Anyone saying that Watch Dogs is just Ubisoft putting Assassin’s Creed in an technologically interconnected present is a bit of a numpty. Because, well, no Assassin’s Creed game, present day or no, would hand you a tidy grenade launcher and some of the nicest effects ever to grace a screen and let you run wild with it.
Watch Dogs isn’t as good as Ubisoft wanted and it’s not as good as we all hoped, but it’s not nearly as bad as some seemingly want it to be, either. It’s familiar Ubisoft open world stuff, but there are some strong core ideas here; it just isn’t as progressive and ‘next-genny’ as it first appeared. There’s a lot of shit to do. Story missions, side stuff, and emergent events that pop up out of nowhere, which are decent enough but have less scope than what you might see in a game from the Rockstar lads. Despite the variety of environmental hacking not being quite as extensive as imagined, there’s still ample opportunity to create some badass moments of your own using the city and its inhabitants.
Like the old joke about an iPhone doing everything but make phone calls, Watch Dogs sometimes feels like it’s reaching for too much without covering the basics. The story is a bit po-faced and Aiden is a bit of a bore. However, the shooting is solid and the cover mechanic works really well, especially if you’re going stealth, which is way more satisfying than I expected - think Splinter Cell's 'focus' abilities and some rad-as-shit takedowns. Making your own chase sequences is a blast.
Also it has the best rain I’ve ever seen.