05/01/2021

⌚️๐Ÿถ Watch Dogs: Legion | Review | PS4 | "Nothing to get too hacked off about" ⌚️๐Ÿถ

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My history with Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs series is one of highs and lows, whilst the first game didn’t set my trousers alight and cause me to ingest it so that it remained a physical part of me forever, I enjoyed the hacking mechanics and remember the driving feeling weighty and substantial, this, combined with the functional narrative ended up being a pretty fun jaunt, overall.

The second game was a different beast, however. I really struggled to get any enjoyment out of it as it was not only riddled with busywork but I found every character unbelievably irritating. I played the game for a few hours but my patience wore thin and I moved onto other games, games in which dialogue wasn’t as infuriating as a Hermes parcel delivery.

This, the third game in the series was really, really hyped. It seemed to be everywhere in the months leading up to release and, coming off the back of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – which made my end of the year list – it was not only on my radar but also a title I was looking forward to, brushing off my experiences with the second game and instead fondly remembering the good times I spent with Aiden Pearce all those years ago. 

Alas, I just couldn’t click with this one.

Beginning with a terrorist attack by a group known as Zero-Day, near-future London is bombed harder than fan goodwill towards CD Projekt Red*, leaving corrupt government contractors Albion to turn the capital into a surveillance state. Hacker group Dedsec, disbanded in the introduction, slowly reform to fight back against Albion and put London once again in the hands of the citizens. 

The main selling point of this entry in the series is the ability to take control of pretty much anyone you come across in the game. Every one has pros and cons, from the ability to call in cargo/combat drones and unique vehicles and weapons to farting at the most inappropriate of times, alerting enemies to your presence. 

Whilst this is a neat idea and it is fun to initiate ridiculous people into Dedsec and customise their visuals as you see fit, it also weirdly detracts from any kind of personality and differentiation between them as they all handle identically and other NPCs react the same towards each of them. 

The real trouble for me, however, began when they opened their mouths. I literally spent two hours recruiting people in a bid to find someone that didn’t cause me to grind my teeth when they spoke. Eventually, I settled on an elderly, retired female librarian.

Whilst the game looks great when on foot, travelling by air-drone and in screenshots, driving is problematic. My partner suffers from motion sickness in games where movement isn’t completely fluid and within minutes she declared that she couldn’t cope with the driving mechanics and I have to agree. 

As well as screen-tearing, any turns or lurches just make the visuals uncomfortable to the eye, it’s hard to explain as it’s not so much frame-rate issues, I just never felt ‘right’ when driving, like I had to briefly glance away from the screen to refocus my eyes on occasion, and so travel was mainly done by drone, for me. 

This is a shame as the in-game recreation of London is fun to explore, especially if you are familiar with it. From the landmarks to markets, it captures the feel of the city pretty nicely and from bright, sunlit days to rain-streaked nights, it has a great mood.

In terms of the sounds that make up the city, I just couldn’t relax or enjoy huge aspects of it, all the songs on the radio stations weren’t my thing and the same tracks always seemed to be playing. 

The over-egged voicework and re-using of voice actors made all the audio feel looped and repetitive. The hacking and various items that you can initially unlock are fun but after only a few hours in they felt unnecessary and didn’t add many variations to the gameplay. 

Admittedly, I had similar issues with the second game and this very comes down to my personal preferences, my 22-year-old cousin, for instance, had no issues with the music selection but did find also the voice work grating. 

We did both agree on how hilariously unrealistic it is for someone to completely alter the course of their life and join an underground resistance movement off the back of a stranger approaching them on the street and assisting them with a single task. Good.

Aside from the main ‘fight the system’, corporate espionage storyline which is all well and good, the side quests feel very samey (essentially constant hacking of various business and enterprises) and the mini-games hold no weight, from graffiti to keepy-uppy with a football, they just aren’t fun and the building-scaling to find hidden objects is made redundant when you get a transport drone and can just pretty much fly anywhere.

All of the above, whilst not individually massively problematic, all chip away at the enjoyment and made me just stick to the main, intriguing plot. Sandwiched between Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Immortals Fenyx Rising on my gaming list of 2020, Watch Dogs: Legion is clearly the weakest of these Ubisoft open-world games. 

If you are a fan of the series, this is more in a similar vein but if you haven’t yet connected with Watch Dogs, this new entry is unlikely to change your mind. 

The longer I played, the more it became evident that all the aspects that appealed to me were present in the original game. 

It’s the closest I’ll ever come to a circa ’95 Matthew Lillard, thank god.

*#sickburn

7/10

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