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Dishonored (PS3) Review

 
Dishonoredlogo
Dishonoredlogo
Dishonoredlogo

 
At A Glance...
 

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
 
Genre: , ,
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
9.0
9/ 10


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

We liked?


  • Wonderful world with a strong art style
  • Your ingenuity shapes your story
  • Incredible freedom of approach and play

Not so much?


  • Story a little weak in places
  • Some will miss the best of it by blasting through in sub-6 hours
  • Controls a little clunky at times


Final Fiendish Findings?

A strong art style courtesy of Valve’s former designer Viktor Antonov and his slowly degenerating believable world go a great way to secure this title’s position as one of the top games this year. Layer on that some genuinely fun and intriguing world mechanics and you have a winner for Arkane and Bethesda. It could have been better in a few places. The story is a little too washy to grip you fully but luckily the world does that for you.

One of the biggest compliments you could level at Dishonored is that it’ll be a game people talk about for months. Not because it was bad, or because it changed the world. It’ll be conversations like “How did you take down X?” or “What perks did you use to do that!”.

Arkane have a sure fire hit on their hands with Dishonored. The game is a refreshing change to the scores of sequels and re stricted scope titles flooding the markets these day.

0
Posted October 8, 2012 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Dishonored appears to have had phrases like “potential Game of the Year” and “Once in a generation” levelled at it consistently over the past few months.  Does Arkane’s stealth action title deserve such praise?  Of has the hype machine been in full swing?Dishonored places you in the shoes of Corvo.  The once revered protector to the Empress who now must fight to clear his name of her assassination.  After a daring prison escape Corvo finds himself located in Dunwall, a grubby looking port city.  There he joins with the growing Loyalists resistance against the newly appointed ruler.  A ruler who just happens to have been the instigator of the Empresses murder.  Corvo is out for revenge and redemption.

Taking to the streets of Dunwall you undertake a specific mission on each outing.  Using the Loyalists Hounds Pub hideout as your base you quickly find yourself on a variety of missions.  From the early prison break to a masquerade ball, a bridge top traversal or trudging through foul sewers – there is plenty of variety to be had over the 9 missions in the game.

The area of Dunwall finds itself in the grip of a mysterious and deadly plague.  The ravages of said plague have left many dead and many more on their way.  These infected souls are referred to as Weepers.  You can easily spot a Weeper by their gaunt, zombie like appearances, their coughing and moaning and when they cough up blood over the floors.  These individuals spring up in random locations and attack without warning.

Weepers are not the only a dversary in Dishonored though.  You have the clusters of rats that spread the plague – they have a ravenous appetite for human flesh.  This is no more evident than when they attack you or find a corpse laying on the floor… which they then set upon and devour.

dishonoured preview

Finally the city is full with guards and watchmen.  These fellows are varied in their abilities and some will just be sword waving City Watch, some will have pistols or grenades and a select few will be deadly trained assassins who can transport from place to place rapidly and strike with deadly accuracy.

The missions in the game have be incredibly well designed and implemented.  Each offering a unique approach to the goal of the mission and offering an open-ended structure to achieve progress through the world.  This choice plays in to the fact that Dishonored is at its core a pretty hard-core stealth game that never judges or punishes you for flipping the script and going combat heavy on a situation.  The game has been so well structured that it adapts to your play style.  Like to sneak and be undetected?  Then you’ll be right at home.  Want to just wade in to a room, slash people with your sword and shoot dudes in the face with your pistol?  Then you’ll also be right at home here.

The only penalties to going to action heavy route is that you’ll be more easily detected and make things worse for you in the long run.  Each level keeps track of your kills, non-lethal take downs, bodies found etc.  This is fed in to the Chaos level – a statistic you only ever encounter at the close of each mission on the status screen.  Chaos is added to by the number of kills you make (that’s ANY kill apart from rats and a few other malicious creatures in th e water) or other actions like taking down things like Watchtowers with  rewire tool.

So I just do non-lethal takedowns and my Chaos stays low right?  Well kind of.  Stealthy choking an adversary into an unconscious state or hitting them with a sleeping dart will knock them down.;  You then must hide them to stop them being found or being eaten by stray rats.  A rat eaten guard taken down by your non-lethal means will still count as a kill on your total and thusly add to your Chaos level.  It really is a beautiful risk/reward system that doesn’t imply any moral judgement on your actions.

So why care about Chaos levels?  Well getting your level up above Low means that the world changes for you.  There are more Weepers and plague rats roaming the streets, houses and waterways of Dunwall.  Characters in the game will react differently too you and outcomes and scenarios will take a different, sometimes darker, turn of events.

The look of Dishonored is striking.  Sitting somewhere between Half Life 2’s City 17 and a Victorian Steam-Punk convention.  The art style is strong and carried throughout beautifully.  Sure there are a few rough textures here and there.  The character models could have been a little less “washy” and the facial animations are not on par with some of the top tier (Uncharted etc).  The game still comes over as one of the best looking titles of this year.  I simply can’t convey strongly enough how committed Arkane have been to the art  style and look of the title and that dedication has made a unique and imaginative world for you to explore.  A few other niggles like a little clipping here and there, some geometry issues with bodies getting stuck in walls or furniture and the odd very slight frame rate drop do impact the game but do nothing to spoil enjoyment.

dishonoured preview

Score wise the game draws from a wide and varied pallet of musical influences.  What’s there is well produced and superbly implemented to add tension and brevity to some pretty tense situations.  Voice works ranges from OK to good.  Some of the dialogue is a little ropey in places and deliver is slightly off on the odd occasion but nothing that will spoil your enjoyment of the game.

Playing Dishonored is where you get the sense of just how much freedom you have in the game.  So many games lately want you to experience their design teams vision.  To play from a certain angle and watch the action unfold in front of you.  Nothing wrong with that approach – titles like Uncharted have delivered some of this generations best moments usin g exactly that method.   Dishonored goes completely the other way.  You are the action that is unfolding and your ingenuity shapes your story.  Not only do the objectives of your mission have a several ways that they can be tackled but just making your way around the world can be approached in different way entirely.  Take some time to explore and you can find many solutions.

One such example is that you want to get from one side of a large area to another.  You can sneak, choke and slash your way through the guard heavy area.  You could sneak around, moving in the shadows and timing guard movement perfectly.  My solution was to explore.  I found a mining cart that was offline and needed power (power in the world is made from refined Whale oil).  Some further exploring and word traversal later and I find a Whale oil dispenser and get a charged up container.  I power up the car, flic k the lever and then crouch in the cart as it goes above the heads of all the guards.  I then hope down, teleport to the door I want to get out through and I’m on to the next part of the mission.

Teleport did he say?  Yes indeed I did because Corvo has been blessed with the mark of The Outsider.  A mystical oracle that offers up some magical skills for Corvo to utilise.  With this you can purchase and upgrade a series of abilities using runes carved on Whale bone hidden around levels.  Powering up with these Runes is optional, but essential for making Corvo the serious bad-arse he should be.  The Blink ability allows you to transport Corvo a short distance (longer later if you upgrade it).  Simple arm the skill in the left hand, line up the location you want to move to rapidly and release the trigger.  This allows you to skip past guards in a blink of an eye.  Or appear right up behind one for a takedown.

To aid you in your search for the Runes, and Bone Talismans (a sort of permanent buff for Corvo)you get a mechanical heart that lights up and beats faster the closer you are to them.  The real bonus here though is that press a button in an area or on a character and hear some hidden history about them.  This not only fills in some background but also feels like it’s letting you in to a secret background for the world.  Never press the button and you’ll be none the wiser.  Press it and you’ll be rewarded with an enriching amount of detail.

The game plays in a similar was to Arkane’s recent work on Bio shock 2.  It’s obvious the influence working on that title has had over Dishonored.  That’s not to take anything away from Arkane here and Dishonored plays superbly well in almost eve ry respect.  The only niggle with controls happens with jumping and terrain traversal.  Pressing A will execute a jump (double if you upgrade it with a rune).  If you are near the water’s edge or a ledge you should traverse the obstacle and alls is good.  Sometime this doesn’t quite work as intended and you end up dunking up and down in the water or jumping around near some rocks waiting for it to kick in.

Final thoughts

I’ve barely scratched what is possible in Dishonored – I’d need to double this review to do so.  The game offers up a reasonable challenge that fans of the stealth genre will eat up and get many hours of joy from.  Non-stealth fans, such as myself, will be grateful that the game plays just as well.  Game play time is a little tricky to judge.  You see Dishonored rewards and deman ds patience and a slow progress to get the most from it.  It would be possible to just go barrelling in to each mission, pistol flaring, crossbow at the ready and take the game down in maybe six hours.  If you do this though you’ve totally missed the point of the game & lost more than half of the experience too.  Take your time, be patient, plan your paths and you will be looking at a time of at least double maybe triple that.  Not to mention the game begs for replays to find alternate paths.

As a stealth game avoider I can’t recommend Dishonored more highly.  If every stealth title could manage players freedom and enjoyment in the same way I’d be a loyal genre fan.  As such this game joins my ranks of personal favourites like Thief, Deus Ex and Bioshock.

A strong art style courtesy of Valve’s former designer Viktor Antonov and his slowly degenerating believable world go a great way to secure this title’s position as one of the top games this year.  Layer on that some genuinely fun and intriguing world mechanics and you have a winner for Arkane and Bethesda.    It could have been better in a few places.  The story is a little too washy to grip you fully but luckily the world does that for you.

One of the biggest compliments you could level at Dishonored is that it’ll be a game people talk about for months.  Not because it was bad, or because it changed the world.  It’ll be conversations like “How did you take down X?” or “What perks did you use to do that!”.

Arkane have a sure fire hit on their hands with Dishonored.  The game is a refreshing change to the scores of sequels and re stricted scope titles flooding the markets these day.


Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.