Ubisoft often makes strategy games, and third person shooters. It rarely combines the two, and never so well as it does with Watchdogs. In Watchdogs, you play as Aiden Pearce, whose voice and actions are eerily similar to Batman. Because of Aiden hacking into a bank, a team of mercenaries are sent to hurt his family. His sister’s daughter dies because of his actions, and Aiden struggles knowing that he is the cause of her death. So Aiden spends his time hunting down those responsible.
Aiden is an expert hacker, and an excellent athlete, marksman, and martial artist. He uses his hacking skills to monitor the city, and stop crime when it should pop up. His phone allows him to gain access to almost everything, including security cameras, laptops, phones, ATMs, and radios. Chicago, now unified through a single network system, is Aiden’s playground, and he will use it to track down those who hurt his family.
What Parents Need to Know
Watchdogs is a realistic, third-person shooter. As such, the player has many weapons at their disposal, including assault rifles, sniper rifles, explosives, and shotguns. Citizens and policemen may be killed, however, it is strongly discouraged. The player may also use a blackjack to beat and enemy to unconsciousness. When the player is shot, the edges of the screen turn gory red.
There are instances of mild torture (in comparison to games like Grand Theft Auto), including beating someone with a baseball bat. Abuse is mentioned in the early game.
Traffic lights, guard rails, bridges, and tire spikes may be manipulated to cause car accidents (most accidents don’t result in death), and gas pipes and electrical outlets may be rigged to explode, killing all nearby.
Every English cuss word is used, multiple times. However, the Lord’s name is not used often, as opposed to Sh** and F*** which are used quite often. Most of the choice language is from cutscenes, however, random people will yell at the player from the streets.
The protagonist is able to hack into anyone’s phone, and see their dirty little secrets. I tried to see as many people as possible, but Watchdogs is quite a big place, so I’m sure I missed some people. From what I saw, there were some very disturbed people. The various people’s phones will mention things like “visits zombie fetish site,” “attends BDSM club,” or “is addicted to sex.” Short descriptions of sexual activity like those mentioned will come up in about one out of 75 people (which is Watchdogs, is not as uncommon as it seems).
Topless woman may be viewed in a few short cutscenes, with fully exposed breasts. Thanks to the hacking ability, the player may spy on people in their apartments. Once in a while, a couple will be having sex, although no genitals are shown.
There is not a heavy presence of spirituality in Watchdogs, other than the random phone encounter, which will tell you things like “has increased church activity,” or “is a pastor.”
Theft: The player has a lot of access to “variable revenue streams.” He can hack into other people’s phones, and withdraw money from their account. They may also steal people’s vehicles, break into restricted areas, and alter proof of ownership papers.
Drugs: The player may choose to consume large amounts of alcohol. When he becomes drunk, Aiden will sway, and the screen becomes blurry. The player may also choose to use “digital trips,” which are weird electronic drug highs. Each trip becomes a different mini game.
A Child’s Perspective: I did not allow the younger people I know to play this with me. I can say this though, the story would be harder for them to follow, and the combat requires strategy, which is a skill that most young children haven’t developed yet. I do not think this game would be fun for anyone under 13.
Watchdogs feels like Ubisofts attempt to emulate games like Grand Theft Auto. It has the similar combat, as well as similar things you can do. However, I enjoy Watchdogs. It has a decent story, likable and diverse characters, and the hacking skill is fun. There is less cussing than in Grand Theft Auto, and it isn’t quite as violent. The hacking adds a whole new aspect to the game, and every fight must be planned out ahead of time; players can’t just go in guns blazing. If the player is mature enough, I would recommend Watchdogs. It is long, is kept interesting with new mechanics, and tells a decent story. With that in mind, I would only recommend this to people who can handle very mature themes. Probably for people 18+.
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.