T.A.O. of Watch_Dogs

Playing on the rampant proliferation of wireless networking, Ubisoft is set to grace us a new dramatic techno-thriller, “Watch_Dogs”. Right from the start, I’m already excited for this concept! The name itself is of particular initial interest. The term “Watchdog” originally was used to describe an actual dog whose duty was to guard protect. A more modern usage of the term now describes a benevolent entity which is set on enforcing justice through surveillance, typically through journalism. Also noted is the use of the underscore within the game’s title, since the actual term “Watchdog” is not even hyphenated. Use of the underscore is more common with those who use computers often in place of a space, since certain types of codes and file name parameters forbid it. So right from the game’s name, we know that there will be an element of ensuring the truth through some form of investigative measures and that computer usage will be at the heart of the plot line.

And now, for the trailer:

Right from the start, we see a man rushing through a crowded sidewalk in midday sun. We see a few brief flashes of sprinting accompanied by typical city din, astonished onlookers, and quite a bit of shoving. Taking a look at his clothing, several assumptions can be made :

  1. Trench Coat – Being that others are wearing t-shirts and shorts, it’s obvious he’s not wearing it because of the weather. Thus, it is either part of his “look” or he doesn’t want people to be able to determine his body’s shape. I’m going with the latter
  2. Ball Cap: Ball caps are predominantly American, so I’m guessing that’s where we are.
  3. Bandana: Bandana’s are usually for wearing on the TOP of your head, unless you’re trekking through a desert (which we’re not), riding a motorcycle (already established that we’re RUNNING), OOORRRR you’re trying to obscure your face to prevent visual recognition.
  4. Everything seems to be modern day, rather than some form of retro or futuristic.

Back to the trailer, we pass through a few of these flashes, and begin to hear police sirens in the distance. Are they coming for us? Also tracking the same person/thing we are? Simply part of the normal sounds of a big city?

Finally, at 0:10, a man turns around and shoots at us! Ah ha! Now we have our target! He also seems to be staggering a bit. Looks like we’ve been chasing him for awhile now, or caught him in the act of another crime. Since the very next clip is again of our protagonist continuing to relentlessly pursue him, we can attribute that characteristic to his psyche.

at 0:14, cue car-hood-slide for bad-guy, followed by total-car-stomp-over by not-as-bad-guy. Interesting mechanics suggested; will we be able to car slide? How about limited jumping and climbing over cars?

0:20 we get a good look at his bandana/scarf over his face and his hat. They are both dusty and black, with a matching design of an electrical pulse. Again, this reinforces the computer aspect.

at 0:22, we get a brief glimpse at our protagonist beating another man with a collapsible baton. He makes a few quick strikes, and I’m suddenly reminded that Ubisoft is also creator of the Assassin’s Creed series. How much of those beat-down cinematics are going to be brought over to this line?

And then, we are stuck with all sorts of informational goodness! at 0:25, we have hear a voice over “If you recognize this man, notify police immediately.” A dashed line box appears around his face, and a whole list of personal bio info is displayed in black and white.

  1. Apparently, the software used for this information display is called “Profiler App”
  2. Name: Aiden Pearce
  3. He is considered a Vigilante
  4. Age: 39
  5. US Citzen
  6. Specialty – (now we’re getting somewhere) Street smart, Social Engineer

Since the dramatic always save the best for last, we are treated with these last two nuggets. He’s going to know how the streets operate, so we’re probably going in to the underground. He’s a “Social Engineer”, which I’m going to assume he deals with social media and networking, and he’s highly educated.

He’s street smart, book smart, and has reached a mental state where he is now taking the law in to his own hands….Oh dear.

Snap back the real world, and our screen is assaulted with multiple muffled voices and an overwhelming amount of simultaneous video footage. Cue the Ubisoft logo, and let the games begin!

As the camera backs out, we’re greeted to an American city just waking up to the morning sunrise. Immediately we zoom in to an evening time-lapse of a city downtown, which is conspicuously being overseen by a camera. Again, text appears in the “Profiler App” format and we see that it is a traffic camera that is noting normal traffic flow. A few more flashes, and we see Aiden pull out a smartphone and this time the camera is highlighted with the box.

0:35, the voice over begins “In the city, no one can hide from me. No one”, while identifier boxes with profile text pop up across people in an alley, complete with names, police record ID numbers, and associated report info. By the time we hear the second “No one.” we are also shown another group of men sitting on a car, and a business man checking out a passing woman’s butt. (sigh, boys will be boys.)

“I wasn’t always this guy.” are the next words voiced over. So now we have a look into his psyche and motive. He used to consider himself a decent person and now feels some form of regret and disapproval for what he has become.

” They crossed a line. and for that, I will make them pay.” At 0:44, we see him standing at a gravestone in solemn remembrance  so we know that he still mourns someone’s death. We are also introduced to the vague pronoun “They”, so SOMEONE went and pissed him off. 

The next few cinematics give us a look at more of the game mechanics and scenarios in store. From behind we see Aiden riding a motorcycle across a bridge, so we know at least we’ll get some biker action. We also see him running atop a train car in the rain. Dangerous, stupid, but totally necessary in a dark drama.

“I’ll turn their city against them” also sounds vague, until the next cinematic is shown. and we see him seemingly control traffic bollards through his smartphone. Lets take a moment to piece a few things together in this: He’s a “Social Engineer”, something called the “Profiler App” has been used repeatedly, Security and Traffic Cameras have been conspicuously placed, and he was just seen manipulating emergency protocol with his phone at his will.

Along with the following flashing scenes, 2 stand out:

  1. At 0:57, we see a woman standing in what looks like a metal cage inside some darkened warehouse. Who is she, and why is she so important that she is worthy of a close-up in the trailer?
  2. Not only do we get a car-hood-slide, but we also get 2 bullets to the face! Unfortunately, this and the following “drag you out of the back seat of a car through the window by your throat” scene look rendered beyond typical gameplay resolution, so they may be a cinematic rather than an action you can perform.

From here out, there are plenty of action sequences. Driving the wrong way down a highway in a car with a bashed in front end, dashing down an alleyway away from a police car that crashes through a barricade fence. This shows us that even with computer usage being at the heart of the plot line, it’s not all hacking and spying and that the action junkies will be properly entertained.

At 1:01, we see an interesting scene. Aiden is aiming some kind of firearm at a passing police vehicle that crashes in to a barricade. The camera stays behind Aiden in an over the shoulder view as he fires at the car. This shows us that there will some intense gun play at times. It is also noted that this is done in midday, so not all of the missions will be done under the cover of darkness.

A few more tough guy poses, and at 1:05 we see who-the-hell-is-that? At risk of insulting any particular race, I’m not going to take a guess at his ethnicity. He is, however, drastically over dressed for his surrounding “retail” environment, and he’s holding a pistol in the air. I don’t know what is going on in this scene, but I doubt it’s anything good!

After an apocalyptic explosion, we see a new character, a female with a rockabilly hairdo, chain necklace, chest and throat tattoos, 3 facial piercings and gauged ear lobes looking worried and concerned. At the same time we hear her say “You screw around and you get people hurt.” Apparently this woman knows Aiden and shows concern about what he’s doing. She cares enough about him to give him warnings about his behavior and how it may be getting out of control and that he should start considering the repercussions that his actions may have on other people.

One final car chase scene, but this time with a big rig. As they come out of the tunnel, we also see a chopper following overhead. Whatever Aiden has gotten in to, his in deep and has attracted the attention of some serious firepower.

“They think I’m a man out of control. but I’ve never HAD so much control.”Obviously, we’re talking about 2 completely different types of control. “They”, believe that he’s losing mental control of himself, while he is alluding to how much of the world he is able to manipulate through wireless technology.

On the final splash for the trailer, we are left with the cover-art, an offer for exclusive content if you pre-order, and that nagging message “ALSO COMING ON NEXT-GEN CONSOLES”. We see both PS3 and PS4 across the bottom, so it’s being developed for that level of gaming. We also see XBOX 360, so I’m going to go ahead and assume that It will also be for the Xbox 720/Durango/whatever it will be called on May 21st.

There you have it! Looks like Watch_Dogs will be a game where the player takes the role of Aiden Pearce, a Social Engineer turned Vigilante upon the unjustified death of a loved one. He’ll be equipped with a collapsible baton, pistol, and smartphone that rivals the ubiquity of Dr. Who’s Sonic Screwdriver. We’ll be able to track down fugitives and evade police through the use of surveillance cameras, traffic bollards, and other electronic devices. We’ll be pissing off the police and pushing the limits of any other social relationship we may have for the sake of revenge.

All this and more will become evident on November 19th. See you then!

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