20. Got psychedelic, drove a spider-tank
While were on the subject of silliness, later in the game its possible to find street dealers selling digital trips; effectively augmented-reality hallucinations. In practice, they play out as utterly mad mini-games with no respect for the near-future realism of the main games setting. And theyre brilliant.First up Watch Dogs turns into Carmegeddon, as I tear around a post-apocalyptic version of the city in a souped-up, Mad Max-style deathwagon, ploughing down flame-headed zombies for score multipliers. After that, Im piloting a spider-tank, running, jumping, climbing up buildings, and shooting the crap out of every vehicle that comes within firing range. Yeah, Watch Dogs is a fair bit sillier than anyone thought it was going to be. And thats great.
21. Went train surfing
Im wandering the streets on a bit of downtime between missions. For some reason I investigate an alleyway down the side of one of Chicagos metro stations. I find another forklift truck parked right next to the station wall. Knowing how video games work, I find this forklift suspicious, and investigate. A couple of hacks and a bit of climbing later, Ive scaled the side of the station and made my way to a high platform overlooking the tracks. I hear a train coming, and have an idea. 20 seconds later Im surfing away from the station on that trains roof. Best part? Theres not even any need to wait for the next stop. When I want to get off I just hack the trains engine, stop it dead, and hop off to the next thing that takes my fancy.
22. Played chess, drank a guy under the table
As it turns out, the next thing that takes my fancy is a bar. And, in true GTA fashion, it turns out that there are games to be played inside. The first is a stripped-down version of chess--because it wouldnt be an open-world Ubisoft game without a bit of cerebral board game action--playing out over a series of defensive challenges rather than a full game. After that, I find a booze-addled old soak demanding that I join a drinking game. A few minutes later, after lining up a series of increasingly wobbly crosshairs, hes under the table and Im staggering away from it, replete with customary blurry-cam visuals. Time to try a bit of advanced parkour.
23. Briefly did the Mario
Investigating Watch Dogs side-missions further, I find a coin-dash challenge. Again, augmented reality is the excuse. I spend the next couple of minutes navigating a street-based assault course littered with big, day-glow, 8-bit coins to collect, skulls to avoid, and an ever-present timer ticking me down to leaderboard glory or failure. Watch Dogs, you really are very silly.
24. Turned traffic barriers into car-launchers
Back in a car, I decide to find out just how creative I can get with the citys various gizmos. I start to wonder if those raisable traffic bollards need not be a prison, but could rather provide an avenue to greater heights of freedom. It turns out that they can. It takes me a few goes to get it right, but by barrelling along the road at a high enough speed and raising the posts underneath my car just before I pass over them, I manage to boost myself into the air, flying over a couple of cars and landing on top of a third. When I learn to weaponise this effectively, things are going to get really interesting.
25. Used detective work and tactical malice to set up a great combat ambush
Tasked with interrupting a gang meeting, I arrive early and take a minute to prepare the scene. I hide bombs behind window shutters, to be triggered later on. I note the steam valves I can burst, after pulling enemies towards them with lures. I get onto a raised platform, giving myself a clean line of sight to all of the roadblocks I can raise and lower in the middle of the area to throw my adversaries into chaos. Most rewardingly, a bit of quiet detective work reveals tyre tracks at each end of the area. I wonder if Ubi has dropped these in as clues to where the incoming cars are going to park up. I throw down some bombs and hope for the best then 30 seconds later, cars are exploding, windows are opening to reveal incendiary surprises, mooks are tripping over previously non-existent obstacles, and others are staggering away from walls with scorched faces. And then I start firing. Its beautiful.
26. Expanded Aidens record collection
Watch Dogs in-car soundtrack comprise a wide mix of stuff, not quite yet evoking the full gamut of cutting edge obscurity and retro-hipster cool enjoyed by GTA, but being rather damn listenable nonetheless. It also seems that music will play into the games inevitable collectible quota, with certain tracks being unlocked by fulfilling certain criteria. For instance, a few hours in I gain access to the Wu-Tang Clans C.R.E.A.M. Aiden is nothing if not eclectic.
So that's Watch Dogs, as I currently see it. And I currently see it as great. It's a big, beautiful, and batshit game, both brainy and breezy in equal measure. But enough of this accidental alliteration (Damnit). What do you think? And what's more, what else do you want to know? Let me know.
And while you're here, check out all the other details we have in our Watch Dogs: Road to the review article. And you might as well have a look at 8 unspeakably evil things you can do in open-world games. Could well inspire some devilish destruction when Watch Dogs hits next month.