Review: Dishonored

I mean, who wouldn't want to join in
Standard

Over a decade ago the Thief and Deus Ex series went about changing the way that people looked at first person shooters.  While some people look back and see these as a gold age of awesome that can’t be topped, it is also import to note that most games didn’t ever end up going down that path because the sequels always managed to be entirely less than the sum of their parts.  It is good to know, now, that after all this time there is finally one game that is frankly better than those two after all this time.

Dishonored’s world is something of a Victorian Steam Punk’s wet dream.  Everything seems to be built out of hundreds of moving parts, always seems like it is in precarious danger of breaking due to over use, and is powered by the obscure and forgotten fuel source: whale oil.  Everything scattered through the environment, be it loose change to empty bottles, feels like it was set there with a purpose and not simply randomly generated as the player entered the zone.  Without a doubt Dishonored’s greatest achievement ends up being its sense of place.

The game boasts that you can play through both lethal and non-lethally, but for most players it is going to be some kind of odd mixture of the two as there are times—namely after getting discovered—that it is difficult to keep playing without either returning to a previous save or simply slaughtering the one or two offending guards.  The game will throw up the stats of how many people died in a level, how many bodies became discovered, and several others, but for most people this will probably only seem like another look at their actions as opposed to something to strive to min/max.

These two different play styles manage to lend themselves to the way that the game itself seems to be set up, mainly the entire sense of freedom that they strive for in the moment to moment play.  Early in the game there is a check point that the player must get through, and the tutorial suggests two or three ways that they might want to go about doing that, the problem with all of this is that while the game might be suggesting a handful there are really countless ways to do it—even to the point that the entire thing can almost be ignored if the player wants.

Like the games that came before it Dishonored does a great job setting a mood, a place, and even the player freedom from the start of the game.  Like most of those games before it there is really something that must played to fully experience, as there really isn’t any way to tell someone the twelve different tricks that you used dark magic to escape from an alerted guard.  When it comes right down to it Dishonored is one of the few games that have come out, almost ever, that can wholeheartedly be blindly recommended to almost anyone with a system to play it on.  For those without such a system they may want to look into investing in one.

Gillman’s Top 10 Games of 2011

This screen cap says all that I feel it needs to
Standard

10. Marvel v. Capcom:

Besides the fact that this year was when I finally found a group competitive people and was able to start really learning how to really play fighting games, it is hard to ignore the fact that one of the most requested sequels to a game finally came out—and it also managed to pretty much live up to what everyone thought it should be… at first.  It is hard to ignore the fact that Capcom is quickly burning what good will they have ever built with this game by basically putting out the same thing with more characters a short eight months after it came out. Doesn’t matter, it is still exactly what I wanted it to be.  The dickishness of everything else is why it is so far down my list.

9. Deus Ex: Human Revolution:

If it wasn’t for Stark’s constant insistence, and Steam selling the game for next to nothing, this would not have made the list and would have made room for Gears of War 3.  As it is I have played only a handful of hours in it so it makes up the tail end, and glares at me with desire to be placed higher than it sits.  While it only took about 10 years to make a (good) sequel to one of the best games ever made by man, they did make something that can stand up to what the first Deus Ex game was.

8. Battlefield 3:

I have yet to play the single player, and in all honesty don’t know if I will have that intention ever.  While I am not overly happy paying 60 dollars for a game that, for all intents, is just a multiplayer it does find ways to make me believe it is almost worth that price.  Probably one of the better looking games that hold some odd spell that causes me to come to work and tell everyone highlights of the night before.  Great graphics, a large enough environment for freedom of movement and choice, and chaos on the level that would make most recent wars jealous and it just destroys anything Call of Duty has done.  Remember, when you can’t capture a flag the solution is to always throw more mans at it.  Possibly in helicopters.

7. Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition:

When Street Fighter 4 came out a couple of years ago it was the catalyst that started everyone thinking about fighting games as something that could be done in an current, fun, and enjoyable way– this would be the logical conclusion to that arch.  The game is balanced enough that, speaking from experience, someone who is terrible can play against a tournament level person and slowly start to learn and become better with continued play and not feel like they are getting stomped.  The depth is amazing, but sadly it feels like Capcom figured out how to make it a pivotal experience but forgot marketing and how to please customers.

6. Disgaea 4:

Welcome to Varms.  I like Disgaea.  I like Disgaea a lot.  The odd thing about Disgaea is that I almost never get into it that deeply when I first pick up the game, almost like I subconsciously know that it will suck whatever time I have around me away.  I might have only have dumped about 20 hours into the game when it first came out, oddly enough time to get my characters to a level that could easily beat the rest of the story game with no equipment on, it still wasn’t enough for me to really say that I felt like I had gotten anywhere.  While I haven’t sunk the required 100+ hours into the game that I normally do, I can tell that this seems to be the best one to come out.  Wait for the site to quickly become a Disgaea 4 fan page later this year.  You have been warned.

5. Mortal Kombat:

Striking a balance between rewarding to know what you are doing and happily button mash friendly for drunken people; Mortal Kombat is not the fighting game we wanted, but it is exactly the one that we deserve.  Making a story mode matter in a fighting game is something that should have been done before it was successfully done in a first person shooter. The story is dumb, plays to the lowest standards it can, becomes kind of hard to follow towards the end, and still manages to be the best thing to happen to the genre since the Arcade.

4. Portal 2:

At one point Stark and I were going to do an entire podcast just about Portal 2.  Something happened and that podcast didn’t.  Either way it is everything that everyone should always look for in a game, or something very much like it.  There were certainly times that I put down the game because I was simply stumped on a puzzle that had me launching my character against the same wall for the better part of an hour, only to find that I solved it the moment I went back .  Also, I didn’t mind the multiplayer the way some people now suddenly seem to—but I also played the entire thing with Stark.  Also, it was pretty awesome that purchasing the game on PS3 gave you a free copy on Steam.

3. Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland:

The only thing that I have against this game is that the heavily implied lesbian harassment from the previous alchemy teacher is no longer present.  Besides that the game pretty much is everything that I love about Role Playing Games, also it is one of the signature times that Stark has played something directly under my recommendation and completely not understood the pure enjoyment that I found.  Oddly my entrance into the series was a fluke of Gamefly sending me something I had put on my list as a joke because they had nothing else, and ended with me buying about a dozen games tangentially related to it.  In all honesty I kind of think this one is my favorite series ever.

2. Skyrim:

If you have listened to the podcast you can pretty much just go ahead and skip this section because I am sure this will just be me repeating myself about how much time I have lost to this game, if not feel free to let me talk about how little I have played the main story.  The fact that beyond the very first quest there isn’t really much forced on the player in the way of advancing the plot is one of my favorite things about this series of games.  It might sound boring to most people, and probably is worse than getting teeth pulled to watch, but my master blacksmith/alchemist has no regrets about so far learning no combat skills while still basically owning entire towns due to my government grade wealth.

1. Saints Row the 3rd:

The only game that has come out in the last several years that I could probably put above Skyrim, Saints Row manages to be a game that feels like it has possibly everything that you could ever really want from a Grand Theft Auto style game.  Probably the major fault of every street thug style game is the chunk of the time spent playing is trying to put your entire gang together, Saints Row does away with by just saying you are a world known crew and just killing other gangs.  The first trip to a gun story basically requires the purchase of a rocket launcher, so even the weapon progression of the game is entirely skewed.  By the end of the game the main character is literally invincible with unlimited ammo for all weapons. At one point I described my characters machine guns as a fire hose of bullets. It is pretty awesome.