publisher: Bethesda Softworks
developer: Arkane Studios
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Oct 09, 12
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Arkane Studios has returned to the gaming scene after quite some time. In 2006, they released Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, which brought some rather cool gameplay features, but thanks to a majority of intolerable glitches and technical mishaps the game was widely criticized. So, six years later (excluding the assistance they offered for the development of BioShock 2), Arkane returns with Dishonored, a stealth themed first-person shooter. As most of you probably know by now, there's a spectacular creative force behind this project, including Arkane Studios founder Raphael Colantonio and Deus Ex developer Harvey Smith and Deus Ex designer Ricardo Bare. Art direction has fallen into the lap of one Viktor Antonov, whose talents gave us the dark, yet beguiling, surroundings of Half Life 2's City 17.
Dishonored puts players into the role of a voiceless hero name Corvo Attano, a bodyguard to the Empress of the city of Dunwall. In an unexpected turn of events, the Empress gets assassinated and Corvo gets framed for murder and thrown into prison. Meanwhile the entire city of Dunwall was struck by a terrible plague, with an increasing number of infected within the population - they soon became referred to as the "Weepers." Yes, the Weepers are generally mindless and very aggressive, ya know kind of like zombies (amazing really).
Yeah, that's a kill.
Sleep darts are my favorite choice.
In terms of storytelling, Dishonored isn't exactly a pioneering effort. You've this type of plot unraveling before. While the game itself won't tell you all you need to know about the world and the characters that live in it, you can discover more about the lore by reading messages, books or by listening to audio logs that are scattered throughout the areas. Although the main story must eventually run its predetermined course, it's the player who gets to decide the outcome of specific events and missions, which makes the game exceedingly interesting to play.
All of the stealth elements in the game are well-incorporated. Mind you they do greatly depend on the enemy AI, which, from our experience, doesn't always work properly. At times, enemies can spot you from a great distance quite easily, but can easily remain oblivious or even blind if you happen to be, say, four feet away from them. This occurred several times throughout the game. On one particular occasion, Corvo was lurking behind a pillar. The guard was facing the pillar and standing less than a few feet away. Corvo peeked around the pillar and was staring directly at the guard who didn't do anything about it. In addition to the slightly broken AI, Dishonored does have another disadvantage. As soon as players become accustomed to how the gameplay mechanics work, it will be a relatively easy to take out guards or avoid them via stealth moves. Upgrading Corvo's abilities happens rather quickly and even once you've improved a few basic abilities, you just become too powerful for enemies - regardless if you use stealth and tactics or if you're attacking head on. Things are a bit more challenging if you ramp up the difficulty level, but if you're playing on normal, the challenge decreases as you upgrade the character. It's true that as you progress, enemies become smarter and tougher, but there's still this lingering feeling that you're taking out foes a bit too easily.
The level design in Dishonored is very good. In fact, it's one best aspects of the game, since it allows you to consider various approaches and that becomes vital in most mission situations. There's also plenty to do if you're up for the non-lethal option of completing an objective. Certain missions denote more challenge if you decide to go with this option, which is a commendable addition to the game. Taking the non-lethal route doesn't just change how other characters perceive you in the game, but it often offers additional tasks, prolonging the mission and making things even more interesting.
8.5 Very Good
First-class art direction, a unique and compelling atmosphere, extremely fun gameplay, great soundtrack and voiceovers, strong replay value;
AI issues, may not be as challenging as you'd expect, especially when you upgrade Corvo's abilities, a lot shorter than we'd like.