GTA vs Watch Dogs: 4 Ways GTA Dominates
Last week I wrote an article about a variety of ways in in which Watch Dogs comes out ahead of GTA in the sandbox-styled game arena. However, it wasn’t meant to say that Watch Dogs is inherently a better game, but rather it does certain things better that Rockstar would do well to notice.
But, Watch Dogs is still a newcomer and GTA is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the genre and you don’t get that title without an extensive knowledge of what does and doesn’t work. So while Watch Dogs may be shaking things up with its near-futuristic setting and increased flexibility, GTA’s still reigning supreme for more than a few reasons.
Drive-Bys Are at Least POSSIBLE
One of the most popular mission types in any open-world game is tracking down a target. Sometimes you’re a straight-up assassin and others you’ll be forced to tread more carefully so as not to actually murderize the person you’re after but still get something from them.
Pursuing targets in GTA are way more manageable and even enjoyable thanks to the fact that you can shoot from the vehicle. This isn’t even to say that this is because you can murder people quickly and efficiently (though you certainly can and it’s always fulfilling to get a jump on the getaway), but you can be more calculated as well. For example, maybe you don’t shoot the target you’re tailing, but pop a couple of tires and force them out for a swift beating.
Watch Dogs, regrettably, doesn’t afford you such options. Sure it’s still awesome to blow a steam pipe underneath a pursuer or to cause a pileup by infiltrating the traffic lights, but sometimes the simplest most direct approach is the best. And that approach often means a bullet to the face while cruising around listening to Blondie’s Atomic.
Watch Dogs, to its credit, actually does have a few standout tracks that I’ve taken the time to seek out on Spotify and enjoy. Sparklers by Gemini Club comes to mind, or Wu-Tang’s C.R.E.A.M. kicking in during a particularly explosive mission was a welcome moment that made an action scene all the more exciting. But these are the exception rather than the rule, and a lot of music on Watch Dogs is ‘meh’ at best. It’s just catchy enough that you can tell they’re trying to keep that driving experience from being too dull, but nothing to write home about.
GTA on the other hand has consistently shelled out for high-quality, licensed music. In some cases the resulting soundtrack was so solid that it justified an entire box set be released like we saw with Vice City. Just guessing I’m assuming that the average budget for a GTA game is much higher than that of Ubisoft’s fledgling forray into the genre so it would stand to reason they’ve got enough cash in the coffers that if they want Dr. Dre in the game they can just pelt the problem with money until it goes away. Still, with the success of Watch Dogs its entirely possible that better tunes make their way into the inevitable follow-up.
Aiden Can’t Fight
Oh sure, Aiden Pearce can take people down with a baton and a flashy animated sequence when needed. But, I can’t just walk up to a street musician, pretend to be moved by his performance and then start a fist fight with him at random. Think it’s not that big a deal? I dare you to watch this without giggling.
One of the best parts of any GTA game is unleashing your rage on a bystander just for looking at you the wrong way or for threatening to call the police just to make an example out of them. It’s the sort of stress release that Rockstar wisely includes for those of us who can find no other way to vent our frustrations than to mortify onlookers with unwarranted brutality. Sure, it wouldn’t be in keeping with Aiden’s character to start beating down a clown fetishist (because he likes clowns, you see), but if you’re going to give me the freedom to obliterate a crowd of people waiting for the bus with an AK you may as well throw in the ability to sucker punch them too.
Don’t get me wrong, hand-to-hand combat has never been a strong suit for GTA, but it’s still enjoyable enough to have Niko, C.J., or Michael just haul off and cold-cock someone for smarting off to you and it’s one of those little touches that Watch Dogs definitely needs to fix before the next release.
Chicago’s Finest are Comically Inept When Water is Involved
Alright, I know I already said that Watch Dogs has better chase sequences and I still think that’s true. However, on occasion it’s still a bit too easy to escape the fuzz just by high-tailing it to a body of water and speeding away in a boat. It would seem that Chicago’s police department just didn’t have the budget or resources to consider a suspect might throw up an aquatic Hail Mary to avoid pursuit.
In GTA a police chase is a bit easier to deal with, but you can’t just steal a jet ski and expect smooth sailing because the police will absolutely send boats to come ruin your day.
You want the chases to be challenging, but not impossible lest it become an exercise in frustration. However, you also don’t want it to be as easy as hopping in a boat because…police don’t have boats?
Again, these are both great games, but just like every Saturday morning cartoon special you’ve ever seen, both of these franchises have a lot they could learn from each other.
Are there other elements you feel GTA has a better grasp on than Watch Dogs? Let us know in the comments!