You can look at the dogs, but you probably shouldn't play with them.

Posted by bonbolapti (1740 posts) -
No Caption Provided

There’s not a lot on my PS4 plate that gets me too excited about it. Save for the likes of Best Friends 4 and the last good Final Fantasy game (in a long time), I’m still craving that one title that’ll make it all worth it. I figured that’s where Watch_Dogs would come in. I enjoy open world games immensely, AND Having a profound affection for the movie hackers, I liked the idea of what Watch_dogs wanted to accomplish.

It’s a shame that the game ended up so far away from what I had built up in my own imagination.

I found Aisha Tyler
I found Aisha Tyler

The thing that kind of bothers me, is that Aiden is not really a hacker. Well is he? He’s a fixer right? and what a fixer is… is a hacker that spends more time outside than a typical hacker, who probably just goes to the rainymood website to get their fill of environment. But one day after a tragic accident, he’s started using his fixer powers for good and became the city’s vigilante. ( They call him Fox. And he looks a little bit like Matthew Fox. So good on the fictional people of Chicago for making that connection.)

So here comes the part where I stop believing he is a hacker of any sort. ctOS is a city wide security system for the mystical land of Chicago. It is a singular operating system for EVERYTHING. It’s in your webcams, it’s in the traffic lights… It’s even in your grenades and waterpipes.

It’s “complex system” actually seems overly simplified. And with so much “hackers” in Chicago, I’m more inclined to believe that BLUME (the company behind ctOS) designed it to be open source, and the Apple app store is riddled with hundreds of apps for your phone that let you do anything you want in the city at the click of a button.

Maybe BLUME shouldn’t have attached a NFC to your plumbing.

Man pile.
Man pile.

So Aiden runs around the city staring at nothing but his smartphone to accomplish all of his goals. Hard for cash? There’s 30 people in a 10 foot radius that have all the money that you don’t even need. Push a button. Trying to walk through this door? Ghost Trick your way through security cameras, until you see the box that's locking it. Push a button.

It’s these simple maneuvers that make ctOS incredibly flawed and you really start to wonder why Chicago would even agree to have it run the entire city.

Especially the amount of people that just sit at home and masturbate all day, and frequently order hentai. Or how about the family of Cannibals enjoying a nice 100% organic meal in-front of their webcams, or people making Death threats to loved ones as they sleep. This is data that is circulating through ctOS’s security system and the police can’t even do their job.

It’s the worst place to live, and yet still comes out seeming better than Detroit.

Also, Aiden isn’t any better than the world he inhabits. He’s a dick to everybody he works with. Which MIGHT have something to do with the events that took place at the beginning of the game, but there’s not a single amount of compassion in his voice. Aiden is an avid fan of the Chris Nolan Batman films, and nobody has the heart to tell him that it stopped being funny years ago. Or maybe they have but he insists on still doing it, which is probably why he’s so distant and cold to everyone. He doesn’t exactly have the best sense of humour either (The kind of person that goes to a party recalling all those old, dated memes. Thanks a lot electronic Billboards.)

Found Aisha Tyler again
Found Aisha Tyler again

Maybe at some point Ubisoft didn’t really understand what game they wanted to make. It started feeling like that in the first hour and I noticed how a lot of of it's elements felt a little too similar to previous Ubisoft titles. An open world where you're a hacker DOES sound exciting, but there’s a way to implement that stuff without making the city an over-simplified Deus Ex Machina ready to go when you ask it to. It doesn’t need you constantly trying to shoot your way out of an area, or relentless chases disguising themselves as engaging gameplay either.

The game's issues as a whole, are something that @dannyodwyer nails perfectly on a previous episode of The Point.

If you give Aiden strengths, then make them his strengths, don’t give him an app for his phone. I want to do a little more hacking than ‘connect the dots’. Even if it does take place in an open world, there's nothing wrong with concentrating your efforts on gameplay that has nothing to do with it. (L.A. Noire seemed to pull it off just fine.) There's a chance that... if that stuff gets figured out, then maybe you can find a way to use the city in a more significant manner.

Despite my petty grievances, Watch_Dogs is an open world game like every other; It’s got driving and mini-games to play around the city. Sub-missions are plentiful as well, but they all do nothing more than the same thing. So aside from the main campaign there’s really not much else to do.

But I guess, if you want to make excuses, you can always check-in to your favourite locations every hour till you become mayor.

But... Let's be honest here. You should be playing Sleeping Dogs instead.

#1 Posted by Halberdierv2 (1999 posts) -

yeah, looking at this game, it feels a bit like GTA, but nothing like what the trailers gave off. its still a bit fun, though.

also, whats up man, haven't heard from you or any of the guys in a while.

#2 Posted by bonbolapti (1740 posts) -

@halberdierv2: We all use Skype now and seem to always have friday night/weekend parties. XD (I don't know why, but it's a thing that has happened in the past month.)

#3 Edited by Nethlem (765 posts) -

@bonbolapti said:

The thing that kind of bothers me, is that Aiden is not really a hacker. Well is he? He’s a fixer right? and what a fixer is… is a hacker that spends more time outside than a typical hacker, who probably just goes to the rainymood website to get their fill of environment. But one day after a tragic accident, he’s started using his fixer powers for good and became the city’s vigilante. ( They call him Fox. And he looks a little bit like Matthew Fox. So good on the fictional people of Chicago for making that connection.)

So here comes the part where I stop believing he is a hacker of any sort. ctOS is a city wide security system for the mystical land of Chicago. It is a singular operating system for EVERYTHING. It’s in your webcams, it’s in the traffic lights… It’s even in your grenades and waterpipes.

It’s “complex system” actually seems overly simplified. And with so much “hackers” in Chicago, I’m more inclined to believe that BLUME (the company behind ctOS) designed it to be open source, and the Apple app store is riddled with hundreds of apps for your phone that let you do anything you want in the city at the click of a button.

Maybe BLUME shouldn’t have attached a NFC to your plumbing.

Man pile.
Man pile.

So Aiden runs around the city staring at nothing but his smartphone to accomplish all of his goals. Hard for cash? There’s 30 people in a 10 foot radius that have all the money that you don’t even need. Push a button. Trying to walk through this door? Ghost Trick your way through security cameras, until you see the box that's locking it. Push a button.

It’s these simple maneuvers that make ctOS incredibly flawed and you really start to wonder why Chicago would even agree to have it run the entire city.

So what exactly is an "hacker" to you, if Aiden doesn't qualify because "he goes out too much"? I believe you are kind of influenced by a bad stereotype here, the stereotype about the basement dwelling fat nerd hacker that doesn't have any people skills and instead relies on his superior technical knowledge, but that stereotype is not only dated it's also horribly wrong and cliche.

Just take a look at the original hacker manifesto that doesn't describe a skill-set or dictates any rules. Instead it describes a certain mindset, the mindset of the curious explorer and tinkerer who is not bound by realities, a mindset that's in many ways very similar to that of gamers.

Being a "hacker" is not all about "hacking code into your keyboard", it's a general tinkerer mindset that extends to everything and even everyone, in essence Conman have always been the original hackers.

That's also the reason why many modern "hacks" do not even rely in actual coding/IT skills, but rather people manipulation skills. Far more Xbox Live and Apple accounts have been compromised trough "gaming" people like the account owners and support hotlines of the companies than trough actually compromised hardware trough intrusion. Why go trough all the effort of sniffing out their systems, writing applications, finding vulnerable targets, when you can simply talk a person on the support hotline into giving you access to an strangers account by merely having the most basic data about that stranger.

Recycling is a great thing in that regard, having all the paper trash in an separate bin concentrates all the worthwhile information in a single (not so dirty) place, just waiting for some curious person to sort trough it and find all kinds of interesting and potentially compromising information, without having written a single line of code. It as simple as that, it's just that not many people actually realize it because they fail to think outside the "day to day routine" box that all of us are living in most of the time.

It something that Watch Dogs pays a little bit homage to when Aiden explains how he got to know Damien. He's saying that Damien taught him the "code skills" while he taught Damien the "people skills" (or something along those lines).

About the ctOS system being incredibly flawed: I have no doubt that's exactly how it would play out in reality, it's actually how it's already playing out. How many people are using baby monitors without being aware about their flaws? And those are not some rare freak accidents where some company did cheap out on something, lack of proper security on all things networked is a pretty common theme. Got a Smart TV with an camera for Skyping? Well it's already sending out what you are doing for everybody to see, it's only a question of time before everybody, with the right kind of knowledge, will be able to use that Smart TV's camera.

People do not realize how vulnerable they are already, because right now barely anybody bothers with the effort to exploit those vulnerabilities and combine them, but when somebody actually tries the results are usually pretty impressive. Like stalking a whole city:

Loading Video...

Did you for example know that even the cheapest SD cards actually contain a microcontroller? Yes there is a small "CPU" inside nearly every of your SD cards!

Not just that, you can actually execute code on those cards or, in essence, have them execute code on any machine their are connected with:

Loading Video...

The world is a crazy place like that, even without accounting for the NSA actively sabotaging privacy and security on the Internet or inventing new ways to get to the world outside of the internet.

From power plants (even nuclear ones), to banks, to police databases or military systems, we've seen all of them getting compromised already and those had only been the cases where we did actually "see" or notice it, nobody really knows about the real "dark number" for these cases. After all the smartest crimes are those that never get noticed, the same logic applies to compromising systems.

So with a little bit of imagination the "reality" of Watch Dogs, with it's Chicago ctOS system and it being so "hackable", does not really seem that implausible. In essence it's just a seriously streamlined power fantasy of things that are already possible, right now they just require a lot more effort and preparation.


All that aside: I agree with quite a few of your points, the "hacking" mostly boils down to being an "ranged use" button, with mostly entertaining results. Aiden as an character seems inconsistent in quite a few places for the sake of gameplay and the whole "revenge for the killed niece" arc feels underwhelming due to presentation and how the player is introduced to the setup.

I still enjoy the game for it's looks and action, just messing around with parts of the city, the Jordi character barely manages to be entertaining for now (not trough the story yet) but overall the game feels just so "regular" in a few too many places.

#4 Posted by UlquioKani (1417 posts) -

I had no real trouble believing in the world. It may not be the super complex hacking game that some people were hoping for but the end product is a lot of fun. Also Aiden is made out to be unlikable because he is. Very few people in the game like him. He's never made out to be some sort of hero. I'm not sure what people were expecting from the game considering everything in that first trailer is in the game. The wrinkles they add to the GTA formula make the game way more fun than a standard third person shooter. The game also feels like a much better playing game that GTAV, at least in terms of the shooting (The driving is good enough but GTA does it better).

#5 Posted by Rorie (5450 posts) -

you can't tell me what to do

Staff
#6 Posted by bonbolapti (1740 posts) -

@nethlem: A lot of what you're describing still doesn't feel very much of what Watch dogs could have been capable of. There is a disconnect in just pressing a button to hack something. I would have wanted to be part of the process of creating these counter systems getting into ctOS, than having all of it already done for me. While the hacker friends do all of the computer stuff, I just run over to the spot with my 1911.

Also, I only think it's flawed because Chicago is all on one singular system. I'm aware we already live in that state of reality. I just that ctOS feels too convenient to sit there and let people manipulate it.

@ulquiokani: I sat there and I was thinking if I could even call Aiden an anti-hero. Sure he's a vigilante, but he doesn't seem to care about anything. Also yeah, the shooting does have it's moments, and driving definitely could have been better.

@rorie: http://www.gearculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/wall-street-dog-trench-coat1.jpg

#7 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3740 posts) -

But... Let's be honest here. You should be playing Sleeping Dogs instead.

A lot of my time with Watch Dogs I thought this. I would've enjoyed the game a lot more if I wasn't a walking arsenal of guns. After I got the heavy machine gun with 75 rounds in it I just stopped bothering with most of the hacking and just walked in and murdered everyone because I was tired of some of the missions. Like when you have to guide your sister to the car. I tried it 4 times and 4 times she got herself killed, even though she had a gun and just shot someone already. So I just said f-this and went in with guns blazing and killed everyone.

#8 Posted by Jaqen_HGhar (1368 posts) -

Just want to throw my two cents in here.
I had little to no interest in this game. I saw the first trailer/gameplay they had, and that was it. Not sure why, as I thought that looked pretty fun, but something just made me disinterested. But when you get a game with your new GPU you do install that game to test it out. And so I have played about three hours or something of a game I had no intention of ever buying, not even on sale.

And you know what? It's pretty damn fun. Hell, I enjoy the "hacking", the shooting (not done much of that as I try to be stealthy) and the fact that Aiden is kind of an asshole. Which is a good thing, because then I feel that I can shoot people without feeling it doesn't fit the character, making the stealth more of a "it would help a lot if we did this silently" thing. The handling of the cars takes some time getting used to, and the invading aspect has been hit or miss so far. But yeah, I am enjoying it. Maybe this is because I had absolutely no expectations going in. But why I enjoy it doesn't really matter, as I am having a blast.

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