Man, I really wanted to love the Watch Dogs games. When I saw the first trailers, I got the initial game and…was disappointed. My problem with it, despite how great it looked, was that I cannot do stealth. At all. Aside from Metal Gear Solid on the PS1, which is the exception that proves the rule, I can remember my buddy Luke (go visit him at https://www.trueachievements.com ) always saying “Sneak through here” in FPSs and adventure games and me just charging in and getting a bullet in the head, Rage Against The Machine stylee. I still hear my friend in my head when I throw a grenade and get killed in COD after three seconds of play. As B*Witched would say, C’est La Vie.
So Watch Dogs 2 came out and I did not even give it a second look, I remembered my brief time with the original game and shrugged. I presumed I would never return to the series and then I started seeing the posters for the third game, Legion. London Town. I fucking love London. I used to go there for days with my dad, shopping and beer and laughs. Camden is one of my fave places on Earth and dear god, how many hours did I put into The Getaway on the PS2 and pray for a next generation version? Too many. One of my fave games ever, dunno how it would look now, but at the time, traversing streets I knew and loved was incredible. I remember Sony putting out screens for the third game where they showed the protagonist strolling down Regent Street and it was the most amazing thing I ever saw. We never got that game, but Watch Dogs : Legion is the nearest to it. Unlike The Getaway, it is not ‘our’ London, it is a London taken over by an Orwellian thought police called Albion (hello, Peter Doherty) rallying against your character, a member of Ded Sec, the rebels, if we are talking in Star Wars language.
“But Kendall, didn’t Legion come out a while ago?” – Yes, it did and thank goodness I did not write this straight away. Initially, it was a disaster, not gameplay-wise, it crashed my Xbox every few minutes, something that no other game has ever done. Go into a door, freeze. Talk to someone, freeze. Get in a car, freeze. It was bullshit. Luckily, I did not throw it out the window, there was an update and I reinstalled the game and it worked perfectly. And here we are.
Also, during those early days, I was not even doing the main missions, no I did not look at the menus or listen to the computer AI companion, I was just walking through Camden and trying on clothes and having the time of my life existing in this new world. It’s only on my birthday weekend when I have had time, and have not had to go off to work, that I have started traversing through the main missions and they are great and varied. Yes, there are some sneaking missions, but you can also clear them by walking in, putting a bullet in the first enemy’s head and carrying on with the mission. There’s on foot action, drone action, hell, sometimes like you’re in an 80’s action movie, you control a spider drone, sneaking through metal pipes, suddenly we are in 80’s Arnie land and what could be more enjoyable that that?
Everyone will play Watch Dogs : Legion differently. You can play through as a single character, or you can try and team up with any of London’s men or women. Do missions for them and they will become Ded Sec. It is a brilliant dynamic which keeps the game fresh and gives you a million side missions to check out before you enter back in to the main story.
There’s a great soundtrack here as expected, you can listen to Podcasts on the current situation in the virtual world, or you can listen to such rock as Boltthrower, or more poppy hits from The Buzzcocks and The Libertines. Driving through Camden Town listening to Up The Bracket is an absolute Kendall joy.
I cannot comment on how the game looks on the Xbox Series X, but this Xbox One version is no slouch. London looks like London, you can drive around to your favourite places and they look pretty and authentic. Of course, Albion has changed things and I got very excited to get to change the Albion message on the big screens in Leicester Square. That involved some bonkers climbing-on-a-giant-drone work that was highly enjoyable and it looks amazing.
Watch Dogs : Legion does not require you to have played the other games in the series, it is an enjoyable romp through a twisted London that anyone can have fun with. If you’re a stealth player, you will no doubt play very differently, but that is part of the magic here, everyone has their own experience. Yeah, I go around to the city centre pubs listening to conversations and recruiting for the cause. And I still love buying T-shirts. (no real money spent)