Bethesda Softworks and Arkane Studios unveiled Tuesday their latest game creation, which some are describing as Assassin's Creed meets Bioshock meets a steampunk version of Half-Life 2. It's a pretty big compliment for Dishonored, which Bethesda says will be released by the end of 2012 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
[Watch the debut trailer here, at the bottom of this page.]
The game publisher behind the popular Fallout, Doom and Elder Scrolls series is looking to capitalize on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, its last game released in November, which has quickly become one of the best reviewed and best-selling games in recent memory. Compared to the open-world role-playing game of Skyrim, which let users control a Nordic hero with dragon's blood and supernatural powers, developer Arkane's Dishonored puts you in the shoes of an assassin who must fight against the odds to clear his name.
As Bethesda describes it:
You are the once-trusted bodyguard of the beloved Empress. Framed for her murder, you become an infamous assassin, known only by the disturbing mask that has become your calling card. In a time of uncertainty, when the city is being besieged by plague and ruled by an oppressive government armed with strange technologies, dark forces conspire to bestow upon you abilities beyond those of any common man.
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In the trailer, you meet the protagonist named Corvo, a former bodyguard of the Empress, who isn't looking too good, considering he's locked up in a murky jail cell and covered in rats. As we wonder how he got here, a shadowy figure appears on the other side of the grate: the corrupt Lord Regent.
My dear Corvo, he begins. What a sad hand Fate has dealt you. The beloved Empress dead and everyone thinks you're the killer, but we really know what happened, don't we? You don't want to end your life to the sound of idiots cheering as your head hits the muck, do you? Let's see if we can do better.
The dark figure then magically burns a mysterious mark into Corvo's hand. Consider it a gift, he says.
Dishonored, like Skyrim, features an extremely flexible combat system that allows you to fight the way you want. Go heavy on short-range or long-range weapons, or fight with one of your supernatural abilities or useful gadgets. You also have a full set of handy assassin skills, which can let you sneak up on enemies in the dark, or stop time or you can run into every room guns ablaze. It's your choice, but be prepared to face the consequences for every action you take in the game.
Matt Miller from Game Informer describes how players can really use their creativity to attack any obstacles.
The encounter -- a large room filled with guards -- could be tackled from dozens of angles. We asked the developers to show us the short demo encounter repeatedly, and we ended up watching over 30 unique approaches to the battle - some of which skipped the battle altogether.
The trick is that a single power doesn't just do damage or heal you, points out Adam Biessemer from Game Informer. You can combine them organically to create interesting effects. Stop time and knock a bunch of stuff off a table in one direction, then book it in another, so the guards search for you in the wrong place. Summon a swarm of rats to attack one guard, but possess one of the rats and escape in the chaos. Every problem has as many solutions as you want it to.
If you're a fan of stealth and trickery or all-out Rambo-style gunfights, you can decide your approach for each mission, which makes the gameplay extremely unique and replayable.
Combat is a big focus for the game, and Bethesda and Arkane have their best men on the job: Arkane Studios' founder, Raf Colantonio, is one of the co-creative directors for Dishonored, along with Harvey Smith, who developed the popular mechanics behind Deux Ex and Thief.
Dishonored aspires to be an aesthetically beautiful, too. For its latest game, Bethesda tapped art director Sebastien Mitton and visual designer Viktor Antonov, who designed what critics agree is one of the best games of all time, Half-Life 2.
Dishonored is taking bold artistic steps to ensure that the city of Dunwall and its inhabitants will leave a lasting impression on players, writes Ben Hanson from Game Informer, who got a first look at the new game. Everything from the vehicles to the animals are being built from scratch under the watchful eye of 15-year industry veteran Viktor Antonov.
Most gamers already expect solid art and combat, but Bethesda truly shines with innovative gameplay. In past games, Bethesda introduced clever tools like the Fat Man in Fallout 3 and magic powers like Skyrim's Dragon Shouts: In Dishonored, your protagonist will come equipped some pretty twisted abilities, such as the ability to possess any living creature, teleport, and stop time for some uneartly executions, as Bethesda calls them. Users will also be able to upgrade their weapons and abilities individually, but also use them together to creatively overcome any obstacles.
Best of all, Dishonored was created with the publisher (Bethesda) and game developer (Arkane) actually working together, which doesn't always happen in the gaming industry -- *cough*EA*cough.* As one video describes it, the two companies merged their talents but Bethesda made sure to respect Arkane's creative process and try to nurture it, rather than alter it, to create an immersive first-person experience.
Bethesda has no specific release date yet, but the game's website promises no later than 2012. We will give you updates once we get more information on the game, including plot points, character actors, and development videos.
Watch the debut trailer below, and let us know what you think in the comments section. High definition is recommended, but be warned: It gets pretty graphic.