Maybe I’m looking back with rose-colored glasses, but I seem to be one of the only 7 people in the world that liked the original Watch_Dogs. I watched the preview trailer at E3 and was excited for it, as most people were. I picked up the game on release day, but unlike most people, I wasn’t immediately disappointed with the game because of the lack of incredible visuals. That is one of the flaws of Watch_Dogs. They showed it at E3 with incredible visuals and then when the game didn’t meet those expectations, people were up in arms. Soon they were finding other problems with the game, other reasons not to like it. I for one, enjoyed the game and enjoyed my experience with the game throughout most of the campaign and for a couple days after on the online multiplayer.
The main character, Aiden Pierce, is mostly forgettable. I actually had to Google his name to make sure it was correct. And the story is even more forgettable. I can’t remember anything that happened other than the end was a let down. I think there was a mercenary, but I can’t be sure. What I really enjoyed about the game was the setting and the mechanics. As someone originally from the Midwest, it was nice to see Chicago represented in a big budget video game. And while Chicago isn’t the only city to feature an above-ground train system, it felt like Watch_Dogs used it in a way that other games have been trying to for a long time. Once upgraded enough, Aiden could use his hacking abilities to stop and start the train from on top, which makes for some pretty entertaining evasions from the police. He could also control security cameras, manhole covers, ATMs, stoplights. Anything connected to the fictional ctOS system, which essentially is a city-wide communication array (easily hackable).
Unlike other games, there was no mini-game when you needed to hack something. It was just point and click. You wanted it done and it was done. Along with access to ctOS you would have a way to monitor random NPC’s. You would be able to look into their bank records and see their annual income, their occupations, age, and hobbies. Most people on the street were pretty mundane but occasionally you would find someone with a hilarious background. Kotaku has a page with some of the best.
So the city of Chicago was a good place to start. It wasn’t LA or NYC or Miami, places that I have been to before. It was a familiar place to me. While the city as a whole was great, it was the minor set pieces that really stick out.
One of my favorite things to do was drive some fast car through a tunnel with a draw bridge on the other side. Once the bridge was in sight, I hit the hack button and raised it, giving myself a makeshift ramp. Then, while driving at full speed, I would launch myself onto the aforementioned railway system and ride that for as long as I could. If I ever was chased by the police, my main goal was to get to that part of the city and use that exact escape route, leaving the in-game police in awe of my hacking and driving capabilities.
Along the same vein as that, there is a mission where you go to scrapyard and can activate all of these mechanical contraptions to defend the position. I had a lot of fun controlling the fire-breathing dragon machine while lobbing grenades to lure people into the inferno zone.
Another zone that I fondly remember is an enemy controlled tower. You had to assault the thing floor by floor, imagine the movie The Raid, fighting increasingly difficult enemies as you go. It was awesome, I had so much fun. Also (Spoilers) at the end, you can kill someone by hacking into their pacemaker and turning it off, so that was fun.
Anyway, Watch_Dogs 2 was announced with an 18-minute trailer/ behind the scenes look. New character, new city (San Fran), new hacking tools. Ubisoft is notorious for having good sequels (Assassin’s Creed to Assassin’s Creed 2, Far Cry 2 to Far Cry 3, Rayman to whatever Rayman is out now). But even without that track record, if they released Watch_Dogs 2 with an updated story, some new mechanics and a likeable character I would buy it in a heartbeat. I don’t need to see anything other than what’s in this trailer as I am already sold. Come November 15, I’ll be in line waiting to plunge back into the world controlled by Deadsec.
P.S. Watch_Dogs and Assassin’s Creed share the same universe, as Abstergo and Templars and Assassin’s are mentioned. So think of Watch_Dogs as a modern-day take on Assassin’s Creed, but without all the coming back to present time BS because you are already there.