Review: Watch_Dogs on Wii U
Did Ubisoft do a hack-job on the Wii U release? The addition of the map on the GamePad may not have been worth the 5-month wait, but there’s something to be said about that second screen that keeps the on-screen action flowing. Outside of this tweak in the gameplay experience, that’s pretty much it for this release of Watch_Dogs (WD). Read on and see how the Wii U stacks up to the Xbox 360/PS3 vs. XBOne/PS4 releases.
The graphics when stacked side-by-side with the last and current generation consoles of Sony and Microsoft are somewhere in the middle. The Wii U’s lack of power though is more apparent with the decreased number of non-playable characters (NPCs) that occupy the world of Chicago. Our main protagonist, Aiden Pearce, seems to be given the most amount of graphic fidelity while the rest of the gaming world looks very last generation. It is admirable that the streaming world goes in and out of buildings. This is new to the Wii U since Assassin’s Creed (AC) 3 and AC4 needed separate loading screens for indoor / outdoor environments. There’s no annoying in and out accidents happening in WD. The game has its moments of visual heaven, especially when blending futuristic science fiction elements with the city of Chicago. Yet despite all the work to bring Chicago to life, the sacrifice was the frame rate as WD can get choppy on the Wii U with a quickness. “A” for effort in the graphics department. Not quite for the execution on screen.
As with Griffyth’s review, the hacking element using what looks like an iPhone is the distinguishing feature of this GTA clone. Coupled with Ubisoft character mechanics from Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell (e.g., holding ZR allows you to run, while ZL has you pull your weapon, etc.), there’s an easier learning curve for WD. Gameplay is the same. RPG elements in the Skills Tree are a welcomed addition to separate WD from Rockstar’s…err…rockstar.
Obviously in a GTA clone environment, pacing is graded on how much of the main story is easily accessible for the player vs. how much time they spend running around the sandbox and driving cars around Chicago. WD does an okay job of getting you to move the story along as the RPG skills acquisition element is progressed much faster on missions. It’s all about whether you want to move it along or just drive cars all day. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
The audio presentation of WD is amazing. The in-game sounds of hacking cell phones and listening in on conversations feels like quite the feat. Ubisoft did everything to ensure that all NPCs had a uniqueness about them to make them feel like individuals in a large world. The artificial intelligence (AI) in the game is impeccable as well. All of the NPCs I try to steal cars from seem to be ready to call the police at a moment’s notice. Even when my gun is drawn, the NPCs react. The world in WD feels much more restrictive…and even that’s a breath of fresh air.
The synth-filled music does the job to remind you that this is a futuristic Chicago. The developer for the Wii U version did a magnificent job with the third party audio tracks, especially the in-car driving music.
The Wii U version stacks up well to the rest of the line-up on the system. It is quite possibly the last of the third party big production games on the console, but at least it’s worth the purchase. The only grip about waiting five months is that Wii U owners have to shell out $59.99 for its current release while the other consoles have it marked down. Is it worth it? As a Wii U-only owner, it may be worth the purchase. If you’ve already owned the other versions, this should be an obvious call for you.
WD is released at a time when first party efforts such as Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 1 & 2, and Smash Bros. are making their way onto store shelves. I’m not sure if waiting was in Ubisoft’s best interest, but WD is a welcomed addition to the Wii U ’s adult line-up.
Check out our review based on the May 27th release.
Image Source: Ubisoft’s Official Website for Watch_Dogs
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