Errant Signal – Watch_Dogs (Spoilers)

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Aug 26, 2014

Filed under: Video Games 130 comments

Chris and I already gave Watch_Dogs a pretty thorough beating on the Diecast, but here is the fuller and more organized take from Chris. I only played the first couple of hours, so I can’t comment on a lot of the game. But when he was talking about the parts of the game I knew, I started getting seasick from nodding my head too vigorously.

Link (YouTube)

Everything about Aiden Pierce that isn’t repugnant is completely boring. You thought I didn’t like Geralt? I’d rather go on a date with Geralt where we watch a Michael Bay movie and then sit around the malt shop drinking from the same root beer float with a pair of curly straws and then walk home holding hands, rather than share an elevator ride with Aiden. Screw that guy. And his idiot ballcap.

I guess Watch_Dogs is supposed to be a revenge story, but if Aiden really wanted revenge for the little girl’s death he should have shot himself in the face as soon as the opening credits were over. She was never targeted by the bad guys. She was caught in the crossfire between warring assholes because Aiden was driving her around. If you’re going to get deep into crime such that you have people trying to kill you, then maybe that should disqualify you as a babysitter.

And then this jackass has the audacity to tell his sister not to worry, because he’ll protect what’s left of her family. You know, since he did such an awesome job with her other kid. The entire world of Watch_Dogs revolves around Aiden and nobody ever calls him out on this bullshit. He’s in turns arrogant, cruel, stupid, self-absorbed, and hypocritical. He was literally the most evil person I saw in the game. (Remember I only played the first few hours.) The idea that this game ends as a Batman-style origin story where he talks about protecting the city is so ridiculous and tone deaf it actually makes me angry.

Screw that guy. And his idiot ballcap.


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130 thoughts on “Errant Signal – Watch_Dogs (Spoilers)

  1. Mersadeon says:

    Yes, so much. Also, I am glad that most of the press wasn’t too happy with Watch_Dogs. Apart from the story and characters being awful, it threw an interesting mechanical premise away to make another GTA game.

    1. Mersadeon says:

      Actually, I have a question – does the game have a good OST? Campster hat some of it in his videos, but is it consistently good? I’m always looking for cyberpunk-y music as background noise for Shadowrun.

      1. Attercap says:

        It’s not a bad soundtrack for in-game background music. It’s bland enough to keep people from humming along or harming immersion by being recognizable while still having enough techno/bass to feel somewhat Cyberpunkish. It’s not as good as, say Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but if you’re looking for more tracks, W_D’s couldn’t hurt.

      2. Chris says:

        It’s very ambient. It’s not bad at all, just not very interested in going to the fore. It could work as some lovely background music for programming or writing or other lost-in-thought stuff, but I don’t know if it would replace Unreal Tournament or Hotline Miami music for me.

        Tangentially, one thing I actually really liked about the game was its selection of licensed music. It was a moderately eclectic mix of genres and mostly from bands either from or based in Chicago, which is cool. It actually felt like they tried there, and while I don’t know if they gave it much of a… “Chicago” feel, the effort was appreciated. My personal favorites were this song for being sort of enjoyably reminiscent of winters in the north for me (living in the south I don’t get to see much snow anymore). And also this song, but only because it’s SUCH AN EARWORM that I’ve been listening to it nonstop at work. I don’t even hear the lyrics at this point, I just hear guitars and music-shouting drowning out co-worker’s chatter while I work.

        Also now that I’m watching the video for it this it seems pretty awkward thematically next to what actually happens in Watch_Dogs.

        1. Joey245 says:

          Good choice of song!

    2. ET says:

      I can only imagine how much better this game would have been if they had not made it open-/sandbox-world, and doubled down on the hacking.

      So, let’s say you work in a part-time job, with a net connection, and limited supervision; Some library/customer service/patent office in CityVille USA. When you go home for the night, you pull up on your computer a list of criminals, who need punishing. Player picks a job from this list, and a hacking minigame begins. (Same mechanics/cameras/etc as in the game now.) Once you finish all the jobs for the night, or run out of time before work in the morning, you collect your creds and log off. If you waste too much time at night, you get penalized during the day: slept in/late for work – dock some credits; Many or big slip-ups and you get Mr. Adamsson in your office yelling at you in a cutscene; Screw up really badly, and you’re fired. The lazy way would be to make losing your job the game-over screen. Instead, I’d let the player keep going, if they can pay their bills from hacking. Conversely, they could make a lower/reliable income if they ignore the hacking and double down on the Papers Please-esque boring white-collar minigame. The difficulty of both hacking and white-colar games increases gradually.

      Eventually, they get a hack job, listing a family member as a hostage. (Let’s say their sister.) This would be the first job in the game, which is impossible to complete without getting fired from your day-job. (If the player manages to complete it with speed-run techniques or something, just force some hand-wave explanation, that they were really tired, and came in to work ten minutes before quitting time.) Let’s say the criminals traced your connection, with their own hacker, for a story hook.

      So, now the player is both completely reliant on the hacking, and hated by criminals. Now their objective is to pay the increasingly expensive hotel bills, so they can keep safe every night, from getting traced to a static location. (Sister is also on the run with the player, scared for their life.) This climaxes with the criminals finding the player’s latest and last hideout. (In-story, the player/hacker got an anonymous tip, giving them just enough time to hopefully escape.) The player grabs a pistol, and the final level begins. They have limited bullets, and horrible aim (add wobble to mouse look), since they’ve never fired the gun outside of the shooting range. Note that this is also the first time the player actually plays in a 3rd-person perspective, with a weapon.

      If the player manages to kill all the bad guys, in a fast enough time, they get the “bloody shootout” ending: run away to Mexico, with a bag of cash looted from the dead criminals, living life as a farmer with a fake name. If they kill everyone slowly, their sister is killed before they can escape, and the cops show up. “Life in prison” ending. If they manage to get themselves or their sister caught, they end up with guns pointed at both of their heads. Player can choose to give themselves to the gang, as a for-life slave hacker, for the “Chained to a Computer” ending. Alternately, they can give up their sister to the gang, for the “Sickened by Myself” ending. Still-photos from police investigation, showing sister in forced sex acts, mocking letter from gang, and final photo showing player has hanged themselves.

      Can I have a couple million bucks to make this? I could even save money, if I get to re-use the engine/assets/etc from the original game. How bad could it be? As bad as the original? :S

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        So, let's say you work in a part-time job, with a net connection, and limited supervision; Some library/customer service/patent office in CityVille USA. When you go home for the night, you pull up on your computer a list of criminals, who need punishing.

        You mean sort of like the Jet Li film Black Mask, only he uses his daytime library job to actually research his targets? You’ve just detailed my personal workplace empowerment fantasies.

        1. ET says:

          So, you’re going to fund my Kickstarter, right? :D

      2. Ravens_cry says:

        I’d be all for it except for the wobbly mouse and bad combat. You don’t have to make combat terrible and frustrating, all that means is that the player is booted out of the experience. Unless you were really, really good at making the player have a connection to hostage, and even then, there would come a time where the player would throw up their hands and go ‘Why do I care if she @#%&-ing lives or dies?!’

        1. ET says:

          Well, throughout the game, they’d have to have cutscenes and dialog, reinforcing the fact that you’re some nerd, who’s great at hacking, but not very competent IRL. I wouldn’t make it horribly bad; I’d just make it less than 100% precise, which is what is in the game right now. i.e. The recoil animation resets your aim exactly where it was, and you have pixel-perfect aim in the game, as it is right now. In his video, George explains that that breaks your suspension of disbelief, since you’ve got better aim than the cops, and you’re ostensibly a pudgy computer nerd. So yeah, maybe just enough aim wobble to make you think twice about sneaking vs shooting, and have recoil actually matter. :)

          1. Mike S. says:

            I’m guessing that the reaction to a final level that’s a) an entirely different style of gameplay from anything you’ve encountered before, and b) the PC is really bad at would be… less than positive.

            Look at the last combat segment of Mass Effect 3, which is obviously trying to evoke trying to function while being injured nearly unto death. It was less of a departure than this, and is defensible in terms of what just happened to Shepard. But it’s still very unpopular, and one of the complaints is that it demands a skill (precision pistol shooting, with all mods, bonuses, cover, and tactical pause removed) that the game never taught you to build.

            It makes sense in terms what you’re trying to do and the situation you’re trying to evoke. But will the modal player nod and say “That fits who my character is and what they’ve experienced”? Or throw the mouse/controller at the wall? :-)

            1. Ravens_cry says:

              That’s my thought too. It would be better if you could use your mad hacking skills to defeat the baddies, rather then be thrown a completely new form of game play that is unrelated to any of the rest of the game, is intentionally unfun, and is unlikely to be why the player wanted to play to begin with. Not to mention, since it’s only for a small part of the game, it’s unlikely to have much polish, especially on a small scale budget.

  2. Thomas says:

    I’m super glad I haven’t played Watch_Dogs now. I quite liked the idea of Ubisoft as a specialist publisher who becomes very good at publishing games in it’s own niche with a distinct reputation, but it looks like it’s going to produce the completely soulless games someone might expect.

    If Watch_Dogs were just soulless that might not drive me away though. Aiden Pearce sounds like he ruins baseball caps*

    *if they’re not already ruined?

    1. Chris says:

      I love the fact that there are clothing shops in this game and all Aiden buys are different color patterns on trenchcoats + ball caps. You know, so you can express yourself! Camo trenchcoat and ballcap. White and red trenchcoat and ballcap. Brown trenchcoat and ball cap with bright orange trim. What kind of trenchcoat and ball cap does your angry hacker wear?!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        At least the guy is consistent.

      2. Bropocalypse says:

        American Civil War greatcoat and a trucker cap that says ‘honk if you’re irish’

      3. Lachlan the Mad says:

        I have the same baffling questions about the tailors in Assassins Creed II (and all of the other Ezio games). “Red and white Renaissance clown suit? Green Renaissance clown suit? Black Renaissance clown suit?”

        That was one of the big improvements in AssCreed IV, actually — you could make Edward wear various different types of outfits. I usually had him walking around shirtless.

        1. Otters34 says:

          Well, in the case of Assassin’s Creed 2, it could be interpreted not as the tailor’s having ninja superhero nobleman costumes lying around, but just dying Ezio’s clothes while he hangs put somewhere for a day or two in his regular duds. Which is a little silly, but not as silly as the alternative.

    2. nerdpride says:

      [May I continue to repeat my feeble old shtick, Mr. Shamus?]

      Why does anyone buy/pirate new videogames anymore? Note that I’m not in favor of this one through some rhetoric; I genuinely think most videogames (especially AAA) tend to be garbage that bring in lots of money due to hype, distraction, and reference to other popular culture more than anything.

      And I don’t think angry or frustrated reviews are a good response. I think the thing to say is, “yep, it had no soul, nothing redeeming or worthwhile, only get it if you’re extremely bored.”

      I sort of genuinely want to know what various people would expect out of a videogame or which ones were the best. Some of my friends at work play Solitaire and I can respect that because it’s a cheap waste of time at least.

      And one last thing I wonder is what makes people really like something like, for example, the first Mass Effect game when they didn’t like this Watch Dogs thing. I haven’t played either, but I get the impression that Mass Effect was generic copied sci-fi sort of like how this game didn’t think about the near-future tech very much.

  3. Jokerman says:

    Did you know Aiden was inspired by Walter White from breaking bad and Dexter from… Dexter.

    Some of the funniest stuff i have read, just… in what way is Aiden Pearce anything like Walter White…

    he’s a person with flaws, with qualities; someone we can relate to and that you will bond with even though he does sometimes things that are not necessarily good.”

    How can you relate to him? He has no redeeming features, he is either a jerk… or he is boring.

    “He becomes a vigilante, so he is there to inflict his justice on the city of Chicago.”

    And to steal bank account details of random people… for no real reason. Just a total dick move… causing that much agro for them.

    I was enjoying the gameplay of Watch Dogs, for the first 2 acts… after that it just became a frustrating mess for me.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Did you know Aiden was inspired by Walter White from breaking bad and Dexter from… Dexter.”

      Just one problem with that:Dexter was never painted as a good guy(well,at least not in the good seasons).He is a monster that eats other monsters,but you werent supposed to root for him.

      1. On a different note the writers of breaking bad thought people liked Walter White a bit too much really. Like while Walter had good intentions (his family needs money) he escalated it and kept at it long after he had as much money has his family needed because he felt powerful being a drug dealing gangster.

        So even there the writers of watch dogs missed the point. Incredible.

      2. Jokerman says:

        Dexter was almost a grim pinocchio as far as his development goes.

        It was hard not to like Dexter by the end, even as a serial killer.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          If by “by the end”,you mean somewhere about before miranda walks into the show,then that is somewhat true.

          By the actual end,it was really hard not to say fuck you to the writers for their bearded lumberjack thing.

          1. Jokerman says:

            Ha yes, the ending was crap… and totally impossible. In my head Dexter just died in the storm.

    2. MrGuy says:

      I could sort of buy this – there’s some milage in the spectacle of a not-entirely-likable anti-hero.

      But that’s where they fall down just in concept. Because they’re not making a movie, or a TV show. They’re making a VIDEO GAME.

      Walter White is fascinating because his decisions are not our decisions. His situation (having cancer) is relatable, and his feelings of being in over his head are things we’ve always experienced. But the way he responds to those stimulii are often not the way we’d respond. We’re watching the show, and always fascinated by what he’ll do next.

      But in a video game, especially a FIRST PERSON video game, by definition the characters’ choices are required to be OUR choices. We have to own them. If they’re not the choices we’d make, we have to be shoehorned into making them anyways. We’re required to have the character’s motivations, and our actions don’t make sense if we don’t identify with those motivations.

      There’s a huge difference between loving watching Walter White and wanting to BE Walter White.

      That’s not to say you CAN’T pull this off – you can set up a character with a compelling backstory and motivation where you’re nodding your head and saying “yeah, this is totally how this character would act.” But it takes a lot of work, and a lot of skill. Done badly (as it’s done here), they just dump you into a character, give you awkward dialogue of backstory, and expect you to feel invested in the character in just the way the writers want you to from here on out.

      1. Jokerman says:

        I agree, and its a testiment to how well Walter White was written that people still pulled for him, when i was watching… i wanted him to succeed no matter how evil he was, how many people he hurt, i still wanted him to make it through.

        I think the closest thing to a “Walter White” would be Lee from The Walking Dead, if you make certain decisions (which is a big part of it) You can have a Lee that does some really horrible stuff… but all of it is done for Clementine, you can make a good argument for why you made such horrible decisions. You can be a pretty evil guy… that you can still root for.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        There still are ways to disconnect the player from the protagonist.You dont have to be postal guy to enjoy postal.You most definitely dont have to be walker to enj…erm,appreciate spec ops:the line.

        But yeah,it does require some skill to create such a thing.Either trough complete disconnect between real world and the game world,or through clever dialogue from npcs.And it most definitely requires not glorifying the games protagonist as some genuine hero.

    3. krellen says:

      I dunno. I hated Walter White. I was rooting for Skyler, and for Jesse (though largely I’m mostly just sad that I watched it in the first place.)

      1. Talby says:

        I was rooting for Hank. He’s one of the few decent human beings in the show who actually tries to do the right thing. By the end of the series, I hated it, because (spoiler tagging to play it safe) most of the characters I actually liked had died horribly, leaving only the most loathesome ones alive, and I just stopped caring.

    4. karln says:

      I did not know that and have not played the game, but listening to the video I was thinking ‘huh, that’s kinda Walter White-ish’. Specifically, they each claim to be turning to crime for noble reasons and assert that they will protect their families, but it looks very much like they’re really doing it because they like it. (And with WW, the writers were clearly well aware of this from the beginning, sounds like it went differently with the W_D crew)

  4. Jack Kucan says:

    “Lying to T-Bone about the stakes” I’m proud of you, Chris. :)

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    But Shamoose,as a computer guy you should love any computer guy in any vidja game.I mean he uses a mobile phone to hack stuff.How can you not like that?

  6. Steve C says:

    So what do you think of The Punisher? Better, worse or the same as Aiden Pierce?

    1. lucky7 says:

      At least the Punisher makes it a point not to fight the police.

      1. ET says:

        He’s also at least, like, 300% more badass. :)

    2. Vect says:

      Well, it seems Aiden’s problem is that he’s specifically portrayed as in the right despite all evidence to the contrary. The Punisher is generally portrayed as a mentally disturbed psychopath hated by both villains and superheroes, even if he does have standards (absolutely no harming civilians/good guys). While Frank goes after folks who are rightly bastards, you won’t be seeing Captain America giving him a thumbs-up. Heck, even Thor, the Norse God of War considers him a warmonger who fights for no real cause.

    3. Joe Informatico says:

      In the original version of The Punisher, Frank Castle’s family is killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, accidentally stumbling across a mob hit in progress, and not because of anything Castle did or who he is. So although his methods and motives are probably just as terrible as Pierce’s, at least he’s not personally responsible for his family’s deaths in the first place and continuing to perpetuate a cycle that resulted in tragedy.

      Castle is a man who was formerly a skilled practitioner of violence but had set that aside for his family. When they were killed for no reason by evil men, he lost whatever moral anchor they provided, and became a man of violence once again. So at least there’s some pathos there.

    4. The Punisher isn’t a merc. He’s basically Batman but with guns and a willingness to murder criminals. He’s also pretty much portrayed as a psychopath, but one that takes his illness out on bad guys (so kind of like “Dexter,” I guess).

      Pearce is just a jerkface that kills everyone.

  7. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Is there a reason the comments on this one are disabled or was that an accident?

    Looked at your last few uploads and the comments aren’t disabled on those so, curious.

    1. Thomas says:

      According to Twitter he’s experimenting to see if this is a better viewing experience or not. I believe it might be inspired by Total Biscuit doing something similar recently

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I find it disappointing. His videos would seem to invite discussion and contrary to YouTube’s reputation the comment section does often have good discussion especially since the changes they made. You typically see your comments and the most popular of other comments.

        Can people seriously not handle seeing text on a page that they might not like?

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            What must it be like to live like that? To be so sensitive you can’t handle seeing some disagreeable text yet also somehow unable to hit CTRL+ to up size the screen so you don’t have to look at comments? (Modern browsers will save your resize preferences per site so you only have to do it once).

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              But…the comments would still be there.How can you not look at them when they are right there,on that very page?!

              Anyway,maybe you should check the discussion about that here.Thomas brings up an interesting point about twitch,and its chat.

            2. Zukhramm says:

              It must also be hard to live when you’re so sensitive you can’t handle seeing a youtube video that doesn’t let you comment on it.

              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                What I can’t handle is one sided preaching. I’ll take all the trolls on the internet over one person with a following who can’t handle their ideas being challenged. In the end, the trolls do less damage.

                NOTE: Not pointed at Chris but other names were mentioned in this thread.

                1. Zukhramm says:

                  That has literally nothing to do with youtube comments.

                  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                    You’ll want to look up the word ‘literally’.

                    The comment section is the beginning of the response to a posted video. Now Chris is leaving open other avenues of response. Some don’t.

                    1. Zukhramm says:

                      Producing video content does not oblige anyone to also provide the space for people to talk about it and implying those who do not “can't handle their ideas being challenged” is the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day. People are allowed to challenge you but that doesn’t mean you have to provide them the resources to do so.

                    2. krellen says:

                      Yes, let’s just relegate all opposition over here to this Free Speech Zone. I’m sure nothing bad will ever happen. Limiting where and when people can express themselves has always been a good idea.

                    3. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      We’re talking about resources that are provided by default Zukhramm. Its zero effort for the producer to provide the comment space and a greater than zero effort to deny it.

                    4. Zukhramm says:

                      The effort is irrelevant. No one owes you to provide a place for comments.

                    5. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Then I don’t owe them any consideration. This is a problem I have with media in general and something I greatly prefer about the internet.

                      I will no longer sit and allow a program of any sort to engage in one sided preaching at me that I can’t respond to.

                    6. Zukhramm says:

                      That’s probably not a big loss.

                      You don’t read books, I take it, because that’s as one sided as it gets. Or music? Why doesn’t music let you channel your thoughts straight into the composer’s head? If they made it, that means they owe it to hear all your inane opinions.

                    7. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      We’re talking about one sided preaching here, not all of media.

                      I don’t quit watching until it gets one sided.

        1. Thomas says:

          You should let him know (if he hasn’t read this already). It’s a genuine experiment with an unknown result. Maybe the sludge of comments does tar the discussion, or maybe the only people who look at the comments are looking because it’s profitable for them.

          It was suggested that removing the comments might have a positive effect, and since no-one knows if that was true, this was the way to find out

          EDIT: It depends on the content too of course. I can’t see a situation where having comments on a Sarkeesian video would be better than not. There’s been studies to show that extremist aggressive comments on either side of a debate just radicalises people instead of promoting thought (even when they’re responded to)

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            It depends on your point of view.Im sure she thinks that opening comments on that single video of hers was the most beneficial thing she ever did.And she would be quite correct in thinking that,because it brought her fame and fortune.

        2. Kagato says:

          It’s not like he’s shut down discussion of his video. Right in the description, it says:

          If comments must be made, try in our kinda-almost-new subreddit:

          It is at the bottom of the description, which isn’t visible by default, so if it becomes a more permanent feature I’d recommend putting a notice at the top instead:

          “Youtube comments are disabled. For discussion, visit [reddit link].”

          The problem is, Youtube comments are typically not discussions. They are usually just dumps of commenters’ first thoughts, endless repetition of the most obvious comments, quotes from the video (why?), abuse (directed at the channel owner, the video subject, other commenters etc) and straight-up channel spam. The presentation of Youtube comments, while recently improved, still actively hinders proper discussion.

          A structured commenting system like Reddit is a vast improvement.

          (Of course, Reddit has its own problems; but specific well-managed subreddits can be decent places to hold discussions.)

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            I understand that most of the comments on YouTube are not of tremendous value or quality but some are good and some good discussion happens there especially now that its tied to the Google Plus accounts. Dismissing it because it doesn’t meet our standards is applying an ambiguous standard that can easily be a lazy cop out for someone not interested in having their stuff challenged.

            1. Shamus says:

              I really think Campster made the right move. If you leave comments open, then you can do one of two things:

              1) Ignore comments. Then you let the space fill up with disgusting abuse and hate as performance art. I feel guilty knowing what sort of madness is running unchecked in my space: Scams, spam, threats, etc. This is what I’ve always done, and I feel guilty for it.

              2) Moderate the comments. This is time consuming, thankless, and stressful. And looking for the good comments mixed in with the atavistic grunting feels like panning for goal in the toilet.

              It just makes sense to give them a link to someplace else. The link itself will filter out the worst of the idiots. People just looking to express random anger won’t bother. Moderation is easier and less time consuming and discussion is more reasonable. It’s literally the best solution for everyone except those who just want to post angry irrational bullshit.

              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                Yeah. I’m not exactly attacking him. This just touched a sore spot. There’s someone else who I won’t name because it gives the name that much more power, who is completely one sided and I don’t buy that there is no way to provide a venue for reasonable response. Tie it to Facebook accounts if nothing else, should keep the moderation demands to a reasonable level.

                I’m tired of preaching in general, it doesn’t help that, as Campster pointed out, creators lean in a particular direction and it certainly isn’t the one I lean in but even the shows that present important messages that I would be sympathetic to often make me cringe. As much as possible I try to avoid preaching in situations where I can’t respond.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I think the real reason is that he just got tired of all the SJW comments.Because he is such a SJW!

      Ugh,still as annoying even though I was the one that wrote that.So I guess this is a good thing?

      Joking aside,there are still places where you can discuss what he talks about,like here,or here,or here,so its not a big loss.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I haven’t wanted to call him out on the SJW thing myself because I can tolerate it from him at its current levels in exchange for his genuinely good insights and bashing him needlessly would just make it worse (He already did one video response in defense, I don’t want to see more).

        I’m afraid he’ll become the next Moviebob or Jimquisition (in his own way) if we were to keep pushing him and I’d really prefer to see him continue dissecting games.

        The SJW thing in general is annoying. I already left comic book fandom over it years ago, became a gamer and now its here.

        1. Melfina the Blue says:

          Ok, what’s a SJW? Snarky jaded whiner? Serpent jew wizard? Single jaming widow? Slytherin jumping water? Smartass jealous wolverine?
          Never mind, I’m having fun coming up with ridiculous answers ;)

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            It stands for social justice warrior,and for some reason it is being tossed around like its a derogatory term,just like elitist.Its also extremely annoying.

          2. Wide And Nerdy says:

            I really wish gaming forums were being plagued by any of those things instead of what sjw actually stands for.

            Also, I really wouldn’t call Chris one. At most he’s kind of sort of defended other people being sjws depending on how you look at it.

            1. “…actually stands for.”

              As you define it and apply it to others.

              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                A reasonably objective standard could be defined for the term (for most people, not for here. Here we could pick this whole thing apart till we’d rebuilt it through first principles).

          3. Grudgeal says:

            I wish to lay a claim to ‘Serpent Jew Wizard’ as the name of my future Heavy Mithril/Balkanised Gypsy Post-Punk fusion band.

          4. Otters34 says:

            The general image people think of when they write ‘Social Justice Warrior’ is something like a circle on tumblr that is always talking about social problems, loudly complaining about how other people are doing it wrong, dragging other conversations towards their one tic, and never taking a single non-Internet-related action to combat this evil.

            Basically, it’s like the ‘white knight’ thing. It’s another way of saying “Sanctimonious busybody”.

    3. A Random Lurker says:

      You are probably the most calm and neutral person I’ve ever seen in these comments. It baffles me you’ve stuck around as long as you have

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Um, Thanks?

        Sorry, can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic. I try.

        Assuming you were being serious, this community is worth it as much as any geek community on the internet can be. Its refreshing. I respect the people I argue with here whether they respect me or not. Its a credit to Shamus that he has attracted this kind of an audience.

        If you do happen to think this community is bad, you should try the Escapist forums or Extra Credits. A much greater test of patience either way and yet with a still mostly sincere group of posters.

        1. A Random Lurker says:

          It was sincere.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            Well thank you. :)

            I promise you I can be as prickly and nitpicky as pretty much anyone here but life has been good to me lately as have my meds. ;)

  8. RTBones says:

    I’m glad I took the lessons of Mass Effect to heart with this game – I waited until it came out and the gaming community had a chance to play it before making my decision to NOT buy it.

    1. Jokerman says:

      Im not smart enough for that… i saw everyone hating on it and decided i needed to check it out.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        There are bad things out there that still are enjoyable.Asscreed series,for example,or big rigs.But if the gameplay is mediocre at best,and the main plot is just meh,chances are the game will be neither “bad but fun” nor “so bad its good”.Meaning,you will probably be better off skipping it completely.

        1. Tizzy says:

          I was really tempted… I thought: I have nothing to play, and really, how bad could it be. I was sort of curious about how the mechanics would be treated, the atmosphere…

          Anyway, yay for apathy: didn’t buy it, after watching this video, I’m pretty sure it would have bored me fast.

  9. Zak McKracken says:

    I knew it was probably bad; didn’t know it was that bad.

    Funny trivia: If 100 in a million people commit a crime on a given day, and you beat up everyone with a 99% chance of committing a crime on that day that means you have 1% chance of pronouncing someone guilty although they aren’t. This means you’ll assault about ten thousand people per day* who didn’t do anything and didn’t plan to.

    … I think you could spin a very interesting story out of a protagonist proceeding in this manner and learning the hard mathematical truth in the end. You find a tool for justice, you apply it, you start to enjoy the power, you lose inhibitions, you defeat the perceived evil … I think I’d even forgive the authors for using the old “what have I become?” scene.

    *granted, that’s based on some assumptions… but still there will always be much more people on the brink of committing a crime and thinking better of it than actually end up doing it.

    1. AyeGill says:

      Your math here seems way off. If you beat up everybody with a 99% chance of committing a crime(and only those people, obviously), then, for every 100 people you beat up, only one will turn out to be innocent, meaning that, in your scenario, you only beat up slightly more than one innocent, on average.

      I think your mistake was mixing up “one in a hundred people you beat up are innocent” and “you beat up one in a hundred innocent people,” which admittedly had a tricked for a while, too.

      1. syal says:

        It all depends on what 99% likely means. 100 guys commit a crime, so 100 guys are 100% likely, but maybe 40,000 get really close to committing one.

        It would be an interesting scenario. Especially if there were some people who went over the edge because of the ‘hero’s involvement.

        1. James says:

          if 40,000 people each have a 99% likelihood of committing a crime, then you’d expect 39,600 of those people to follow through. the chance of 40,000 being 99% likely, but only 100 following through, is infinitesimal.

          everybody who committed the crime was, at one point, likely to commit the crime. if 100 people commit crimes, the most likely estimate for the number who were 99% likely to commit crimes is 100/.99 = 101.

          ayegill is on the money here. if you beat up 100 people who each have a 99% chance of committing a crime, you can expect to get one ‘innocent’ (ignoring the fact they’re all innocent) person each time.
          (note I am talking about the expected value of this binomial distribution, not using ‘expect’ to connote certainty).

          1. Chris says:

            This thread has given more thought to the problem than the entire 15-some-odd hours of Watch_Dogs.

            1. Ivan says:

              I know, right? and they had you acting with a minimum of 80% certainty? That’s ENORMIOUS. That’s one out of every 5 people you beat up wouldn’t have actually gone through with it. Hell that’s not even what that means because this is assuming that the algorithm predicts intent (which you couldn’t do unless you were actually reading the persons mind) when all it is doing is looking at a bunch of different circumstances and saying that a crime is the most probable outcome of all these variables.

              Most of that 1/5th were probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time and weren’t even considering criminal activity.

            2. Zak McKracken says:

              James and AyeGill are right: Assuming that the probabilities given by the system are based on objectively true data, and assuming you start beating people at 80%, “only” 1/5th of the people beaten up will be innocents.

              This is, of course, assuming that a guess based on the type of data the system has available is always correct, meaning it will never assign 100% if the person isn’t actually committing a crime. Knowing that cases exist where “was this a crime or not” is a valid question, this is of course unrealistic, and that’s without considering that the data in the system can never be perfectly correct* and verified independently, so even if there was a clear binary choice between crime or not, the system would occasionally come to a wrong conclusion.
              … which would immediately cause it to do much more harm than good.

              *”correct” means that every statement the database makes is true, and there are never misinterpretations of data points, and notthing is ever inferred … of course the whole data mining thing is about inferring information and can never be completely accurate, and that’s before classical database errors.

          2. Greg says:

            Actually, there is not enough information to know how many innocents are beaten in this example. To simplify the problem, assume that we beat someone if and only if our detector says there is a 99% chance that they are guilty. We know that 1 in 100 people that we beat are innocent, but we don’t know how many people we beat. This is because we don’t know how many guilty people we don’t beat.

            Assume there are 1000 guilty people and 9000 innocent people. If we detect (and beat) 990 guilty people and 10 innocent people, that is 99%. If we detect and beat 99 guilty people and 1 innocent person, it is still 99% accuracy.

            1. One odd thing is that we can’t actually know which one/s are, or would have turned out to be, innocent. I mean, we whacked them all before they did anything, so none of them ended up doing whatever it was . . . that day, anyway. Which one would have ended up thinking better of it, we don’t know (maybe we could check the Minority Report). Well, unless by “beat up” we just mean “cause some pain and bruising and send off on their way unimpaired” and then they all go do whatever the crime is anyway, just sort of pre-punished.

              Similarly, if we deter the crime in beating the people up, we actually have no way to distinguish between an apparatus that actually finds those “99% likely” to commit a crime, and an apparatus that just points people out at random. The results would be the same.

              I think the original poster was trying to make a point about false positives but phrased it a little off. Let’s say you had a thing that was 99% accurate in determining people’s intentions to commit crime in the next 24 hours. So if someone *was* intending to commit a crime, there’s a 99% chance it would spot them. And if someone *wasn’t* intending to commit a crime, there’s a 1% chance it would falsely think they were. Given the very small proportion of people actually committing crimes on any given day, most of the people you beat up with an apparatus like that would be false positives.
              This is actually quite similar to the way real cops seem to act in poor and/or visible-minority neighbourhoods, except for the “being accurate” part. But they do beat people up or kill them “on spec” based on suspicion, and the results do seem to be mainly “false positives”–people hassled, beat up or even killed who were just minding their own business, because the police are using their “device” (their belief that based on experience they can spot a criminal) and have far too strong a belief in its accuracy.

              1. MrGuy says:

                The statistical term for this problem is Type I error.

                Let’s bring back the OP’s numbers. Say there were 1,000,000 people in the city, and every day, 100 of them commit a crime (which is 0.01% chance that a person selected at random committed a crime).

                So, in this population, there are 999,900 innocents and 100 criminals.

                Now, imagine we have a test that could tell you with 99% accuracy which group a person was in.

                Of the 999,900 innocents, we’d correctly identify 99% of them (989,901) as innocents. We’d incorrectly identify 1% of them (9,999) as criminals.

                Of the 100 criminals, we’d correctly identify 99% (99) as criminals, and incorrectly identify 1% (1) as innocent.

                Overall, this test will identify 10,098 (9,999+99) people as criminals. Of those, only 99 would actually be criminals. This means 99.12% of the IDENTIFIED CRIMINALS are actually innocent. Only .98% of the identified criminals actually ARE criminals.

                Your test (with this base rate) would need to be about 99.99% accurate before there would even be a 50% chance that an identified criminal was ACTUALLY a criminal.

                This comes up frequently as an issue in medical testing – even for a highly accurate test, if the inaccuracy of the test (say, 99.99% accurate) is high WITH RESPECT TO the base rate of the disease in the population (say, 1 person in 100,000 has the disease), even testing positive doesn’t necessarily mean you’re LIKELY to have the disease in question. The vast majority of positives are false positives.

                1. IFS says:

                  Ah damn I was going to try and do the math on this but I had to go to class (funnily enough a stats class) and you beat me to it! Still glad to see someone go over the numbers and bring up both types of errors, its unfortunately rare that statistics in anything (especially fiction) get an actual in depth explanation, probably because so few people really understand the field.

                  As for my opinions on Watch Dogs I haven’t played it, don’t have much desire to either (never did really, but if it had gone the hacking focused route some people were hoping I would have more interest).

                2. Tizzy says:

                  That’s whybits never lupus. That’s why you want to seriously reconsider any systematic testing for a disease with very low incidence in the population. If your test has a 1% rate of failure both ways (really optimistic), and if your disease has an incidence rate of 1 in 100,000 (that’s not even super rare as far as diseases go, and just as well, really!) then you end up with way more false positives than true positives.

                  1. MrGuy says:

                    Depends on the cost/invasiveness of the test, and whether you have other tests available.

                    Assume we’re testing for a condition like the one in the example, where there’s a 1% error rate but only a .01% disease rate). As above, over 99% of the people who test positive won’t actually have the condition. But that doesn’t make the test useless.

                    If the not-super-accurate test is cheap and easy (say, a saliva test, or maybe something that can be done with routine blood work), we could use that test as a simple screening to determine who we MIGHT want to give a more accurate follow-up test to (say, a more invasive test requiring a biopsy, or bone marrow, or a complicated DNA sequencing process that’s difficult to perform).

                    Assuming the mechanisms the tests work by are independent (e.g. the odds of someone falsely testing positive on test A are independent of them testing positive on test B), you can “stack” tests and progressively whittle out the false positives, even if no test in itself “hits” very well on the general population.

                3. James says:

                  Have you played the game? It doesn’t give you binary ‘yes/no’ prediction about whether the person will commit a crime. It assigns a probability to each outcome.

                  In all other areas of the game, the phone clearly demonstrates itself to be magic, so it can be safely assumed that there is no uncertainty in the assigned probability.

                  To link it to your medical example, the phone is a test which can tell, with 100% accuracy, whether you are 99% likely to commit a crime. So there’s no Type I and Type II error; the only ‘mistake’ is the 1% of people who are 99% likely to commit crimes, but don’t, and get pounded anyway.

                  Or am I missing something?

                  Edited to add: a few of these comments talk about how many people were very likely to commit crimes, but didn’t. obviously, we can never know the true value of this. But if we’re asking ‘how many people were 99% likely to commit crimes’, we can estimate this using the number of people who did commit crimes.
                  Let’s assume that everybody who commits a crime was, at one point, 99% likely to commit a crime. This means the number of people 99% likely to commit a crime, who then go on to commit that crime, is a binomial distribution B(n,0.99) for an unknown value of n.
                  The expected value for this distribution is 0.99n, so if x people commit crimes, the most likely value for n is just x/0.99. So for every x criminals, we’d end up beating up x/99 innocent people.

            2. James says:

              Yes, well done for knowing how percentage works. But did you notice that in each paragraph I started by fixing a particular number, based on the two comments I was responding to?

              However, you are right that we can never be certain of the number of innocents beaten – even if we fix the number of people beaten. If I beat five people who each have 0.99 chance of being criminals, there’s a 10^-10 chance that I actually beat up five innocent people. It’s a binomial distribution, as I stated in the original comment.

      2. Zak McKracken says:

        Yes, you’re correct, at least if the figure given to you actually means “this person is 99% certain to commot a crime”, which it’s supposed to.

        This, however, is assuming that there are never any false positives, i.e. it can never ever happen that the computer thinks somebody is committing a crime (reading: 100%) when actually they aren’t. This is the error I was talking about in my first post, that I confused with the one above.

        Of course, the false positives are what makes big data so scary. Putting that sort of thing in the game would turn it completely upside-down. I think I’d like that.

        That said, even in the actual game you’re not just attacking 99%ers but probably more anyone reaching 80%, which means that out of 5 guys one wasn’t really up to anything. Which, by the way could be a really nice thing to show in the game: After beating up a number if people you realise that today you prevented 8 crimes and committed two yourself … and if that had consequences ingame.

    2. guy says:

      Honestly, regardless of the accuracy, I think you’re on very shaky moral ground arresting people for crimes they haven’t committed yet, at least if they’ve yet to clearly begin attempting to. If you pre-punish for people in circumstances likely to cause them to commit crimes, you’re hurting them for reasons outside their control (plus it might be best to fix the circumstances). If you pre-punish for thinking about committing a crime, then you’re on the slippery slope of thoughtcrime, and people think about things they would never do fairly often.

      However, I also think it’s comparatively easy to get back to being all right. If the system predicts a crime will happen somewhere, just show up at the predicted time and place. If you’re lucky, it was a false alarm or your presence deters the crime, and if that doesn’t happen you’re in place to intervene.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        The “send police to where crime is most likely” approach has merit (and AFAIK is already being used to some degree), but there are some devils in the detail, such as prospective criminals gaming the system, reading the statistics and committing the crime where they know police presence is least likely — so you should never be putting too much effort into the whole thing, or else you end up making life easier for the smarter criminals; the ones you should spend proportionally more effort on, not less.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          This at least strikes me as the most plausible scenario. There are any number of factors that you can read about a particular area, its proximity to other areas, types of businesses, temperature, traffic, that could lead to it being more likely that someone in the area will decide to break some sort of law.

          I believe some agencies already do this to an extent. It provides the advantage of allowing police to respond more quickly while violating nobody’s rights.

  10. I’m having enough trouble dragging myself through Deus Ex: Human Revolution!

    I’m so bored by Mr. Laconic McPointy-Chin that I wish I could create a mod that would overlay Adam’s dumb, ugly face (and voice) with Eva Green’s.

    I took one look at Watch Dogs and thought, “Great. Another boring straight white dude. ARGHGHGHGH!”

    1. Jokerman says:

      Straight white dudes can be interesting too. I don’t think them being white, straight or male is the problem. Blind lazy targeting of demographics is the problem.

      For example Adam Jensen is not in anyway a boring straight white dude… He is a quadruple amputee coming to terms with a horrific change in his life. A lot of his characterization is done through environmental story telling in his apartment… rather than just telling you, they show you.

      Plus, he is totally prettier than Eva Green ;)

      1. ehlijen says:

        I think the problem is that many games strike a poor balance between blank slate and memorable protagonist.

        A blank slate allows more players to self insert far more readily. But a memorable name and face allow the publisher to put something on the box.

        The more you define a character, the less roleplaying freedom you leave the player. But if you don’t define a character, you then have to provide roleplaying opportunities so the player can do it for you.

        It sounds like Watchdogs wanted an iconic protagonist (Baseball cap!) but was too afraid an actual character would impede on the sandbox aspect of the game?

        1. Jokerman says:

          “impede on the sandbox aspect of the game” the sandbox aspect that everyone seems to think was completely unnecessary.

        2. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Normally I’m sympathetic to people defending individual instances of straight white guy protagonists.

          But in this game they needed to pick. You either have a character, in which case write the character, or you have a blank self insert which, in an open sandbox game, means you should allow character customization. It couldn’t have been that hard, in this case they even have a costume that somewhat conceals the character so they could cheat on the female model animations a bit and just have her keep her hair tucked under the cap. And they know how to do skin color.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ive just realized why aiden pierce is such a douche:He is a 90s superhero.The only thing he lacks are enormohuge shoulder pads and bullet belts.

    1. Rodyle says:


      This reminds me so much of BLOODP.O.U.C.H., an rpg parody of this style of 90’s super heroes.

      Can be found for free here, btw.

      1. ET says:

        This game looks AMAZING! :D

        1. Rodyle says:

          I know right? POUCHES ARE A STAT IN THIS GAME.

      2. Kagato says:

        I honestly read that as BLOOPD.O.U.C.H until I opened the PDF.

        I didn’t know exactly what “bloop” would refer to, but I could see the second part being a fitting description of Liefeld characters….

  12. Strange guy says:

    After I watched this I decided to rewatch Super Bunnyhops episode on WatchDogs, which was where most of my opinions on the game came from, as I obviously wasn’t keen of playing it after rather scathing reviews by most.

    It’s pretty interesting to see the differences between the opinions of George and Chris. George liked the stealth and hacking missions, the original score and the more gritty crime story parts of the game, but hated all the Ubisoft open world bits, the ‘cool’ hacker and superhero bits, the licensed music and the lack of polish fitting all this together caused.

    From Georges video it sounds like a good and a bad game merged together, while Chris just considers it one bad game with no sense of direction. I wonder where these different impressions come from, though it might just be hatred of Aiden.

    1. Thomas says:

      I was thinking of the same comparison when watching and I was thinking that maybe a section of gameplay being fun wouldn’t really be relevant to Chris’ point of you, because he seemed to be coming at the game from a ‘what does this say?’ standpoint. In that light the fun is just reinforcing the idea that the game totally approves of what Aiden Pearce is and that they were checknaming themes without thinking about them because they had to make publisher targets.

      Neither of them described the game as overall fun and almost everyone has come away with an impression of bland. So when you have 15 minutes to speak maybe you don’t prioritise the exceptions.

  13. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Let the Shamus/Geralt shipping commence! To the fanfiction cave!

    1. lucky7 says:

      The one true pairing.

  14. Phantos says:

    Like Chris mentioned, because this game sold so well, they’re just going to take that as a sign to keep doing things this way. Like how the Ninja Turtles and Transformers movies keep making money, so those are the types of movies we’re just going to keep getting.

    Things are just going to get worse for video games because people confuse “open-world” with “excellence”.

    That’s why I don’t blame him for turning off the comments on this video. It’s bad enough that droves of idiots are steering our entertainment into the sewer, we don’t need to hear those apes bash out excuses on their keyboards.

    (Yes, I am bitter. I loved video games before a multi-headed dunce-beast took the reigns.)

    1. Taellosse says:

      Well, the open question here is, “will this game’s success prove to be repeatable?” It sold well largely on the strength of its marketing, but if the majority of the people that bought it were disappointed by what they got, they probably won’t be so quick to get a sequel. If the audience at large agrees with the critical consensus (this was a bland, hodge-podge game that failed to deliver on any of its promises), a sequel will probably bomb. If there’s a disconnect between the audience and the critics (wee! Awesome shooty bits, mayhem on city streets, I can control the street lights to escape the cops, and mow down whoever I want! Also play wacky mini-games! Yay!), then it will do well next time.

      It all depends on exactly what audience that marketing ended up attracting: people after shallow thrills, or people interested in a thoughtful game about the power and dangers of real-world technology. The truth is, it probably attracted both (I was initially interested in it for the latter reason, and most of the early critical response made me realize it was more for the former, so I didn’t buy it after all), satisfying one and annoying the other – the only uncertainty being what proportions each group had.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I find it odd that this game flew largely above my head. It had themes that should sparkle my interest, it promised fun gameplay*, it had a large marketing campaign, but somehow it only came to my attention when the whole “Ubi crippled the graphics” controversy started and by that time, or soon afterwards, it became clear the game had more problems than that.

        *the reason I still flirt with AC despite the growing plot stupidity making me want to bang my head against the desk.

      2. Bubble181 says:

        Unfortunately wrong, as can be seen from many other series with disappointing sequels, not delivering on promises, and so forth. The marketing for Watch_Dogs 2: the Dog Watcher will focus on how this time, you can do even more, there’s even more depth, the story is More Real and Grittier, th world is even more responsive, and so forth. The group who likes shiny graphics and big booms wil lbuy it, and those looking for a deeper story and more world building will buy it too, because there’s little else out there in the genre and who knows, maybe this time.

        See also: Fable.

  15. Cybron says:

    Just popping into say I like your soundcloud music thing-y, Shamus.

  16. guy says:

    I can’t really get over the “iconic ball cap”. I mean, it’s a ball cap. Lots of people have ballcaps. I guess the pattern on the front is maybe kinda cool, but it’s not like Prototype’s hoodie or the AC clown suit. It isn’t something where people see the outfit from a distance and know it’s him.

    1. Phantos says:

      “Iconic” ball cap. “Iconic” blank t-shirt. “Iconic” jeans. “Iconic” trench-coat.


      *fans self*

  17. I'd rather go on a date with Geralt where we watch a Michael Bay movie and then sit around the malt shop drinking from the same root beer float with a pair of curly straws and then walk home holding hands, rather than share an elevator ride with Aiden.

    Geralt on the left and Shamus on the right?

    1. Shamus says:

      Yes. That’s exactly how I pictured it.

    2. Joey245 says:

      Well, that’s gonna be a fun image to mentally repress. :)

  18. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    The game sounds like Person of Interest with all the interesting stuff pulled out of it. In PoI, they get a name, only a name, and the fact that this person is at high risk of being involved in violence. They can be victim or perpetrator. They then spend the whole episode trying to figure out the whos, whys, and whats of the violence before it happens.

    Here, the phone just tells you.

    In later seasons, there are people who want to use the Machine for their own evil purposes, and people who oppose the use of the Machine at all, and many people in the middle.

    And then there are the people who consider the Machine itself god.

    I’m guessing the only person or object in Watch_Dogs with a god-complex is Aiden Pierce.

    1. MrGuy says:

      Person of Interest is basically a case study in the kinds of themes this game could have explored but didn’t.

      For example, Finch (the creator of The Machine) reveals that he actually invented social networks, just in order to get more data for his algorithm to use. There’s an interesting theme there that people will willingly give up information about themselves that feeds surveillance, and that we’re all “helping” surveil ourselves.

      Heck, the premise of the show is a fascinating twist on the ethics of surveillance – rather than mire itself in “is surveillance good or not,” it rather asks “if our surveillance is so good, why can’t it be used to help people too?”

      There’s so much meat in this topic, and it’s so relevant right now, that it’s almost amazing Watch Dogs flubbed doing anything interesting with it so badly.

  19. Adam says:

    I’m hearing a lot of critiques of Aidan Pierce (GOD, that name gets dumber the more I read it) that sound like the criticism Spoiler Warning had for Ezio in AssCreed 2. I wonder if there were shared writers, although the characters are so disparate it makes me worry if Ubi employs a group of writers whose sole notable attribute is a propensity for writing Black Hole Sues. What a terrible thing it must be to be a writer with so little self-awareness.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      That, or someone higher up the chain of command has certain ideas of what they want the character to be, at the risk of sounding jaded probably something they consider will “resonate with the target demographic”. It could be interesting to look through the credits for both games and check what’s the scale of the overlap, if any, at least in the writing and decision making departments…

  20. Chamomile says:

    I haven’t played the game, so maybe the blending of genres really is a problem. But one thing that really stuck out to me when I saw the trailers was that Watch_Dogs appeared to be a game about how cyberpunk is real. Because it basically is. Corporations really do wield power comparable to that of nations. Information technology really is the cutting edge of modern warfare and crime. Functioning cyborg limbs exist. The vast majority of the hacker tricks Aidan uses are things that you can actually do in the real world (though not in exactly the way Aidan does them and not all of them are possible in Chicago, for example New York City has sensor pads that detect traffic and you can totally hack those to get lights to change, but I don’t think Chicago uses that system (yet)). Setting a cyberpunk story in a perfectly typical 2014 city is not terribly out-of-genre and could in fact be a commentary on how cyberpunk is now real. The game’s unwillingness to comment on things like whether the scary privacy-invading supercomputer could be a force for good means that this was probably not intentional, but it still doesn’t strike me as a point against the game that it accidentally had some interesting subtext.

  21. Tom says:

    OK, I’ve played about 60% of the game (yet only at part 2) on PS3.

    I think it’s fairly clear that Aiden isn’t a great guy. Apart from being a semi-criminal (if not outright criminal), he drags his family into bad things repeatedly for instance, and it’s obviously due to some personality issues, like craving revenge over the safety of his relatives. But this is pretty visible in the game, isn’t it? Like when he visits his sister sometime at the start.

    Thug personality. That said, is he any worse than, say, a GTA main character? Depressive torturer and mass murderer Nico Bellic? Or dear old Trevor the Canadian? Not really. (Not yet at least.)

    The crime prevention stuff I’ve played has had Aiden lurking around until the criminal starts trash talking and attacking the victim, whereafter you rush him and beat the perp down. It wasn’t a question of whether they would do it or not.

    Instead of a shooting game, it’s been a lot about stealth so far. Well worked out.

    What I haven’t liked:
    – The sandbox is a bit too basic, especially cars and their physics. Lacks the pizazz of GTA.
    – You need to level up a bit and buy some skills before it gets fun
    – On the other hand, you end up with all the weapons pretty quickly which gets a bit boring (at least I’ve been on the plateau for a while); also, a lot the weapons are pretty similar
    – Not a lot to spend your hacked money on.

    – The game isn’t extremely difficult; you seldom have to repeat a mission many times. Some prefer that, of course.

    What I’ve liked:
    – The side missions just clicked for me, I’ve done far more of those than in other sandboxes. Never again will I rove Liberty City shooting pigeons.
    – The skills and hacks work together very well once you get used to them
    – I’ve enjoyed most of the missions too, good variety of activities. The main sequence is linear, which some might dislike, but with the plethora of side missions, it’s worked out well so far
    – The whole setting is an increasingly sour comment on the surveillance society. It’s just that Aiden can exploit it rather than be exploited by it. But after a while you might start frowning at what’s going on (and maybe even what you’re doing), which is good.

    1. Tom says:

      OK, now I listened to your podcast. Haha, man that was a big tantrum about Aiden Pierce. OK, we clearly had very different expectations. I enjoyed the side missions a lot, and they have been good practice for the main campaign.

      Regarding hacking, I think solving pipe flow puzzles is about the right level of difficulty for this sort of game (action/stealth). A realistic game of hacking would be soul deadening. Go put in a few more hours at the office instead if you want to know what it’s like.

      “Oh yeah, another innocuous utility that for some reason runs arbitrary user-supplied code. Let’s ask for budget to buy that vulnerability, fast. Run, Jin-Wei, before the boss goes to lunch!” (minigame ensues)

      “Yeah grandma, click that yes button! Boom, owned!” (botnet +1)

      “I dunno. I couldn’t get into Jin-Wei’s character at all. Bland yet terrible. And those coffee break minigames where he could just spam his ‘sit and stare’ move got too predictable. ” (reviewer)

      OK, I’ll stop. Personally, I think you oversold your disappointment a bit. But perhaps it’s because I bought Watch Dogs long after the hype had moved on, so I didn’t have all those expectations either.

      1. Tom says:

        Finished Watch Dogs today. As sandbox experiences go, it was okay. The Campaign worked out about as one might expect, including a nice little twist right at the end. The side missions also escalated nicely. Adrian improved, as one might expect, as a person. (Awww!) I was satisfied.

        Didn’t play the online mode, so no opinions there.

        The game itself was a bit threadbare compared to GTAV, so I’ll give it a B total. I’d buy Watch Dogs 2. Give the guys some more time for that one.

        I think I’ll put it in fifth place on my sandbox list:

        5. Watch Dogs
        4. Infamous
        3. Saints Row 3+ (thanks for leading me to those, recently including a musical number with Satan)
        2. GTAV
        1. Red Dead Redemption (and GTA San Andreas)

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