We can only offer hearty congratulations to Ubisoft for getting a game we haven’t seen much of to the top of our list. The game, coming from Ubisoft Montreal, was announced this year at E3 and I would imagine that almost all of our excitement for the game comes from the initial gameplay demo that was shown at the end of Ubisoft’s press event.
Perhaps what was most exciting about the game was that it came completely out of the blue, a rare thing in modern gaming. There didn’t seem to be any hint or indication that the game was in development before its announcement, and yet Ubisoft managed to pull off a remarkably impressive demo of the game.[videoyoutube]The game is set in an alternate version of Chicago, although you could almost consider it a near future version given the way that technology is developing. In this reality many cities are run by supercomputers termed the central operating system (ctOS), managing everything from traffic lights to phones to the electricity grid, as well as containing huge stores of information on the city’s inhabitants. If you can tap into a city’s ctOS you can gain information on anyone and control pretty much any electronic system you can see.
That concept seems to be the game’s premise, as you take up the role of a talented hacker named Aiden Pearce. The demo from E3 showed him jamming phones as a distraction, eavesdropping on calls and taking control of a set of traffic lights to cause a collision. He also had instant information on anyone he encountered, displayed as an augmented reality style overlay. The possibilities this level of control and information presents are far too numerous to imagine and could be really intriguing to watch at play in a large, dynamic world.
It’s not all hacking though, as the trailer showed that Pearce is more than capable in combat as well. Towards the end of the gameplay demo he gets into a gun battle, showing his skills with a weapon as well as some parkour like moves. When the combat gets going it looks like a well-rounded cover-based third-person shooter, although I imagine that for many this will just be a side element of the game. The possibilities that ctOS opens up are the real point of the game, and I hope that Ubisoft keep this as the game’s focus.
Given that Ubisoft Montreal are the lead developers on the project it shouldn’t be all the surprising that the game seems to have a similar look and feel to the Assassin’s Creed series in some respects. Of course Assassin’s Creed doesn’t let you hack into phones or steal a car and jump it over a bridge but some of the core systems seem to resemble each other. For example the crowd dynamics in Watch Dogs seem familiar, and there are some elements of the game’s look (particularly the augmented reality elements) that bring to mind parts of the Animus. With touches like those moving between the two IPs it makes the games pedigree clear and only ups the level of buzz surrounding the title.[drop]While the game has frequently been praised for its next-gen looks, Ubisoft have confirmed that it will release on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, although the exact quote to Joystiq from producer Dominic Guay was that they’d be releasing Watch Dogs on “all the platforms we can.” While that pretty much guarantees a PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 release, it doesn’t rule out a next-gen release either. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has confirmed the game for a 2013 release, although without an exact date in the year it’s easy to imagine the game appearing simultaneously on both this generation of consoles and the next one.
Personally I’m not all that fussed what platform it comes out on, I just want to get my hands on. This game looks absolutely fantastic and should be one of the highlights of 2013 if it lives up to the hype that’s been built around it.
And with that we wrap up our top hundred most anticipated games. We hope you’ve enjoyed the series, and as we have in previous years we’ll be taking a look back over our picks in the summer. If you want to look back on the games that made the cut, you can see every entry over here.
Finally, have a very happy New Year.