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Dishonored: Steampunk action at its best

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Martin soon learned to regret eating all those Cheetos

Take note of your actions though, as how you play affects the world around you and ultimately dictates the ending you receive. Wanton violence may be gratifying, especially with Corvo’s spectacular abilities, but even something as common as a recently dispatched guard can attract more plague rats to the area, meaning you are literally responsible for further spreading the plague due to your initial indifference to bloodshed.

I found myself feeling guilty. I wanted to be the hero of Dunwall, so even though I craved total retribution against my enemies, I had to seek out more prudent methods that minimised the amount of collateral damage done to the innocent population caught in the crossfire. This means that, with enough skill and caution, one can go through the entire game with not only never being seen, but  also without killing a single soul - even your main targets. This can lead to extremely challenging but also very rewarding alternate outcomes and divergent stories through each playthrough.

I like my imperial  guards ‘well done’

Playing the game, it’s immediately apparent how much hard work and care has gone into creating a truly unique and vibrant new world unlike any other games of late. There are tons of readable books and pages throughout the game world that add real depth and layers to the already fascinating mythos.

From Dunwall’s whaling based economy to the political curiosities of the empire’s religious order, with its strictures and propaganda in stark contrast to the tales of freedom and adventure found in neighbouring provinces.

Content read in books is even referenced in conversations between characters, for those keen enough to notice. It’s these subtleties and acute attention to detail that goes a long way to making a genuinely intriguing game world that is worth exploring.

I get the feeling Arkane Studios has more plans for the universe the company has created, assuming Dishonored does well enough (although it’s already sitting on numerous awards from the press, like PC Gamer and Gamespot’s coveted Editor’s Choice awards, and was also nominated for Best of Show at the E3 2012 Games Conference).

The breadth and scope of the underlying canon is immense, which makes the fact that the game can be completed in less than six hours rather disappointing. I personally managed to get 20 hours of play by taking the time to explore the wondrous environments, side-quests and lore fully, and I don’t regret it one bit. The more you buy into what the game’s selling you, the more you will reap. I did find the main storyline serviceable, albeit a tad predictable, but not so much to deter my overall enjoyment of the game.

Your hi-tech assassin’s mask not only allows for better spying and enhanced zoom, but also looks totally badass.

Visually, the game is astounding. Anyone who has played Half-Life 2 will be feeling a sense of deja vu, and not without reason. The two games share the same incredible concept artist, Viktor Antonov, which means stark metal monstrosities in rustic coastal landscapes. My only complaint is that the levels feel decidedly devoid of life.

I understand that teaming populaces would probably be contradictory to a plague ridden quarantine zone, but I was still irked somewhat at the seemingly few inhabitants against the sheer size of the environments. For example, one mission sees you attending a costume ball at a luxurious mansion, where you run into all but 20 or so guests at most.

The environments are truly beautiful and intricately detailed, with all character designs exerting an alluring charm

Overall, Dishonored is a very strong new entry into the action stealth genre. With it’s intriguing setting, dastardly conspiracies and nail-biting escapades, I implore any of you on the fence to give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Dishonored - 8/10

  • Available on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3
  • Mature Rating 17+
  • Single player only
  • Inspired steampunk design and unique setting
  • The game world can feel a little under-populated
  • Exploration and creative use of abilities is highly encouraged and rewarded

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