December 2, 2023


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Review: Watch Dogs – Stars and Stripes

Review: Watch Dogs – Stars and Stripes

Another book from the Watch Dogs universe in our review.

content (propaganda)

Noted hacker Aiden Pearce, the hero of the Watch Dogs games, follows a bloody path of corruption to the highest echelons of government in this gritty adventure. Aiden Pearce, “The Fox”, is a drifter who swings from one seedy hacking job to the next. In Baltimore, he is captured by a mysterious agent who insists that only Pierce can locate a missing shipment filled with transhuman technology. When adulation doesn’t work, he is blackmailed into taking the job. Even worse, he’s reunited with the ruthless Jordy Chen. What appears to be a simple investigation quickly turns into a nefarious conspiracy that ends in the White House. But why should Aiden help a country that only wants to see him behind bars?


Watch Dogs’ new novel, How Could It Be Otherwise, takes us back into the hacker world of the base game. The hero is again Aiden Pierce, the games main character. This time he was captured and practically forcibly recruited to recover the stolen technology. In this case, it’s used in increments — you know, “Bionic Woman” or “The Six Million Dollar Man” say hello.

What begins as a standard mission develops into a full-fledged plot to assassinate the President as the story progresses. Unfortunately, you have to call stop at this point, because at first glance this story seems more exciting than it really is. At this point, unfortunately, further discussion doesn’t go by without some spoilers.

From the initial infiltration of a racist group, we end up with a renegade senator who, one suspects, just wants to be president himself. And since the security precautions are quite lax and he also has many Secret Service agents in his pocket, his kills can finally get to the President. And yes, it’s all unfortunately full of cliches you already more or less know are thrown around again here. There are no political gimmicks or other subtle innuendos here – the story moves forward – and unfortunately it’s tedious and chatty in places.

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So the bad guys can’t really develop a profile and they’re all stuck in their beliefs and just want to hit it – and that’s it. Even their leader completely pales in the further course of the story, which unfortunately means the plot is less interesting. After all, even Aiden can deal with his age and what has spoiled him. That’s what he comes up with when a survivor joins him who doesn’t want to turn into a killer like himself. Unfortunately, this is only scratched on the surface and aside from a few simple sentences thrown in, nothing comes of it in the end.

This might be true for loners like Aiden and Jordi, but a lot of potential is wasted here giving the characters depth. Then the end comes quickly, unsurprisingly, and everything is dealt with in a few pages after the grand finale – unfortunately, that too is predictable and not really convincing. Especially since there isn’t much left in the final battle except for shootouts and combat, which is sadly as boring as the rest of the story. Theoretically, you could have had more hacking skills (similar to the game), but it’s also treated as half-baked.

While it is initially impossible to hack the new augmentations, over the course of the story Aiden develops a virus that can do it after all. Even that is in a few sentences by the way and that also pays him off in the end, as he can stop the bad guys with the push of a button. Good action scenes look different. Especially since Aiden’s minion in the end turns out to be equally sinister with an equally disturbing ending. Sure, it’s kind of a cliché too, that it doesn’t get any better, even if you can actually predict everything based on their behavior (thankfully also Aiden’s hero). But here, too, the villain is only the villain because… well, because.

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How it works and what becomes of the technology eventually goes away just like the bad guys they took down. Compassion.