Friday, July 19, 2013

Watch Dogs and Unbelief

Watch Dogs is one of those games.  One of the games that seems to push its genres in ways that breath new life into them, but almost seems too good to be real.  I had played a bit of Uncharted 1 but that did not prepare me for how awesome part 2 looked: and it lived up to its hype.  Last of Us seems to also push that boundry in a genre that is populated fully with half ass attempts.  Heavy Rain was just a bunch of quick time events with Resident Evil like world navigation.  Hell, Resident Evil 4 was just another Resident Evil.  Gears of War was just another shooter.  Somehow they all turned out to be paragons of their style.  I like to think that I have somewhat of a broad imagination, but several things have jaded my view of what is possible in games.  Let's start in the 90's.

I still have a box of mid to late 90's video game magazines, and let me tell you, if people think internet journalism is full of bullshit, then you have not read a 90's video game magazine.  I go back and read blatantly false reviews about games such as "Plumbers Don't Wear Ties" and good reviews on games advertised all over the magazine when the game is notorious for being horrible today.  So after being burned a few times, I have learned to be discerning with promises of new and innovative gameplay.

Next up on my train of "this has taught you to be a skeptic" is the 2000's MMORPG scene.  This is an era where they did developer videos that lied directly to your face.  The showed off things that never EVER made it into the actual game.  They pretty much promised everything and their sister if you buy the 60 dollar initial release.

"You going to have housing?"
"Fuck yea we are, the best most awesome player housing ever!  Just... not at release, but its coming"

"What about PVP?"
"the most amazing PVP battlegrounds you can think of, everything is destructable and you can build cities that are useful and different than everyone elses' cities... a few months after release"

"Can you fly?"
"Fuck yea you can fly!(you can't actually fly)"

So when I hear about a game with such ambition that it starts clicking on the "impossible" meter, I kind of ignore it.  For about a year I ignored Watch Dogs.  It sounded too awesome to be true.  Most companies can't get within sight of being on par with Grand Theft Auto, the king of open world games.  Then here comes Watch Dogs claiming to be like Grand Theft Auto but with A.I. driven NPC's and all that hacking and magic spell stuff.  I put it in the bin with all the other GTA-killer claimants.

Then I saw Sony's E3 conference when they showed off the game, and I was very surprised that everything appeared to work.  In video, non-pre-rendered video, in a demo that seemed to tie everything together.  How much was optimized script and how much is actual sandbox, I can't tell, but I definitely pulled the game out of the GTA clone bin and put it in the "maybe pretty awesome" bin(along with Destiny and Transistor).

I've played my share of Open World games.  Red Dead Redemption is sort of made by the same people as GTA, so I don't know if you will count that.  I also played through Infamous, and while it gave me the best feeling of super powers in a game of its type ever, it was a very basic "open world" game, and felt a lot like PS2 era GTA 3, with not many of the updates to the genre in the decade since.

Watch Dogs looks like it might push the envelope AND work as an actual game.

I'll put the E3 Demo video below so you can check it out if you have not.

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