Ever since Ubisoft unveiled its upcoming open-world, action-adventure game Watch Dogs, the game press has been looking towards the title as a no-holds barred example of next-generation innovative gameplay. Unlike most games, which place an emphasis on run-and-gun shooting, Watch Dogs revolves around the idea of hacking. The main character, Adrian Pierce, can penetrate a variety of devices from phones to traffic lights and use the knowledge to steal cash, destroy equipment, trigger malfunctions, and wreak general havoc on an unsuspecting populace.
It didn't hurt that when the game debuted, it was jaw-dropingly gorgeous and seemed to promise an impossibly gorgeous environment for next-gen platforms and PCs alike. Now, a new YouTube video has put dev kit test footage up against the trailer from the PC 2012 release and the final product ain't pretty. Watch Dogs, it seems, could wind up in the doghouse.
In case you don't feel like watching the video, we've captured key shots below. All of these images are in the original 1920x1080, which means the image files are a bit big -- but if you want to see the differences, we recommend you click the larger shots.
Forget that one image is daytime while the other isn't, there's no hint of the sophisticated lighting model in the daylight shot. The entire scene is lit statically. The road is smeared, the reflections on the car are dull, and the shadows on the NPCs and objects look like back DX9 ports.
Single-character close-ups are where we'd expect the least variance between console and PC rendering; the console can devote its entire resources to one actor. Here, the shadows on the right-hand character (the PS4 variant) are heavier. Shirt buttons blur into the fabric instead of standing out. The coats lapels are also blurred -- a subtle sign that screams "2D texture." On the left, the coat looks much more like an object worn over the shirt. On the right, the coat is rather clearly painted on top of the shirt.
According to the video, quality has decreased markedly just in the past year, between what Ubisoft showed in 2013 as PS4 footage versus what the Dev Kit actually renders.
For this, you need the embiggened image, but look at the grayish haze over the water and lower overall level of detail. The footage on the right s from 2013, the footage on the left is from 2014.
Finally, we end on an upnote. This fellow is relatively decent looking, with better facial details and an equivalent amount of coat+sweater work.
Obviously there's a chance that someone threw together a terrible YouTube video on purpose or that the PS4 Dev Kit video is low-quality work that doesn't represent the final product. In all honesty, we hope that's true. Right now, Watch Dogs looks like a thoroughly last-generation game, and not even a particularly good one at that. Granted, the new consoles don't pack the same leap in firepower over the old ones as previous generations' did, but the overall quality on display here is pitiful compared to what the PC video offered.