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Dishonored: A video game review by Andrew C. Cary

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Dishonored Release Date: Oct. 9, 2012 Consoles: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC Review by Andrew C. Cary   I missed so much in my first playthrough of Dishonored. Created by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Studios, Dishonored is a first-person action-stealth game very reminiscent of great games like Bioshock or Deus Ex. However, through its unique world, smooth execution, and just really exhilarating gameplay, it manages to shine past its peers and become something totally separate from anything else you will see in the video game industry today. One problem that I have found when I try to talk to the general public about Dishonored is that, because it is such a non-traditional game and, nonetheless, a new IP (Intellectual Property) cropping up so late in a console cycle, not many people know what Dishonored is. So, for a quick synopsis: Dishonored is set in the fictional “steampunk” region of Dunwall, an area surrounded by water where almost everything runs on whale oil. While cities look modern, ways of thinking, technology, and dress are still very archaic. Dunwall is a really interesting place full of things to find; nooks to explore, notes left behind by unfortunate corpses, and people who want to kill you. You play as Corvo Attano, the bodyguard, a.k.a “Lord Protector” (Cool title, right?) to the royal Empress of Dunwall. While something known as the “Rat Plague” (reminiscent, in many ways, of the Bubonic Plague) tears through the people of Dunwall, the Empress is murdered by a group of high ranking officials in the government, and Corvo is framed for the killing. So, essentially, your character is “dishonored”. Get it? The majority of the game consists of tracking down and eliminating, in any way you can, the people responsible for the Empress’s murder and trying to restore the rightful heir, the Empress’s daughter, to the throne. Now, back to my first statement, let me just say that Dishonored is not easy. It can actually be quite stressful, but that it what sets it apart from other titles. In most shooters or other action titles, I find myself jamming the sprint button and running into the middle of every encounter, never too worried about the consequences, and generally disinterested. In Dishonored, I am terrified to look around every corner. Especially in the first few missions, where your character, Corvo, is equipped merely with a (really awesome looking) dagger and a pistol with very limited ammunition (10 rounds is the standard maximum amount you can carry, this can be upgraded later, however). There were so many locations I never saw, people I never talked to, and collectables that I never found simply because I never wished to venture outside of the safest path that I could find. I could be spotted at any time, the alarm would sound, and the guards would gang up on me in no-time and either kill me or make me use all of my precious health potions and ammunition to survive. It is also not nearly as satisfying to simply go through the level killing everyone, which is generally possible on the easiest difficulty. The joy of being skillful and stealthy, of using your resources and your brain to trick the guards and your targets into either taking their own lives or taking them out in non-lethal ways, often outweighs the simple joy of using your blade (which can still be pretty fun). This stealth concept, and the idea that you have to actually be truly “good” at the game to succeed and achieve the best ending (yes, there are multiple endings depending on how you play the game) make the game something that is truly enjoyable to someone who is tired of the same trite “invincible modern soldier” games that dominate the marketplace every holiday season. During my first playthrough of Dishonored, I was simply so lost in the world and the mission at hand that I could not focus on anything else, and for me, that is the sign of a truly great game. I didn’t even think about all of the important work I had to do at the time, because I was genuinely engrossed in something for the first time in a long time. When I finished that playthrough, I was immediately ready to play again. Even though I have touted the merits of stealth in this review, that still doesn’t change the fact that I suck badly at Dishonored, and in every single mission, I would start out trying to be stealthy, proceed to fail, and then run in terror as I tried to reach my mark before I was brutally killed by guards who continually seem to prove that they are better at this game than I am. Thus, I achieved, technically, the “worst” ending that one can get. This didn’t really bother me, however, because I knew that I deserved it. I was immediately ready to start a new game, and that’s just what I did. I am now going for a perfect playthrough, where I kill no one and alert no one to my presence throughout the whole campaign. It is not easy (I mean, I had a hard time playing through the game like an idiot, I don’t know how I’ll do trying to be smart about it), but I am having a blast. I’ve never played a game quite like Dishonored, and while it borrows a few elements from other classic games, I truly believe that Dishonored will be remembered as one of the greatest and most original games of this generation by all who play it. Hopefully, after reading this review, you‘ll be one of those lucky people who get to say they played through it and experienced it in all its glory. Score: 9.5
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