I set up an account pretty much solely to express my disgust at Graham Smith's disingenuous hatchet job on Watch_Dogs. Even before I played the game, I thought the sincerity of the review was suspect; like too much emphasis was placed on the negative, or that too much negativity was being mined from fairly minor problems. Then as I played the game I could barely recognize it as the game Smith had reviewed. I did a point by point 'rebuttal' elsewhere, which I reproduce here with some tweaks. Apologies, btw, if this isn't the right folder/thread for criticism.
It seems Smith clearly had an ax to grind with Ubisoft, or maybe a couple of analogies he was fond of and was eager to use, even though they seem to basically contradict each other (the first (the crisps mutli-pack analogy) calls the game stale and vacuous, the second '90% magical').
First some of the churlishness:
I could have hacked open any of those gates, but I found a fourth way: a maintenance worker’s mobile lift, which could be hacked to lift me up to the rooftop of an adjacent building. I am using the word “hacked” here but really I pressed Q to make the lift raise. I used it.
You can only hack use what’s within range. From my rooftop vantage I was able to hack use a camera, and then effectively hop from one to the next and get close to whatever I needed to within the area. I marked each of the enemies on my minimap, turned off the ability for two of the guards to call in reinforcements, and pressed use on the guard who my phone told me had the server access code. I then dropped down into the yard.
He crosses out 'hack' in the review and puts 'use' instead: Why? What is the point being made here? The obvious reason it's called 'hack' rather than 'use' is because it's specifically for manipulating electronic equipment in your surroundings with a computer (your phone). I really don't know what point he's trying to make here, or even if he does, except maybe that he hates modern video games. This is just mean-spirited pedantry disguised as criticism.
From here, I tended to take it stealthily. Hitting a button sticks you to a nearby piece of cover, and you continue to use that to carefully skirt around corners, sprint across open spaces and remain unseen. Get close enough to an enemy and you can perform a swift take down move. Chain these moves together, get inside that server room, and your reward is a Pipemania-with-a-twist minigame, but even this relatively simple performance feels great, and the escape back out into the open world can be exhilarating.
But this is not how it goes. Here is how it goes: you press ‘hack’ to use the camera under your crosshair, but at that moment the game’s predictive targeting decides you’re actually looking at a guard in the middle distance. The guard explodes, because you hacked his grenade. Everyone on the level is now alerted.
His whole criticism here boils down to his not liking the game's 'predictive targeting'. But it's only predictive if it's not used autonomously i.e. you don't move the camera to target the thing you want. Note the use of the present tense here, as if this characterizes the whole of Watch Dog's game play. I think I fucked up once in a way similar to that described here, and that's only because I decided not to bother checking what was targeted before hacking. The game didn't decide anything. Maybe this is an issue with the keyboard/mouse controls, where the camera and hence targeting is more fiddly. If so he's not made that clear here. Speaking of controls:
You press C to move behind a pillar, but in your haste didn’t have time to deal with the fiddly targeting here, either. You hide on the wrong side of the pillar, are too stuck to it to quickly disengage, and are spotted by a guard or six who begin firing at you.
Haven't played with the PC controls but if I was a games journo/critic, I imagine I'd feel an obligation to in order to produce a well-informed review. You would think such a consideration re. a controller might make a claim on Graham Smith, especially since the stuff about the supposedly dodgy controls is probably the most damning part of his review, and even more especially because this is a multiplatform game in a genre for which a controller is near enough prerequisite. The controls work absolutely fine with an Xbox controller; literally none of the issues enumerated here are relevant to the game played with one. To fail to even mention how the game plays with a controller is shocking negligence on his part.
This is Watch underscore Dogs’ missions at their best.
What do they look like at their worst? Forced stealth missions in which being spotted is an instant fail, turning misinterpreted controls into a tedious roulette.
These are mandatory stealth parts - not everyone's cup of tea, but they're brief and very infrequent. But notice he's not criticizing that necessarily; just belaboring his point about the controls again. Try a f**king controller.
Maybe any mission involving a helicopter chase. I have an unlocked ability which allows me to scramble those for 30 seconds, stopping their pursuit. Unfortunately I can’t angle the camera up steeply enough to see helicopters while driving, swimming or running, and standing perfectly still so I can crane my neck skyward exposes me to fire from its high-powered sniper rifle.
All the hacking in this game is done by targeting. He presumably wants an exception when it comes to helicopters so that when one is pursuing him, he just has to push a button to disable it. I'm sure he'd have nothing negative to say if that were the case. The whole point of a helicopter is that it's awkward to evade. But even so, it's really not that difficult and you can quite easily hack a helicopter at least whilst you're running. Of course it's harder whilst you're driving, as it should be. It would be ridiculous if it wasn't. I'm going to infer that this is yet another tributary to his main gripe about the controls again, because I really can't see from playing it with a controller why he had such difficulty here.
Maybe just every mission, in which the environment is designed both restrictively and inconsistently. On one mission I arrived, saw the tower block which lay before me, and decided a sniper rifle would be a fun approach. I figured I could buy one from a nearby gun shop, so I hopped back in my car and sped off. When I reached an invisible boundary, the game yelled at me for leaving the mission area, failed the mission, and reloaded me back to the outskirts of the gang’s base I was to infiltrate. My car was now gone, as if as punishment for daring to deviate.
All missions are necessarily restrictive, otherwise they wouldn't be missions; it would just be the sandbox. He couldn't buy a sniper rifle because the mission had started. He could, however, have bought one beforehand. When you leave a mission area (and apart from to buy guns, etc. which you should already have got beforehand, there's no reason to), you are warned and given time to re-enter. Is that really so terribly restrictive? Or am I right in thinking this is just petulant whining about nothing?
On another mission set inside an abandoned, cargo container-filled warehouse lot, you rely on Aiden’s climbing and jumping in order to reach your destination. He’s less nimble than Ezio, but your movement is similarly prescriptive: you can only jump at ledges where there’s something to grab, for example. In this warehouse lot, some cargo containers can be climbed upon. Some can’t. These two types are not visually distinct. In one area you need to bypass an unclimbable fence; you might think that a set of stacked boxes which lead up to its height would be the perfect way across, but your inability to jump an inch forward without the game’s say-so will see you stymied at the top.
It took me all of 2 minutes during the first of one of these missions to distinguish between climbable objects and those which aren't. Basically everything lower than you or slightly higher can be climbed unless it's lined with spikes or barbed wire. Really don't know how he's found cause for complaint here. I will concede something to him about the inability to jump across narrow gaps - it does feel a bit jarring when you first discover this. But then you know you can't do that and don't worry about it any more.
At least he's positive about the multiplayer, which is indeed brilliant. But that's not going to overshadow his last bon mot, a devastating call-back to his crisps analogy of which he's obviously as enamored as his underscore gibe:
Fuck underscore that. When the world is full of pickled onion Monster Munch, don’t settle for less.
In conclusion, a petty, under-informed and very mean-spirited review.