After months of delays and hype, Ubisoft has finally released Watch Dogs on PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One and PC. Did the game live up to the high expectations?
The good news is that Watch Dogs isn't bad, like the first unofficial review had indicated. The bad news is that critics weren't head-over-heels with it, either. The game's Metacritic is at 77 on Xbox One, 81 on PC, and 82 on PS4. The most common score is an 80. Everyone seems to like it but they're not going to be handing it trophies at the end of the year.
Critics agree that it's a competent open-world game. The central gimmick of hacking, which allows players to control electronics throughout Chicago like traffic lights or security cameras, was praised. Many reviewers enjoyed solving elaborate puzzles through hacking missions. The drop-in/drop-out multiplayer isn't substantial, they argue, but it's still a nice supplement to the campaign.
Players expecting a truly "next-gen" title are going to be disappointed, though. Watch Dogs' virtual Chicago seems shallow compared to last fall's GTA 5. Furthermore, critics deemed many of the missions in Watch Dogs to be repetitive.
A lot of reviews closed with some hopeful line about Watch Dogs 2. Reviewers like Watch Dogs but think that Ubisoft hasn't fully tapped its potential yet.
Interestingly, I couldn't find any Xbox 360 or PS3 reviews yet. It should be interesting to see a break-down of those versions' performance versus the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
Here are a few excerpts from reviews throughout the web. As usual, a mix of high-score and low-score reviews were chosen:
"Watch Dogs is filled with pleasant diversions like driving spider tanks and hacking other players. The best and most original parts of the game seem like they're on the edges of it, though. Ubisoft had some great ideas but couldn't commit to them, instead deciding to spend most of their time recreating Grand Theft Auto." - Gaming Blend
"One of the games biggest hurdles was separating itself from the rest of the pack. Hacking withstanding, this is still a third person open-world action game that follows a lot of the conventions that we’ve come to feel comfortable with since the release of Grand Theft Auto III in 2001. That’s not a bad thing by any stretch but the promises of a “next-gen” open-world experience might have been a bit premature. Your still going to get missions marked on the map and you will drive from one place to the next, stealing cars, and killing innocent citizens along the way. The game also falls into the trap of having so much to do that it messes with the pacing of the game’s story which only further disenchants you with our heroine, Aiden." - Darkstation
"Watch Dogs won’t please everyone. Many will, I suspect, find it boring; a case of missions being a cycle of rinse and repeat. That’s the unfortunate, repetitive nature of open world games in general. It will, unfortunately, crumble under the lofty expectations it has set for itself. It fails to set a new benchmark for modern, open world games – but given that it’s the studio’s freshman effort of the sort, we won’t hold that against them." - LazyGamer
"It's just a shame that while increasingly challenging and entertaining hacking mini-games appear by the dozen, environmental puzzles, such as the one involving satellites and walkways, are kept to a minimum. It's something that ultimately hurts the pacing of the game, with consecutive missions often revolving around the same objective." - DigitalSpy
"It’s impressive that so many encounters offer three very different tactical approaches—stealth, open assault, and remote hacking—that all feel equally valid, with objectives that adapt on the fly to your choices. I’d go so far as to call a few key moments remarkable." - EGM
"I think you’ll find 85% of what you were expecting out of this game at the end of the day. It certainly won’t take the GTA series over in terms of depth and open world playability, but it’s going to make Rockstar think about when it needs to do to prevent the next Watch Dogs from taking it to the woodshed. It’s going to be scary to think what Watch Dogs 2 is going to look like once Ubisoft developers get the hardware sorted out. Until then, buy and enjoy Watch Dogs." - DigitalChumps