Gizmag popped to Eurogamer Expo on Friday to see the latest demo of forthcoming video game Watch Dogs, one of a handful of non-sequels set to grace the next generation of consoles upon their release in November (as well as those already on the market, and the PC to boot). Though we could only observe the live demo, what we saw looked like a decidedly current-generation experience.
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The section of the game Ubisoft decided to show us struck us as a slightly odd choice given the large proportion of animated cut scenes it contained. It would be wrong to pour too much scorn on an out-of-context cut scene, but there's the nagging feeling that next gen console owners should probably keep a smartphone to hand to squeeze in a few moves of Drop7 while superfluous narratives "unfold" on the big screen. Gizmag managed did notice a non-player character reassure the protagonist that the location of their tryst was secure – this despite the fact that the player character had just infiltrated it.
The game's lauded hacking mechanic featured in the demo, but key questions remain unanswered. Though varied, the examples we saw seemed limited in scope, the player taking the opportunity to highlight an object, and pressing a button to "hack" it in a predetermined way. In the live demo we saw (supposedly running on a PlayStation 4), the demonstrator changed traffic lights to waylay assailants mid car-chase, steal money from a random pedestrian, and raise the load of a forklift truck to distract a guard: all good fun, but it appears that it's the game calling the shots. We hold out hope that more meaningful planning is possible using the hack mechanic, even if that does mean wading into a menu system.
Yet the potential for fun is there, and mostly because there are signs this may be one of the more open open worlds available to gamers. With the ability to both drive and climb, the descriptor GTA meets Assassin's Creed springs irresistibly to mind, which is a good thing so far as exploration goes. The game's noirish take on the city of Chicago gives reason to hope that this is a map worthy of exploration, too.
It's harsh to chastise a game for being current generation when it's a current generation game. Who can blame developers and publishers hedging their bets by straddling future and current hardware with the forthcoming wave of releases? The installed base of 360s and PS3s is simply too vast to ignore. But based on this and other demos on hand at Eurogamer Expo, other than somewhat prettier graphics, we're not sure there's a compelling reason yet to stump up for a new console. Of course, none of this is to say that Watch Dogs won't prove to be a perfectly decent game.
Here's a gameplay demo video: