Tag Archives: Watch Dogs

2014 Game Of The Year

It hasn’t been the best year for gaming when you take in to consideration all that has taken place.  The whole gamergate situation left a dark spot on the industry as a whole, even forcing some writers to leave their homes.  There were also an alarming number of games that released broken, or somewhat broken.  It left a lot of gamers questioning whether or not they should purchase their games on day one, which really shouldn’t be a question.

Despite all the woes of the year, their were some great games however.  Here’s my list of my favorites.  Once again, I should note that I have not played every game under the sun.  Thus, there are some great games that came out this year that I did not play.


Best game from previous year: Papers, Please

via PC Gaming Wiki
via PC Gaming Wiki

I was a little behind when it came to Papers, Please.  It was met with a bunch of critical praise when it came out last year for being a dark tale about a border patrol officer for the great country of Arstotzka, a Soviet-esque nation.  The mundane task of checking passport after passport, id after id, permit after permit, and more can become tedious and boring, but that captures the essence of the job.  Each immigrant wants to get into the country, and they all have their story.  It’s your job to determine whether their dreams can be realized, or shot down.  The game puts a lot in your hands and expects you to make the right decision every time.  It’s hard as hell to do this, and their will be many a decision that you make in which you feel awful with yourself.


10.  Spelunky (PS4)

2014 game of the year spelunkyTechnically Spelunky, the insanely hard rouge-like, came out in 2013.  But if we are being technical here, the game was ported to the PS4 this year, making it eligable for the list.  I have a love-hate relationship with the game.  It’s a game about learning from your mistakes, mistakes that you will simply not be able to avoid.  You play as a Indiana Jones like adventurer who explores randomly generated caves and ruins in search of treasure.  When you die (and you will die…horribly), you have to start all over again.  Yep, right back to the very start of the game.  However, this didn’t detract me away from the game.  Instead, it inspired me to keep working at it, so I could figure it out.  Each run granted me a new lesson to learn, as well as a new item to harness.  I always felt extremely accomplished whenever I finished a level unscathed…only to immediately die in gruesome fashion in the next level.  I hate you Spelunky.  I love you Spelunky.


9.  Hearthstone

2014 game of the year hearthstoneBlizzard has a pretty high pedigree when it comes to the select list of games that they have put out.  This year, they introduced Hearthstone, a new game to add to their repertoire.  There are two things about this game that make it seem unlikely that I would like it; it’s a collectible card game and it is free-to-play.  However, the game took care of those things brilliantly.  I don’t tend to go for card games because of their complex nature, but Hearthstone managed to keep itself relatively simple, yet complex at the same time.  It was extremely easy to get into.  The game also didn’t seem like a free-to-play game.  Yes, you can put a lot of money into the game if you want to, but the game doesn’t shove it’s free-to-play aspects nastily in your face like other free-to-play games.  I spent countless hours grinding away and building my decks.  A good job by Blizzard.


8.  The Wolf Among Us

2014 game of the year wolfThe concepts that surround The Wolf Among Us were probably the most intriguing part of the game for me.  Telltale’s episodic adventure game is set in the backdrop of a secluded neighborhood in New York, populated by fables (fairy-tale characters disguised as humans).  The main star of the game is the detective Bigby Wolf, more commonly known as the Big Bad Wolf.  He is tasked with investigating some mysterious and fishy business that has been happening in the community, including a gruesome murder.  There are a bunch of likable character that you come across during the course of the mystery, some recognizable and others not so much.  There were also some quick time events that changed up the normal Telltale adventure game formula.  The art style of the game looked pretty great too.  I never got tired of the dark-cartoony atmosphere of the game.


7.  Tales From The Borderlands

2014 game of the year borderlandsTelltale has had a pretty good year with their own brand of adventure games.  Their newest one, Tales From The Borderland, is showing massive amounts of promise.  There has only been one episode released in 2014, but that qualifies it for one of my favorite games of 2014.  Telltale in the past has told a lot of dark and serious stories, but his time around we get a lighthearted and pretty funny adventure starring the unlikely duo of a Hyperion company man and a Pandora con-artist.  The two end up teaming together in the most unlikely way.  The dialogue trees and quick decisions are all there, and there is a lot more quick time events this time around.  They provide some action that the Borderlands games are known for.  The first episode showed lots of promise and I look forward to the coming pieces of the tale.


6.  Dust: An Elysian Tail (PS4)

2014 game of the year dustOnce again, this is another game that technically came out in 2013, but was released on the PS4 this year.  This was the first time I was introduced to the fantasy world of Dust: An Elysian Tail.  The game puts you in the shoes of Dust, a soldier who doesn’t know who he is or what he was doing.  He stumbles upon a talking sword, and then proceeds to meet Fidget, a flying squirrel like creature with a high pitched voice.  He has to help a village with their problems, as well as uncover the mystery that surrounds his history.  The story was brilliantly told.  The game also looked terrific.  It’s hand-painted feel made the game look mesmerizing.  The combat and gameplay was also extremely tight and satisfying.  Although it’s RPG mechanics aren’t your traditional mainstays, they still worked great and provided me with a great experience altogether.


5.  Watch_Dogs

2014 game of the year watch dogsThis game made me feel conflicted.  Watch_Dogs was a game that didn’t meet the intense amount of expectations that it was given.  But does that make it a bad game?  The amount of expectations may have been to high to begin with.  I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Watch_Dogs.  Aiden Pierce, protagonist, is a family man, as well as a highly skilled hacker.  His main mission is to avenge the murder of his niece, and he is willing to go to extreme lengths to accomplish this.  Chicago was extremely fun to explore in this third-person open world.  The game also looked pretty great as well graphically.  The hacking mechanics, although not as deep as they could have been, were still fun and fresh.  There was also a wealth of side missions and other things to do around the city besides the main story missions.  This may not have been the “next-gen” experience that most wanted, but it was a game that I thought was pretty entertaining.


4.  Broken Age Act 1

2014 game of the year brokenTim Schafer and Double Fine were the masterminds behind one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in that service’s history.  What it produced was Broken Age, a unique point-and-click adventure game that hearkens back to the golden age of adventure games.  The game explores the story of two kids, who’s worlds seem to be far apart.  The boy lives in a spaceship that contains a mother-like AI that controls his every decision.  The girl on the other hand is forced with being selected as a sacrifice for a nasty sea monster.  The twist that comes at the end of the first act is mind-blowing, and brilliant.  It merges the two parallel plotlines in a perfect way. The game contains simple mechanics, akin to the adventure games of yesteryear, that made it enjoyable to play, and not frustrating.  The main focus with this game is it’s story, and I will be heavily anticipating the conclusion yet to come.


3.  Jazzpunk

2014 game of the year jazzpunkI can’t really find the necessary words to describe the zaniness that is Jazzpunk.  It’s a comedic adventure that is unlike anything that has come out this year.  Let me tell you something, intentional comedy is pretty tough to pull off in a video game.  It’s not an entertainment medium that favors comedy.  However, Jazzpunk, during my brief time with the game, managed to make me laugh a ton.  I never understood what I was doing in the game, or why I was doing it.  I found myself exploring the environments and finding it’s every joke more often then the actual objective itself.  I doubt I found every little secret in the game, but boy was it a fun game.  I can’t say that enough.  What a fun freaking game.


2.  Smash Bros for Wii U

2014 game of the year smashThere haven’t been too many Smash Bros games, but they have all been some of the best game that Nintendo has put out.  This time around, Smash Bros is on the Wii U and it provides the amount of fun you would expect.  The game is obviously best played with a group of friends, but new for the series is the addition of an eight player brawl mode.  It was one of the best parts about the game, yielding some insanely fun chaos.  The additional new characters this time around, sans Mega Man, all feel great and bring some new stuff to the table.  There’s also a new mode called Smash Tour, which is basically a new board game with some fights in between.  In terms of content, there is a ton of it.  Nintendo fans should be pleased with the package that Nintendo has delivered.  The game is by far one of the best for the Wii U.


1. Far Cry 4

2014 game of the year featured

Far Cry 3 was a lot of fun, despite some of the gripes that people had with it.  Far Cry 4?  It’s pretty much the same thing, but with some much needed improvements.  This time around we have a story that is more well-thought out and believable.  We also get Pagan Min, who is, in my opinion, a much better villain than Vaas.  He’s charismatic and brings his own brand of insanity to the table.  The best part about Far Cry 4 is the emergent gameplay that is a by-product of the game’s open world.  I cant’ begin to explain the amount of crazy and ridiculous situations that I got myself into as I roamed the fictional region of Kyrat.  And don’t get me started on the animals.  They are a vicious bunch.  I didn’t like them one bit.  There was a ton of fresh new side missions to take part in, as well as a rich amount of collectibles to go after.  I haven’t completed the game yet, but I think it was easy to make my decision in calling this my best game of 2014.  I’ve had a great time with the game, and I don’t think my opinion is going to change when I finish it up.  Bravo Ubisoft.  Bravo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Monster that is Aiden Pierce

The story starts with a failed electronic bank heist at the Merlaut Hotel.  Our hackers Aiden Pierce and Damien Brenks are on the job, with Aiden handling the transferring of the funds through his smartphone.  However things go south when the two find out that there is another hacker in the system.  Damien tries to find this hacker, which meanwhile, gives away their position.  Alarmed by the matter, Aiden decides to escape the hotel before anything could get worse.  Unluckily for him, things get much worse than before…

We soon discover that Aiden is a family man.  He is fearful that his family will be put in danger.  So he decides to take his sister Nicole, and her children Lena and Jackson, on a “surprise trip” which is a disguise for their escape of the city.  Things look like they are going smoothly until some hit-men catch up with Aiden.  Maurice Vega, one of these hit-men, has a clear shot and takes out the vehicle causing Aiden and the crew to get into an accident in the tunnels on their way out of the city.  This accident turns out to be tragic for Lena who ends up in a coma, and later passes away.

aiden 3

This devastates Aiden, as it would any other person.  Aiden has gotten himself into a pretty big mess that ends up catching up to him in the worst way possible, the involvement of his family.  Any normal person would shelf the computer and smartphone and walk away from the hacking game.  Yes, Aiden lost his niece because of what he has done, but he has a clean plate to work with.  He can walk away from it all and start a new life with his family.  A new life free of the misery and hardships that come with his criminal hobby.  Instead, Aiden can’t seem to let go.  The “vigilante” in him comes to the forefront.

This is where we start to see who Aiden really is.  He seems like the kind of guy that cares deeply for his family.  The kind of guy that would do anything in his power to take care of them and to make them feel safe.  So why does he continue to dive deeper in the hole that he has already dug himself?

He decides that it is a better idea to try to find the man responsible for his niece’s death.  He goes on a massive romp through the city, taking out hundreds and hundreds of people along the way.  People who have families.  People who have loved ones that wait for them to come home from a long work day.

aiden pierce 1

Aiden kills people just like him…all because of his niece?

How does this make sense?  Does he really think that his niece will be at peace with half of Chicago torn up in her uncle’s rage-filled bounty hunt through the city to find her killer.  If anything, Lena would want Aiden to take care of Nicole…to take care of Jackson, a boy who has lost his sister.  Aiden should be consoling the two of them, and through this he could console himself.

Aiden turns out to have different plans and instead of consoling Nicole and Jackson, he ends up driving them away from the city…for good.  They also really see the man that Aiden is.  Aiden, up to this point, has cast a veil over the line of work that he does.  It’s been a secret to his family.  He is a cold-blooded hacker and killer by night and a family man by day.

aiden 5

There is a pivotal moment later in the story where Aiden has to kill a bunch of people to save Jackson from his captivity by criminals.  This moment reveals the monster inside Aiden in two ways.  First off, he gets his family involved in his line of work.  After seeing his sister die in a car crash, Jackson now has to witness countless murders by the hand of his uncle.  Secondly, we see Aiden contemplate who he really is as he drives Jackson home.  This is the part that gets me the most.  Aiden realizes what he has done, but that is all.  He continues to go on and find the killer.  Once again, he could have stopped what he was doing, and go back where he belongs…with his family.  Instead, he just drags his family deeper into a twisted game of cat and mouse that almost ends up with them dead.

aiden 2I wish that the story of Watch Dogs could have been handled a little better.  Aiden turns out to be a monster, even though I really wanted to be on his side.  By the end, I was frustrated with him, having to see him drive his family to the outer rims of the city.  He has driven away what has meant the most to him.  I’m sure that Lena was happy to see the outcome.  A family in shambles…all because of one man’s ability to not let go…

One man’s love for hacking game….

One man’s monster…

 

Review: Watch Dogs

Chicago is a beautiful city in every respect.  I have only been there once but when I visited the city a couple of years ago, I instantly grew a liking for it.  There is a vibrant culture among it’s residents and the buildings that inhabit the city reflect this image.  Chicago was home to the bootleggers and the mob business way back in the day, which means it was also a city of organized crime.  The city has evolved to be one of America’s greatest cities, and also the first city to incorporate the ctOS city-wide operating system…at least in Watch Dogs‘ fictional reality.

watch dogs ctos

The concept of a “city-wide operating system” is extremely stupid when you think about it.  In theory, it is a great way to connect a city and make it operate at a level unmatched by other cities.  It could bring people together and make the quality of life for it’s residents better than ever before.  However, there are some major cons that are kind of overlooked in Watch Dogs.   If a hacker were to gain access to this system (which they obviously do), it would just cause problems on top of problems.  Hackers could theoretically bring down a city if they really wanted to.  Yes, you could increase the security software, but that just makes it more of a game for hackers.

Thus, we have a game about a hacker.  His name is Aiden Pearce.  He is a “vigilante” who has a lot on his mind.  The game starts off with a hit that is ordered on Aiden’s family.  They end up killing Aiden’s niece in a bad car accident.  Aiden is struck with emotion.  He wants to gain vengeance on the killer, the people who killed his niece.  He will literally rip up a city to find the people behind the murder.  This would make sense in any other story, but not in the way that Watch Dogs approaches it.

watch dogs 6

My main stipulation about the story is why would a man be so devastated by his niece’s death that he has to find the killer so much.   It’s not like they tried to kill him too.  He could have just gone to her funeral, grieved, and then went on with life, just like everybody else that he meets that was close to her.  But nope, Aiden ends up tearing up an entire city because he just “can’t let go”.  This also brings up something else.  What about the families that Aiden affects.  Aiden surely kills a bunch of people that have families.  A bunch of people that live other lives.  A bunch of people that have loved ones waiting for them to come home after a long work day.  It just doesn’t make sense.  It actually makes Aiden seem more like the bad guy.  Because he lost a loved one, everybody else has to lose them too.  Throughout the story, Aiden’s family starts to notice this too, and they see the man that he really is.  He is a cold blooded killer.  A bloodthirsty killer.  Luckily there is a chance for Aiden to redeem himself at the very end.  However it is up to the player to make the choice.

watch dogs 1

The story doesn’t make sense half the time with plot holes and contradictions, but it still doens’t take away from the fact that the story is still intriguing in nature.  I am a tech junkie myself and the story explores a lot of topics that relate to the advancement in technology like security and privacy.  Aiden also meets some other hackers along the way.  My favorite character that you meet is T-Bone.  I don’t want to spoil much, but lets just say he has a great attitude about the whole situation that he is put and he has some pretty good moments himself.  The two “main” bad guys in the story are also pretty good.  I ended up hating them by the climax, and that was there intention.

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With the story aside, there is lots of things for Aiden to do in the city of Chicago to bide his time.  The city of Chicago is massive and fully populated with cars, people, and buildings.  Its a living, breathing, open world that makes the game almost feel like a futuristic Grand Theft Auto.  Since you are a hacker with access to the ctOS, you can manipulate the system to your liking.  You can hack street lights to cause traffic jams, you can cause a black-out, you can hack citizens for their bank accounts, and so much more.  You gain more abilities via a skill tree system.  You gain skill points by leveling up and gaining experience by doing different activities and completing missions.

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The game allows you to “profile” the city’s residents to invade into their privacy.  You can reveal people’s dark secrets…some of them being comically dark.  There are also privacy missions that allow you to creep into a person’s home.  These were some of the funnier moments of Watch Dogs.  There are also city games that allow you to test your luck, skill, and more.  There are also contracts that you can take up that can also net you experience and money.  There’s certainly no shortage of things to do in the city of Chicago.

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The combat works pretty well too.  It’s comparable to similar 3rd person games like Grand Theft Auto.  However, there is a pretty big emphasis on stealth.  You are a hacker, which means that you should be able to “hack your way through any situation”. You can manipulate your environment to take out enemies and you can also hack into your enemies grenades and com systems to make the fight turn in your favor.  Unfortunately, most of the times it is just easier to pull out your big gun and just start unloading bullets into your enemies.  This is a shame because I felt wrong in doing so.  I feel like I could have approached the situation in a stealthier way, but it’s just always easier to take out your enemies via the bullet.

There’s also online missions and activities that you can take part in, but I have to say, they were my least favorite parts of the game.  They can turn out to be frustrating and annoying when you first start out.  As you get better at them, they become boring and too easy.  There didn’t seem to be too much middle ground.

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Although there are a ton of ways that Watch Dogs can be improved,  it still turned out to be one of my favorite games of the year so far.  It has lots of intriguing ideas, some farther explored than others.  When they make Watch Dogs 2, I hope that they can nail down the story and make it a little more believable.  Ubisoft has a good franchise on their hands and their first entry in the series was a good step in the right direction.