and more effort put into the side missions.

The writers obviously tried very hard to gain our empathy with the story of Watch Dogs, but unfortunately things fell flat, because of a one-dimensional main character, forgettable side characters (with the notable exception of Jordi Chin) and an uninteresting story.

But for what it's worth, the game does manage to provide you with bang for your buck where it matters most: The side missions. 

Those throwaway activities will keep you busy for hours on end. Players can play Poker, Chess (Yes, Chess), Shell Games, Virtual Coin Runs, etc, etc. And then we have the Virtual Trips, where you play addictive games that overtake the actual game itself. (Alone is a standout for me, personally.)

So if the main story doesn't satisfy your Open World appetite, the many, many side missions will do so. Oh and did I mention there's a Virtual Trip where you can play as a Spider Tank?

The graphics are very good and nicely detailed, though not as photorealistic as the 2012 E3 Trailer led us to believe. A great amount of detail is put in facial animations, character models, textures, environments and lighting.

It's a shame that the game is poorly optimised, because even on a high end PC like mine, you'd have to lower your settings to Medium in order to actually get the game running smoothly.

Not to mention, us PC gamers ran into numerous problems trying to get the PC version up and running. (I had to play this game in the offline mode of Uplay because the patch doesn't want to download AT ALL.)

While this is not part of the actual game itself, it should be noted that there is some difficulty in running the PC version of Watch Dogs. Now, it seems like the biggest issues have been addressed, but I urge caution to the Master Race who plan on buying this game: Expect some tweaking and patches to get this working!

Quality Verdict: Great (B+)

While the main story underwhelms, and it's not nearly the Open World masterpiece promised by two years of hype, Watch Dogs still manages to deliver where needed, creating a big, fun world to play in, guaranteed to take up weeks of your playing time.

Conclusion:

I'm in your game, stealing your points!


Okay, okay, the obvious out of the way: YES, the game has sexual content in it. YES, the game has topless nudity in it. YES, the game has lots of sexual references. YES, I like waffles.

With that out of the way, let me explain: The sexual content in the game which I personally found to be offensive, is entirely optional and skippable. The first is the Privacy Invasions, which don't have to be done at all and if you want to do it for the sake of completion, you can simply press "Escape" or "Exit" to avoid inappropriate scenes.

The other are videos that can be found whilst hacking into servers. If a gamer wants to be very cautious, you can simply avoid hacking into the servers altogether except where the game instructs you to. (This never leads to inappropriate video clips.)

The unavoidable part is the human trafficking. Here, you see topless nudity. I personally did not find this part offensive. It wasn't done in a suggestive manner and was used appropriately for the context.

I know a lot of you may not like that, and that's okay. The nudity is never focused on and you can simply look away in the game itself. Only two seconds of close-up topless nudity is completely unavoidable and that's when a prostitute attacks a man, trying to get free from his cruel hands.

Otherwise, the violence is pretty mild compared to other games. Some blood is still featured. The language may be a concern for those of you who dislike profanity. Sexual references abound, especially when using the Profiler. 

All in all, I don't recommend this for a conservative audience. If you are able to look past all the aforementioned content, then sure, go for it! Otherwise, steer clear of this one. Rather get yourself a milder Open World game like Just Cause 2, which doesn't take itself too seriously and should be a joy to play.

Verdict: 18+




For Sexual Content, Nudity and Strong Language.

Outro:

I don't know about you, but my inner conspiracy theorist giggled with glee when I saw the many realities that Watch Dogs portrayed, which we tin foil hats predicted many years ago.

But moving on: The game was a bit underwhelming. There was so much more you could do, and I couldn't help but imagine more features and more ways to hack into systems, vehicles, heck, even guns...

Here's hoping that when the inevitable sequel arrives, it will improve on the solid foundation laid by it's predecessor. 

I, for one, am looking forward to piloting a stolen drone whilst driving a hacked Corvette bypassing a firewall on a second-hand laptop filled with virus droids which you have to fight off in an old-school retro videogame while sitting in a fridge in your mother's basement playing Xbox One on your electric shaver and watching Breaking Bad re-runs on a billboard directly outside your window which you hacked into using your mother's calculator through a broken old electric toaster.

What do you guys think of Watch Dogs and it's content? And what are your thoughts on today's technology being exploited for covert purposes?

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