In the future, everyone will be connected digitally, with their information waiting to be snatched up by those clever enough to break into the system. In Ubisoft's upcoming open-world title, Watch Dogs, you are a hacker using his skills for vigilante justice, and in a recent demo, we got to see exactly what he's capable of. To keep from spoiling any story elements, the developers showed just how involved free-roaming in Chicago can be. The gameplay reminded us of a combination of Grand Theft Auto and Assassin's Creed. Crowds play an important role in making the locale feel alive while providing lots of devices and personal information to hack, but elements involving the city's law enforcement made the game feel like vigilante Aiden Pierce (Watch Dog's protagonist) was one of Rockstar's most wanted criminals.
In Watch Dogs, Chicago and all of the technology being used within the city limits act as your eyes and ears. Your hacking skills are like having a master key to every car, computer, camera, bank account, and basically anything electronically powered in the city. Before you can get into any of it, you need to gain access to sections of the city grid by taking over a CtOS control center (like reaching a view point in Assassin's Creed). Once you have access, Aiden can virtually pick the pockets of passers-by if they have their banking information on their phone, or steal a car's registration by breaking into the owner's apartment via their wifi network. Plus, personality profiles of pedestrians and criminals on the streets are at your fingertips, which can be used to find emergent events like violent crimes and robberies as they happen. However, not everything you do with your smartphone involves stealing. There's also an augmented reality minigame involving alien invaders that's playable at any time.
When Aiden gets caught doing any illegal activities, he has to dodge the authorities; this is where the GTA vibe comes in. Your vigilante can navigate around the police units that are shown on a mini-map while you attempt an escape in your newly acquired hacked sports car. As you cruise down the city streets, you can hack the environment to slow the police's pursuit by lowering parking garage doors, raising traffic barriers at intersections, or causing car accidents by screwing with the traffic lights. Breaking the line of sight and hiding for a designated amount of time will complete the getaway, but causing excessive chaos during a chase raises your wanted rating, in turn increasing the intensity of the police's efforts.
If you decide to take a violent course of action, you'll eventually have to engage in combat. The combat combines third-person shooting with the hacking abilities. We saw Aiden lift elevators to gain vantage points on his enemies, lower forklifts to provide cover, and set off explosives using his device. Otherwise, you can avoid confrontation and violence using stealth and your hacking skills. Whichever solution you choose determines your reputation around the world, affecting whether the locals recognize you on the street and call the police, or let you just walk by unnoticed.
Watch Dogs will be available on November 19 for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PC, and is a launch title for the PS4 and "other next-generation consoles" (aka next Xbox). Be sure to check back for more information on the game as we get closer to the game's release.
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