Watch Dogs  Review

Watch Dogs Review

Neither the tragic failure some expected nor the introduction to a 'proper' next-gen others craved, Watch Dogs is instead best thought of as Ubisoft Open-World Game: Chicago Edition. As with other titles from the publisher – Far Cry and Assassin's Creed being the obvious examples – it is almost compulsively appealing, thanks to Ubi Montreal's tried and true onslaught of collectibles, missions, sidequests and other bite-sized reward loops.

Mechanically it destroys Assassin's Creed, boasting cohesive systems that empower rather than hinder the player. Over 30 or so hours, I was never bored. I was also never really thrilled. Crucially, Watch Dogs is let down by both its setting and its adherence to distinctly old-generation mission and world design.

This Chicago, while large and fairly dense, carries neither the historical intrigue and architectural splendour of Ass Creed, nor the exotic appeal of Far Cry. Conceptually this is fine: Watch Dogs' story focuses on malevolent corporations, abuse of power, social inequality and information security.

It's a morally dubious world, as are the characters within it. Chicago's inclement weather and contrast of bleak social housing and super-wealth seem perfectly set to back this up.

In practice, it's rather bland, if intricate, and doesn't have the graphical prowess to really impress. This problem should be solved by the hacking, a unique interface with the city. Again, however, this isn't as developed as it could have been: you'll blow out lights, hack road signs and lift bridges, but it never gets any more involved than that. Instead of having a reactive city that truly changes due to your actions, your hacking is a fun, if limited, score-settler rather than game-changer.

Not that this renders Watch Dogs a failure. It is not. Rather it's a game that reaches a baseline of enjoyment – and that baseline is fairly high – and doesn't raise it further. The mission loop is too samey – drive here, hack a few things, sneak/shoot out – and multiplayer is too throwaway to really affect much. You'll undoubtedly enjoy your time with it, but it won't linger long in the memory.

Version Tested: PS4. Played for 30 hours.

7 / 10

  • Compulsively playable.
  • Lots to do.
  • Hacking isn't as involved as it could be.
  • Mission loop never really changes.

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User Comments

will399i's Avatar


Shame about the bland story line but I guess I'll still be buying it when the price goes down and they hopefully fix some issues!
Posted 20:39 on 04 September 2014
essex1212's Avatar

essex1212@ Neon-Soldier32

I loved Black Flag and thought this was the one that was repetitive, not Black Flag in comparison.
I would wait till it's cheaper and been a bit more polished with a patch after playing the Xbox One version.

No idea how polished the PS4 version is but I don't like reviews done in an event after the whole Battlefield 4. Don't see why not they just issue promo copies like before.
Posted 23:01 on 27 May 2014


Exactly what I expected. An enjoyable, by the numbers open world game, which doesn't offer anything new, but isn't broken either. Something that couldn't live up to the initial hype almost exactly 2 years from when it was originally released. Will get when cheaper.

Steve, what's better; WatchDogs or Black Flag?
Posted 22:55 on 27 May 2014
RichRomano1's Avatar


Put it this way: if Steve pans a game, it's a good indication to buy it and play it. He's the kind of guy who just wants to be negative when there is little reason to be.

@British Wolf: Please. Spot on? Go over his reviews. It's hilarious how many of them are 4/10 when they deserve to be higher. He's a glass half empty kind of guy.
Posted 22:40 on 27 May 2014
NM_Che56's Avatar


"Ass Creed". Ok. I stopped reading. LOL
Posted 16:40 on 27 May 2014
BritishWolf's Avatar


I usually think Steve is pretty spot on so I will probably pass on this.
Posted 12:22 on 27 May 2014
essex1212's Avatar


Finished the game last night and can pretty much agree with this review, very bland but the cover system is very annoying and driving is a pain on it.
Trying to hack a helicopter when in a car was just not possible in my play through which I thought was a shame.
The hacking gets boring very quickly as there is just not enough of it and the story was just as bland as the campaign.
Trying do the side missions but some of the side missions require you to drive over a target which the game is failing to see, meaning the mission is failing.
So at the moment for me the game is broken along with some screen tearing during the day.

It looks no where near as good as the original E3 demonstration

I played the Xbox One version and got it early from SimplyGames btw.

All in all a game I won't be playing again when I'm finished and wont care about getting the next game.
Posted 12:17 on 27 May 2014


I think a 7 is a good score, the game can be a a bit repetitive but it looks good as is certainly refreshing and different. Plus it's on next gen so yea. Happy days
Posted 10:31 on 27 May 2014
Karlius's Avatar


First of all 7 is a decent score. But I wanted more.

At the time of the delay I was hoping that the additional time would make for an extremely polished game and that if it would properly kick start next gen.

Well it clearly hasn't delivered and if the game was running perfectly well as claimed six months ago and all that was needed was topping off with cream I really don't know what this delay has achieved other than lose the game traction in the market.

When I first saw this game it looked good but in my mind drew comparisons to a mixture of Assassins Creed and Splinter Cell. Nothing has changed the game is pretty much AC in the future lending the cover system from splinter cell with an improved graphics engine and world creation.

Sometimes if not all of the time hype and razzmatazz caused by cleverly produced trailers and worked demos ultimately lead to disappointment. There are the odd occasions where all your hopes and dreams are realised but they are few and far between. I will still play Watch Dogs to its conclusion and undoubtedly get some enjoyment but I'll be left wondering what might of been.
Posted 10:24 on 27 May 2014
dazzadavie's Avatar


What I was expecting but there is nothing wrong with a 7 out of 10 and I look forward to getting my copy today.
Posted 08:05 on 27 May 2014

Game Stats

Watch Dogs
Out of 10
Watch Dogs
  • Compulsively playable.
  • Lots to do.
  • Hacking isn't as involved as it could be.
  • Mission loop never really changes.
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 27/05/2014
Platforms: PS4 , Xbox One , Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC , Wii U
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 351 9
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