On 27 June, I finished the final act in Watch Dogs, technically beating the game even though there were many other activities – side missions – that could be done. I did a few of them but the others, well, after the intensity of doing the story line missions, stuff like tailing someone seemed mundane and unexciting so there was only one thing to do:
Start over from the beginning. As I clicked the “A” button on “New Game” I saw the warning that all my previous progress would be erased and, for a moment, I was reluctant to continue because I’d gotten a ton of money, had every weapon that could be had, even had a rather impressive stable of cars I’d hacked from NPCs and/or outright stolen as they sat empty at the curb or wherever they happened to be parked. Not sure if I ever mentioned it but carjacking someone will guarantee those pesky, swarming cops will be all over you in a heartbeat if you don’t remember to activate a Jam Calls and cut off the call for help. That was a lesson I learned when I first started playing the game… and I haven’t carjacked anyone since. Anyway…
I figured that if I had accumulated all that stuff once, I could do it again; I also thought that now that I know what has to be done and could kinda/sorta easily remember how I did it (or eventually managed to do it), the second time around should go better… which is exactly what didn’t happen. I still crack myself up trying to drive in the game and you should see the look on my face when I have to get into a car chase because I know for a fact that some T-boning and quite a few head-on crashes are gonna happen, right along with mowing down any hapless NPC who happens to be in my erratic path of travel. What has amazed me is how I’m making mistakes that I didn’t make the first time I played, simple stuff like turning around so I can scan the area behind me (some of those bad guys are pretty damned sneaky) and stepping right off the edge of a building, killing myself and having to start the mission over again.
I don’t know if it’s me or it’s a gamer kind of thing but I find myself being more… careless even though I know good and damned well that some missions require a lot of patience and stealth and I’ve found that, on several occasions, how I finished a mission the first time doesn’t work the second time through – damn you, Ubisoft! Some missions were easier the second time through while the ones that were easier the first time have proven to be anything but. There’s one mission where I have to infiltrate the gang’s headquarters (and a place I’ve been to already in the game) but using a thug I’ve co-opted to do my leg work. I have to get him to his boss’s server room unseen by the gang members roaming around all over the place and, of course, in the path I need to guide him and then only using and hacking the various cameras. Well, folks, the first time I did this, my patsy only got busted (and got the shit shot out of him) once; the second time? I was consistently getting him caught and shot and I realized, oh, around the third or fourth time failing the mission, that I couldn’t remember exactly how I did it before. I realized that I did remember how I did it; it was just a thing that what I did the first time wasn’t working the second time but, yeah, I managed to get my patsy in place and accomplish the mission even though the fool got cold feet and eventually got busted by his boss (who is also his cousin) and, presumably, tossed out of a window.
I’ve gone into combat areas without making sure I had everything I needed, like an important tool called a ctOS Scan which, when activated, gives me a picture of where all the bad guys are located. I learned that going in “blind” is really dumb and I got my ass shot off several times before I literally slapped myself in the head because I’d forgotten something important: I could quit the mission, go load up on all the stuff I needed, and do the mission again. Duh. I’m still doing stupid shit, namely, blowing myself up with IEDs and grenades; the way you toss these items can be iffy especially when you’re hiding behind something. An arrow-like thingy pops up and you have to point it to the area you want the device to land, but the targeting arrow thingy doesn’t always point where I think it’s going so I wind up tossing a grenade… right onto whatever I happen to be hiding behind. Or, once, I tossed a grenade toward a cluster of bad guys and, my friends, I was kinda drooling over being able to take them all out at one time… until the grenade bounced off of something and landed in my lap.
I’ve learned a greater appreciation for the game’s physics engine, let me tell ya. Now, it hasn’t all been a series of self-induced fuck ups; I’m still having fun playing the game the second time and I’ve developed a fondness for infiltrating Gang Hideouts. For these you have to target and tag the person to be taken down without killing him but the bad guys around him are fair game. Okay, okay, so a few times I accidentally killed the guy and had to start over and, um, okay, a few times, the damned fool walked close enough to a perfectly placed Proximity IED meant for someone else and blew himself up. Those things aside, I arm myself with my silenced .45 or maybe the silenced SMG (sub machine gun) and have found myself giggling gleefully as everyone except the target gets a bullet to the head, leaving just me and the target who gets beat down with my trusty ASP baton. Well, um, damn, one such mission didn’t go well and the target got away and I had to chase him down and take him out without killing him, which I did (after causing so much damage and civilian casualties that not only did my rating go down, I was feeling kinda bad about it) but not until he managed to call his boys for back up and now, they’re chasing me and they are as relentless as those damned cops.
I wound up destroying my car and before it blew up and killed me – and make me restart the mission – I bail out into the river and start swimming… and the bad guys are on the other side following and shooting at me. I’m thinking they should give up in a moment… but they don’t and I’m a sitting duck swimming around to find a place I can get out of the water – sadly, I can’t stop swimming, pull a weapon and shoot back. Eventually, I get to dry land and the bad guys I didn’t managed to wipe out during the car chase are still getting into position to take me out. Now, what I should have done was get out of the water and haul ass away from them… but, no; I arm myself with my M1017 – a “Barrett” .50 sniper rifle – and I’ll admit to having a Borderlands flashback. I take out the guy “closest” to me – he’s hiding behind a wall directly in front of me on the other side of the river and I send a bullet through the wall and take him out. Yeah, it was like that but, wait, the moment gets better. One of the things I learned playing Borderlands (which has the most excellent sniper rifles) is perfectly leading a moving target and executing the perfect head shot. No, it’s not as easy as it sounds (and I know that because I’ve actually had weapons training so I do know how to shoot) and thanks to the game’s physics engine, which perfectly simulates gun movement due to breathing and heartbeat – you can see the wavering when you aim. Anyway, the last bad guy is running down the road and I pick a spot I know he’s gonna run through and pull the trigger…. now.
His head exploded – never saw that in the game the first time – and I actually started laughing my ass off because the shot was perfect even though the actual controller motions were anything but. I said, “Thanks, Borderlands…” and walked out of the area and onto the next mission.