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Watch Dogs: a cutting edge world that feels both new and familiar

Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 17:00 GMT By Stace Harman

Stace Harman plugs himself into Watch Dogs’ fictional universe and finds a degree of familiarity that could enhance immersion but may ultimately lessen its impact.

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”Pearce’s technical wizardry is such that he can cast his spell on pretty much anything that’s controlled by a computer system and in Watch Dogs, as in real life, that’s more or less everything.”

Despite suffering a high profile delay of several months, it feels as though Ubisoft Montreal’s near-future hack-fest is arriving at a very pertinent time. Recent real-world history has produced headlines that take in covert phone surveillance, guerrilla hacking groups Vs multinational corporations and the uncovering of inexplicably large holes in some of the world’s most prominent IT systems.

Clearly, if somebody wanted to make a gritty and socially relevant thriller about Big Brother and those seeking to subvert the extensive digital networks on which our lives are run then now would be a very good time to tap into the zeitgeist.

Watch Dogs’ Aiden Pearce is a man able to exploit such weaknesses to gain access to Chicago’s fictional but credible ctOS (Central Operating System). Once inside he can manipulate its architecture to change traffic lights, activate vehicle barriers and raise bridges, at the touch of a button and on the fly – in a manner that’s mechanically similar to Starbreeze’s Syndicate reboot of a couple of years ago.

These abilities are particularly useful when being pursued by law enforcement and involved in shootouts. They also come in handy when you want to beat the traffic to make it home in time for mid-afternoon reruns of Gilmore Girls.

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”It’s up to you to decide whether you choose to skim a couple of hundred dollars from the bank accounts of drug dealers, pimps or fraudsters. It’s surprisingly powerful the first few times you decide to tap an average Joe for cash only to find that they’re recently married or are battling cancer.”

In short, Pearce’s technical wizardry is such that he can cast his spell on pretty much anything that’s controlled by a computer system and in Watch Dogs, as in real life, that’s more or less everything.

As Pearce becomes more adept at using his shady skill-set he gains access to more comprehensive hacks, so while at first you’ll have to smash a window to jack a car you’ll later have access to a universal key encoder that’s let’s you unlock the door and start the engine without risk of a bystander reporting your brute force approach to the police.

Back in the real world, there’s the everyday tracking and data gathering that has become so ingrained that we no longer think anything of it: internet cookies, CCTV monitoring and the tracking of shopping habits in the form of loyalty cards and browser history that we blithely acquiesce to.

Similarly, Pearce taps into this centrally stored data to hop around Chicago’s CCTV network and instantly surface personal data of everyday civilians, allowing him to access to personal information, salary details, potential for criminal behaviour and deepest, darkest fetishes.

Watch Dogs provides both the tools and opportunities for such activities but refrains from judging you for how you want to use them. So it is that Aiden Pearce can siphon money from the bank accounts of passers-by, gain access to new vehicles and access text or call data highlighting where something unsavoury is going to go down. Of course, the data itself is amoral, it’s just little pieces of digitally-stored information and only you know what you’re doing with it.

As such, it’s up to you to decide whether you choose to skim a couple of hundred dollars from the bank accounts of drug dealers, pimps, fraudsters but also whether your hits will include teachers, young families and voluntary workers. It’s surprisingly powerful the first few times you decide to tap an average Joe for cash only to find that they’re recently married or are battling cancer.

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8 Comments

  1. YoungZer0

    Sounds fantastic.

    I know I mentioned this before, but this is the open world game I’ve been waiting for. I always wanted a GTA that wasn’t full of obnoxious character that were supposed to be parodies, but never stopped being just that. It stopped being fun after the first few hours and became just downright annoying.

    I simply could not enjoy GTA V for that reason. It’s tone was everywhere. I think you should be able to criticize society without being obnoxious about it. I hope this is the case here with Watch_Dogs.

    Hopefully it delivers what it promises and Ubisoft doesn’t assassin’s creed it to death.

    #1 4 months ago
  2. Legendaryboss

    @YoungZer0
    “Ubisoft doesn’t assassin’s creed it to death.”

    Ubisoft: “We don’t create games unless we can make a franchise out of it” You better hope its an exception to the norm like Zombi U, because thats as close as your going to get.

    #2 4 months ago
  3. YoungZer0

    @Legendaryboss

    As long as it doesn’t come out every year I’m fine with it.

    #3 4 months ago
  4. abdooltk

    when i saw this trailer I see shame in this company and their developers there is a massive downgrade compression to E3 2013 and 2012 so I will buy it as used game..that’s killing me guys why I just buy my Ps4 with infamous ss which is much much butter then Watch Dogs in visual side Dame it :(

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKPA0wlIv2I
    FU@#$%^CK IT MAN

    #4 4 months ago
  5. Panthro

    ^ Dont click his link, he is trying to score views for his youtube video.

    #5 4 months ago
  6. Edo

    @Panthro
    Shame on you ,THAT MAN IS OUR HERO!!

    #6 4 months ago
  7. abdooltk

    I like this one much more then that….you should see it guys

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ieRi51zjKE

    #7 4 months ago
  8. Panthro

    ^ Don’t click his spammy youtube link, he was doing this shit a few days ago to.

    #8 4 months ago

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