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PlayStation 4 Review: ‘Watch Dogs’

Henry Pinnick, 43. He makes $28,700 a year and hosts an AB Positive blood type. Pinnick doesn't matter. Neither does the 15-year old kid shot dead by Watch Dogs' protagonist, Aiden Pearce. At what point video game players and developers decided it's okay to headshot a teenager isn't known, but we're here. And thus Aiden Pearce is a disgrace. Pearce wields a cell phone like martial artists wield nunchucks. A flick of his thumb, and digital Chicago is voided of electricity. He causes accidents by flickering traffic lights, and erupts underground gas mains, causing untold damages. Under this pretense of promised…

Review Overview

Reviewer's Rating

Summary : Watch Dogs shoots. It detonates bombs. It turns rudimentary without identity.

User Rating: 4.34 ( 4 votes)
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watchdogs

Henry Pinnick, 43. He makes $28,700 a year and hosts an AB Positive blood type.

Pinnick doesn’t matter.

Neither does the 15-year old kid shot dead by Watch Dogs’ protagonist, Aiden Pearce. At what point video game players and developers decided it’s okay to headshot a teenager isn’t known, but we’re here. And thus Aiden Pearce is a disgrace.

Pearce wields a cell phone like martial artists wield nunchucks. A flick of his thumb, and digital Chicago is voided of electricity. He causes accidents by flickering traffic lights, and erupts underground gas mains, causing untold damages.

Under this pretense of promised technological invincibility, Watch Dogs issues its early mission: Buy a gun. UbiSoft’s expensive and open world reality is set to begin 12-15 hours of mundane duck-and-cover with guns or vicious knock-outs, because finding less violent solutions goes against the logic of AAA marketing.

Watch Dogs’ travesty is split between AK-47s and Pearce’s deplorably selfish reasoning. Despite carrying interesting methodologies and potential parables for thick government oversight, Watch Dogs shoots. It detonates bombs. It turns rudimentary without identity.

Through his compressed dreams (as if hampered by MPEG-2 encoding), we learn of Pearce’s niece, killed due to Pearce’s egregious lifestyle decisions. He hacks and steals, but not through the frame of Grand Theft Auto’s morally bankrupt, satirically powered superstars. No, Pearce maneuvers under the guise of being righteous, to earn closure for his own mental suffering. There are no internal monologues meant to reflect or peer inward. Pearce only lashes out because we’re infinitely used to murdering as justification for gameplay. Heading toward a gun shop under commandment is growing unnervingly comfortable.

Amidst Watch Dogs’ script, there are incidents between hacker groups, fierce corporations, their rivals, mobs, gangs, and whatever else can be used to further the ruptured mission structure and erode logic. Watch Dogs has no sensibility for pace as it juggles these confused story branches. Pearce’s sister is kidnapped and casually – in-game weeks later – she is finally found. Consider it a desperate search for finality where there would otherwise be none.

This is instantaneous banality, where the reach of video monitoring and apps plays toward naivety. Watch Dogs matches the forced commotion of prime time television, flipping computer driven mainstream buzz words like hack, mainframes, and servers in wild concoctions as remove any pretense of legitimacy. Whizzes slam on keyboards with the pace of a courtroom recorder to indulge in virus battles, and Pearce taps his phone to burst water mains. Were any of this draped by focused narrative or in considerate allegory, it would lean purposeful. Instead, Watch Dogs exits to let Pearce kill.

Yes, UbiSoft’s work is often impeccable. Chicago, with its iconic landmarks and streets, bleeds accuracy. Chicago is alive enough to include a fear of weapons. When Pearce draws a gun in public, citizens panic. Some reactively call 911. (Why then they nonchalantly walk by demilitarized zones stuffed with gang members holding assault rifles is unknown.) Side activities are prevalent and online mingling is intelligently done without notification until you’re caught. Rogue computer jockeys slip in through invisible datalines, creating a story interrupting rush as Pearce’s own data is invaded by outsiders. Then again, maybe Pearce deserves it.

At this juncture it’s not even fair to levy additional banter toward Watch Dogs’ idiotic morality center, which dips toward negativity when slamming fenders into pedestrians or stuffing a grenade launcher round into police vehicles, yet rewards the slaughter of patrol guards because corporations are evil… or something. Plotting is such wherein Watch Dogs doesn’t deserve a second play through to justify any changes in character development. Pearce remains AAA gaming’s most embarrassing leading man regardless.

On its own, the infusion of spying into network cores by leap frogging visible cameras has innovative form. Within these concepts of slick covert combat, Pearce can dismantle whole operations without stepping into red marked ‘restricted areas,’ a hallmark of this overlong, five act affair. Watch Dogs is onto something until it flatlines into video gaming’s embryonic side: Shoot everything.

There was a time where wholesale homicide was gleefully passe or exploitative and empty. Aliens sacked our planet, so we shot them with a two pixel wide phaser in Space Invaders. Master Chief seared plasma into Covenant forces to save the Earth from annihilation, and in Gears of War, we popped heads like pooling acne because Locusts were snarling hordes intent on world domination.

For Watch Dogs, there is no rationale. Pearce downs roughly the entire population of Chicago by himself without standard pretext as to where he earned his gun toting prowess, and he kills with such callousness, it’s a wonder how no one involved saw a need to ground the action in anything other than routines. We’re supposed to ignore it. But you can’t, not when Pearce’s phone hangs over a corpse, divulging information on his now deceased teenage victim.

 

 

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • DiFiasco

    so…you didn’t like it? LOL!