Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Interactive Friction: Watch_Dogs: Episode 5: It's Not the Pizza Guy!

This episode, we wish for Aiden Pearce to suffer.

Continuing with the last episode's theme of missed opportunities, Aiden Pearce himself is one walking, talking missed opportunity.

In this final version of Watch_Dogs, he's sits in this incredibly awkward position. While it is clear that Ubisoft intends for us to sympathize with, and root for, Aiden Pearce, he exhibit almost no traits worthy of even slight praise. He stubbornly and dogmatically clings to his revenge despite his loved ones pleading for him to stop. He can only prevent crime in a violent and painful manner. And he'll gleefully torture someone for a single new fact he could easily acquire through the MASSIVE CITY WIDE DATABASE OF EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING! In short, he's a massive dick.

But they didn't need to do this, even if we work under the conceit of the standard revenge plot we've been given.

One way they could have done it is by turning Aiden Pearce into a reluctant hero. He may think revenge is necessary, and he may even be able to justify his action. That could work if I could envision even the slightest chance that this jerkwad could feel bad about anything. If there were a few scenes where he expresses genuine remorse, or regretted that he had to take on that persona to achieve his ends, that would be wonders for his character.

Alternatively, Ubisoft could've gone in the opposite direction. Don't even attempt to make Aiden Pearce relatable. I may not like that option, but it is valid. If done right, he could even be an interesting heroic/comedic sociopath. Such characters do have their entertaining qualities, like Jordi for example. Having the two of them play off each other's insanity could even make for some great interactions.

But let's say that both of those two options we're unfeasible for some arbitrary reason, and they had to go for the current personality. Even that would be fine if Ubisoft didn't portray him in such a positive light. As we'll see later in the series, Aiden Pearce is never the one who deals with the consequences of his actions. In every case, the people around around him are the ones who suffer. Even the closest of his circle are sheltered from the most direct effects in the end. Despite all that, Aiden Pearce does not undergo any pain or trauma, nor does he learn a lesson nor redeem himself for his past deeds. He just exists in this completely insulated state of being.

God, I hate this game.

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