Does Watch Dogs live up to the hype?

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Watch Dogs has been Ubisoft’s second most-preordered game in the company’s history, and has been generating a huge amount of buzz in the runup to its release this week.

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But is the game – out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC now and coming soon for the Wii U – any good? According to the early reviews, it is indeed – with some reservations.

Players in Watch Dogs take on the role of fugitive hacker Aiden Pierce in an open-world Chicago. Pierce is able to hack into the city’s central operating system to achieve different objectives.

“Watch Dogs is an often gorgeous, solidly satisfying and efficiently structured run through familiar gameplay motifs: part open-world sandbox, part third-person shooter, part stealth game,” says Dan Whitehead at Eurogamer. But giving the game a score of 7/10, Whitehead says it feels a little disjointed and desperate “with no single hook on which to hang its wannabe blockbuster credentials”.

Also giving the game 7/10, Metro’s David Jenkins says that Watch Dogs is “a highly enjoyable GTA clone but one that doesn’t quite have the panache of Rockstar’s best or the inspiration to make the most of its otherwise enjoyable gameplay concepts”.

Dan Stapleton at IGN was more positive, with a score of 8.4. “Watch Dogs is an excellent open-world action game with some unique hacking-magic that makes it a memorable game,” he says. “This techno-thriller fiction is all about the power of information in a super-connected city, and one of its cleverest and most distinctive tweaks to the open world genre is how much information it gives you.”

Gamespot’s Kevin VanOrd gives the game a score of 8, and says: “I can confidently say that Watch Dogs is a lushly produced and riotous game with an uncanny ability to push you from one task to the next, each of which is just as fun as the last.”

GameNGuide’s Alex Riviello is not as effusive, calling Watch Dogs a little generic. “Maybe in the next iteration or two Watch Dogs will find its own personality and become its own unstoppable beast,” he says. “There’s certainly a ton to like here, and you’ll spend hours upon hours sucked into it, exploring, collecting, and having fun with the multiplayer. It’s an immensely polished experience, it just didn’t have enough guts to try its own thing.”

One niggle that many of the critics bring up is that Watch Dogs feels a litte like a clone of Grand Theft Auto. But is being similar to one of the biggest-selling games of all time a bad thing?

Have you bought and played Watch Dogs yet? Is it as good as you hoped it would be? Let us know in the comments below.

Stuart O’Connor