Shamelog #004 - Watch_Dogs Through Gritted Teeth

This week’s escapades have involved repeated attempts to dive into Ubisoft’s rendition of Chicago - and let me tell you, it hasn’t been great.

Trying to get into Watch Dogs has been… frustrating. Issues with the PC version notwithstanding (having the game boot up and reset to default settings every damn time is annoying, particularly when you want to avoid online play) Thursday’s attempt nearly broke me.

I spent a full hour procrastinating playing. Reading articles, watching YouTube. Finally I jumped in, determined to just do a single mission for the night. I was loaded out front of my safe house, so I jumped into a car and headed to the objective marker. Upon exiting the car 5 minutes later, the game automatically decided I was holding on to L2 & R2 for dear life - in other words, the game had me constantly spraying bullets everywhere. OK, it wigged out - time to reload the save. No biggie. Get in a car, spend another 5 minutes driving to the objective marker - same thing. Reload. Jump down, get in a car, immediately get out. Aiden Peace and his iconic hat continued to be an uncontrollable mass murder machine.

It took a full reboot of my PC to get the bug out of the system.

I played no more Watch Dogs that night.

As of tonight, I’ve managed to progress through the first act (of 5….). I’m actually finding the auxiliary characters surrounding Mr Pearce more interesting than the titular dude himself. Weirdly enough, they seem to be more rational and believable than Aiden - for example, I was totally on his sister’s side in the cemetery, where she pleads with him to stop doing what he’s doing. Yes Aiden, give up the hacker life and we can be done! Alas, we need him to go off the rails and all vigilante, else we wouldn’t have a game. You could almost make an argument for this game being a commentary on the psychopathy of gamers who feel the compulsion for power fantasies and mindless killing, but I’m pretty sure it ain’t going in that direction.

Though I’m finding Watch Dogs quite off-putting, I have this weird I need to know drive to see it to the end, despite the challenge from my partner. Two particular pieces of media have had me thinking about this game in different lights this week: this Waypoint Forum post about influences by games media, and this [game array] video about how we define meaning in video games. Both have had me questioning how my approach to this game has been defined by the media and general opinion around them, and whether I’d have a completely different experience in a vacuum.

When I was younger, GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas were wondrous playgrounds to cause chaos in, but after repeated playthroughs of the beginning of IV and then being the odd one out in not enjoying GTA V, I figured it was time to let that style of game live in the past for me. However, when Mafia 3 rolled around last year, I fell deep into it, almost getting the platinum. Playing Watch Dogs is helping me work through my complicated relationship with the modern-day open-world genre, so we'll see where we end up.

That’s it from me this week; see you all when E3 is done and dusted! I’m already intrigued by A Way Out and am quite keen to play through Battlefield 2’s campaign when I finish this list of games in 2025.

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Statistics

Games left to play: 118

Current game: Watch_Dogs