torstai 2. kesäkuuta 2016

REVIEW - Dishonored

GENRE(S): Action-adventure, Stealth
AVAILABLE ON: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
DEVELOPER(S): Arkane Studios
PUBLISHER(S): Bethesda Softworks
RELEASE DATE: October 9, 2012

Arkane Studios' work on their greatest hit – back then, just a handful of hope for the struggling studio – began in 2009, which was to be the year of the assassin adventure; in the end of the year, Ubisoft launched the mother of all sequels in Assassin's Creed II. A niche was getting set up, which might be one of the key reasons to ZeniMax Media reaching towards Arkane Studios and buying it in hopes for a different, yet just as groundbreaking tale of murder and conspiracy to be released under the oh, so fabled Bethesda Softworks banner. By the time Dishonored finally came out in 2012, the niche had gotten much bigger, it was all but perfect for a new stealth action IP. Assassin's Creed was no longer at the top of its popularity, but waned just the right amount for a new game to come collect its remaining harvest. Released almost a year before, Skyrim smothered the Bethesda Softworks logo in molten gold, and still continued to flourish, as fans all around the world were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the third and final add-on, the magnificent Dragonborn. There couldn't have been better circumstances for Dishonored to hit the shelves, and for a completely new game, it sold well. It was loved by critics and gamers alike, and hailed by many as one of the greatest new franchises of the century, the perfect mix of a stealth-based action-adventure and a Bethesda RPG, but never to my account, a real masterpiece. I don't remember anyone ever giving it a straight perfect review. That figures. Dishonored is not a perfect game. What Dishonored is, though, is a good start.

Requiescat in Pace, or don't

We're in 17th century England, a very industrialized and very fictional one. Empress Kaldwin's personal bodyguard Corvo Attano – a quite intimidating, soft-spoken guy with supernatural talents – returns home from a long journey, only to be brutally framed for his liege's (and lover's) murder, as well as her daughter Emily's abduction, by the Empress' spymaster and his hired help. Six months later, on the eve of his execution, Corvo escapes prison with the help of a group of imperial loyalists operating on the far outskirts of the city of Dunwall. With these loyalists at his back, Corvo starts picking off the spymaster's – now Lord Regent – cohorts one at a time, and aims to rescue Emily from her real captors in the process.

Dear sir, I do believe you're getting fucked.
Dishonored has a very interesting story, that I personally think goes to waste, just a bit, in a comic book environment. Got to keep in mind, though, that this game is really, really violent. It's not all that more or less violent than Assassin's Creed was at this point, but it's a first-person game, so it's a bit different; photorealism might've seriously pissed censors off. The first-person perspective threw me off a little too, at first. It's a challenging perspective for me as it is, but a stealth game? That's serious shit. It's surprisingly adaptable once you get over it. The stereo surround is awesome, it's one of your greatest tactical advantages. Many stealth- or stealth-oriented games tend to have problems with distancing chatter or footsteps properly, Dishonored does it just right. Headphones, or some really juicy home theater set-up are recommended for this one. To further praise the sound department, the music's quite OK, and we have talented voice actors we ALL know placing their bids here – Susan Sarandon, Lena Headey, Michael Madsen, Carrie Fisher, and Brad Dourif, for starters.

Double, double toil and trouble

Dishonored actually has much more in common with Metal Gear Solid than it has with Assassin's Creed, IF it can really be compared to any earlier game in existence; it really is a rare game of its very own kind. So, let's just leave any comparisons to any game that came before out right now, and just concentrate on the distinguishing features of Dishonored.

And down he goes.
Dishonored is cut into 16 distinct chapters, 9 of which are your primary missions and the rest are more or less tutorials or small quests that work towards the story. During these missions, you'll be visiting different parts of Dunwall, very often the same parts, but not without some significant changes, always for the worse – and side missions are always designed to accommodate a specific main mission, so if you're gonna do them, do them right away. As to why Dishonored has more in common with Metal Gear Solid than Assassin's Creed, is that in Assassin's Creed, the only true solution to any situation or major confrontation is a knife to the neck. It's just the approach you can decide for yourself. In Dishonored, you can decide most of everything for yourself. You don't have to kill any of the guys and gals on your list, you can go for an indirect approach to make sure no one hears or sees them again. Such as utterly humiliating them; humiliation has no cure in this fancy-ass town ruled by self-important dicks. Or, if you necessarily want them dead, but are tired or bored of sneaking behind their backs and venting their necks with your blade, very often you can find an alternative, more difficult but rewarding method. The side missions in the game very often give you clues to some really cool assassination plans, and it's really hard to resist trying them out.

To effectively sneak around in this severely plagued police state, Corvo has a wide array of gadgets and supernatural talents granted to him by a spirit of an intentionally vague alignment; he's kinda there to remind you of your own alignment and the ending you're going to receive for your actions. No need to browse through them all, but a few examples would be nice. You can possess rats (which there are plenty of, I can assure you, and all the more if you keep icing folk), bloodhounds and fish (really) to access certain types of path- and entryways. At a more advanced level of this ability, you can also possess regular enemy soldiers. You can't do anything to directly harm anyone – except push them off cliffs by just walking into them, that's fun (not to mention walking off a cliff yourself) – but this is a standout method to get closer to any enemy that's actually your target, including main mission targets. Your basic method of stealth movement is a teleportation ability you'll gain almost immediately after the first mission of the game, it's a real diverse hoot once you learn to use it properly and to great effect. Of course, as in any self-respecting game nowadays, you can hack all sorts of enemy equipment to function for your cause with the Rewire Tool. Finally, I guess I'll mention Thief Vision, which allows you to track enemy movement behind walls. So, it's kind of like Batman's Detective Mode, only you can use this for a very limited period of time and it really isn't quite that useful. Oops, a comparison.

Ouch. That'll leave a mark.
Last, I'll speak of what's left in the levels besides the missions and side missions, what makes them last for hours. Well collectables, of course, and not just any dolls or statues that reward you with a warm soul and a Trophy, but really important stuff; Runes to upgrade your abilities with, and Bone Charms, role-playing accessories which allow you to augment yourself with multiple passive abilities and perks. As the game developers practically encourage you to survive this game without improving on your default abilities too much, the Bone Charms are not all that essential to your success, the augments are not really that awesome, but they can be of surprisingly great help from time to time. To find these collectables in each stage of each level, you have a ”sonar” called Heart... which, actually, is literally a still beating human heart. Nice to have one in your pocket on these long trips, huh.

Dishonored is full of good, innovative ideas, but their execution is very rough-edged, very clanky at times. The gameplay never quite leaps the expected standards of the publisher or the genre. Close combat is somewhat clumsy, ranged combat has somewhat random registration, and the radial menu for the abilities and weapons is a complete fucking nightmare at its worst. Instead of the ability you pick, the game very often picks another one. Let's say you pick Blink to teleport right behind an unsuspecting guard to stab him in the neck, and when you use it, you notice that well, the game didn't like your choice and chose a hand grenade to throw at the guard and perhaps kill him, but also alert every damn guard in the vicinity. Like I said, a fucking nightmare. Always double-check.


Dishonored's flaws might be few, but it's a fairly lengthy game, and these problems, few as they are, follow the trail from the beginning to the very end, only getting worse with time and difficulty. It's not a stellar game as far as gameplay is concerned, but it has so much great ideas, a whole new, such great take on the stealth action genre, and such a good story to it, that it really should not be ignored by anyone. Not with a sequel on the way.


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