Dishonored Review(360, PS3, PC)

Posted: May 26, 2013 in Reviews
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Dishonored puts you in the role of Corvo Attano, who through a series of unfortunate events has his Empress killed, has his daughter and the heir to the Empress, Lady Emily kidnapped, and to make it all worse he gets framed for the murder and kidnapping. So Corvo does what any good father would do, sets out to find his daughter, and avenge the Empress, but escaping from prison is his first goal, and it’s accomplished pretty fast when the guards somehow don’t find a letter and a key under some bread, from a mysterious person as a gift to Corvo. After unlocking the door you’ll get your first taste of stealth, and it’s easy to see from the beginning that stealth is the best option. After you get out you’ll be taken to a safe area called Hounds Pits Pub by a group of Loyalists, where you can sleep, avoid the plague, upgrade and buy new weapons, and receive missions that will lead you to finding Emily, and getting revenge.

It’s a good thing the environments of the plague ravaged Dunwall encourage stealth, there are so many different paths you can take, being up high most times is the best option, and roof jumping plus dark vision to see through walls gets you where you need to go efficiently. Going head to head with enemies will lead to a lot of damage, deaths, and alarms, so creeping by and taking hostiles silently, then carrying their bodies to hiding spots more effective. Sneaking up on enemies will also allow you to pickpocket them, hostiles hold money, ammo, arrows, and keys, but regardless of how you take the enemies out, once you carry them you’ll automatically collect their valuables. There are two ways to take out enemies while sneaking, you can either choke them out until their are unconscious, or kill them in silence with the blade, and the areas have many hidden sections and paths to hide the bodies.

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The environments are not designed just for stealth, there are many hidden paths that lead to some useful and valuable items, and there is a lot of interaction with other items. There five sets of collectibles to find in each level, Runes, Bone Charms, Outsider Shrines, Sokolov Paintings, and a set amount of coins. Runes are used to upgrade Corvo’s special powers, the powers allow you to increase your health, see through walls, make unaware hostiles turn to dust when they are killed, a few others round out the list, and each of the powers have two upgrades requiring a certain amount of Runes. Bone Charms instantly add supernatural benefits such as having food give more health, or more ammo found on enemies, there are 36 different Bone Charms to be found, but only 26 spawn on each play through, and after upgrades only six can be active. All of the Runes and Bone charms can be found by using a Robotic Heart, which also tells you the secrets of the people and areas you play through. There are only one or two Sokolov Paintings and Outsider Shrines in each level, and the coins are money used to upgrade and buy equipment.

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The first time you are in Hounds Pits Pub you’ll meet a man named Piero Joplin, he will upgrade and sell equipment for the majority of the game, additionally you can find blueprints which add new gear to be bought, they are scattered throughout the mission areas. Corvo’s main gear consists of a mask, blade, crossbow, a pistol, grenades, and spring razors, his mask not only hides his identity, but also allows you to zoom, and see hostiles through walls once upgraded. Another key component to stealth is the crossbow, you can equip either regular arrows or sleep darts, but if you don’t care about stealth there are also incendiary arrows if you really want revenge on the enemies. Spring razors are also stealth items, but create quite a show, you can stick them to walls, floors, or even people and animals, once triggered they shoot shrapnel in all directions creating carnage.

It’s not just the guards that can be taken out in various ways, it also works for the key targets, you can find side missions that will lead to the key targets being eliminated non-lethally, or even give you the choice to eliminate them as you please. These decisions do not go unnoticed, the amount of kills affects the story, the way allies treat you, and how fast the plague takes over Dunwall, but also once you get back to the pub people will leave you gifts thanking you for sparing their family or friends, so the less kills you have the better. Plague victims are called weepers, they are zombie-like humans and will attack on site, they are pretty fast and do a lot of damage, the less people you kill, the less weepers there will be, and the sewers will have more safe paths.

There are nine main missions and depending on how you decide you play it can take quite a while per mission, with full exploration most missions can take over an hour and a half. Adding to the game play is the story and characters, the story is great, there are twists and turns, and some great moments regardless of how you play, and most of the characters are memorable, they do a great job of adding additional elements to the plot, and give a sense of each situation at hand. With being able to find out secrets of each character via the heart, it really allows you to see who is fake or genuine, and sometimes a back story for why the person is the way they are. The mask allows you to zoom-in and hear from afar, so if you want to eavesdrop on conversations there is also that option.

You’ll have the choice of four difficulties, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Very Hard. Normal gives a decent challenge, enemies are witty and quick for the most part, Hard is a great way to challenge your sneaking skills and your patience, and Very Hard is for the hardcore Dishonored players. Corvo’s health does not regenerate, in order to heal him you’ll need Health Elixirs, and because special powers use mana you’ll need Mana Elixirs too, Corvo can hold ten of each and the difficulty changes how useful each are. Food also gives health, and depending on which Bone Charms you have active, water can also give health or mana, or increase the amount of health and mana gained from the elixirs.

The controls are done very well, they are basic for the most part, controls are rarely an issue and they can be adjusted in the options menu. The load times are also generally pretty fast, there are hints and stories to read as it loads, and the load times don’t break up the game play very much. The quick menu contains all of your gear and powers, it’s done well and allows for quick weapon and power exchanges with not much issue, plus the various ammo types are in one area of the menu. The main menu is also well done, it contains all of the found and mission notes, books, mission information which can also be used to toggle missions, use Runes, toggle Bone Charms, and where you find general information.

With all that is great with Dishonored there are bound to be flaws, the environments are large and encourage exploration, but some of them are really bland, parts that should have the look of texture just don’t, and look unfinished, some parts give off the look of wallpaper instead of brick or stone. Bushes, trees, and grass are lifeless, you walk through bushes and branches without even a sound, grass does nothing when walked through, and at times it can take away from the area. The hostiles have their flaws as well, the ability to look through walls is great, but it also exposes some flawed content, you can see enemies standing in one spot, not talking and completely motionless, once you get to a certain spot suddenly they come back to life, but you don’t always need to see through walls to find this glitch, it’ll happen in plain sight. The dialog in the hostiles is also flawed, they’ll quickly say things to each other and the response does not always match what was said, and if you listen in, multiple characters will say the exact same things under their breath.

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There are take-down problems as well, it will prompt on the screen when you can either choke out or knife the hostile, but choke is also the same button as block depending on your controls, so instead of choking he’ll block allowing the hostile to turn around and spot you. There are frame rate issues when it comes to having a lot people in one area even if they’re not moving, when you put a certain amount hostiles to sleep or kill them and store them in one area, the frame rate will drop. You can also swim, but at times even if you are holding up on the joystick he will dip back under the water, and trying to get out of the water can be a pain as well, at times he will jump up and fall back down, or he fails to jump all together. Though the collectibles are fun to find, you’ll have to collect them in order to see how many you have for that level, or wait until the end of the level to see the totals, and there is no new game plus, so you’ll have to re-collect everything, though there will be new Bone Charms to find. The characters are good, and so is most of the dialog, but some characters voice acting seems forced and give the sense of being read.

The flaws are not a big enough issue to bring this great game down, having so many paths to choose makes the stealth aspect of the game is a lot of fun. The game encourages exploration, there are not that many upgrades but they cost quite a bit of money, so exploration is a definite must, plus the paths generally feel rewarding and allow for even more stealth. If you take a good look around you’ll notice how many different ways you can go about each chapter, despite some of the environments looking bland and unfinished. The story is great and most of the chapters are long depending on how you play, and even if you don’t feel there is enough content there are also a few downloadable content options. If you like stealth action games this is a great option, and even if you don’t you can take this game on head on, it’ll add even more of a challenge and a different way to play this great game.

Overall Score: 8.7/10

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