Anyone who knows me well will know that my enthusiasm and knowledge of the gaming industry is matched only by my immense backlog of games to play. Across five gaming systems (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC and 3DS), not to mention my tablet/phone capabilities, you'd be hard pushed to fit in time for varied gaming any better than I could with my schedule.
Nevertheless, I endeavour. I've already finished 8 games so far this year (keeping track is one of the things I do to help me manage my backlog), and my latest is one of the smash hits of last year, if my friends can be believed. I give you Bethesda and Arkane's Dishonored. SPOILERS: It's the tits.
Mixing elements of games like Hitman, Assassin's Creed and even things like Splinter Cell, Dishonored is a first-person stealth/action game (you can generally take a mixture of both approaches as suits your play style) set in a plague-ravaged city called Dunwall.
In the game, you play the Empress' bodyguard Corvo, a man wrongfully accused of killing the Empress he swore to protect, and heavily suspected in the disappearance of the Empress' daughter Emily, with whom you enjoy a good rapport. Your task in the game is to establish those truly responsible, determine what happened to Emily and exact revenge on those who have caused your life to be unravelled in such a violent way.
My initial reaction to the game's mechanics was scepticism; First-person stealth, in my experience, much like first-person melee combat, has the capability to be fiddly as much as it is immersive. The idea of some free-running elements (or at least being able to move freely around the terrain in three dimensional space) has a similar element of risk. Nonetheless, as a Christmas gift goes, I can't fault this game. While the elements aren't perfect individually, together they create an experience that is simultaneously versatile and engaging.
Admittedly, I'm terrible at it, but there you go. I still finished it, though, so there's that. However, one of the nice things about the game is that it allows you to play in a variety of styles, changing up on the fly. I started intent on stealth, and was doing reasonably well at that, and then I got sloppy. I can only surmise that I was either tired or too engaged in the story to care about taking my time.
However, towards the end of the game, I suddenly started to get better at the stealth. I can attribute this far more easily. Simply put, I started to get it. The powers I had were being upgraded as I went along with collectibles I found, and I started to get a better feel for the character's capabilities with those powers in mind. This is something that the game does really well.
At the time of writing, there have been two expansions for the game. The first, Dunwall City Trials, presents Challenge maps for the experienced players with a variety of criteria. The second, The Knife of Dunwall, puts you in control of one of the primary adversaries in the game (without going too heavily into spoilers), with access to his weapons and gadgets. As post-release support goes, it's a reasonably good amount, and it's also worth pointing out that players can also pick up the Void Walker DLC to get the pre-order perks in a bundle, which is kind of cool if you like that sort of thing.
As a game goes, Dishonored presents an awesome experience which melds some tricky elements together into an experience which presents an element of familiarity, while at the same time gives you a sufficient break from the norm. Considering it can be picked up at a cheaper price than it launched now that a few months have passed, I cannot recommend it enough.
NOTE FOR PS3 OWNERS: I recommend checking out the game in physical media form, as Sony want £49.99 for it at time of writing, which is fucking ludicrous, especially compared to the Xbox store's price of £24.99. Separate rant for another day, I suspect, especially with E3 dust settling, but for now the message I present is clear and concise:
Agree/Disagree? Talk to us in the comments below!