"Who watches the watchers?" is a question posed by the Roman poet Juvenal and, latterly, the creators of Watch Dogs. It's the wrong question to ask. A better question could be "why did that helicopter just stop working in mid-air?" Or "why did all the lights in this stadium suddenly go out?" Or "what's that giant spider doing on top of that tastefully accoutred apartment block?" and "what am I doing inside this CCTV camera?"
Sometimes, Watch Dogs is a game of stealth and troubled pleasure. Often, however, it's a game of outright bloody madness. Here's a round-up of ways to amuse yourself based on extensive hands-on time, plus a little gallery of the cunning or not-so-cunning references and Easter Eggs that have been noticed by the gentlefolk of Reddit. Can you identify them all? Read our Watch Dogs Xbox One review for the final verdict.
1. Surf a van in multiplayer!
Grand-standing? Nonsense. It was a strict question of team tactics: I was helping a friend decrypt a data file (the closer-knit the team, the faster the decryption process) while securing a vantage point from which to defend him against opposing forces. OK, so I quite wanted to go "WHEEEEEE" as well. As it happened, I only managed four "Es" before falling off. Dare you to do better.
2. Squish cops as a spider!
One of the zanier side activities in Watch Dogs is Spider Tank, which puts you in charge - you guessed it! - of an enormous robot arachnid. Players then get to rampage around locked-off sections of the city completing simple objectives and stamping on anything that's sufficiently squishy, up to and including rooftop satellite posts and police helicopters. You get a machine gun and howitzer to begin with, and there's a small selection of upgrades: ground pound moves, longer jumps, a tougher carapace. After a hard day's mingling and snooping, it's a fine way to vent.
3. Play Splinter Cellphone!
Watch Dogs is a game of mingled inspirations. Out on the streets, it calls to mind Assassin's Creed and Grand Theft Auto. Indoors, however, it often smells a little bit like Splinter Cell - Aiden's homebrew gadgets and tricked-out phone are an approximation of Sam Fisher's arsenal, and some missions put the emphasis on using the environment against foes. There's an encounter a few hours into the game in which you have to rig a rusty old factory with traps before two parties of gangsters arrive, for example. The options are as follows: a set of motorised window shutters down one side of the facility, opening into a store room and security desk; raisable flaps that can be used as cover or to block vehicles; a sprinkling of explodable pipes, various CCTV cameras and a platform that travels across the ceiling on rails.
With a minute or two till my guests dropped by, I filled the area with sticky bombs and throwable distraction devices - once in place, these are activated by pointing Aiden's smartphone at them. As it turned out, however, the terrain features were quite enough by themselves to bamboozle the thugs. I'd trigger a flap or shutter on one side of the room, prompting all the NPCs to exclaim "DAMN" and head off to investigate, covering each other and flanking the source of the disturbance. Then I'd explode a gas main directly behind them. Alas, enemies can't be reduced to a state of brainless panic, as they can in the Arkham games, but you should have plenty of fun misdirecting them nonetheless.
4. Take a walk in the parkour!
Ubisoft's latest stoop-shouldered urban avenger isn't as agile as Altair or Ezio, but he's no tortoise. At one point during a round of multiplayer mode Decryption, another player chased me off the street into a series of backyards. Much harmless amusement was briefly had leaping back and forth over the same fence, trying to catch one another out. Eventually, I took shelter behind a dog kennel while my opponent holed up near a garden shed, cue extremely claustrophobic shoot-out. If you're finding the roads a chore, or you need to keep a low profile, it may be worth experimenting with the terrain a little.