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Customer Review

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely Good, 11 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Dishonored: Game of the Year Edition (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
As soon as I saw the reveal trailer I knew I would love Dishonored. I just had no idea how much. You can liken parts of Dishonored to so many games, but it remains unlike anything I have ever played. Games like Half-Life 2, Assassin's Creed and Thief have been name-dropped, but it's not like those games. This is something else entirely.

When you first step into Dishonored as Corvo Attano (coolest name ever), you find you have been on a mission to the neighbouring Isles for Empress Jessamine Kaldwin to ask for help with halting the rat infestation spreading plague throughout Dunwall, your home, but after a fruitless journey you return empty handed. This is the starting point. The introduction provides a good scene-setter for what is about to come, as it doesn't take long before things unravel and you are seemingly caught red handed holding a dead Empress. I don't think it would be too spoilerific to reveal it wasn't you that killed her, so that's where the Dishonored bit comes in.

So, time for revenge then. After a shortish stay you are sprung from prison and put to work by a bunch of upper class white men who believe you were framed and want to set things right. What this means is you are given license to go on a massive stabathon through Dunwall, getting revenge on those who committed this heinous crime by any means necessary. Simple. And it's very refreshing, because this is a game trying to be a game, not a film.

That doesn't mean to say there is nothing going on between Dishonored's ears. Dishonored's world is a fully fleshed out planet, there are many, many things to read, observe, learn, deduce, watch and, well, kill. After experiencing it all you really get the sense the developers wished they had more time and money so they could realise more of this wonderful world. Thanks to the massive amount of in-game literature and DLC I know how children are selected to become Overseers, what happens in the Month of Nets and the customs of the people of Serkonos and Morley. I have eaten pears from Tyvia and learned of the Seven Strictures of the Overseers. I have read of a man's undying love for his wife as I've fleeced his rotting corpse for money. I've even seen the Portal easter egg. Dunwall has, for me, become a tangible place and there are few games that have achieved this so well.

In fact, Dunwall is the star of the show. It has become a place I want to visit one day, just as soon as they sort out the plague problem. Dunwall feels lived in, way before you even loaded the game, and it feels like it could exist without you and continues to exist after you've turned your PC off.

To help you get revenge you are visited by a "man" called the Outsider, who happens to be a powerful, supernatural entity capable of bestowing insanely powerful abilities on those that "interest" him. He is the stuff of myth and legend in Dunwall, where the Authorities see him as a heretic and brand all that follow him as such, usually meaning they end up at the wrong end of an Overseer's blade. I look forward to every encounter with him as he pops up in various places around the game, judging, chiding and insulting you and giving you some food for thought. He is easily the game's most compelling character, especially as you have no idea who's side he's on. During your stay in the pub after breaking out of prison he bestows his "Mark" upon you, apparently because you meet his "interesting" criteria. Corvo now has some of his supernatural ability and you quickly find this ability to be amongst the most fun you have ever had in a video game. What you will become is a one man army. You will be able to line-of-sight teleport limited distances onto roof tops, freeze time, see enemies through walls and launch them great distances. You can even possess their minds if that takes your fancy. What you have been given in Dishonored are the tools to become the most lethal, untouchable man in all existence. The feeling of empowerment you get is extraordinary, where no obstacle is a problem, no odds are insurmountable and no target is safe. Dishonored is almost like a first person god game, where you literally decide the fate of a city and all who walk it's streets.

And you really do decide the city's fate. The long and short of it is, if you are good and merciful, you will get the good(ish) ending. If you are ruthless and kill without mercy you will get the bad ending. If you continue to kill indiscriminately throughout the game it will affect the relationship you have with your comrades and increase the man-eating rat swarms and Weeper infestations (zombie-like humans who are too far overcome by plague but not ready to die) that blight the city. If you play nice there may be a treat in it for you. What the game does is leave it entirely up to you, but both lethal and non-lethal approaches are fun, demanding multiple play throughs. At the beginning of the game there is some graffiti in your prison cell. It reads: "We all start life with innocence, but eventually we are led to temptation". When I was going for a non-lethal play through I was tempted beyond belief to kill. As soon as my knife entered and exited my target's heart this message popped straight back into my head, and I felt bad about killing him. What's wrong with me? Has this power corrupted me too? It felt all too easy to go through the game on a murderous rampage, but in the back of your mind you know it's wrong, the rats and weepers being a manifestation of that wrongness.

There are so many ways to play it's hard to know where to start. Levels generally take the form of a street scene with several enter-able buildings, usually occupied by supplies and your targets. Different powers and tools lend themselves to different methods of ingress, so you could possess a rat or a hagfish and gain entry through a pipe, or you could pick the pocket of a patrolling guard to get the key. You could even say to hell with it and kick the door down and put a bullet between the eyes of anyone who resists. But if you really want to get complicated (deep breath), you could wait for an assailant to fire his pistol, freeze time with the bullet in mid air, possess your would-be killer, walk him in front of the bullet he just fired, jump back out of his body and unfreeze time, meaning he has just shot himself with his own bullet. What other game can you do that in? There are literally hundreds of possible combinations of committing cruel and unusual pain, so fortunately the game allows quicksaving, which means you can save it right before you turn the cogs of your twisted plan. This save mechanic is at the very core of what makes this game fun. The game doesn't penalise you for wanting to try inventive ways of dealing with your targets, it wants you to play and explore, it wants you to experiment and it wants you to have fun. And if you mess it up? Just quickload back before you started to unfold your twisted trap and try again.

In the DLC you play as another puppet of the Outsider, only this time you have the voice of Michael Madsen. Madsen is excellent in his role, he plays his part in the main game, but his story is so far out it requires it's own DLC just to tell it, and by the end you will feel very differently for this old 'Knife of Dunwall'. Some of the powers Madsen's character possesses work far better than Corvo's, so the DLC is a welcome addition in terms of game play. The additional locations help flesh out the ever expanding story of Dunwall, along with how these locations have helped shape the characters you meet. In fact, some of these DLC levels far surpass some of those in the main game.

The voice talent on offer is excellent. Madsen is present as I have previously mentioned, Billy Lush (Low Winter Sun) is excellent as the Outsider, Susan Sarandon is excellent as a twisted old granny, Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) plays a helper for the resistance (and the voice of a dismembered clockwork heart of all things) and Brad Dourif (Deadwood) is Dishonored's version of Q. Everyone plays their part perfectly, and near the end you do genuinely feel for "the help" and the little girl you try to save, but feeling too much for these, lets face it, empress-killing scum bags, other than wanting them to see their own blood splash across their beautiful furniture, would detract from your mission. The fact you want to see these men pay for their crimes speak volumes for the writing, but I felt more for the dying city I was murdering through, adding to its downfall as I went. Death is everywhere in Dishonored, where it's being witnessed and delivered constantly. Bodies just aren't buried any more, they are piled up into mountains, ditched in gutters and left to rot in once beautiful homes. Reading some of the notes left behind by some of these poor souls was genuinely disturbing, especially as you realise a lot of the death toll was children. This game is pretty dark and it made it all the more difficult to keep my murderous hands off my targets during my non-lethal play through.

If you really take the time getting to know Dishonored and practice with different methods of mischief, you might get through it in 20-odd hours. It took me way longer than this as my first play through was a painstaking, kill-nobody affair where I read everything and did every side mission. That's right, you don't have to kill anyone. Even your targets. Of course you must take care of them in other ways, but that would be spoilers, some of which far surpass death as a grisly exit. I'm sure some of my targets would have begged me to kill them had they known their non-lethal fate. My second play through, where I literally killed everything (which feels like a massive exhale after playing through the game with murderific tools and a nun's MO), was much shorter. It's a testament to Dishonored's absorbing world and game play that I am 100 hundred hours in, on play through number 5, and I am still finding inventive ways in completing my objectives.

Dishonored has restored my faith in the first person genre, as my faith was being severely strained by all of these genero-shooters. This is a first person adventure I have played where I don't have to carry a loaded gun and I have real choice with real consequences. There have been many games I have have loved this gen, but none of those have made me feel how I feel when I'm Corvo Attano. Well, except perhaps when I'm Batman.
Gripes? Well, there aren't enough non-lethal ways to complete an objective compared to lethal ways and the teleport ability, although amazing, could be improved upon, especially as the DLC's version of it was much better. These are insignificant gripes compared to the ridiculous amount of awesome you will discover.

I strongly recommend this game, especially this GoTY version, but be warned; it requires practice. It's taken me many hours of practice to find appropriate responses to each problem, so these skills wont come straight away. You need to practice using each discipline, but thankfully the game accommodates this. You only get a few games in each generation that truly shine, and this is one of them. It's the type of game we all complain about not having, so when one like this finally turns up you must try it. Not everyone will like it, but if you like to feel like an overpowered, supernatural ninja assassin fuelled by revenge and the finest cider from Gristol, this might be the game for you. The easiest 9 I have ever given.

A note for PC gamers

The game ran perfectly on my Phenom X6, AMD HD5870 rig, but I have since upgraded to an i5 3570K, GTX 670 rig which eats it alive. It's an Unreal Engine game, so it's very stable and will run on your machine quite nicely if you have a 3 or 4 year old gaming PC. The game requires Steam to play as far as I'm aware.
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