Ubisoft’s unveiling of Watch_Dogs brightened an otherwise dull E3. Their futuristic rendition of Chicago impressed many while the protagonist’s ability to hack into just about anything with a computer chip promised true innovation. There was also an intriguing air of mystery surrounding it – this is something that seemingly came out of nowhere, from a publisher whose future plans were once frequently leaked online.
That was two years ago. Since then Ubisoft have released new trailers on what would appear to be a monthly basis, detailing every single aspect, from the alternate reality mini-games to the contents of the season pass. With missions often focused on exposing corporate secrets, it’s kind of ironic that by the time Watch_Dogs’ release date neared Ubisoft had revealed pretty much everything it had to offer. Unveiling the Spider-Tank mini-game strikes us as an odd decision in particular. Discovering first-hand that it’s possible to stomp around the city in a metal monstrosity would have been a brilliant surprise, had Ubisoft chosen not to let that proverbial cat out of the bag way before the game’s release. This overexposure uncomfortably ties into the fact that from start to finish Watch_Dogs delivers few surprises. In a way, we’re jealous of those who chose to ignore Ubisoft’s relentless marketing.
Aiden Pearce’s story is one of revenge, and as he attempts to discover who killed his daughter and put the rest of his family in danger he soon finds himself caught in Chicago’s criminal underworld. Due to having a ‘ctOS’ networking system installed, the bustling city has recently become the most technologically advanced in the world. Cameras are on every street corner, intended to keep the population safe by tracking their every movement. Aiden Pearce and his fellow hackers are keen to exploit this system for personal gain, using nothing more than a standard mobile phone to access information and control electrical devices as they see fit.
Aiden is perhaps the most prolific hacker of all, known by the media as ‘the vigilante’. Even though his moral compass points to neutral when first stepping into his shoes, it’s hard to see him as anything other than an antagonist. As the story unfolds, even Aiden himself starts to become aware of this.