There’s little denying that 2013 was a marvellous year for videogames, a well deserved swan song for the sternly loyal long lived last generation of consoles – Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. 2013 was arguably one of gamings best years in recent memory. But who cares, old game is old – right? The moment Playstation 4 and Xbox One were released last year gamings most dedicated communities suddenly cast their expectant gaze forward. So then, to celebrate the beginning of 2014, and a hopefully yet another fantastic year for gaming we’ve decided to count down a top ten list of our most anticipated titles slated for release this year, were’re almost at the top now with #2 Watch_Dogs
Who watches the Watch_Dogs? Well, just about everybody actually. Since it’s début trailer at E3 2012 Ubisoft’s newly unveiled franchise has become something of a poster boy for the next generation of home consoles. Cautiously Ubi at the time elected to omit the fact Watch_Dogs would be available on both current and next gen systems, secretly everyone already knew it. Thereafter all eyes were on Watch_Dogs, every trade show appearance and every announcement regarding it’s release was a highly anticipated event. Eventually though the community became fatigued by excessive coverage reaching the point where they were ready for release. Unfortunately at the eleventh hour the game was delayed, moving from it’s November 2013 release, until March 2014. And so here we stand still waiting, still as excited as ever.
In case you’ve been living under a rock since 2012, or have somehow missed Watch_Dogs through other means, allow me to explain what it’s all about, and why you should join the already considerable masses in eagerly waiting. In the not so distant future the city of Chicago has adopted a “big brother” style initiative that has citizens being eerily watched at all times by a monolithic automated security network. Assuming the role of hacker Aiden Pierce players can periodically take command of devices under the control of the omnipresent super structure twisting it to their benefit. Narratively this ability is used to gather intel that Aiden can use to wage his one man war against the corrupt forces of the city – assumedly on both sides of the law.
From what we’ve seen so far, or lucky journalists have played in test sessions, the city of Chicago is expansive, even the small sections they’ve been given access to are reportedly quite tremendous in scale. Like many other sandboxes with city settings players will get around using an assortment of motorised vehicles like cars and boats, but Watch_Dogs will also place heavy emphasis on free running – a useful tool for escaping the police or catching fleeing baddies. Considering Ubisoft’s prior work on the Assassins Creed series it’d be unsurprising to see Watch_ Dogs borrow it’s spiritual siblings trademark frustratingly “sticky” approach to parkour. In fact it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to consider that the game as a whole will be reminiscent of the history trotting action adventure series.
In this borderline Orwellian city almost every layer of infrastructure is controlled by the aptly named Central Operating System or CtOS. Whether it’s mobile phones, security cameras, road traffic signals or even trains the CtOS has a hand in it’s running. The cities over reliance on the technological power house is Aidens opening, using his mobile phone to run code he can hack into almost any aspect of the cities programming warping it to his own uses. Change road lights to suit your motives, pop up road blockades when you feel, spy on citizens using security cameras and even steal identities to access other peoples cash at ATM’s. For good or evil, for better or worse, the living breathing cities power is the players to harness.
Ubisoft have been hesitant to reveal how all these aspects come together narratively, though they’ve thus far been happy to show how the mechanics work in ad-hoc side missions. One such example saw Aiden tracking a citizen who was marked as being highly susceptible to attack using data gathered by the CtOS. Slyly trailing the would-be victim down a shady alley he found his mark in a heated argument with another man, at this point Aiden could choose to intervene, or simply look on. If the player chooses to be passive the victim who Aiden trails is savagely beaten down by his rival at which point the option to give chase is presented. However, should players choose to interject before that point the marks life can be saved. This suggests a living city with emphasis on choice – how you utilize your powers will have consequence.
Even as I’ve wrote this piece I’m overcome with a sense of deja-vu, these are things many of our have probably read, heard or seen numerous times already. It’s true that Watch_Dogs over exposure to the games media since 2012 has inevitably dampened the once Goliath hype for the third person sandbox. Despite the almost fatigued aura that emanates from Watch_Dogs we can’t help being incredibly excited for it’s eventual release March this year. The first ever shown next generation titles release is close at hand – now that’s something to anticipate.
Be sure to check back for the final entry tomorrow, in the mean time do share this with your friends or, follow us on twitter @Gamerree.
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