There’s going to be a backlash against Dishonored. It can’t be helped: when a game makes big promises, a justice squad will quickly arise to loudly demand that it accounts for not meeting them to the very letter, and in this case I suspect there’s an additional flock of people who have been led by marketing to expect an all-out action game. I can predict, even sympathize with, some of the complaints, others I suspect will be absolutely mystifying to me. It’s the finest hour in what we might loosely but inaccurately term ‘blockbuster shooters’ in years – I’d feel petulant were I to demand it give me even more. But there is one complaint that may reach a crescendo in short order, and that is the issue of length. For me, Dishonored was a deliciously long game, clocking in at about 25 hours even without the total replay I intend on having very soon. For someone else – someone who has a lot of numbers in the name they use when playing Halo 4, say – it will be insultingly short. It may not even make a double figures quantity of hours. That’s not the game’s fault, it’s theirs (or, perhaps, the fault of the marketeers who sold the game as an action opus). They gobbled the onion up whole, too greedy or too lazy or too accustomed to inflexible fare to peel apart its layers.
When you start a mission in Dishonored, your main objective/target will, if you not deliberately deactivated it on option, appear on the HUD as an ever-present marker. In most cases, the objective will be under 300 meters from your position (though will require a transition from an outdoor space to an indoor one). You can take out your gun, your crossbow, your grenades, your sword, your razor mines, perhaps your windblast power if you’ve been minded to acquire it, and you can run towards that marker.
You will have to do some jumping, you will probably have to do some fighting, and you’ll almost inevitably need to do some saving and reloading, but with a bit of skill and a bit of luck you will make it to that marker in a matter of minutes. This is certainly the case if you play on Normal, though expect a need for greater caution and precision on Hard. I have tried it myself on a couple of missions, and lo, it can indeed be brief.
If that is your Dishonored, your Dishonored will last but a handful of hours. You will have followed a cursor and you will have shot some men, and you will perhaps be questioning why there was so very little of it. Dishonored does contain that game, but Dishonored is not that game.
My Dishonored was largely spent in a crouch, in the shadows, killing no-one, collecting everything. That is not the necessary way to play it to get more out of it, but it’s certainly one way to do so. Dishonored’s levels always appear, at a quick glance, as straight, albeit lavish, runs across short distances with perhaps a couple of dozen enemies to contend with. You can do this, if your skill at shooters so allows, but by God you’re denying yourself so much.
Power upgrades, vignettes that flesh out this broken world, capsule puzzles and magnificent sights are hidden away to the sides and most of all under the skin of the map. Events and choices with some pretty huge repercussions on not just plot, but the contents and nature of later levels. What looks, superficially, like a small area is dense with layers, both of possibilities but also architecturally – maze-like buildings with satisfyingly inconvenient access points and hidden rooms, tragic notes from plague victims, books from lost authors, references to the unseen monsters which pull at destiny’s strings, and even requests for lengthy assistance from the occasional damned survivor. Things that change matters, things that flesh out a world that largely avoids open exposition, but also things to be seen for the simple joy of seeing.
Ignore the objective marker. Turn it off, ideally, but if you must have it on because otherwise you feel too unfocused, don’t even look towards it until you’ll teased open all the layers, scoured every corner whether for loot, for context, or for spectacle. Creeping around the back entrance to an enemy-occupied townhouse, I stumbled across a narrow, flooded street stretching off into the distance. Dunwall’s metal-plated walls towered at either side, suggesting something massive, fortified, impregnable. In the water below floated rubble, bodies, misery, but the light played across one iron face of this artificial valley in a sharp white beam, bleaching out the dirt and death, turning this bleak scene of ruin and oppression into one of stark, unblemished beauty. It became a hint of the gleaming metal-Victorian metropolis Dunwall once was on the way to becoming, before the plague, before the death of its beloved ruler, before man’s awful hunger for power laid it so low.
It wasn’t a scene to do anything with, or in. But it was clearly hand-crafted, put there by someone proud of it, who wanted to describe Dunwall in a single scene. Had I run from A to B, I would never have seen it – never even have known it was there. It was put there for people like me, who will play the game not to complete the objectives, not to get the end and kill anything that moved, but to explore for the simple, pretension free pleasure of exploring.
I want, with perhaps unhealthy compulsion, to see everything that’s there, everything that’s been made for me. It’s not just that I want to find all the Runes, Bonecharms, paintings, side quests and money (I do though – oh, I really do. Even though, as a non-lethal player, most of the things I can buy with this loot are of no use to me), it’s that I want to know that I have not missed anything. It agitates to me to even suspect some stone was left unturned. If the level results screen shows I’ve missed something, it burns me. This is nothing to do with kleptomania or achievement-hunting, and everything to do with the knowledge that something was created and I didn’t get to see it. I don’t know why it matters so much, but I know that Dishonored is a game designed to meet this strange, silent, selfish need.
In almost any game, should I encounter a hallway with one staircase going up, towards my target, and another going down, towards nothing obvious at all, I will go down. In the vast majority of shooters – and I lump Dishonored into that category even though I shot no-one in it, bar the occasional emergency stun dart – that stairway will end abruptly, in a fallen bookcase, a crumbling sofa, a pile of bricks or a mysteriously damage- and jump-resistant Closed For Maintenance sign. In Dishonored, it goes somewhere. An alternate route to your objective, perhaps. A path to a different objective. A letter or character who will reveal how to neutralize your assassination target non-lethally. A Rune, a nest of maddened plague victims, a key that won’t serve a purpose until the next level, or just a new perspective on part of this infected, drowned, proud, painterly world.
So fearful of missing anything was I that I felt compelled to knock out or stun-dart every guard I saw, purely to ensure I could then explore unfettered. Even once everyone was sleeping their bruised-necked sleep, I would creep and Blink about the place, possessing rats and fish, combing every corner. The maps felt palatial to me. The idea that that they contained just 200 meters or so of space ludicrous. Because they didn’t They contained kilometers of it, folded in on itself, braided, shielded, but all there to unravel for those willing to do so.
If you want to rush around with a gun, shooting anything that moves, don’t buy Dishonored. It has put those things in there for you, and it offers slick, brutal, varied permutations on how to use them, but they are not its all. If you’re looking for 10+ hours of shooting men, or even stabbing men, you are well-served already and forever by games that do that, do it well, and do it for a long time. You and those like you are the victor of the great games race, and you have the spoils, many times over.
So let us have Dishonored. Let us have this one expensive, luxurious game that only truly works, only sings a glorious tune, only becomes a 20+ hour game if met by those who treat it in the spirit with which it is offered. Don’t tell us it’s too short and too slight just because you don’t find combing through its many layers, peeling back every last millimeter of artfully subdued skin, of interest. Because you want to rush to the conclusion, and you don’t believe anything that doesn’t explicitly inform reaching that conclusion is worthwhile.
As for me, I ignore the objectives. I wait, I watch, I wonder. Eventually, with a working knowledge of guard movement patterns, I run a careful knife across the surface, make myself a way in to what’s underneath. I start peeling and that deceptively short 200 meter sprint sprays open, exploding into a sprawling, handmade world of navigational puzzles, short stories, unspoken character studies and bespoke beauty spots. Dishonored’s Corvo has bullets, blades, bolts and black magic to call upon, but it’s Blink that is the game’s bedrock. The power that lets you reach more places, because, underneath all the distorted Victoriana styling, that showy skull mask, and the artful violence, Dishonored is a game about going places. And there’s no hurry.
Check out more great articles like this at Rock Paper Shotgun.
Sleeping Dogs is the latest in a series of games that at one time was the True Crime series. It is an open world sandbox game in the vein of Grand Theft Auto but offers a certain charm that other sandbox games don’t. One of the major draws for me to this game is that it isn’t all just run and gun.
Melee combat is majorly emphasized in Sleeping Dogs and they did a great job making combat feel fluid and fun. It has a similar combat feel to the Batman Arkham games with a nice counter system. Combat is also challenging but not infuriatingly hard. I always welcome street brawls at every chance I get.
The driving and shooting mechanics are solid and it is a joy to navigate the beautiful city of Hong Kong. Characters may be your standard stereotypical asian gangster types but they are entertaining to watch.
One great thing that sets this game apart from GTA is the leveling system. You have two classes to level up and they are your affiliations with the Hong Kong Police Department and the Triads each with their own abilities to unlock. Also the fact that you have consequences to your actions sets this game apart from other sandbox games. If you drive like a lunatic and break the law during missions you will lose experience points in the police class.
Guns are not as commonplace in Sleeping Dogs due to its setting in China where guns are not legal at all and are only owned by criminals or cops. So constant shootouts are not present and you will likely settle most matters the foot/fist way.
All in all it is a very fun game to play through if not just for the entertaining combat and beautiful city.
I am a major fan of the original Darksiders with it’s sexy blend of Devil May Cry and The Legend of Zelda with a touch of Metroid thrown in for extra tangyness. It is an orgy of action, puzzles, beautiful artwork, and big muscley men punching one another in the face. Hell even the way War opened chests was by literally punching them in the face.
Darksiders II is coming out August 14th which is this coming Tuesday and that day cannot come fast enough. DSII will feature massive levels to explore and on top of the masterful combat system they even included a loot system to satisfy my need for shiny new equipment. So if a game with the artwork of Warhammer, combat of a Devil May Cry/God of War, puzzles and dungeons of The Legend of Zelda (but on a much grander scale), loot collecting of Diablo, platforming of Prince of Persia, gadget based progression into new areas throughout the world like Metroid (or for younger players the Batman Arkham games), and the best of all sweet ass horses doesn’t get you giddy as a school girl then you might want to take up a new hobby like golf…
We know it’s all about the horses!
So it would seem that all of us old-school Shadowrun fans (i.e. Fans of the series before the FPS on 360) are getting one of our wishes and that’s a new game based on the cyber-punk universe we love. Only 28 hours ago there was a Kickstarter project started by the original creator of the Shadowrun universe Jordan Weisman and after that amount of time they have already raised enough money to start making the game. What’s even better is that now with the more donations they receive more features will be added such as co-op and PvP deathmatches. So open your hearts and your wallets and give, give, give! Here is the original Kickstarter project video and to visit the site CLICK HERE!
There is a broadcast in Batman Arkham City that is a numbers station repeating 9 23 9 12 12 18 5 20 21 18 14 2 1 20 13 1 14 over and over. It translates to “I WILL RETURN BATMAN” Very interesting. I wonder what it means. The broadcast frequency is about 683, 483. Check it out.
Hello this is an associate of Alyxandor’s and I am here to inform you all that he will return soon. He has been away with his family moving into a new home and getting many things taken care of. He has assured me that he will have his internet up and running within the next few weeks! Stay tuned for more info!
An interesting looking little voxel game has been in development a few weeks now and looks, well cute.
Here is a small amount of info released by the developers…
Aliens: Colonial Marines begins with an ostensibly abandoned ship, the U.S.S. Sulaco, recovered in orbit around LV-426. Players lead a group of highly trained United States Colonial Marines as they board the deserted craft to uncover the fate of the crew. They will have to fight to survive unspeakable horrors and their own anxieties as they chase down the truth behind a galaxy-spanning deception that places humanity at the mercy of the most murderous and deadly species in the universe. Aliens: Colonial Marines features authentic environments, such as the surface of LV-426 and Hadley’s Hope, weapons inspired by the film series and is designed to
Enlist in the Marine Corps
Bringing you a true sequel to James Cameron’s classic Aliens, get tooled up with classic Marine weapons including pulse rifles, motion trackers and flamethrowers.
The most authentic Aliens experience ever!
Using authentic environments inspired by the film series including Hadley’s Hope, the Sulaco and LV-426, you will be immersed in an eerie, atmospheric world where any moment could bring your death.
Drop-in / Drop-out co-operative gameplay.
The masters of co-op bring their expertise to the Aliens universe. Xenos getting too tough? Call up your buddies so they can drop in with extra firepower. The whole campaign can be played with a squad of up to four players, dropping in and out as necessary through self-contained missions within an over-arching narrative.
Loadouts and upgrades.
Create your perfect killing machine. An extensive upgrade system allows players to customise their characters to play the way they want. Earn experience to get perks, new weapons and new looks for your squad.
And now a video:
Here are two dev diaries for a gorgeous mech combat game in development called Hawken. Check it out!