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[9.0] Dishonored Review

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Sometime in 2011 I was able to see a glimpse of Bethesda's Dishonored.
At that time I had no idea what to think- to me it seemed like a mix of Half-Life meets Assassin's Creed?
That's not the best way to describe it- but its out now, and its surprising quite a lot of people.
Whether you're thinking about getting it or have already beat it and want to know what other's think, here is your review- with plenty of in-game screenshots might I add.

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A lot of folks compare Dishonored to games like Bioshock with a dash of Deus Ex since it feels like it may have picked back up where they may have left off- Dishonored is a game that gives you choice, unlike many games these days that take your freedom away, bringing you down a road of cinematics/cut-scenes and linear objectives.
While some folks enjoy a myriad of cinema-quality AAA titles, others crave more games and stories where they have control.
Whether you're either type of gamer, you'll enjoy Dishonored.
However if you're the latter, this game will cater to you're need for that control.

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You are Corvo Attano- the Empress's protector in a grimy port town called Dunwall.
The population of Dunwall is currently diminishing thanks to a rat-born plague.
It has a very unique industrial setting as well as being what Obi-Wan would say as, "...a wretched hive of scum and villainy."
Since it happens early, its no spoiler that the Empress gets assassinated and everyone thinks you're the killer- which is mainly the start of Corvo's story of revenge.

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One thing that is quite unique, is that by default Corvo is not a stone-cold killer who could easily down an enemy at the drop of a hat without expression much emotion- unlike the majority of video game protagonists- he is whatever you want him to be.
The game can actually be completed without killing a single soul, as guards and enemies can be knocked out or taken down in non-lethal manners which also stand true for assassination targets.
Of course if it is your desire to pave a blood-soaked path through Dunwall you can do that as well, however there are ramifications, such as more bodies equal more rats, guards, and a darker ending.
Personally I agree with many of my friends on finding a happy-medium between the lines of pacifism and all-out-war.

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There are several different ways to approach the game, and re-play value is high.
I will probably play through the game at least 3 times- one playthrough being a happy-medium as I stated above, another being a total pacifist, and the final one raising hell with guns blazing.
Whichever way you decide to play the game is up to you, but what's pretty kick-ass is that the game's mechanics are highly adaptable and multifaceted with each point of the game designed to give multiple options for accomplishing many tasks.

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One great example is at a point where Corvo has to assassinate two specific targets at a brothel. Instead of barging in a instantly dropping them, you can find alternatives, such as getting one of the guests at the brothel to give up a code to a safe that you can then trade to another character who will take care of the two for you.
Also up to you is the option of eliminating both of them and taking the contents of the safe for yourself.
Dishonored can be a compelling game full of moment to moment decisions.

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Bypass obstacles by traveling across roof tops similar to Assassin's Creed, or use your power of possession to control an army of rats seen above.
Your path through the game will most likely fit your control of Corvo's customization as you build his skills.
The game's 10 major powers can be unlocked in whichever order you choose, then upgraded via Runes that are hidden throughout the world.

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Some sweet powers I'll name off the bat are Blink, Dark Vision, and Agility, which make a nice combo.
Teleporting at short range using Blink to grab cover quickly or scale buildings is fun and useful.
Jump height, movement speed, and reduced fall damage are perks to using Agility.
Dark Vision let's you see beyond walls, highlighting enemy movement and special items.
All this with some upgrades to your equipped gear can make for some seriously stealthy moves.
But that's just one of many ways to play.

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It's all up to you to experiment while customizing Corvo.
A combat-focused player will want to optimize Whirlwind to send enemies flying, Slow Time which, when fully leveled up will ACTUALLY freeze time- try it its the best- and also consider your weapons as well, like spring razors, grenades, pistols, crossbows, and more.

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The game's major nine missions will take you through an incredible myriad of distinct plot points.
I don't want to spoil too much of what you will experience, but we'll just say that most of the missions are designed "sandbox-style" meaning you have mostly free reign over how you utilize everything in your immediate setting to complete your goal.

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This is a game you'll generally "play" in all sense of the word.
Hunting for runes and treasure, completing objectives, take part in duels, traverse through flooded slums, stalk people across rooftops, scale bridges and buildings, discover secrets and alternative routes, and for the sake of this game's awesomeness- definitely take time to enjoy it- you'll be rewarded.

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The more you discover, the more you're rewarded.
Runes, bone charms, money- all of these can be used to upgrade your rendition of Corvo as you see fit.
Take it easy in Dishonored, collect enough skills and upgrades, make a kick-ass character.
Dishonored is a great example of what a video game should be.

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Even after you think you've maxed out your character's skills and stats, killed some of the endgame enemies like they were nothing- and I'm talking to my fellow bad-ass overachieving RPG mates out there who love overkilling a boss at the end of the game with a character with god-like strength- well, there's something for you after that too!
There's a hard and even extra hard difficulty setting to move up to if you think you're stalking, choking, and killing with ease, and bored after you've raised your character up to godly strength.
Harder difficulties make enemies more perceptive, and increase the challenge.
Dishonored has something for everyone.

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The majority of the time you'll find that you have the advantage over most enemies- especially the ones you're mainly targeting in the missions.
Know that killing someone outright could be a slight let-down, but don't let that ruin the game for you- this is a game where being skillful is fun an enjoyable and that Dishonored is about exploring possibilities and having freedom with your environments to do things differently than just "Hulk-Smash" everything that comes your way.
Of course if that satisfies you, be my guest.

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Dishonored is really something, the vibes of the game change and shift as new factions and enemies join the fray, pushing Corvo and you as the player to really utilize the game's unique focus on getting you to form your own play style with its plethora of possible skill combinations.

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It's an absorbing and fascinating experience from start to finish, and looks great on PS3 and XBOX 360 with PC being the best- if you're playing on full settings.

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There's a wide cast of interesting characters and things to do.
Some quite memorable and downright awesome, others will make you go "wtf..."
All part of the charm that makes this tale of vengeance into a unique, player-driven experience.

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The only issues that I can think of, would be that getting out of water or scaling certain ledges could be a little smoother.
Sneaking up on guards can also be a little temperamental.
I'm also a tad bit disappointed that the carrying of objects mostly hover in space- which is a contrast to the game's spectacular first person implementation of using abilities, knocking out guards, and wielding weapons.
You shouldn't be too concerned though, as none of this is bad enough to ruin the experience.
Other than those things, I can't think of anything else I didn't like- Dishonored is a very enjoyable game to play.

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Dishonored is one of the most beautiful games (graphically) that I've seen in a while.
Its very fluid visual aesthetic is just awesome.
Art and graphic direction in Dishonored isn't fighting for the best detail, but its use of colors and smooth textures combined with lighting make it gorgeous and successful at portraying its Victorian styles that are combined with an almost Steampunk/City 17 feel.

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If you have the option of playing it on PC at good settings, I say go for it- its highly recommended.
XBOX 360 and PS3 have no major differences that the eye can truly see.
I myself will be replaying it again on my PS3.

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THE SCORE: 9.0/10 = Awesome and Bad-Ass

+Beautiful Art Style
+Setting and Theme 
+Freaking Sweet Powers

-Some Minor Gameplay Bugs
-Unmemorable Plot Points

Dishonored is a truly unique experience, and it feels and looks way better than I thought it would based on what I saw back in 2011. It is a well-known fact that most Bethesda developed games that are not made by the Elder Scrolls or Fallout teams have been known to be pretty disappointing- and before Dishonored was released no one really knew 100% what to think of it. 
A game like this presents the fact that fresh ideas are still totally possible in the industry, and even though you can still name elements of Dishonored that feel similar to other franchises, it still remains a unique IP that came completely out of nowhere and is dominating October's charts so far.

While I feel the game is deserving as "Biggest Surprise of 2012" (besides the ME3 ending) in the games industry at least- there are some reasons why it is a 9.0 and not a 9.5 or 10.0. 
The game is memorable, but what is mostly memorable is the feel, art style, finding those possibilities and your own style that I talked about, and really just the pure gameplay. 
What isn't as memorable is the main storyline- its not bad trust me- but no where near as awesome as the core game/gameplay itself.
And like I said previously in the review- some movements in water or climbing could be a little bit smoother.

Each mission or task can be elaborate and present you with numerous ways to complete it and each player's play style is unique from the next persons. No two play-throughs will be exactly the same.

You're going to talk about this game with people you know, its a game you and your friends can go on and on about- the different decisions, skill sets you build, and more will make you want to play it multiple times.
There will always be multiple paths, and multiple ways to enjoy it.
As gamers, we've seen games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Amalur, Skyrim, and more that let you choose your path- but you'll have to play Dishonored to really feel what I mean- its quite refreshing.

Here's the awesome launch trailer below:

-Hikaru Kazushime

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