Watch Dogs preview (hands-on, screens, trailer and video)

Watch Dogs looks to be the one that E3 2012 was not expecting. Set in a dystopian future, game developer Ubisoft brings us a title that will no doubt draw comparisons with one of its other major intellectual properties, the Assassin's Creed series.

And certainly, it's a third-person action/stealth adventure in an open environment where you play a character with targets to take out. But that's where the similarity ends. The environment in this case is a modern-day city, only 10 times darker. Just watch the video below. 

With a central computer not only controlling everything from traffic lights and surveillance cameras to mobile phones and electricity grids, including data profiles on each and every person, it takes only a clever individual to hack it for complete access. And that's exactly what you get as your tools of the trade.

As the gameplay video below shows - yes, it's nine minutes but well worth a watch - you can jam cell phones, intercept calls, find out how likely someone is to attack you, follow your targets' signals, change traffic lights and do just about anything you like to track your quarry and then melt into the shadows once more.

The action looks just as smooth and slick as Assassin's Creed III and the characters and cutscenes as rich and involving. No word on release date as yet but, whenever it comes, it looks like it will be worth waiting for.

When asked to confirm which formats the game would appear on by GTTV, Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot replied, “PS3, 360, PC and… we’ll see”, complete with a knowing smile suggesting this could be destined for the Xbox 720 or PS4. Exciting.

UPDATE: Pocket-lint was one of the lucky few to be invited to see Watch Dogs being played in a behind-closed-doors session and we have to say that, firstly, we doubt it'll ever make it onto the current generation of consoles, no matter what Guillemot says. Unless it's seriously dumbed down, that is.

Clearly running on a super gaming PC, the gameplay demo we were treated to was a live walkthrough of the same level in the video above, but with a few added extras.

We were shown how the main character, Aiden Pearce, could listen in on telephone calls, hack ATM machines and, in the scene outside the nightclub, jam all of the mobile phones in the immediate surroundings, causing the bouncer to leave his post. This allowed Pearce to slip inside the club in order to progress.

However, what the video doesn't really show is the sheer scale of the game. Yes, we've had populated open world cities before, but not with such depth, variation and graphical flourish. Just look at the rain effects and the sheen of the puddles on the tarmac of the road. Again, the video doesn't quite show how beautiful Watch Dogs looks up close (and in more than a 720p YouTube clip).

It's also worth pointing out that, in the live gameplay demo, we also saw that you can travel onto any part of the scenery, not just the ground. Anywhere that it is possible to climb to (in this case, the overground subway tracks) can be explored.

In our demonstration, we saw Pearce interfere with the junction traffic lights from a higher position, keeping him out of harms way. In the video it's from the ground.

Clearly, much will be said about Watch Dogs before its release (which is now rumoured to be 2014), but one thing's for certain, if Ubisoft Montreal manages to pull off its own lofty ambitions, this will be one of the stand-out titles for any games console; next or no.

What do you think? Does Watch Dogs look like it'll make it onto the Xbox 360 or PS3 to you? Let us know in the comments below...