At E3 2012, Ubisoft appeared to raise the bar when it demonstrated "Watch Dogs," a game that is set in an alternative version of modern-day Chicago. In this universe, the U.S. government built an CenTral Operating System (ctOS) after the 2003 blackout, allowing for the centralized control of subway lines, traffic lights, surveillance and electric grids.
Built around the concept of hacking and using the city's interconnected network as an weapon, players assume the role of hacker Aiden Pearce, who has recently suffered the loss of a loved one. Consumed with revenge, Pearce has made it his life's mission to take down the corrupted system of surveillance to try and make sense of who is responsible for his pain.
In today's world of interconnectedness and with the so-called "Internet of Things" on the horizon, the game appeared to touch on possible real-life privacy and security concerns. However, when the game was finally released on Tuesday, some reviewers felt it couldn't quite live up to the perhaps unrealistic expectations they had prior to its release.
"While 'Watch Dogs' has its moments of nirvana, there's some stuff that falls flat, and whole bunch of mediocrity jammed in the middle. In the end, the experience as a whole isn't regrettable, it's just more contrived than you might be willing to accept," CNET's review of the long-awaited game read.
The high point for CNET: "When it comes to presentation, Watch Dogs really hits it out of the park."
On Twitter, some gamers thought it couldn't compare to Grand Theft Auto and other open-world games.
Watchdogs feels a bit half-assed compared to Gta 5, then again Gta 5 isn't on the bloody pc yet.— Robbaz (@RobbazTube) May 27, 2014
Can't believe everyone is so hyped about Watch Dogs when it's such an obvious and blatant Goat Simulator clone.— Reese Leysen (@reese015) May 27, 2014
Commonly cited reasons were plot holes, as well as subplots that are only loosely related to the original mission of revenge. ArsTechnica writes that Pearce himself proves to be "a jumble of conflicting, often nonsensical motivations that never really coalesces into anything close to believable."
However, reviews often highlighted unique features of "Watch Dogs" not found in other open world games. Pearce's hacking ability allows for different tactical options during fights and there is a wide variety of mission types and activities to do around the city, which ArsTechnica appreciated.
"Even the smallest activities are fully engaging," wrote Kevin VanOrd for Gamespot.
CNET also noted that the game allows for forced immersion that -- if the gaming console is connected to the Internet -- makes the players "vulnerable" to being hacked by other players. The Internet-connected version of the game allows for friendly competition between players in each of the mini-missions. Players can also choose to create a custom challenge for others to participate in.
Gamers on Twitter agreed, saying that the user's immersion into Chicago distinguishes this from other games.
Watch Dogs' Chicago is also the most alive, detailed, and authentic feeling open world I've seen in years. Reminds me of GTA4's Liberty City— Jake Baldino (@JakeBaldino) May 27, 2014
Watch Dogs is the first open-world I've cared enough to immerse myself in in a long time. I recommend it. More thoughts tomorrow.— Scott Lowe (@ScottLowe) May 27, 2014
Watch the trailer below and see if you want to play.