A Review of Watch Dogs: Legion

There are a variety of different types of games available. Some of these are puzzle games, others are action games, and some are classic card games. Bringing any game to market, no matter how big or small, is a major undertaking. Sometimes the game becomes a hit, sometimes it flops.

When you have a hit, there is a possibility that it will allow further games. In some cases, the entire story is a one-off and does not warrant a sequel, but sometimes you get a new series of games. No matter if it is a new intellectual property or another game in an existing franchise every game has a lifecycle to it. It goes from concept, to prototype, to active development, to actual release, or maintenance.

If a game sells well enough there may be a sequel, once you have at least two games you have a franchise. The first game in a series was released in 2014 called Watch Dogs. Watch Dogs was highly anticipated titled and I think it lived up to the hype. 

Watch_Dogs

In Watch Dogs, you play as Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker and former thug, whose criminal past led to a violent family tragedy. Now on the hunt for those who hurt your family, you’ll be able to monitor and hack all who surround you by manipulating everything connected to the city’s network. Access omnipresent security cameras, download personal information to locate a target, control traffic lights and public transportation to stop the enemy… and more.

Watch Dogs 2

Watch Dogs was not the last in the series. In 2016 the sequel, Watch Dogs 2, was released. In Watch Dogs 2, it’s 2016, ctOS 2.0, an advanced operating system networking city infrastructure, was implemented in several US cities to create a safer, more efficient metropolis. Play as Marcus Holloway, a brilliant young hacker living in the birthplace of the tech revolution, the San Francisco Bay Area. Team up with Dedsec, a notorious group of hackers, and expose the hidden dangers of ctOS 2.0, which, in the hands of corrupt corporations, is being wrongfully used to monitor and manipulate citizens on a massive scale.

I wrote up a review of Watch Dogs 2 in 2016, so be sure to check that out. Now, four years after the release of Watch Dogs 2 comes the third in the series, Watch Dogs: Legion, which is the topic of this review and provides some twists from what was in Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2.

Watch Dogs: Legion

Watch Dogs: Legion goes across the pond from the United States and places you in London, England. “London’s facing its downfall courtesy of state surveillance, private military, and organized crime. Recruit a well-rounded resistance to overthrow the wankers ruining this once-great city. The fate of London lies with you.”

Basic Story

The game starts off with you playing as Dolton Wolfe who is working with London’s branch of DedSec. DedSec finds that there are explosives set to go off at multiple places in London, including the Houses of Parliament. Wolfe tries to disable the bombs that are set to go off, Guy Fawkes style, and discovers that those trying to set off the bombs are part of a group calling themselves “Zero Day”.

Due to these bombs, the British government allows a company called Albion to take over and restore order to the streets of London. DedSec are being blamed and held responsible for the bombings, and therefore they are being targeted. It is your job to rebuild DedSec and help the city rise up against Albion, the criminals, and the government, and take back the streets of London.

Team

Team in Watch Dogs: Legion

When you start a Watch Dogs: Legion, you are able to pick your character from a selection of characters. Along with this you also get to choose a mask. The mask is what the character will don when they are either in a restricted area or in a fight. 

The original Watch Dogs game allowed you to hack anybody to obtain information about them and steal their money. This was not nearly as prevalent in Watch Dogs 2, but has made its way back to Watch Dogs: Legion, but with a twist. Instead of hacking someone to steal their money, you hack someone to see if they might be useful for your team. Each individual that you hack has some abilities, some may be good for your team, while others may not be as useful.

For instance, a character that I had allowed uniform access to Albion sites. This is great, except he would get hiccups, so this made him a bit more noticeable by others. Similarly, there are some characters who have gambling addictions and may randomly gamble ETO. ETO is money in Watch Dogs: Legion. Yet, other characters may be public figures so they will be noticed in public. There are even characters who will randomly die. I am not sure what happens if you have perma-death enabled, because I did not play with perma-death enabled, but more on that in a minute.

List of potential recruits in Watch Dogs Legion

Along with being able to find people throughout the city, some may be recommended recruits. When someone is recommended it is because you may be able to use them in an upcoming mission, or they may have one aspect that can help the team overall. This may be something like faster healing or reduced jail time.

Because you are able to recruit just about anyone, no two people will ever be able to play the exact same game. Yes, the missions may be the same, but the experiences will never be the exact same between two people due to the variety of teams, the team’s talents, and the approach they take to the game overall. There is one setting that was mentioned earlier that may change your game play experience, and that is a setting called “perma-death”.

Perma-Death

When you start the game you have a choice to make besides which character to choose. You have to choose whether or not enable a feature called “perma-death”. When enabled “perma-death” will cause any of your team members who are killed to be dead, permanently. This means that the player cannot be revived and cannot be played again. Once enabled, this cannot be disabled. similarly, once you have chosen to disable it, it cannot be re-enabled later.

Enabling perma-death can add an interesting twist on the game, but since you are able to recruit anybody, you can always recruit additional individuals should one of your characters die. I did not enable perma-death when I played through the game, but if I go through and play again at some point in the future, I may enable it.

Game Mechanics

Watch Dogs Legion has many similarities to the previous games in the series. One aspect of game play that continues within the game is needing to unlock areas by turning electrical lines. This has always been one of my favorite aspects of the Watch Dogs series and it continues in Watch Dogs: Legion. Although, it is not nearly as prevalent as in the previous games, but they still are present.

One detail that you might not think about for a game is the driving. Not that a developer would not take into account such a large aspect of a game, they would, but there has been careful attention paid to driving within Watch Dogs: Legion. Each different type of vehicle has its own driving and handling characteristics. Here is an example of driving a car.

For instance, a motorcycle handles differently than a luxury car, which handles different than the iconic double-decker bus (yes, you can drive one), and all of these handles differently than an Albion police car does. This attention to detail is a nice touch and choosing the right car may be able to to get you out of a sticky situation. Next, let us turn to a large aspect of the game, hacking.

Hacking

The biggest aspect to the Watch Dogs series is the idea of “hacking”. What you are hacking depends on the game. The original Watch Dogs game had the ability to hack people for their money, you could hack cameras, cars, and many other elements. The same held true in Watch Dogs 2. However, in Watch Dogs: Legion you are able to hack a lot more within London. You can hack people to recruit them, as mentioned above, however you can also hack other items.

These items include barriers, cars, and drones. There are a variety of different types of drones. The different types include:

  • Cargo Drones
  • ctOS Drones
  • Delivery Drones
  • Chase Drones
  • Riot Drones

You can perform a number of tasks on drones, including disabling them, hacking them, or betraying them. Disabling a drone will temporarily stop it from working. Hacking a drone allows you to take over the drone, which can be useful in some situations. When you betray a drone, it will autonomously operate on your behalf. This last option is not available for all drones, but only for those with weapons.

Along with the drones, you are also able to hack cars, causing them to go in a specific direction or just to crash so they are out of your way.

Hacking is still a major part of the game play, but it is not necessarily the primary means of completing the game. This may not be 100% true, because after a while having to hack things just became second nature again and faded into the background and just became habit.

Side Quests

Watch Dogs Legion has a main story line. Along with this, you can perform some side missions in order to obtain more items. These may be used to recruit team members or just to fill in the overall story line. 

When you hack a person to see if they might be a good fit for your team, you can save their information to recruit them later. When you recruit a person, you will have to perform a task for them before they will join your team. Some of these tasks are easier than others. Try not to fail when doing these, because the characters may hate you and then you can no longer recruit them. Luckily, since you can recruit just about anybody, you can find another similar character and recruit them instead.

There is one mission within the game that I would totally play an entire set of puzzles that were just flying the mini-drones through different levels.

Collectibles

Many games have different collectibles, and Watch Dogs Legion is no different. There are a few different types of collectibles. These include:

  • Paste ups
  • Relics
  • Text files
  • Audio files
  • Tech Points
  • ETO
  • Masks

Some of these are out in the open, while others require a bit more  ore ingenuity to figure out. Some of these items are also only available while within a mission.  None of these items are needed to complete the game, but obtaining some of them, like ETO and Tech Points will allow you to purchase items. Getting things like relics, text files, and audio files will help fill out the entire story. If you collect a relic, text file, or audio file, you can look at it in the menu.

Here is a video of what performing a “Paste Up” looks like. You can also see me do something stupid at the end of the video.

Tips

After you play a game you may find ways that you could have improved your game play. Now that I have finished the game, I have some tips for those who have not yet played it.

Tip 1: Early in the game, use auto drive. One of the things that you can do is grab a car and almost every vehicle has the ability to automatically take you to your destination. I recommend doing this early on so you can become accustomed to not only the layout of the city. Furthermore, when you drive in London, you drive on the left side of the road, not the right side. Therefore, auto drive may help you acclimate to driving on the left side oft the road and learn the rules of the road.

Tip 2: Recruit an Albion character. This will make things a lot easier during the game, particularly since many of the areas that you need to go into can be done stealthily with an Albion character.

Tip 3: Use stealth as much as possible. There are a number of tasks that do not require you to go all “run and gun” and instead, might be better completed by either hacking cameras or using a spider. Use these as much as possible.

Tip 4: Similar to using stealth, also use melee attacks as much as possible. Doing this may allow you to subdue an enemy without other enemies being alerted.  Here is a melee video as an example.

Tip 5: There is a mission where you must chase a van, get a tough vehicle, like an Albion Hummer and use that to tip the van. It will make completing the job significantly easier. Also, use the drones that attack during that mission to your advantage.

Tip 6: If the game says “you are no longer online”, quit the game and restart. Anything you do will not be saved and you will be wasting your time.

The last tip brings us to the next section, issues that I ran into while playing.

Problems with the Game

No modern software, let alone a large game, is 100% bug free. Bugs are to be expected. Even so, I ran into some pretty severe problems with the game while playing it.

The first issue that I experienced was the game randomly crashing. The game would just randomly freeze and crash. 

Of course, when a game crashed progress that I would have made would not be saved. Sometimes, this was just a minor annoyance, but more often than not, it was a bigger issue.

The biggest issue I ran across was that the game would not save my progress. I do not mean that I would die and would have to go back. What I mean is that I would do a lot of work in the game and the game would crash.

The biggest one of these was when I was working on the last main mission, literally at the end of the game, and the game froze. Not only did it not save that mission, I lost SIX MISSIONS worth of progress. I had to redo six missions to get back to where I was.

THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE. Losing progress for a single mission, or one leg of a mission, is one thing. But having to redo multiple missions is just hostile. Ubisoft needs to have more robust saving system where the game is saved locally and then uploaded to their servers. If this is how it actually works, then it is absolutely broken. If not, then this is how it should work.

Besides the pervasive not saving progress issue, I also ran across some other bugs. For instance, I took down a person who had an access card, but they fell into a column. When this happened, I could not hack the access code, therefore I could not access the area that the card opened up. As proof, here is a photo of the character in the column.

Bug in Watch Dogs: Legion where a character is stuck in a column.

Another example of that is this video where I tossed a spiderbot onto a building and it got stuck.

Another bug that I ran into, literally, is where I tried to turn the corner on the balcony of a building and the only thing that happened is that I was stopped. It was like a barrier extended beyond where it should. Here is the video showing what I experienced.

Here is another bug that I ran across, a missing person that I was supposed to rescue. I was able to rescue them, but it is still odd to not have the character show at all. Here is the video for that.

These last few items were minor annoyances and did not really affect game play all that much. The inability to get the access card did cause me to have to leave the area completely and come back to that spot later on. As you can see from the video, I was able to get around the invisible barrier, but it still should not have been there.

Closing Thoughts

When the original Watch Dogs game as first announced, I was immediately intrigued. Not only because of the unique hacking of the game, which was the primary draw, but also because it was based in Chicago. 

When Watch Dogs 2 was announced and released, I knew it was a game I would instantly buy and play, because it continued the same type of game. When I heard that Watch Dogs: Legion was going to be set in London, I knew I would going to buy it, but I was a bit apprehensive because I was unsure about how the “recruit anybody” mechanism would work. 

The game is really good. The fact that it is based in London is what really grabbed me. I have only ever visited London once, but I really want to to back. Maybe one day. The Watch Dogs series of games are some of my favorites, not only for the story lines, but for the actual game play. 

If you enjoyed the original Watch Dogs or Watch Dogs 2, I would absolutely recommend you pick up Watch Dogs: Legion. The new recruitment within the game is a nice twist on standard game play, as is the ability to do just about anything within the game.

Even though there are issues with the game, like the crashing and lost progress, the game is still worth playing and an enjoyable game. All of this is before the first expansions for the game are available, so even just for the core game, it is one that you should look into getting.

Here is a group of photos taken from within the game.

A picture taken of the moon in Watch Dogs: Legion
A picture taken of the moon.
The Millennium Wheel in Watch Dogs: Legion
The Millennium Wheel
The Parliament Building with Big Ben in Watch Dogs: Legion
Tower Hill in Watch Dogs: Legion
Tower Hill
The Tower Bridge in Watch Dogs: Legion
The Tower Bridge

A Review of Mafia III

Note: There may be some spoilers, nothing explicit, but some aspects of the game will be revealed. If you do not mind, continue reading.

I have just finished the game Mafia III. While I do not normally do reviews of games, I thought that I would for this one.

There is one thing that modern media has learned is that making sequels are usually a good bet. One of the downsides to sequels is that they are not always good. As a matter of fact, it is often that the second in a trilogy is bad. There are exceptions to this general rule, but they are few and far between.

One place where this is the case is the Mafia series of games. The latest installment, Mafia III. The original Mafia game came out in 2002. The sequel came out in 2010. The original Mafia game followed Tommy Angelo as he made his way up through the Mafia in Lost Heaven. The time period for Mafia is the 1930s.

Mafia II followed a new character, Vito Scaletta, as he traverses through the 1940s and early 1950s mafia scene in Empire Bay with his best friend Joe Barbaro. As one might expect, Vito makes his way up through the ranks of the Mafia holding onto Empire Bay.

Mafia III takes this trope and puts a slightly different twist on it. In Mafia III you are Lincoln Clay, newly arrived home from his tour in Vietnam, he comes back to find that the life he knew, and those he cares about, are all in trouble. Lincoln takes it upon himself to make sure everything gets back to normal. In order to do make this happen, he must take on those that are running, and thus crippling, New Bordeaux.

Features

Throughout the game you will see cutscenes, some of these are in the same time frame as the game that you play through, while others are past this time. All of thes cut scenes add to overall story and add some depth to different characters throughout the game, as well as the overall story as a whole.

Combat

As one might expect with an open-world first person shooter, combat is a primary mechanism in the game. This is one aspect that has been greatly improved over the previous Mafia games. You are provided with a variety of weapons to choose from. During the game, I ended up using two weapons for a vast majority of the time.

Assistance

You are able to get assistance from others within the game. This is a key aspect of the game, and the assistance they provide is greatly needed. Use them as you will.

Collectibles

Many games have an aspect where you can collect different items. Mafia III is no different. There are six total types of collectibles, with a significant number of a few of them. The collectibles do not add anything to the story itself, but they are a set of nice side missions to go ahead and complete.

The Good

There are many things that are great about Mafia III. The story lines makes sense. The world is completely open and you are able to perform the missions in any order you choose, which is a nice touch. This means that the game is not one that is on rails.

There is a significant amount of attention to detail that is paid with the game. This ranges not only from the moon bouncing off of the cars, but also to the vibration of the controller changing when your drive over different surfaces.

The scenery of the game is spectacular. As you play the game, you can tell that the artists designed the game to be as realistic as possible iven the constraints that they were under.

mafia-iii-art-02

mafia-iii-art-01

mafia-iii-art-03

The sound in the game is done quite well. There are little touches that add to the experience. The game is done in stereo, meaning that if voices are to the left of you, you hear it in the left headphone; it is the same for the right. This applies not only to characters, but also to cars. For instance, the rear right tire on a car I was driving popped and I was driving only on the rim. The sparking and grinding of that tire was only audible in the right headphone. It is nice touches like these that make the game that much more enjoyable.

Crazy Flips

With a game that spans a vast distance, it is necessary to have vehicles to get from one place to another. Mafia III has a variety of cars that can help you get o your destination. While driving, it nigh impossible to drive perfectly and never hit anything. However, when you do go ahead and hit something you may be able to do some spectacular flips, which adds some fun into the game.

Epic Fails

Here are a few of my own epic fails throughout the game.

The Bad

All games have issues, particularly when they are first released. Due to the way that manufacturing and shipping works, games generally also have day-one updates. Mafia III is no exception. Below is a list of the issues that I encountered while playing the game. Some make the game play worse than others do.

Freezing

When I was playing, the game would just randomly freeze. Now, this is not necessarily bad, because it would catch up, but it was quite annoying; particularly if I was in a sticky situation and it froze.

Similarly, the game would outright crash. Several times, this lead to me losing progress in the game. A few times the game crashed when it was saving. The game states when you start it up, not to quit the game or turn off the console while it is saving. I am glad that it did not cause any issues. However, one can perceive a lack of caring from the developer, not necessarily due to the crashes, but due to the lack of fixing of the bugs, even a couple of weeks after the game was released.

Sound

Besides the crashes, there are times when resuming a game that there would be absolutely no sound. In some cases it’s not an issue, but if you are trying to go through a cutscene, there would be no sound, making it rather difficult to understand what was going on, if you did not enable captions. Strangely, when this occurred, it also meant that the vibrations that should occur did not, meaning that there was no force feedback.

I was able to determine this was the game and not the entire system because if I went through the system it would have sound all throughout the user interface.

Car Failures

mafia-iii-car-glitch

While we can expect games to be perfect, we all know that it not possible for all games to be perfected. In Mafia III there are some spectacular failures of cars throughout the game, at least as I experienced them.

Side Mission Failures

The biggest issues that I encountered while playing the game was actually when I attempted to do some side missions, but they experienced glitches. This is not just once or twice, but consistently. For one set of side missions I was not able to perform them. Below is an example of some of the side mission issues that I ran across.

Missing Weapons

At one point throughout the game, I managed to lose access to an explosive, without any way of getting this back. Quitting the game and logging back in did not show the explosive, yet, it said that my inventory of that explosive was full.

mafia-iii-missing-weapon

Duplicate Characters

There were a couple of times when I finished side missions that I ran into a glitch where some characters were appearing twice. This happened more than once. Here are a couple of examples.

mafia-iii-duplicate-character-02

mafia-iii-duplicate-character-01

Improvements

No game is ever perfect. Despite all that is good with Mafia III there are some things that can be improved. The items below that can be improved do not fall into the “bad” items above.

The biggest area for improvement, as I see, is stealth mode. Being able to use stealth is great, however there is only one option for stealth. After a while, this can become quite repetitive. It would be nice to have a couple of different options for stealth mode.

Tips

I do have some tips for playing the game. Beware though, that some of these may be spoilers, and I have tried to remain as spoiler free as possible up to this point. If you want to view the tips, click here. Otherwise, you can skip to the conclusion.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Mafia III is a great game, despite the flaws in the game itself. The artwork, sound, and gameplay are all done very well. The tiny touches of the light, with the changes when going over different materials all add to the experience.

The issues with the game are ones that badly need to be addressed and are mentioned above. The constant freezing and quitting being the two most egregious issues.

The game will provide you will plenty to do and give you hours of hours of game play, even with all of the issues. If you are a fan of open world first person shooters, then Mafia III is definitely a game that you should check out.

Daily Run Down 06/28/2013: Morning Edition

Here is this morning’s Daily Run Down.

Social Issues/Human Interest

General News

International

Politics

Health

Science/Space

Gaming

Gadgets

Law

Technology

Internet

Mobile

Rumors

Software/Apps

London/Britain/UK

Funny

Chicagoland

Total Number of stories: 55

Look for more news stories this evening.

Daily Run Down 06/25/2013: Morning Edition

Here is this morning’s Daily Run Down.

General News

International

Politics

Obits

Science/Space

Financial

Historical

Gaming

Gadgets

Law

Technology

Internet

Mobile

Software/Apps

London/Britain/UK

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Funny

Chicagoland

Total Number of stories: 68

Look for more news stories this evening.

Daily Run Down 06/24/2013: Morning Edition

Here is this morning’s Daily Run Down.

Big News

Social Issues/Human Interest

General News

International

Politics

Obits

Health

Science/Space

Financial

Historical

Gaming

Reviews

Law

Technology

London/Britain/UK

Funny

Chicagoland

Total Number of stories: 43

Look for more news stories this evening.