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Hello all and welcome to my blog (this is one of the nicest things you will ever here me say), in which i will whine and be cynical about different things until you'll either want to put a bullet through your head or drown yourself in your own piss.

I am now Jooseman, the Artist formerly known as Jonith, and I have stopped using the name Jonith regularly (however do still have many accoun named Jonith, so go by both) as it got confusing, So call me Jooseman or Joose or whatever. Call me TwatBucket if it pleases you.

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Monday, 24 December 2012

Dishonored - Christmas Rant

Rofling Officer: Welcome to the Dishonoured Christmas review! This is an annual tradition we have where we review one of the biggest games of the year at Christmas time, last year it was Skyrim, and this year it is Dishonoured! So grab your runes and bonecharms, you'll need all the power you can get to stomach that fantasy that is Beyond Stupid's Christmas review!
Jooseman: Oh Dishonoured, possibly the most epic game of the year in content, game play, developers, and taste of Ice Cream they sell. Made by Arkane, a French studio who probably missed out the u in the name Dishonored to spite us British (I'm correcting it in the rant) the bastards, with possibly the greatest names in this genre working on it short of actually hiring the prophets of the Abrahamic religions as the cleaning staff in studio, including Harvey Smith who worked on 2 of the greatest games of all time ever, including my actual favourite, Deus Ex, as well as the art designer for City 17 in Half Life fucking 2. This game was essentially created as a masturbation aid for me and those guys who do it in the local public toilets, and it seems in almost no way this can be a cynical review, but as we know I'm a cynical fuck who takes the first half of A Christmas Carol as a guide book to live his life, oh I can, and I will.

Plot - Probably Includes Spoilers
Joose: There is one major thing to say about the plot, and that is the fact that it seems to come straight from the Cliché School of Cliché Clicheness. Everything about the plot is so predictable even a decapitated Nostradamus could have predicted everything which was going to happen within it. The plot in itself is nothing special at all, everything in it has been done so many times, you're surprised you can even play the game without getting as bored as you would if spent your days sat in a freezer. It essentially had the writing of a 10 year old who had just seen a load of films.
The plot basically starts with you arriving back without a cure for a plague ravaging the city... Also theirs a plague happening, a plague which certain main characters apparently have immunity from. As you're a failure for not getting a cure you useless fuck, you start walking up to the Empress and then... HOLY SHIT I'M PLAYING HIDE AND SEEK. Due to common laws of physics and the universe, you can learn the entire concept of stealth from playing 4 seconds of Hide and Seek with a little kid (more on that in gameplay). This also sets up the only character development Corvo gets in the entire game, his relationship with a little kid, like some sort of assassin Jimmy Saville (I hope there's not fan fiction in which the relationship is like that... there probably is) so he wanders up to the Empress, she suffers a sudden case of death, and you get blamed. Yay, happy starts!
So you're in prison, and then you get executed, the end... Oh wait no, the Resistance come and free you, who you then meet. The Resistance are for whatever reason made up of the most evil looking and sounding men to exist since Hitler had sex with Stalin, as well as one pervert, what could possibly ever go wrong. So you wander around doing chores for them like assassinating high up people in government and the like, average stuff, and this brings me to the first level, in which you have to eliminate High Overseer Campbell. If you're doing the pacifist run, be aware that this is one of the few actual fun "assassinations" you do. You brand him a heretic so he is kicked out of the Overseers, yay sorted. Now the next mission which is in a very refreshing setting, and by refreshing setting I mean the same one as before, the developers aren't even hiding the fact that they're reusing levels here, this is like selling a printed out picture of a Van Gogh painting, with a semen stain in the middle of it. So you do the pacifist route and you get to the Golden Cat, and you get a pretty cool scene in which it seems that Corvo has an S&M fetish, in which he starts causing pain/pleasure to an art dealer in order to get some information. Surely this sets us up for a great assassination? Nope, if you did it the pacifist way, you get a guy explain to you what he did to get rid of them non violently.
This is a major problem with the game, the fact that if you go completely pacifist, while it makes the whole game more satisfying, you get fucked over like paying for a Transsexual prostitute in Bangkok, and while this will be more evident in the gameplay part, I feel I can talk about the boss part of this here. While the game is much more of a challenge, and hence more enjoyable because you went pacifist, it makes the bosses as boring as a lap dance from a paraplegic. Sometimes you don't even get to see what happens, like for the Golden Cat level, where instead you are just treated to a description of all the cool things you just missed, like the game is trying to mock you, which it probably is. To be fair though, the pacifist route also leads to better things like the Boyle party, but I'm trying to fucking rant here, don't interrupt me you shit.
Anyway you do a bunch of other cool levels, like the Boyle Party one, you finally get your revenge on Evil Chancellor Mr Generic, and everything is all fine and dandy... No wait, it's not, because Corvo is an idiot who missed possibly the most obvious plot twist this side of a game of twister. The plot twist was so obvious you could have seen it coming from the fucking moon, but not Corvo no, he didn't notice what was happening until he got hit by a truck, kidnapped and tortured until he believed this plot twist happened. Seriously, you need the IQ of about 5, and your brains being removed slowly by a spoon, and you would still figure this plot twist out. Your evil looking allies are actually fucking evil. The only way this could have been more obvious is if they made your allies Saddam Hussein masturbating to pictures of Hitler. I don't understand why this was considered smart in anyway, but it carried on a great game anyway.
RO: The plot of this game really isn't up to much at all, it's so basic and boring it's barely even worth mentioning. The only plot twist there is, is so cliched and trite and appalling I thought the game was actually a deconstructionist satire... I mean, a game this good couldn't possibly have a plot twist this dreadful right? Wrong. The plot takes a right turn at shit after this plot twist, whereas before it was just boring. I don't feel too comfortable spoiling, but I can't laugh at it otherwise. After your allies betray you and leave you for dead (Wow I've never seen THAT before...) you start to seek revenge on THEM. So essentially your goals never change throughout the game: you always want revenge. I was expecting that Emily would turn out to be cruel and evil to give Corvo a moral dilemma, or the plague to all have been caused by the Empress, or at least something surprising, but no, you just go to an island and rescue Emily. If you want. There are three endings, one where Corvo rescues Emily and she turns Dunwall around to be prosperous again, one where Corvo saves Emily but the plague is out of control and bugger all changes, and one where Corvo lets Emily die, the city goes to shit and Corvo leaves on a boat. Only one of these endings is decent, the rest are appallingly anticlimactic and just a plain let down. The plot of this game is like eating an incredibly bland ham sandwich only for someone to say "'Ere, have some fuckin' turds mixed in there" and you start eating a ham and shit sandwich. Certainly not the best part of this game...

Joose: I have one major problem with the gameplay and that is the fact that it doesn't feel as improvised as in games like Deus Ex. In Deus Ex you had to MacGyver your way through the game, never sticking to one single game style because it wouldn't work or because recourses such as ammo was scarce, while in this, you can stick more rigidly to one path than a Jihadist Tightrope Walker, you never feel like you have to improvise, the only time you have to come close to that is if you have no tranquiliser darts fighting the teleporting enemies, but even that seems easy enough. None of the play styles feel special and make you have to improvise to complete the game. Yes you can choose to do that, such as sticking a bomb to a rat and then running him into  group of enemies through possession, but what's the point in that when there is a much better way the game supplies you do play... Unless you're a psychotic Dr Doolittle though, that could work.
So stealth in this game is enormously enjoyable, tense and exciting, and I would almost certainly recommend people to play the game like a creepy pervert. The game is very short especially if you play it as an FPS, while using stealth combined with a higher difficulty and pacifism (FYI I played on hardest difficulty and accidentally killed one person in the game) makes the game much exciting to play, and is almost certainly the best way to play the game, even if you are actually a serial killer and take away the pacifism way (which I would recommend for a first play through.) As I said though, pacifism makes the bosses much more boring on a whole, and removes the amount of fun ways you have through the game (the only weapon you literally have is you tranquiliser darts) but that doesn't mean it is a different sort of fun. All in all, I would recommend it for a second playthrough or so .
RO: Now I'm a massive stealth fan, I love them so much, especially Thief and Hitman, and this game has spades of what made Thief great. Open levels, guards with lots of character, plenty to steal and non lethal and lethal options. The stealth is great and very, very fresh, as in most stealth games its a slow process of waiting for guards to look the other way then running out, so while quite slow its always tense. But the way Dishonoured does it is by using the Blink power to turn stealth into a fast frantic yet still tense affair. It's fantastic. One problem I do have is with the non lethal take downs. There aren't enough. You can choke people out, and use a tranquiliser dart, but that's about it. You get a very, very limited number of darts, and choking people out gets weirdly repetitive when doing it for the 500th time, but these complaints vanish when I remember all the ways you can just avoid guards entirely.

However if you feel like doing an all action, testosterone fueled rampage across Dunwall, well Dishonoured has you covered you mad bastard. The variety of ways to murder people in this game is a rich barrel of schadenfreude that stretches down to the Earth's core, which means you'll never feel like they're scraping the bottom of the barrel. You can shoot people, make rats eat people, crossbow people, blast people into walls, blow people up with landmines and grenades, but the game seems to say "FUCK VARIETY, now use your fucking sword you cunt.", as you can't ever unequip the sword from your right hand, which is intensely annoying in a stealth playthough, as you'll never use the bloody thing. I haven't much experience with an action playthrough, but I know it can be hard as nails, and you always have to stay quick on your feet, so it does some very intense. In fact I'm gonna play a bit now (cue elevator music) OK, I'm back, and that was really really good, go do that.

Joose: The entire art and design of the world itself is amazing, being a sort of cartoony style, but at the same time feeling like a very gritty and dark game, which works really well and effectively together. The entire city looks and feels amazing and real, but more about that below, it also shows that a game doesn't have to look good in order to feel amazing, and an art style like this prevents the game from eventually becoming and seeming outdated. This wasn't funny at all either, I CAN'T BE FUNNY ABOUT ART OK, IT'S NOT POSSIBLE.
Also one more thing about the art is that all the characters look like they have had their face surgically readjusted by a pair of shit covered scissors. They all look awful, and have the facial expressions of a dead duck. I understand why it was done, it was to give the aristocrats and the lower classes etc, different facial expressions and the like, but instead it makes everyone look like they're in the middle of chewing gravel. It just doesn't seem natural to me and is really off putting about the game, and by really off putting I mean not at all, because if you choose games based on how well the faces of characters look, you can go bugger yourself with a garden rake.
RO: The art is GORGEOUS, every character has plenty of personality just in their faces alone. Every character is also hideous, which works because of the crapsack world Dunwall is. The artists and level designers for this game really need the credit they deserve, the art in this game is like staring at someone prepare a cake: it looks gorgeous, and you know it'll taste great, and you'll get to lick the bowl if you're lucky...

Joose: The city of Dunwall in itself is amazing, the design, the feel, the look of it is so glorious, it makes it seem like a real, dystopian city, with the feel British Empire, industrial London, or Edinburgh, which makes sense as the game was at first, actually set in an Industrial London. I have described the city in the past as a cross between Ankh Morpork, London and Pyongyang. This isn't surprising that it is amazing as the person who did the artwork and design for Dunwall was Viktor Antonov, as in the person created City 17, in Half Life 2, one of the greatest designed Dystopian cities in gaming ever created by anyone. This is what I mean by this game getting some of the best names in the field to create it. It's like the second coming of Jesus, if the second coming turned out to be a little shitter than expected.
There is a major problem with the design of the world however, and that is that you never feel any connection with it. You care as much about the whole whale oil situation as you do about knowing about your grandmas orgy parties. The world and everything in it seems extremely interesting and they could have done so much more with it, but you just don't care, it just seems to plod along on its own with the most badly recorded tape recorder messages since the audio Book of Barney's first Porno.  This is in comparison to Deus Ex Human Revolution which took you around, and showed you the world you were in, drawing you into it more as you could experience much more closely what it was telling you about. In Dishonoured everything seems to just be very black and white politically, one guys bad, the others good, then there are some other bad guys you have to defeat, while in Deus Ex you have a much more in depth social side to it, with anti-augmentation riots and the like. Then again most of you wouldn't read the books in any of the games you excitement loving fucks, please go shove an ice pick through your brain while sticking you cock in the oven, for the good of humanity. Not enjoying reading in a game about excitement, the bloody well cheek of it.
RO: The world of Dunwall never ceases to surprise me. Deus Ex style, there is tons of filler content like written documents that flesh out the world, and audiographs similar to the audiologs in Bioshock or System Shock. Oh and there is a very interesting back-story to the game, that teases you with small tidbits of information until you're scouring the Hound Pits' Pub for more information about whale oil. All this together paints a rich, lovely and disgustingly corrupt world for you to explore. It's like if the Chris Nolan Batman films took place in a Daily Mail political cartoon... for some reason.
Joose: Now, Ladies and Gentleman who have lost the will to live after reading this far down, here as me, examining the enemies of Dishonoured like some sort of shit, not qualified biologist. First off, we have the Tall Boys, these all look like Nazi Circus performers, they are hard to kill, and impossible to take down completely if you're a pacifist, avoid them. Next we have the Bottle Street Gang, who you would expect to all sound either Irish or Cockney, and I wouldn't be surprised if they got Phil Fucking Mitchell to model for them, they all look adorable, like a Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins. Alas they don't speak in these voices, or are usually bad guys, why are they on this list? Fuck knows, NEXT! Now we have the City Watch, who seem to be the most generic looking City Watch I have ever seen in anything, they all look like a character from the artwork for the Discworld books, and I kind of imagine they walk around saying "Allo Allo Allo what's all this then?" Next we have the Elite Guard who all look like Jason Statham in fancy dress. After this we have the Warfare Overseer, which will haunt my dreams for the rest of my life, or until never, either one. They also all have dogs which look like they are a result of the sex between a rat and a Rottweiler. I'm surprised the next one are included on the list of enemies, Courtesans. Courtesans enemies? Not in my philosophy they ain't. Now finally, for one last Special one, Hiram Burrows, the Lord Regent, who very disappointingly does not wear a Goatee he likes to stroke, that just ruined the game for me. I think I'd make great enemy guides for games, hire me.
RO: Another weakness of the game: there is barely any variety of enemies. Most are humanoids that behave similarly, the City Watch and the Overseers are remarkably identical to fight really, there are mainly just aesthetic differences. And some of the enemies are incredibly annoying, like those things that shoot slime at you. They're almost impossible to spot until you've ran right into them, and they do tons of damage really fast. Plus they're really over used in the second to last level... so infuriating.

However! One of the enemies is absolutely incredible: the Weepers. They're terrifying things, essentially just innocent people affected with the plague but they go mental and try to murder you. Alerting them is always really scary, and when they swarm around you I get flashes of the Walking Dead and guys getting eaten... brr it makes me shudder just thinking about them. They're scary, but you also pity them. I've yet to kill a Weeper in my Dishonoured career, because I know they're just poor plague stricken people who don't know what they're doing, and it takes a lot for a game to make me care about enemies like that...
Joose: Overall this is one of my favourite, and one of the greatest games of the year. Yes I can criticise this game so much, but that is only because shit looks so much more like shit when placed up against gold... then again shit always looks like shit, bad analogy. So yes, the amazing parts of this game easily cancel out the worse parts of the game, and I do wish I could go back and play this game again without the knowledge of it, if you want a cliché box quote from me. I recommend it so much, why haven't you bloody played it yet?
RO: Probably my second or third favourite game of the year (which is surprising I thought it was a shoe in, ah well check back at the New Year for our Top 15). The world it paints, the amazing stealth, and gorgeous art, the sympathetic enemies, the tons of personality, the tons of variety, the openness of the levels... Oh it's all great. There are major, major complaints of course, like the awful storyline, and the lack of characters that actually make you empathise etc. But the gameplay is so good and the world so rich that I'm prepared to forgive Dishonoured for a lot. So how does this result in a recommendation? Yes, a very solid and organic experience, please, please buy it, and let Arkane continue making great games.

Joose: And a Merry Christmas from all at Beyond Stupid

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