Dishonored - Preview Roundup
As promised by Bethsoft last week, new Dishonored previews are hitting the 'net. Let's start with Alec Meer on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, who say they were told there are "eight or nine different broad methods of completing a level":
Linear – the devil word. Scourge of freedom, the antithesis of PC gaming, the ancient enemy of anyone who’s ever roamed the Zone or steered a Dragonborn across the mountains. Or so the purist spirit often believes. Is, the question hangs so very heavily, Dishonored a linear game?
Yes. At least in the sense that it is not an open world. It is a series of missions in a linear order, most if not all of which require you to eliminate a specific target or targets. That’s okay, though, because my understanding of the game – having seen it in action – has morphed from something like ‘steampunk Deus Ex’ to ‘magic Hitman’. In what I’ve just been shown of the game, the same mission is tackled in two very different ways, with yet more described. And yes, I thought it looked amazing.
The demo did a good job in outlining the different ways the game can be played but Smith and Colantonio were keen to emphasis even further the variety of options available to the player. They mentioned examples of emergent gameplay being discovered play testers that they hadn't accounted for, describing an elaborate case when a player attached an explosive mine to a rat, possessed the rat and took it into a room of enemies before detonating the mine.
Taking on the task of building a fictional world from scratch presented numerous challenges for Antonov and the team at Arkane, such as balancing Dunwall's fantastical aspects with familiar, grounding elements. "If they're too strange or too original, [fictional cities] may not appeal to anybody," said Antonov. "We have to strike a balance between accessibility and overall appeal…Every dock, every chair, everything was designed by hand because we wanted to hand craft this, as opposed to the procedural method of making games. This is a steampunk, Victorian world, but it doesn't have any rivets, it doesn't have any copper, it doesn't have any tubes. It's a new breed, a world of its own."
Dishonored is a game about systems, choices and unique pathways. The first time you see it in action your mind hurtles through a constant stream of comparisons. Deus Ex comes first, then Hitman, Thief, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, BioShock and even - at a point at which the hero occupies the body and soul of an ornamental fish - Disney's Sword in the Stone.
The best moments of the stealth playthrough came from this sense that the player should be allowed to solve problems however they see fit, particularly when it comes to combining Corvo’s magical powers. Creeping around the outer wall of a parlour where one of the Pendleton brothers was arguing with a prostitute, Colantonio explained the possession ability – which we’ve previously seen being used to take control of rats and fish – can be upgraded at great cost to allow Corvo to enter into the bodies of humans. So what’s to stop the player just possessing his targets and chucking them off something high? Apart from the fact that Corvo would die along with his host, not very much.
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3