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Every few years, the gaming industry cries out for a new property that will engross them into a brand new world of fiction with compelling stories and gameplay. Thanks to the efforts of Arkane Studios under Bethesda Softworks, it looks like Dishonored for the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and the PC is going to be that title that satisfies the need for immersive satisfaction.

A game that masters in stealth action, Dishonored puts players in the role of a bodyguard named Corvo Attano as he is blamed for the murder of the Empress of Dunwall. A group of elite military folks break him out of prison as they believe Attano was merely a scapegoat for something much larger and shadier. Now Attano must use his array of supernatural powers and gadgets to clear his name and seek out the dark, gritty truth.

The first thing that becomes apparent while sitting down to play the game is the way the graphics are presented; it’s clear that Arkane Studios went to great lengths to create a world as immersive as any, crafting smooth buildings, detailed textures and even a population brewing with life that doesn’t feel artificial in the least. From quirky personalities to bloodthirsty warring folks, Dunwall has it all.

Dishonored runs on an open-ended system as well, taking cues from other major hits like Deus Ex and Thief. While it is possible to bolt directly toward each marked objective and have Attano take the most direct approach to deal with his problems, there are many other ways to get the job done. Every level requires Attano to dispose of at least one person, but there are several opportunities to make it happen, whether silently or as loud as possible. Want to shoot everyone down? Go for it. Want to stealthily head through the crowd and silently lure a target into an accident? Absolutely. It all depends on what the player wants to do, and this is a refreshing change amid the numerous linear games that have dominated this console generation.

Each level is like a puzzle waiting to be solved—or perhaps, more precisely, like a futuristic puzzle where the pieces can fit into other pieces but still form the same result in the end. In the case of Dishonored, it’s all about choice. It doesn’t matter how the job gets done as long as it happens, and the end result will be the same either way: The target will be dead.

One interesting thing of note is the inclusion of a special behavior meter in the game’s code. In an effort to avoid erratic behavior, the AI instead has smooth transitions from its current state to reacting to something that happens. For example, typical AI will range from content to suspicious and searching to alert and hostile while eventually rolling back to content. Dishonored’s analog AI allows a smooth transition that lets the AI fall in between the extremes. An NPC in the game may be mildly suspicious and change his behavior, gradually searching more and more if he starts to grow more suspicious.

Dishonored has a few minor flaws, such as the inability to quickly access the map from the menus, and the AI may rarely perform a nonsensical action, but these pale greatly in comparison when considering all of the positives that it has pieced together.

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