Watch Like Dogs, Run Like Dogs

New year, same life as ever. No surprise there: your life will not change unless you make an effort to change it. But do you actually want to make that effort? That is the big problem there. Perhaps you are perfectly fine with your current life, in which case: carry on! Being satisfied is enough for me.

This also means I’m keeping up with my old habit of buying the crappiest version of a game as long as it’s cheaper. Sometimes it works out well for me: do I really need the 1080p in Assassin’s Creed 4 for the PS4, when the 900p game on X1 runs just as well and cost me a fourth of the price? The pursuit of good graphics is overrated. At other times though, I end up getting suckered. Such is the case with Watch_Dogs… on the Wii U!

One of the rare games that won’t let you grab a screenshot, forcing me to use the camera. What is the point of technology if you are going to restrict it?

In stills, it doesn’t look too shabby, even if clearly not up to scratch with the PS4/X1 game. The real problem is the framerate. Do you enjoy games running at an unstable 30fps? Well, now imagine a game running at an unstable 20fps. That’s how Watch Dogs feels like on the Wii U.

Interiors are not too bad, so the first mission in the game (which involves training for your hacking skills inside a stadium building) seems welcoming enough. Then you get out, and suddenly disappointment drops in like a cartoon anvil: you are literally never going to see 30fps outside, unless perhaps you are looking at the sky. There’s no tearing at least, and overall it is still playable if you get used to it. Then you enter in a car and drive around. Well, more like you try to wrestle the driving controls with all that ridiculous lag, as the framerate drops to never before seen levels. That is the final straw. The horrible truth is that driving is almost impossible. Better stick to your own feet.

The game looks a bit better at night, and also seems to run slightly smoother. Probably because there aren’t as many people around. Just don’t try to drive a car.

I should mention that I knew about the performance issues beforehand, but dismissed them with “I got through AC Unity, and this one cannot be worse”. How wrong I was. Perhaps Unity used motion blur or some other tricks to disguise the jerkiness, or maybe it just runs at higher framerates all around. Either way, it feels a lot smoother. Suddenly I have a newly gained appreciation for it.

Watch_Dogs itself looks like it could be fun once I get used to the bad framerate, with very a different approach to stealth and open world than the average AC game. But it will take me a long time to get used to this performance level. Maybe too long: I might just give up before that happens.

Let’s not be hasty though. We played Ocarina of Time and Peace Walker just fine, didn’t we?


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