Friday, 28 December 2012

Xbox 360: Why I Love Dishonored

'Dishonored' was released in October 2012 to widespread acclaim and enjoyed healthy sales from the get go. Expectations had been high for the game as it was created by designers who had worked on classics such as 'Deus Ex' and 'Half-Life 2' but luckily, it didn't disappoint. In fact, 'Dishonored' ultimately became my favourite game of 2012, beating off strong competition such as 'Far Cry 3' and 'Mass Effect 3'. So what makes this potential new franchise so special? 

The freedom of choice is extraordinary in this game. Like some of the best action adventure titles before it, 'Dishonored' lets you choose exactly how you play through the story. Want to be a mystical warrior who slashes his way through the city of Dunwall? Well you've got a vast range of weaponry at your disposal, including a sword, crossbow and grenades. Or would you rather play as a stealthy assassin hiding in the shadows?

You're in luck again, as you could sneak silently behind guards, knocking them unconscious and then hiding their bodies. The levels themselves offer a wide range of options due to their expansive design which allows players to sneak underground, traverse rooftops or even just walk in the front door.

To help you complete missions in whatever way you choose, 'Dishonored' offers the player a range of supernatural abilities to select from, enhancing whichever play style you favour. Teleportation and possession are handy for the ninja wannabes while the power to summon vicious rats or a blast of wind helps those who prefer to face their enemies head on. To upgrade your abilities, you must find runes and bone charms that are scattered throughout each level by using a severed heart that whispers secrets in your ear. Lego Star Wars this aint!

The late Victorian style industrial setting of Dunwall is another strength of the game and was actually inspired by London around the time of the 'Great Fire'. In 'Dishonored', a plague has hit the city which is carried by rats and transforms its victims into zombie-like 'weepers' who cry blood and strive to infect others. 'Dishonored' stars a bodyguard named Corvo who is hellbent on rescuing the young girl under his charge who is next in line for the throne. Her kidnap is a political move for those who seek to rule the Empire but luckily, Corvo is supported by a resistance group called the Loyalists and a strange, almost mythical being known only as the Outsider.

To support this large cast, the game designers drafted in an incredible voice cast, including Hollywood players such as Chloe Moretz, Lena Headey and Carrie Fisher. The standout for me though has to be Susan Sarandon, who voices the character Granny Rags. After living many years alone on the streets, Granny Rags has turned insane, talking to people who aren't there and killing at random. As Corvo, there are a variety of options to consider when dealing with this character. When I played through the game, I befriended Granny Rags to gain her support until it was no longer needed but you can choose to ignore her from the beginning or even assassinate the mad old bitch if you like. This is just a tiny example of how much freedom of choice is actuallly available to you in 'Dishonored'. 

Due to this, the replayability factor is huge for 'Dishonored' yet already a new DLC has become available. The 'Dunwall City Trials' take key aspects of the game, such as mobility or stealth, and expands them into challenges which you can replay over and over to attain an impressive score for the leaderboards. Some, such as the The Mystery Foe' or 'Burglary' are more story based and therefore appeal more to fans of the original game but the other timed or score based challenges are also fun to an extent, making 'Dunwall City Trials' an enjoyable stopgap before the next story based content becomes available. 

Don't get me wrong. 'Dishonored' is not a perfect game. The controls can be extremely fiddly at times, particularly when you need to teleport in a hurry. The story can also lose its way at points, with the 'Outsider' occassionally coming across as silly in serious moments but there is a huge amount going for this game. Fans of 'Deus Ex' or 'Bioshock' will find a lot to like in 'Dishonored' but the game has its own strong identity and stands on its own merits. There is definite potential for a successful franchise here but while fans have to wait for the inevitable sequel, more DLC will be on its way soon and 2013 should also see the release of 'Bioshock Infinite' which should definitely whet appetities for this kind of gaming in the meantime. Check out the trailer here

Did you love 'Dishonored' as much as me? Did the story grip you or were you yawning the whole way through? And are you looking forward to a potential sequel? Let me know by liking, commenting and sharing below!

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