More Like Botch Dogs, Am I Right?
This week finally saw the release of Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs, a much ballyhooed open-world crime game that has been making waves since its big reveal at E3 2012. In his review, John Teti didn’t think all that ballyhooing wasn’t necessarily worth it. It’s a decent open-world game and not much more. Besides running down a few problems with how the game plays, Merve offered this insight into a flaw in the way the game presents itself:
I’m nowhere near the end of the game, so perhaps it will surprise me thematically, but so far, I get the sense that the game is pushing the idea that technology is a weapon that can be wielded against the elite; it’s empowering to have all this information at one’s fingertips. Playing through the game, though, is a different experience altogether. Everywhere I look, there’s an icon popping up somewhere indicating something that I don’t understand. The HUD occupies a lot of screen space. The profiler keeps shoving information in my face. It’s an information overload, and it makes the game difficult to play. Having all that information at my fingertips actually feels disempowering, because I have no idea how to process it.
And Pawel Samson had some bones to pick with the game’s portrayal of Chicago:
I pretty much solely bought the game because I was excited about seeing my home city in game form. What a disappointment.
· The lakefront is basically nonexistent, while the Chicago river has been expanded so much that it makes the city unrecognizable.
· The game’s Chicago is surrounded by forest and mountains. Real world Chicago sits on prairieland, and you’d be hard-pressed to even find a single hill within miles.
· The 100 hotspots in the game are made up of mostly nonexistent landmarks and locations. The few that really exist were oddly tweaked to look very different (the giant jellybean and Millennium Park, especially). A very rough approximation of Wrigley Field is there, but you can forget about US Cellular Field or Soldier Field. The Ferris wheel, which really sets the Chicago skyline apart from other cities, has also disappeared.
· What the hell is Pawnee? Or Brandon Docks?
The el and most of the Loop looks fairly Chicago-esque, at least. I wasn’t expecting LA Noire levels of accuracy, but what we got really looks more like Pittsburgh than Chicago.
In his review, John pointed out some of the rather odd dialogue that he came across while playing. I have to say, this almost—almost—makes me want to play the game because of how hilarious it sounds. Undead Lady-Parts of Ayn Rand also enjoyed it:
I kind of wish they had run with the idea of characters explaining their own cliché dialogue. “I’m going to pay this guy a visit. He’s not going to like my visit. Because I’m going to visit him to bludgeon him with my fists. So that’s why he’s not going to like my visit. Not because I’m dropping by unannounced and that’s more than a little rude. Of course, there’s the chance that he may be a masochist, in which case he will enjoy my visit of me punching him. Or maybe he’ll be the one punching me, in which case the tables will have been turned, and I’LL be the one who doesn’t enjoy my visit. The only way to find out is for me to visit, which, as I mentioned before, is for the express purpose of hurting this guy, which I am assuming he will not enjoy.”
As a couple commenters pointed out, Undead Lady-Parts went all Mojo Jojo with it. Duwease, on the other hand, thought it might have channeled Parks And Recreation fans’ favorite news anchor:
“Lead Writer: Perd Hapley”
Well, that explains the dialogue.
Now I’m trying to imagine Perd Hapley game dialogue, but it just sounds like every game’s tutorial dialogue.
This kicked off a really funny little thread—well, funny for us Perd Hapley fans, anyway.
Playing The Villain
Samantha Nelson’s board game column, Gameological Unplugged, returned this week with a discussion of games that pit one player against everyone else. Commenters were quick to suggest a few more that fit the bill. The Space Pope had a recommendation that sounds particularly fun:
This reminds me of Scotland Yard, a detective game I used to play with my friends a lot as a kid. Most of the players play detectives trying to track down the criminal mastermind, Mister X, while moving around on a map of London. The trick is that Mister X only reveals his location on the board every five turns or so, so they have to coordinate their moves to try to anticipate his actions and box him in. I almost always played Mister X, and it was great fun to taunt the others about how deliciously evil and brilliant I was and try to misdirect them. Even when I lost, it was fun in a “Curse you, Caped Crusader!” kind of way.
Destroy Him My Robots remembers Scotland Yard too, particularly the aesthetics of some of its fancier editions:
It’s one of my favorites from that era. It helps that at least some editions are just classy as hell—the half-transparent pawns, the sleek tokens. and most of all, the beautiful nighttime version of the board. Slipping past the bright spotlights on the museum and Royal Albert Hall to disappear into Kensington Gardens knowing that you only had three rounds left was always incredibly evocative to me. I don’t think any other board game came close, in terms or atmosphere and tension.
Robots later linked to that photo up above showing one of the nicer anniversary editions of the game complete with hat.
His Space Holiness’ suggestion reminded EndOfTheWorld of a different detective game, one starring the cast of the original Clue as they team up to stop an art thief. As The Space Pope pointed out, this scenario brings up some odd implications for the greater Clue mythos. Why would the rest of the cast willingly team up with a murderer? EndOfTheWorld has a brilliant explanation:
Good God. What if Boddy’s murder wasn’t a one-time event like we were led to believe? What if Clue is the story of six deranged psychopaths who invade country manors, murder the occupant, and spend an evening reenacting a parlor mystery? At the end of the evening an accusation is made, the guilty party surrenders and…
“I thought I had you fooled, Reverend Green!”
“Very nearly, Madame Peacock, but you tracked those darling shoes of yours through our dear host’s blood.”
“Oh dash it all! Looks like I’ve lost this round!”
“Good show regardless, dear lady. Now, everyone, let’s help ourselves to the silver and some of that Chateau Lajonchee from the wine cellar before we adjourn for the night. Colonel Mustard, I believe you have the next arena lined up?”
“Certainly! I’ve learned of a perfectly suitable place in Beckford. Owner lives alone, no one around for miles. Perfect for an evening’s diversion.”
“Splendid! Until next month then!”
Now that’s some world-class commenting. And it wraps up another Gameological week. Thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll see you again next week!