Well, it turns out we were being watched all along. Hidden in our little Nintendo enclave, we thought we were safe from prying eyes, but we were dead wrong. Watch Dogs, the high-tech, high-concept open world adventure that stole the show at E3 2012, will be invading the privacy of a Wii U disc slot near you this winter. If you keep yourselves up to date with the Xbox/PlayStation scene, you'll already know that it's one of the most exciting sandbox games to emerge in some time. Our one-line sell would go something like this: imagine a Grand Theft Auto game in which you have the command of the entire city's electronics at your fingertips.
With this much power at your disposal the possibilities are many and the latest game trailer outlines just a few of them. It begins with our anti-hero, Aiden Pearce, strolling through central Chicago, on the hunt for mischief. As he approaches members of the public in the street, an overlay appears displaying their vital statistics - age, profession, disposition, that kind of jazz.
Focus your profiler on the carefree-looking young woman strolling down the avenue to your right and you'll learn that she has in fact recently been evicted from her home. The bum on the street corner? He's an Iraq War veteran. Everyone in the Windy City has a backstory, and thanks to Aiden's 'connections', he has the inside track on each and every one of them.
This is an alternate version of Chicago. On the whole it's much the same as the one we know (er, based on watching Batman Begins, where it doubled as Gotham), except that Watch Dogs' Chi-Town is an oppressive surveillance state overseen by a supercomputer know as CtOS (Central Operation System). It's an enormous network operated by numerous corporations by licence of the US government, a central mainframe through which all aspects of daily life are run - from banking to telecoms to transport.
According to Watch Dogs lore, the great blackout that hit north-east America in 2003 (true story) was caused by a hacker (this bit is made up). Gripped by paranoia, the US government authorises the rise of the CtOS, trampling over its citizens' freedoms and liberties in the process. It's a rare misstep from one of the -ahem - most notoriously level-headed countries in the world.
In the middle of all this is our lad Aiden, who has a bit of a beef with the whole CtOS deal, having seen his loved ones be hurt by the system in the past. He's a vigilante type who manages to hack into the CtOS network, granting him control over the entire city's electronics. This is why his smartphone enables him to bring up details of what his neighbours had for breakfast on demand and, as the trailer shows, that's only the tip of his powers.
Aiden isn't really a hero, but he's not a villain, either - instead, he's a shade of grey and you as the player have some agency in deciding his moral decisions. Whoever it was that was behind the pad in the demo clearly isn't above mugging his grandmother for a bag of Werther's Originals, as is shown by his opening gambit.
Dog days aren't over
Aiden passes an executive, checks his profiler and learns that he's minted, which gives our cash-strapped hero an idea. He hacks into his victim's bank account and then, cool as a cucumber, strolls over to a nearby ATM, and withdraws the best part of $500. What a card!