Dishonored Game Review

28Oct

Author: Paul Barbara

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When you commence playing Dishonored one thing is instantly noticeable.  No, it’s not the shiny visuals or awesome voice acting, nor is it the environment that you’re thrust into.  It’s the simple fact that this is not a sequel to any other game you’ve played before, it’s new, fresh and it’s what we in the industry call a “new IP” and Dishonored lives up and exceeds your expectations instantly.

Gameplay

You, play as Corvo Attano who is the protector to an Empress in the land of Dunwall.  Dunwall is a city built on a port reminiscent of an industrial setting.  The population of Dunwall has succumbed to the rat-born plague, and if that doesn’t kill you, perhaps the corruption and power grabbing leaders will.  The game commences with you returning from a mission at sea, and heading up to visit the Empress to deliver a message.  Suddenly you are ambushed by an unknown enemy whom kills the Empress on sight and you’re handsomely framed for the murder.  You awake in a cell and a ‘friend’ guides you to an escape route to the waterside where you embark on your journey to avenge the Emperors death.

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You will make your way through nine separate missions that are all quite different.  Whether your escaping a prison, to traversing sewer tunnels or perhaps scaling rooftops like Ezio from Assassin’s Creed you’ll cover a wide range of activities.  There’s plenty of collectables and rewards that can be found on each mission too, as well as extra objectives and side missions for you to experience.

The critical point that I must mention early on is in regards to the way you play Dishonored. With Dishonored you have a choice and that choice allows you to either be a stealthy Corvo who hides in the shadows, silently takes out his enemies, hides the evidence and goes unseen.  Or, there’s the polar opposite which sees Corvo, run and gun, poison and fight his enemies straight up with brute force.  Or, perhaps your Corvo is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes?  Either way, with Dishonored there are rewards or penalties for each game play style that you choose.

Should you decide that killing your way through every enemy is more your style, be warned that this play style will have ramifications.  The more dead bodies will mean more guards on patrol and more rats, not to mention a darker ending is in store.  That’s what makes Dishonored so much fun, it’s the different ways you can play whether it be all out assassin or a run and gunner, the game adapts on so many levels and it’s what makes the game so enjoyable.

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Throughout the game there are various power ups and customisations for your character.  There are 10 powers that can be unlocked and also upgraded.  In order to upgrade, you’ll need ‘rune’s’ which are hidden throughout the world.  In order to find these runes you’ll need to equip “blink” which is kind of like a tracking device for runes and makes finding them well, easy to say the least.  In terms of upgrades there are many choices such as upgrading your core powers such as Blink, Dark Vision and Agility.  Dark vision for example allows you to spot your enemies through walls and floors, similar to that of Batman’s night vision.  Also, Blink is a short range teleport system that allows Corvo to teleport forward instantly.  This helps when scaling buildings or teleporting behind an enemy for example.  Agility allows you with each upgrade to jump further, and move faster and is an essential upgrade in my opinion.

Depending on your play style there are other perks such as whirlwind which sends your enemies flying, and also you can slow time and depending on how far this ability is levelled up, you can actually freeze time altogether.  Also, there are some weapons that you can purchase and upgrade such as the Pistol and Crossbow and proximity mines. There are certainly some great upgrades and weapons available and it’s simply a matter of choosing which one suits your play style.

In terms of story, Dishonored certainly does go to great lengths to create a world that encapsulates you and makes you feel part of the experience.  There are a host of narratives to tune in to, plus there are books and scripts/tips etc scattered all over the place along your journey.  There is actually a considerable amount of reading material here and for the completionists you’ll certainly love the amount of scripts that are available to be found.

Sound

The sound in Dishonored is fantastic, with the awesome ambient sounds of nature to the footsteps of guards.  Sound is important as if your too loud, you’ll be detected.  Sneaking around  and using stealth is critical and the games sound help you hear if there’s an enemy around a corner as the sound of his footsteps will ring true.

Graphics

Visually every bit of Dishonored is great to look at from the towns, the buildings, the architecture and the characters.  Everything is recreated beautifully and there is a true sense of atmosphere in the game.  The character modelling is great and somewhat similar to that of Alice Madness Returns.  The game runs at a solid frame rate and there was no visible evidence of slowdown in any way, shape or form.  For those who have the PC version, there is a noticeable jump in the graphical presentation of this game and it seems to be the version to play if you have a PC that’s capable of running the game at a high resolution.  If you do, then you’ll be happy indeed.

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Value

Dishonored is certainly a title that is jam packed with value.  The Campaign depending on how you play it can take anywhere from 6 hours to 12 hours.  Also, given the rewards for different play styles and multiple endings, you’ll find yourself having more than one play though of the title which will provide a lot of replayability for many.  Add to that the various collectables, there’s certainly a lot to keep you busy here with Dishonored.

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The Verdict

Overall Dishonored is a great game that truly has emerged from the shadows with very little hype and media attention.  It has taken many gamers by surprise with its great story, beautiful environments and unique gameplay.  Dishonored’s greatest strength lays in the way you can totally customise your experience depending on your choices between all out shooter or stealth assassin.  Dishonored also will see you come back for multiple play throughs and is a title that will provide a large amount of value for gamers.   Dishonored truly is this year’s sleeper hit for 2012 and a strong candidate for game of the year.  Dishonored is a refreshing experience.

9 / 10

Pros:

+ Multiple game play techniques

+ Great customization and character upgrades

+ Engrossing story

Cons:

- A fair amount of reading should you choose to

- Game length can be short.