One of the other incredibly exciting titles on show (with gameplay footage), was a game that had already wowed the pants off of the collective gaming public. Watch_Dogs was shown at last years E3, and helped to secure Ubisoft’s role as top dog for the conference. They came back with another look at the ambitious cyber punk open world project, with some new footage of the main character Aiden Pearce, meta-fighting his way through a technologically controlled urban sprawl of Chicago.
The gameplay footage starts with a swift swoop over the vast techno verse the windy city has become. An ever looming threat of virtual interconnectedness making the city one mass of electronics. The natural beauty of the sights and sounds are offset by the blurbs of technology explaining small details about places and people. Things you wouldn’t expect to be such readily available information.
Aiden explains that this has become “the heart of America…but somewhere along the line it must have skipped a beat”. A brooding dictation that this gross saturation of technology came without a paralleling human evolution along with it. A new way of life via virtual reality no one ever asked for, but everyone agreed on. Vast schematics of the every day being available to those who have mastered this new domain.
We saw in the first trailer that Aiden Pearce had tapped into what is now known as a “Smart City’, with it, endless control. Through nothing but his exercised will on a living breathing network of redefined life, he helps to effortlessly create chaos with just a few pushes of a button.
All of the gameplay that made the first demo a success returns in full glory. We see Aiden casually enjoying a short jaunt through a block of downtown Chicago. We see cars passing by, people going about their business, it’s all very calm. A few moments into the trailer, you find Aiden begin to shadow a woman, who’s information he pulls up within an instant. You find out her name, age, and her financial situation. A calm exterior is suddenly disrupted by the realization of mass information and communication happening within a single moment.
Aiden continues to scan surrounding people, bringing up any information he can. One of the people he quickly scans, in the next moment, acquires their bank account information. Aiden than walks up to the closest ATM, and gets a chunk of the mans savings by pushing a button, and walking away, all in the blink of an eye.
One of the interesting observations involves who Aiden robs. He surveys a couple of people, and one is homeless, the others, all have finance. One of the last people he scans (the one he techno-robs) did have the most money, but was also listed as being a tobacco exec. Whether the player will be judged on the morality of their decisions, like stealing from those who are considered corrupt, or if it will merely be a way to make the most money the fastest, remains to be seen.
As the demo continues, Aiden passes through a crowd of people, casually peering into their lives via online information. He’s able to identify a security camera, but doesn’t pay any mind to it. He passes by one woman who’s identified as a potential victim. He begins to shadow the woman, by vaulting over a low railing, and keeps an eye on her from a distance.
He then spots a man approaching her, who seems to have it in for the woman Aiden spotted not moments sooner. He continues to survey the two getting closer, his internal information feeding him the probability of a crime becoming increasingly higher. From the info available, it looks like they’re having divorce related money issues, and they’re about to have one more.
As Aiden stealthily approaches and the conversation unfolds, it’s clear this dispute isn’t going to end on amicable terms. Right when the man threatens the woman with a knife, Aiden appears with gun in hand, ready to act as moderator. The suspect curses Aiden, and begins to run away, and he is given pursuit for this stubborn act in futility.
You realize how big the game world really becomes at this point, as you dart past dozens on unsuspecting people chattering, past vehicles it seems you can enter and use, the sound of the police call is happening right in your ear. He chases the man through a department store and into an alley, Aiden not relenting. He jumps over a fence, which you then mimic. This time, however, because of the oneness with the city, you help to short out a circuit the man is running past, and far ahead of your own location, to blind and stun him.
Aiden finally apprehends the man, but not at a cost, as he himself is a wanted man after all. The wail of sirens and a crescendo of emergency vehicles come full blast, and Aiden starts to realize the imminence of the situation. He rounds the corner of the alley and finds himself staring down a police squadron. He runs right, and see a cruiser coming full blast down the road. Within the same second, activates one of the road mechanisms, and a series of detour posts shoot up, violently halting the car to an destructive stop.
With the whole city suddenly alive and out to get Aiden, he dodges too and fro to avoid the police force. He shoots out a tire of another on coming cruiser, and pushes forward into an alley, his mini-map flashing with the threat of red and blue.
A loud series of gun shots barely miss, as a pursuing helicopter makes itself known. Aiden barrels onto a roof, and climbs a ladder to try and escape his pursuers. Looking around and surveying his surroundings he realizes the entire block is crawling with reinforcements, but catches a glimpse of an oncoming train he can use to his advantage. Aiden runs towards the tracks in desperation to catch his ticket out of here.
You’re quickly reminded how much control Aiden has, as a sub menu pops open, and the train comes to a screeching halt on command. He then jumps aboard and restarts the massive vehicle, and is on top as he races towards assured victory. In The closing shot of the trailer, a camera picks up on Aiden, and begins to “hack” his person, with the possibility it’s going to be game over if the camera succeeds. Before the spy machine can complete it’s process, Aiden, as if smiling through his bandanna, counter hacks the recording device, as it powers down. The trailer ends with the flash of the game name, and the unspoken truth that in a technologically based society, you don’t need powers to become a god.
You just need information.
While my coverage of Watch_Dogs may seem extensive, having previously been shown, and not a PS4 exclusive, I believe it is justified. How a game as ambitious as Watch_Dogs can routinely steal the show, even at a major multi game press event, and a self held reveal of a new console is nothing short of astounding.
The game will be a must have for me, and if the PS4 is the first next gen console to get the title, than my choice has already been made.
Here’s to a 2013 Release Window!
Up Next, a look at some of a few other titles on display at the PS4 press conference. Including a new indie title from Jonathan Blow, and the vast credentials of Bungie coming forward with an “ever persisting” online sci-fi fps.