June 7, 2012
One of the biggest problem the E3 over the last few years can be broken down into one word: sequels. This year was hardly any different. We saw a Halo. We saw a Call of Duty. We saw a Madden. We saw THREE separate Mario games. It was all something that we’ve already seen, and, while I am eager to play the next installment of some of my favorite franchises, the thing that really gets me excited about the game industry is something new. That’s why Ubisoft saved the convention for me when they announced Watch Dogs.
Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at the beginning of the demonstration. The UI and the way the game seemed to control looked very similar to Assassin’s Creed. However, I slowly became more captivated by what was being shown as the game progressed. First off, it became very clear that the engine they were working with is something of great power. Everything from the lighting, to the weather effects, to the crowd in the street and club made this virtual reconstruction of Chicago feel alive.
Even more life was given to the demo through the characters that we were shown. There was some great artistic direction behind their design that gave them a real sense of being a person, like their attire or their unique facial structure and features. There was also some great animation in the gestures and the expression. However, the thing that really sold me on believing that these 3D models on the screen were people was the dialogue. It was believable, natural, and, most importantly, it sounded like the dialogue of a character instead of a caricature, which is something we see far too often in games. Giving a character a wacky voice or accent while pairing it with an eccentric personality can only take you so far, and it seems as though Watch Dogs is straying away from that formula (pun intended).
While very little of the gameplay is known at this point, the glimpses of what we’ve seen has me intrigued. We see a few uses of a hacking mechanic where we can do things such as jam cell phone communication, gather information on individuals in a crowd, and alter the traffic lights. We’re not exactly sure how deep this mechanic goes, but it looks to be a very integral part of the game, and I’m very interested to see what is done with it. Don’t worry. It’s not all hacking. We saw a brutal melee encounter, which was later followed up by an intense gunfight in the middle of the streets. Cars were crashing. Citizens were scattering. Gas stations were exploding into a fury of flames in a fantastic fashion. (Yay for alliteration!)
For me, Watch Dogs stole the show. Ubisoft did admit that demo was running on a PC, but they said the game will be making its way to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A Wii U version is still under consideration at this point. However, we don’t know when Watch Dogs is going to come out. I think it’s likely that this will be released for the next generation of consoles, while a dumbed-down version of the game is released for the current generation. Either way, I’m eager to get my hands on Watch Dogs. Well, I’ve prattled on long enough. I’d like to hear what you guys have to say.