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Dishonored: Definitive Edition (Xbox One)
MSRP: $19.99
Number of Players: 1
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Rating:
****
out of
*****

For those that are not familiar with Dishonored's storyline, the game follows the story of Corvo Attano, bodyguard to the Empress of the Isles. At the beginning of the game, Corvo is returning to the plague-ridden city of Dunwall after a diplomatic trip to enlist foreign aid to combat the plague. He rushes to deliver the news of his journey to the Empress but soon finds himself framed and imprisoned for her murder and a suspect in the kidnapping of her daughter, Emily. While imprisoned, Corvo learns that the Lord Regent is responsible for the assassination of the Empress.

The player is first tasked with getting Corvo out of prison. Helped by a group of Loyalists who know he is not responsible for the Empress' death or the kidnapping of Emily, he is given access to tools and weapons that assist his escape. Once free and rested, Corvo meets with Admiral Havelock, the leader of the Loyalists, who begins to give Corvo missions that will damage the Lord Regent's grip on the Empire. Additionally, Corvo will attempt to locate and rescue Emily with the intent to return her to the throne. An inventor named Piero gives Corvo a special mask and offers to upgrade Corvo's weapons and inventory capacity. Of course, such upgrades cost money, so the collection of coins and other valuable items is necessary to cover the costs.

Dishonored would be a fairly straightforward action game were it not for the inclusion of supernatural elements. In a dream, Corvo meets The Outsider, a mystical figure who gifts him with magical abilities like Blink, a teleportation power, and Dark Vision, the ability to enemies see through walls. Further powers can be added to Corvo's abilities through the collection of runes and bone charms that are scattered throughout Dunwall. Runes can also be purchased from Piero at the Loyalists' hideout but they're quite pricey.

When I first began playing the game, I did not like the control scheme and I found the interface for equipping weapons rather clunky. Once I was able to use the magical abilities and learned to combine them with the conventional first-person tactics, I came to appreciate the controls and was able to navigate through the environments with relative ease.

Unlike many current or next generation games, Dishonored's graphics are not photo-realistic. The city of Dunwall resembles a painting that's come to life moreso than an accurate representation of a city. Some of the characters look a bit like caricatures while others look more natural. The overall art style is a refreshing change of pace from the gritty realism of games like Call of Duty or Battlefield.

What I really appreciated about Dishonored, though, was the freedom the player is given to complete each mission as he or she sees fit. If you want to sneak through the city, avoiding detection, and dispatching your prey with non-lethal force, you can. But, if you want to brutally murder each and every character you meet, including non-essential NPCs, you can do that as well. However, there is a cost to causing a high amount of chaos in the game. The ending of the game is affected by the choices you make as you play. I enjoyed the fact that the game didn't punish me for not following a linear path through the levels. In fact, after completing the game, I found that I had somehow completely avoided meeting some of the game's major characters. While the ending reflected my decidedly hack and slash approach of getting around the streets of Dunwall, I was still permitted to finish the game.

Having played and enjoyed many first-person games over the course of my gaming career, finding a game that adds something new and innovative to the genre doesn't happen often. Back in 2004, I reviewed Breakdown, an Xbox game that attempted to do something interesting by bringing fighting game elements to the first-person arena. While the results were mixed, the developers at least tried something different. Dishonored brings a wealth of choices (that you're free to ignore) to what could have been just another first-person action game. It may not be entirely new but it feels unlike most games in the genre. I'd recommend giving it a shot.

In August, 2015, Bethesda Softworks released the "Definitive Edition" of Dishonored, their highly-acclaimed 2012 stealth/action game, on the next generation consoles. While providing a negligible upgrade in the graphics department over the previous generation's version, the "Definitive Edition" included 3 packs of Downloadable Content (DLC), which provides a nice boost of content over the regular edition.

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