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I Don't Think You Deserve Redemption, Aiden Pearce

Watch Dogs didn't leave much of an impression during my 20 hours with it, but I can't stop thinking about the game's final choice.

(We're going to talk spoilers for Watch Dogs. Fair warning.)

At the end of Watch Dogs, Aiden Pearce and the player are presented with a choice. A man is tied to a chair, openly weeping and begging for his life. Want to pull the trigger? The player can end his life or walk away. The game doesn't comment on your choice, either. After, the interrupted credits keep rolling.

You kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Watch Dogs. Though it's a game themed around hacking and technological subversion, most problems are solved much faster with a bullet. If you run over a civilian in Watch Dogs, it slightly alters how the citizens feel about you, but despite (accidentally) running over many Chicago residents, it didn't impact the game. The act of killing is routine, and Watch Dogs doesn't spend time humanizing the people around you. If anything, Watch Dogs deliberately dangles one-note stereotypes to ensure the bullets are spraying.

That's not true for the character at the end of Watch Dogs, though. The man in the chair is Maurice Vega. Watch Dogs opens with Aiden and his partner, Damien, during a virtual bank heist. But the two stumble upon a mysterious file, which alerts a nearby hacker, and their identities are discovered. Aiden tries to flee with sister, Nicole, and her two children, Lena and Jackson. A hitman, who we eventually learn is Maurice, is sent to take out Aiden. The attack ends up crashing the car, which sends Lena into a coma that she never wakes up from. Watch Dogs then follows Aiden tracking down those responsible for her death.

But Aiden is an asshole. I haven't violently disliked a character this much in a long time. Ignoring how the game never, ever tries to explain how Aiden is a master hacker who's also a gun expert, he constantly put his family and the citizens of Chicago in danger. Need to escape a building? Don't worry, just shut down power at a major sports game attended by tens of thousands of people. Cops on your tail? Bah, trigger a bridge while traffic's crossing! Aiden is directly responsible for Lena's death because he's a criminal. As the storyline in Watch Dogs plays out, the cycle repeats. He's responsible for hitmen going after his nephew, and he's responsible for his sister getting kidnapped. Aiden was not randomly targeted by an unjust system; he was being a dick.

Watch Dogs is not a game about players living with consequences, either intended or unintended. You're following a linear story set within an open world, and you're meant to accomplish objective A, B, and C while moving from D to E. Watch Dogs does not give the player many options when it comes to roleplaying. It's possible to make Aiden a bit stealthier and kill slightly fewer people along the way, but it's pointless. Aiden's arc has been determined by the game's writers, and players have little input.

Yet, eventually, you are given a choice. That's what makes the final sequence with Maurice so interesting.

Aiden deserved to be punished for his actions. The ending tries to portray Watch Dogs as Aiden's origin story, events required to produce a hacking superhero that will use his powers for good. But nothing suggests Aiden earned redemption. He's not a hero.

When I play video games, especially ones with player choice, I'm Han Solo, the renegade with a heart of gold. I'm always trying to do the right thing, though unafraid to crack a few eggs along the way. But that wasn't an option in Watch Dogs. Aiden was going to act a certain way, no matter what. Destined to dickitude. Even if your version of Aiden tried to show restraint, that was never, ever reflected in the story. He was always an asshole walking around with blinders, oblivious to the chaos created in his wake.

And that's fine! Not every game needs to give players influence over character development, but Watch Dogs doesn't hand over the keys to Aiden's heart and mind until its final curtain call. It's an odd choice. If the game wants to tell the story of an everyman whose noble intentions go horribly awry, do it. (I'm not sure this is even true. The ending's tone points to writers sympathetic to Aiden's decisions.) But have the balls to make Aiden's final choice, too. Asking the player is an M. Night Shyamalan twist, a cop out.

To fully understand what's happening, we need to rewind to its opening moments, too. Watch Dogs begins with Aiden pointing a gun at Maurice, hoping the man will spill who ordered the original hit. Your first action in Watch Dogs is firing a gun. But the game subverts expectations, revealing there's no ammo.

Being confronted with Maurice a second time is Watch Dogs coming full circle. My Han Solo gut was telling me to let Maurice go. As with any criminal conspiracy, he was one pawn among many. Who needs more blood on their hands? But that's not what Aiden would have done. Up until this point, Aiden has killed without a trace of guilt, doubt, or hesitation. Me? I wouldn't pull the trigger. But Aiden would. Aiden wouldn't be able to resist ending the life of a person who had caused him so much pain, misguided or not.

So I made Aiden pull the trigger, and Maurice was dead.

It felt satisfying. Not because I was happy to see Maurice's body slump to the floor, but I'd subverted the game's storytelling. The ending wants you to believe Aiden to be good, and gins up a happy ending. But Aiden doesn't deserve one. He's a bad guy. In trying to do the right thing, he constantly did the opposite.

Screw off, Aiden. Good riddance.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
287 Comments
Edited by Rasgueado

I have had this game since launch and I've had a very difficult time playing this game. I've found it so hard to find a desire to play through the story as I dislike nearly all of the characters in it almost universally, but the main character is the focal point. I remember enjoying games with, basically, what constitutes a re-skinning of these same archetypes, but as time continues I'm having a more difficult time finding the desire to engage with characters like this. I still haven't played through GTA 5 either because I find nearly everyone in it detestable, so I don't want to sound like I'm limiting this criticism to this game alone.

Posted by Draugen

Yup. Everything bad that happened to Aiden and those close to him was his own damn fault. It takes very little for me to become emotionally involved with a main character in a game, but Aiden can take a flying leap of the nearest unfinished bridge for all I care.

Posted by Yummylee

@aktivity said:

@yummylee: I find Kratos one-track mind for all things vengeance to clash less with the activities in the game when compared to Niko. Offcourse that's the advantage when not dealing with an openworld.

Yeah, there's always the dissonance that can come up about in open world games. Niko is canonically a violent man, but not the kind to just start wrecking havoc on the streets. But like you said that's an unfortunate flaw with open world games in general, and GTA IV is perhaps one of the very first that even tried to tell a more serious and grounded story within an open world setting. Besides maybe Mafia, pretty much all games of its ilk were only focused on the open world functioning as a playground rather than as a living environment. I never engaged in rampant murder during my first playthrough of GTA IV anywhoo, so I felt I was able to stay in character. Plus, when you for example run over an innocent bystander Niko will even apologise to show he didn't mean it, which is at least something.

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Edited by AMyggen

Great article. Aiden is an awfully written character. I liked the gameplay of the game, but the story is straight garbage.

Posted by FajitaBoss

IMHO: Aiden Pearce is the most obnoxious videogame character in recent memory

Edited by Draxyle

I finally completed Brothers the other day (Brad was mostly right), and it really made me realize how far the big budget industry has fallen in terms of narrative cohesiveness in general.

Brothers is a game where the mechanics and story are so heavily intertwined that they're inseparable. Watch Dogs, on the other hand, sounds like a game where the mechanics and story were both designed in two separate buildings (and they probably were, with how Ubisoft is run).

From everything I've read, it sounds like Watchdogs could stand to not take itself as seriously, as it's very clear they weren't going to be able to tell a deep and powerful narrative just based on the tools they gave the player from the very start. I could say the same for GTAIV.

Posted by agathis

"It felt satisfying. Not because I was happy to see Maurice's body slump to the floor, but I'd subverted the game's storytelling. The ending wants you to believe Aiden to be good, and gins up a happy ending. But Aiden doesn't deserve one. He's a bad guy. In trying to do the right thing, he constantly did the opposite."

If the game didn't give you any choice, I suppose this might be correct, but it's not true. My Aiden might be a prick (that's how he's written) but he wasn't the mass murderer that Klepek's seems to be. Because Klepek chose to play the game killing people. You don't have to, most of the time. There are sequences where you must, but there are often ways around it. Klepek took the easy path through the game, killing lots of people. He says there's no consequences, but there is--visible by the fact that he decided not to have mercy at the end. This isn't subverting the storytelling. If the writers had a set end in mind, they wouldn't have given use the final choice.

That doesn't make Watch Dogs a great game. It's adequate at best, with horrible writing most of the time. But the lack of player choice really isn't one of those problems. If Klepek doesn't want to take responsibility for his choices in the game, that's fine. But he shouldn't blame the game for it.

Edited by Efesell

@white said:

1) I assume Patrick didn't finish collecting the Maurice's dead drops. He would've made a more informed decision about Maurice's fate at the end

2) Patrick thinks this game is the origin story of a hacking super hero? Where the hell did he get that information? With all the crime and rampant murdering, he's more of an anti-hero.

I'm not sure the informed decision matters though. Even if you find the dead drops Pearce doesn't really give a shit about what he learns from them.

Posted by CairnsyTheBeard

@fajitaboss: He had potential, could have been a Walter White or a Vic Mackey who's a bad guy we can sympathize with....but no.

Posted by FifiChiaPet

I felt similarly to the character in the infamous games. When I tried to play the first game, I made just choices like I always had, and my growing hate for that character prevented me from getting more than an hour into that game. When I later tried the downloadable vampire version, I played as a vengence-seeker being consumed by the blood-lust--and I enjoyed every moment. Turns out he wasn't such a bad character--he was just a terrible hero. Make him a dick and the scratchy, WB-actor voice no longer becomes grating but perfect casting.

Now at some point I'll go back and give 1 another try (or maybe go straight to 2), but the character I control will be a monster.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

Meh he doesn't need to be a good guy, antiheroes work just as well.

Edited by HeyGuys

I know that they're not the only two games to have this problem but for some reason I can't immediately identify Watch_Dogs and Uncharted are two games where I could never shake off the feeling that the main characters were actually huge ass holes that the writers were trying to tell me were likeable, heroic, "good guys".

Posted by Seeric

I feel like this is a big issue in 'revenge stories' in general, though especially in video games; the fact that Watch Dogs lets you pull the trigger and give a logical conclusion to the main character's arc at least is a step in the right direction even if the developers seem to not want the player to make that choice.

There are few things more baffling to me and more insulting to both players and the characters in a game's story when, after killing dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands of people (hi there Prototype!) with little or no direct relation to the protagonist simply to at last reach 'that man' (or woman) who is the mastermind behind it all and/or personally wronged the protagonist the protagonist at last gets their chance for revenge and walks away. Being the primary antagonist should not be a get out of jail free card.

It's one thing if you are capable of going through the entire game as a pacifist, it's another thing entirely if the player/character has no problem with killing 'less important characters' and then walks away from the one which makes the most sense to kill; it's just outright poor writing.

Posted by Shaka999

I have a feeling I should re-read this after I play the game. Got a free copy and it's going to be the most recent game I'll have for my PC. (Side note: If anyone has any PC-building tips/anything I may need to keep in mind, I'd appreciate it)

I didn't think the story looked all that interesting, and based on what Klepek said I'm not ruining anything by spoiling it for myself.

Posted by aktivity

@heyguys: You think Drake is an a-hole? You monster, he's a lovable rogue.

Posted by Spunkrake

My favorite "oh my god what is wrong with Aiden Pierce" moment in the game was when I played a mission where Aiden decides to threaten a man's family in order to get what he wants from them. And then during the *very next mission* his family gets kidnapped and he rages against the injustice of it all. I hoped at the end of that game that Aiden would die, his mission unaccomplished and his revenge unfulfilled. He deserves nothing better.

Posted by Potter9156

You kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people

The act of killing is routine

Sounds like a typical day in Chicago. I read that your average Chicago resident kills at least 20 people before they've had their morning coffee.

Posted by Village_Guy

I liked playing it, even while it isn't always great and the hack button is fairly boring (the most fun I'd had was from causing civilian car crashes by hacking the traffic lights). But I can agree that the characters and story is absolutely boring, uninteresting and just plain ol' bad.

Posted by Efesell

@aktivity said:

@heyguys: You think Drake is an a-hole? You monster, he's a lovable rogue.

Lovable monster.

Posted by banicabolnica

@mjhealy: In fact they did. They promised 60fps 1080p game and we've got barely working PC port and mutilated console release. They show that trailer and LIED to us by saying this is how the game will look. THEY saw they can't deliver on the promises and they delayed the game. THEY LIED TO US about the look on the PC and some smart guys needed to show their LIE!

If they showed the real look on the game back in E3 we would've told them to shove that "next gen" title right in their asses. But NO they needed TO LIE about the looks of the game because "REAL LIVE FOOTAGE AT PRESS CONFERENCES" IS BULLSHIT!

So please don't defend them... you are not their PR ... you are not getting paid to do so (or if you are at least tell us)... please ... don't.

PS: Definitions of lie:

noun the way, direction, or position in which something lies."With the lie of Scottish theatreland already shifting, we are seeing a nascent, semiconscious shuffling for position for next year's awards."an intentionally false statement."Mungo felt a pang of shame at telling Alice a lie"synonyms: untruth, falsehood, fib, fabrication, deception, invention, fiction, piece of fiction,falsification, (little) white lie, half-truth, exaggeration, tall tale, whopper, taradiddle

verb (of a person or animal) be in or assume a horizontal or resting position on a supporting surface."the man lay face downward on the grass"synonyms: recline, lie down, lie back, be recumbent, be prostrate, be supine, be prone, be stretched out, sprawl, rest, repose, lounge, loll

You promise something... you don't deliver ... you are a liar.

Posted by Gaspar

Patrick when you write long articles about bad broken Ubisoft games nobody should play nobody wins but Aiden.

Think of that... as the "metagame". Or as I like to call it on my blog a "macrogame".

Posted by HeyGuys

I'll also say this, not every game needs choice. I can play through a set narrative no problem, I can play as a character who is maybe a bit of a jerk no problem, I can even play through a game where it's ambiguous what you're supposed to think of the protagonist. Seriously though, do not make me play as an asshole and try to tell me he's a really cool guy.

Edited by James_Hayward

The identity and gameplay of this game is desperately at odds with the narrative frame... and that wouldn't be so jarring except it also takes itself so seriously that you can't help but see the absurdity of it.

I managed to progress the game non-lethally (using the nightstick combined with distractions) for as long as possible but after a certain point in the story it becomes all but completely impossible to progress without killing. When I got to that point I put the game down and decided I didn't want to pick it up again.

Watch Dogs is one of two games (the other being Assassin's Creed 3) that I was so underwhelmed by that after just a few hours of play I actually returned to the vendor and asked for a refund.

Posted by spraynardtatum

Watch_Dogs is a dumb game that pissed away the great opportunity to look at the prevalence of technology in the modern world. It's a watered down kindergarten attempt at addressing serious issues that is instantly trumped by action movie tropes. Top that off with garbage driving controls, mediocre combat, limited and simplistic hacking, with a ton of busy work missions and you got yourself a strong contender for worst game of the year.

The multiplayer was kind of cool though, if not a little too simple.

Posted by meaninoflife42

Remember when we liked video games based on how much fun we had playing them? Man, those were the times.

Posted by Demoskinos

I just find the tone of patrick's article amusing. Its rare that we ever seen Patrick flat out be "Hey fuck you guy" even if it is to a fictional character in a game.

Posted by hermes

@yummylee: The quest of Belic is a quest for redemption and moving on for the horrible things he had to do in his home land, but it pales in comparison with everything he does on a regular basis in the game. The game does not only not punishes the player, but encourages him to be as chaotic and destructive as he can. That makes his gravitas unearned, insincere and hypocrite. One could argue that the character himself is insincere and hypocrite, which is an interesting reading, but its not the reading the script wants to sell us.

The case of Kratos is slightly different. He is hellbent on revenge and does not care about anything that might gets in his way. In his quest for revenge he kills (both directly and indirectly) millions of people (besides all the creatures around him) for his own selfish reasons and causes more chaos that any of his enemies would ever dream. He is mindless, selfish, and just does not care about anyone. That is why, when the game tries to tell us that he suddenly does, that he earns redemption and that the Olympians are the bad guys, it feels completely unearned. The game literally makes us play as the biggest genocidal in history and in the last half hour tells us "isn't he a great guy?"

I didn't play WD, but it seems Aiden has similar fallbacks: a protagonist that the game tries to sell us as unfairly wronged, in a quest for redemption and rightful retribution from bad guys, but that the game does nothing to justify him or make his motivation earned.

Edited by Strife777

To be fair to the game, they do sort of explain that he wasn't a hacker to begin with, he came from the streets, mostly knowing how to pull a trigger. The hacking was learned from Damien and even then, Aiden mostly presses a button on his cellphone. He does some amount of hacking, but he's by no means a "master-hacker" as you put it. The phone's abilities weren't devised by him.

As far as the ending goes, I think giving choice to the player makes the most sense there. Let's say they gave you choices throughout, but still stuck to a certain narrative, none of your choices would really matter to Aiden's overall arc. Letting you decide at the end gives you the opportunity to make him perhaps say "I shouldn't blame everyone for my problems". While it doesn't excuse most of his actions, Aiden and the narrative itself knows he's in the wrong by the end, or at least acknowledges the possibility, which is where the choice at the end comes from, in my opinion.

I'm not going to stand here and say Watch Dogs has a great story/narrative or even good for the matter, it is severely flawed, but I think it's not given enough credit. Hopefully Ubisoft can address those issues in future installments.

Edit: I suppose most of the problems with it come from the fact that it's a video game, an open world one even. Developers want to give you choice and liberty to act as you see fit but also want to tell a story. Properly balancing the two and effectively conveying consequence is difficult.

Posted by agmaster

Can't recall a more unlikable main character? Kratos.

Posted by yeah_write

Well written Patrick. I was already leaning towards "will not play," but this piece sealed the deal. Ubisoft has had trouble with main characters lately. I have never hated any main character, in any medium, more than the guy in Far Cry 3. I just despised him. I blew through the story just to get back to doing non-story stuff.

And you're right about the cop out choice at the end too. I hate when games do that. In a purely creator-authored story, it makes no sense to hand over the reins at the last second. I get it, I'm a writer, endings are freaking hard, but don't pass it off to the player, have some courage and finish the story you set out to tell. Other games that do this include:

-Bastion
-Mark of the Ninja
-Far Cry 3

What else do those games have in common? A high degree of moment-to-moment choice. From movement, to strategy, to approach, those games (Watch_Dogs included) are filled with gameplay choices. I'm fine with the trade off of more gameplay choice for less narrative choice.

Posted by drockus

I can't believe you made it through the game. I stopped after about 7 hours because I wanted the person I was playing as to die. Rarely does that happen to me. But Aiden (what kind of a name is that?) might be the worst video game protagonist of the century, or in the history of video games.

Edited by Yummylee

@hermes said:

@yummylee: The quest of Belic is a quest for redemption and moving on for the horrible things he had to do in his home land, but it pales in comparison with everything he does on a regular basis in the game. The game does not only not punishes the player, but encourages him to be as chaotic and destructive as he can. That makes his gravitas unearned, insincere and hypocrite. One could argue that the character himself is insincere and hypocrite, which is an interesting reading, but its not the reading the script wants to sell us.

The case of Kratos is slightly different. He is hellbent on revenge and does not care about anything that might gets in his way. In his quest for revenge he kills (both directly and indirectly) millions of people (besides all the creatures around him) for his own selfish reasons and causes more chaos that any of his enemies would ever dream. He is mindless, selfish, and just does not care about anyone. That is why, when the game tries to tell us that he suddenly does, that he earns redemption and that the Olympians are the bad guys, it feels completely unearned. The game literally makes us play as the biggest genocidal in history and in the last half hour tells us "isn't he a great guy?"

I didn't play WD, but it seems Aiden has similar fallbacks: a protagonist that the game tries to sell us as unfairly wronged, in a quest for redemption and rightful retribution from bad guys, but that the game does nothing to justify him or make his motivation earned.

Niko's story isn't about redemption, but revenge. He came to liberty city to find (and kill) that ''special someone'', not to atone for his sins. He'll occasionally wax on about how he's been shaped by the war, the atrocities he's committed and his desire to change, but ultimately the tragic thing is while he shows remorse for his actions, it's still all he knows. He's a killer, and it's clearly very hard for him to escape that trait; his single-minded quest for revenge brings him nothing but misery and keeps him further locked into his life of crime and violence, and ultimately ends up endangering the people he cares about. Change can be a difficult process after all, and Niko's hypocrisy I think makes him more of an interesting character than as a detriment to his arc.

Though I do agree about Kratos' arc being a bunch of bullshit. The often brought up ''oh my family boo hoo'' completely clashes against everything else in that series. In the first game it's fine, but then by GoW3 where Kratos is like the embodiment of hope or whatever the fuck... yeah no come on now.

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Posted by IanYarborough

As usual, well said, @patrickklepek

Posted by cooljammer00

So this game's ending is like a movie that doesn't have an ending, and makes you decide for yourself what happened, but doesn't have any nuance. Like that Christian golf movie where you had to visit a website

Edited by Fairbrethees

I thought this game looked nothing but bland from the get go. Unbelievable how much hype it got.

Ubisoft games are really strangely meh, hacking phones or sailing with pirates, it all has that grey ubisoft vibe. None of the games feel alive!

*Far Cry 3 largely escaped this actually.

Posted by Funkydupe

Patrick Klepek executes the unarmed man when finally given the option not to. Nice!

Posted by Scotto

The story itself makes Aiden out to be kind of a dick, but I struggle with the whole "you kill hundreds of dudes over the course of the game!" ludonarrative dissonance stuff. If you're gonna hold that part against this particular game, then you're gonna have to look at an incredibly long list of games with new eyes.

At least the game "punishes" you for directly killing civilians, I guess.

Personally, I just found Aiden unsympathetic. You robbed the wrong person, and that person retaliated. YOU are at least half responsible for that little girl being dead, you idiot. Yet the story never even seems to grapple with the idea that Aiden himself is responsible for what happened. I kept waiting for it, but it never happened. I let Maurice go, because he was arguably just as responsible for her death as "I" was.

But mowing down the odd civilian, causing traffic accidents, and so on? Meh. I just mark that down to the dissonance inherent in playing a "good guy" in any open world game. I "narratively" separate what happens in scripted cutscenes or missions, versus the chaos that occurs in pure open-world gameplay.

Edited by BenLuke

I haven't played Watch Dogs but I'd make the same choice. the whole video game/action movie "hero has the bad guy at gunpoint, doesn't shoot him, and the bad guy twirls his moustache and escapes" trope is super lame, and so anytime a game gives me a chance to just shoot the guy I usually take it. :D

Posted by Hassun

I've never been interested in this game, just seeing it as a stopgap for people desperate to get GTAV on PC but getting no confirmation from R* that it would happen.

All the other stories around it, mostly about Ubisoft being a terrible publisher and developer, just added to my general disinterest.

Posted by teekomeeko

Yup, this is why I'm not playing Watch Dogs. I've played not so hot games just because they are memorable and have fun characters. Deadly Premonition, for example, which is absolutely amazing to me despite not being anywhere near a "good game." But Aiden just seems like a character that I want nothing to do with.

He just doesn't grab me as someone I want to guide through their path when it is so clearly, incredibly, dangerously self-centered.

Posted by GreggD

@seeric said:

I feel like this is a big issue in 'revenge stories' in general, though especially in video games; the fact that Watch Dogs lets you pull the trigger and give a logical conclusion to the main character's arc at least is a step in the right direction even if the developers seem to not want the player to make that choice.

There are few things more baffling to me and more insulting to both players and the characters in a game's story when, after killing dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands of people (hi there Prototype!) with little or no direct relation to the protagonist simply to at last reach 'that man' (or woman) who is the mastermind behind it all and/or personally wronged the protagonist the protagonist at last gets their chance for revenge and walks away. Being the primary antagonist should not be a get out of jail free card.

It's one thing if you are capable of going through the entire game as a pacifist, it's another thing entirely if the player/character has no problem with killing 'less important characters' and then walks away from the one which makes the most sense to kill; it's just outright poor writing.

When I reached Darko in Niko Bellic's story, I chose to walk away. The following car ride with Roman really fleshed out the decision, and I feel like they pulled it off. If you never did it, or don't remember what was said, I recommend going back and watching that scene play out.

Edited by bybeach

but despite (accidentally) (emphasis mine) running over many Chicago residents,..." P.K.

I DON'T BELIEVE YOU, PATRICK KLEPEK! You ran them over every chance you got!

Actually I do believe Pat, if only because his playing of the role is similar to my own inclinations. And that for good or for bad actually. I do not role play well outside my comfort zone. Nor did I purchase Watch Dogs, but then I do not do GTA's anymore either.

Sounds like there was obvious conflict of asshole game moves that would appeal for various reasons, and the story progression. If it were as Pat stated, then I like his solution to finishing the game and being done with it. Probably the one way I could play the bad guy would be to not project myself into the character. Let him or her play their self. I've really never done much of that in a video game before.

Having said that, I would pay real money for a return of SHODAN, and I think I could do SHODANS move set credit.

Insects!

Posted by ninjalegend

I think there are a few ways to do an open world game where killing loads of people is a major gameplay mechanic.

GTA5 did it with Trevor. By keeping his character as a sociopathic monster at a level that is comical made him my number one choice when I wanted to just mess around. It made it easy to play it straight with the other two characters. By leaving the whole "I want to leave the bad things I did behind." problem that Nico had from 4 I could enjoy the game more. So when playing as Micheal or Franklin, I only killed dudes during missions when I had to. Aiden has the same issue as Nico did. None of the three dudes from GTA5 was a good guy in the least.

Red Dead pulled off an open world killing spree while feeling natural to the character. The romanticized idea of the old west gave the character of John Marston the ability to be played as the lovable anti-hero because of the hostility of the world around him. The killing of groups of people did not feel as out of place as modern day Chicago did while still keeping a somewhat serious tone. If you are going to take a serious tone, modern day is kind of a bad choice. Black Flag did a nice job even if a little more ham fisted because, you know, pirates.

This becomes a lot easier with fantasy or sci-fi. "We had to kill these necromancers/cyborgs/magically controlled people/dudes crazed by this 2075 drug." Or if you go straight stupid like the Saints Row series. I think if Watch Dogs could have been interesting. A big portion of the game should have been just looking for clues ala LA Noir. Maybe ruffing a couple people up to get answers. The gunfights should have been few and far between with reason behind them. Volition found out a long time ago that you can't out GTA GTA.

Posted by BadNews

I can usually find a way to relate to the main character. Even if it isn't something obvious or a large part of the character. I could relate to almost any main character in almost any series. "Oh the main character is trusting. I usually trust people."

Didn't realize it until I didnt even bother finishing Watch Dogs. I couldn't care about Aiden. I had no connection to him. As Patrick said, Aiden operated with blinders on. It was too much. I knew it every second of the way and thought about it constantly. I just powered down an entire section of the city. There has to be SOMEONE that probably died because of it. A car accident had to have happened ruining someones finances and sending them into depression.

Posted by White

@efesell: Oh I know. I'm just speaking with respect to the player (you, not Pearce).

Posted by HeyGuys

@scotto said:

The story itself makes Aiden out to be kind of a dick, but I struggle with the whole "you kill hundreds of dudes over the course of the game!" ludonarrative dissonance stuff. If you're gonna hold that part against this particular game, then you're gonna have to look at an incredibly long list of games with new eyes.

At least the game "punishes" you for directly killing civilians, I guess.

Personally, I just found Aiden unsympathetic. You robbed the wrong person, and that person retaliated. YOU are at least half responsible for that little girl being dead, you idiot. Yet the story never even seems to grapple with the idea that Aiden himself is responsible for what happened. I kept waiting for it, but it never happened. I let Maurice go, because he was arguably just as responsible for her death as "I" was.

But mowing down the odd civilian, causing traffic accidents, and so on? Meh. I just mark that down to the dissonance inherent in playing a "good guy" in any open world game. I "narratively" separate what happens in scripted cutscenes or missions, versus the chaos that occurs in pure open-world gameplay.

I agree with you somewhat. In any open world game or otherwise I don't think there's a problem with the player being able to go kill civilians or whatever, if I do that I know it's on me. The problem was like "Hey Aiden go kill all these security guards!", then Aiden killing these dudes who don't even know about any of this shit and are just doing their jobs. "Oh no they killed my niece, they must pay!" followed by Aiden making a whole bunch of fatherless children just like his niece is duuuuuuumb. Then as I remember the game trying to do the laziest, dumbest thing I might have ever seen by trying to justify this by saying something like "Oh don't won't Blume's been recruiting these guards from prison so they're all evil." or something.

Posted by LarryDavis

Kinda felt the same way about the dude in Red Dead Redemption, by the end it was clear to me this dude was a bad person and deserved what he got in the end.

What? How? I mean, the player choice can create some incongruous stuff but it was always made clear that he was doing his best to be a good guy and trying to protect his family most of all. They even make him say "No thank ya, ma'am, I'm married" when he's propositioned, and you have a button just for tipping your hat and saying howdy to passersby.

Posted by Humanity

@agmaster said:

Can't recall a more unlikable main character? Kratos.

This is actually very true. I was somewhat amused by Kratos in the first game, but very early onto the second installment I just outright did not like who I was controlling. This in part resulted in me not playing any of the other ones, but mainly it was because it was the same game done over again.

Posted by Stringer2112

@fitzgerald: Totally. Literally had more fun mopping the FIB Floors in GTAV than 90% of the 10 - 12 hours I played of Watch Dogs.