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Dishonored: A Review by Comparisons

Criticism #1: The intro is too short. You should have been allowed to actually enter the palace itself, to see it whole and happy. You should have been allowed to interact a bit more with some of the characters before they were whisked away.

Empress Jessamine Kaldwin and her daughter Emily look out over Dunwall.

I’m going to put this right out there: Playing Dishonored over the last week has been one of the most gratifying gaming experiences in recent memory. So much so that I’ve been all but ignoring the new XCOM game (also good), and plenty of other games that are excellent in their own rights, and haven’t regretted their absence in the slightest. This is in part because it feels so fresh, so new, so vibrant, and in part because it’s also been an exercise in nostalgia.

When it comes to reviews, I’m not usually a fan of game-to-game comparisons. For one, they seem like a weak approach to explaining a game’s appeal (or lack thereof), since the comparison often comes at the expense of any actual expression. For another, too often the threads of connection are tenuous and frayed, or to a game I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing, or, perhaps, to one that I didn’t comprehend the merit of. So let me assure you that I have tried very, very hard to figure out a way to talk about Dishonored without at least mentioning the games that it is emulating, copying, or bettering. Tried and failed.

See, in an industry filled with grinning suits and safe bets and a well-entrenched hype engine, Dishonored feels like a fulfilled promise, or at least a reasonable attempt at one. So let’s talk about its heritage. Not its exact heritage, since I’m not a professional at this, but the heritage that was on my mind as I skulked from one end of the half-mystical city of Dunwall to the other.

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A Plaguebearer in Skyrim: The Epiphany

The continent of Tamriel is said to mean "Starry Heart." In some tongues, it also means "Continent of the Honest Gossips."

The base of Northwind Summit, rumored nest of a dragon.

(Before reading, you should read the first part of our heroes’ adventures. It’s right here.)

Illia continues to be worried about Innohunk as they near Northwind Summit, the northernmost peak in the Rift. It is a lawless region, barely overseen by its jarl in the capital of Riften. It is populated with bears, wolves, bandits, and, if the rumors prove true (they almost always do in Tamriel), dragons. If anything ill should befall them, there will be no help, as nearest civilization is either the unprotected mining camp of Darkwater Crossing on the river to the west, or the city of Windhelm across miles of desolate marshes to the north. That is to say, only weeks ago Innohunk would have been reveling in the danger of their quest. Today he is as gloomy as the Northwind mountains.

Illia has had a witchly premonition (though she quietly disclaims that she is not a witch, not anymore) that the source of Innohunk’s bleak mood will be revealed this very day. The anticipation is killing her.

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A Plaguebearer in Skyrim: Meet the Dragonborn

Note: I did not use the default Nord face. I changed the hair color. BAM, custom character.

Innohunk is so heroic, he blacksmiths in plate. Doesn't even feel the heat.

Meet Innohunk.

Innohunk is the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn. This means he’s got a capital-d Destiny. As such, he’s one of the most talented men in all of Skyrim — nay, all of Tamriel! Everyone wants him to solve their problems. Women want a peek of what’s under his mail skirt, and men want to die by his side. He’s amassed so much treasure that his eventual barrow will be looted for centuries to come. Basically, he’s got everything a red-blooded Nord man could ask for.

So why does Innohunk look so sad?

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Rage: The Monocular

Adam's gorgeous subconjunctival hemorrhage. Acquired through Rage. Or because the kick of his gun smacked his monocular.

Back when I quasi-reviewed Rage, I was going to write another pair of articles. These articles would be lists, formatted along the lines of “The 5 Things Rage Got Right” and “The 5 Things Rage Got Wrong.” Very cleverly, I was planning on writing that the number one thing that id got both right and wrong was the game engine, id Tech 5. I know, herp de derp.

It’s been a great week for game releases, what with both Skyrim and Saints Row: The Third coming out and flustering my time management. Both are so immense that I doubt I’ll be able to do them justice anytime soon. So I sat down to make a little filler article. To keep up the habit, you see. I figured I’d talk about a few of my criticisms of Rage that I left unvoiced back in October.

Then I got completely sidetracked, and found myself wearing strange clothes and feeling not quite myself.

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Rage: Explaining the Plot

Rage: on the receiving end of a space-biff

Well, I finished Rage last night. I liked it overall.


Id’s latest effort has been a tricky one for me to get a handle on. So many of its components are absolutely humming with perfection and tightness. Other parts felt like waxen imitations of better games. I can say that Rage is one of the few games I’m going to play through again. Unfortunately, it’s an uneven experience.

I’ll illustrate with a conversation I had with my sister.

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The Reason for my Rage

I’ve been anticipating id’s new game, Rage, for some time. Now it’s out, and I can’t bring myself to play past the first level. Here’s why:

If each set of textures were a separate game, I think I'd rather play the one on the right

On the left, half-loaded textures; on the right, even less-loaded ones (click for full resolution)

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