Watch Dogs or The 21st Century Sandbox

It is quite ironic the Ubisoft servers are down on the day Watch Dogs is released. First, the game wasn’t available at midnight (though pre-download and all were working fine), then the servers were down, Uplay not working … digital may be dawning, but it’s still far from shining bright.

But all that was forgotten as soon as Watch Dogs took off – the first mission is a short tutorial, and afterwards, the whole world is a digital oyster, waiting to be hacked. You can walk around scanning people and intimate details, getting some money or infos about future crimes or hidden packages – all calmly, while walking or slowly cruising around in your car.

Of course, you can also manipulate traffic lights, detonate all kind of electronic devices, or shoot people in the face. The choice is yours, friend.

And then, there’s the mini-games. From chess puzzle tasks to 3D platforming and even to drug fuelled trips with Spider Tank … Watch Dogs is crazy and wants to be crazy. Even UFO Mayhem from Saints Row IV or GTA V’s drugged nightmares pale in comparison to some of the crazy ideas Ubisoft has come up with.

Mind you, Rabidgames played for 4 hours doing nothing but the first mission and looking at the world of Watch Dogs – nothing else. Okay, second mission … theoretically, it would have been a blood bath. But in Watch Dogs, infiltration is possible without firing a single shot, hell, without setting foot in the hostile area – if you want. Hint: For the first time in video game history, surveillance cameras are your best friend.

Let’s make no mistake here – comparing Watch Dogs to GTA or Assassin’s Creed doesn’t do any of these games justice. Its closest relatives are rather Splinter Cell or Deus Ex (stealth and upgrade systems) and the likes of Just Cause 2, the Mercenaries series or the thematically close The Saboteur instead … the latter just because they offered you tons of freedom.

Of course, self-anointed hardcore gamers and die-hard elitists will fret at Watch Dogs – it is not Dark Souls hard, it is not nail-biting tough, but, and that’s the most important thing at the end of the day, it is simply one thing: fun.

Rabidgames enjoys this playground: Watch Dogs is a game that can be played in a really relaxed state. If you want. That’s true freedom in a true sandbox. Oh, and mind you, all of that can be seen within the first three hours of this game!

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