Dishonored has that whole Thief vibe, with the guards, their patrol routines, their cones of vision (Dark Vision is a creepy power which can let you see those, and through walls) and hearing sense. They will react to changes in the world and you can knock over a metal object close to them, they'll come check it out.
If you're detected and combat breaks out, the combat engine is smooth and unlike Garrett - Corvo can fight. A correctly timed block will cause your enemy to stagger, once staggered you'll get a window of opportunity to hit them with a right trigger (that's the attack button) riposte which is usually instantly and nicely fatal.
Combat is quick and decisive with blades clashing and brutal finishers.
If you don't want to fight you can sneak, you can easily subdue an unaware enemy (right bumper held down) then carry them (X button) off to hide. Again, Dishonored doesn't force you to play it any one way... you can mix and match if you like.
It's been a long time since we've loved a game as much as this and our first foray into Dunwall (mission 1 proper) took us 7 hours to complete - because we were being sneaky and saving anywhere. Yes, the game lets you save anywhere unless you're in combat.
Perfectionists that we were... we didn't want to be spotted once, not even by minor NPCs. We found so many hidden places, loot, notes, audio recordings (ala Bioshock) and background bits on the game's world. We listened to every conversation and gained a sweeping knowledge of Dunwall and its environments, we owed it to Arkane in that sense because they spent time crafting this gorgeous dark place... we even met the Outsider a couple of times too (creepy dude!).
There is a great between mission hub too, which can be explored, looted and contains colourful NPCs and history. There's also a guy you can talk to about upgrades, since you can also upgrade Corvo's equipment and weapons as you progress using money looted from the missions and characters.
The in-game journal and mission log is a mine of useful information and is really well implemented and designed.
Dishonored is a gorgeous looking game, from its aesthetic Industrial Fantasy world packed with tiny details and devices, to its characters and environments. We're reminded of a moving comic book in a painted style. The setting is brought to life with an expert touch and our version of Dunwall is probably a little cleaner than some versions of the city which are going to appear as various gamers play their own way through the campaign. The lighting and the effects are great, with a massive chunk of atmosphere just loaded onto the game world. The frame-rate keeps consistent throughout and the Unreal engine shows no signs of texture pop-in, though we recommend installing the game to the Xbox 360 hard-drive for the best experience.
Dishonored is packed with great animations, from the idle animations which guards perform as they go about their routines. To the motion of NPCs and creatures, of course it really shines when combat happens, since the first person combat system is near-perfect and the fluid animations give it a rapid and brutal feeling, one that fits with Corvo's training as a master bodyguard and assassin. It's worth getting into a fight just to see it in action and then reloading a stealthy save. We can't help it, we like sneaking!
There's a fair bit going on with the physics engine of Dishonored. There are numerous ways it interacts with the gameworld and player. The biggest interactions come from the combat system with the physics lending weight/mass/inertia and dynamics to the exchange of blows. For example you know that you've been shot with a pistol in Dishonored because they have a habit of knocking you back a few paces - throwing you off balance if you're not careful.
The AI is sneaky in combat, it's prone to using firearms and flanking, more than one guard will attack you at once and they won't wait for their friends to get the first swing either. One of the best tactics is to pull them away and deal with them one by one or just run like hell and hope they lose interest and return to their patrols. It reacts in the world to various stimuli and has a good cone of vision, becoming suspicious if you're spotted but not identified. It isn't prone to making slipups either but can be distracted with thrown objects and other tricks. Good solid fun AI which makes the game even more impressive.
Dunwall is teeming with audio atmosphere from every sword clash, pistol shot, ambient noise and effect. Some of the supernatural powers are downright creepy and there's one in particular which makes us shiver each time we hear it. It's superb.
The music to the game isn't overpowering, at times there's hardly any and then it kicks in slowly and menacingly as you're exploring - it further adds to the atmosphere created by the world builders and makes a great addition to the world as you adopt your own playstyle. It becomes more powerful as combat breaks out and so on. It is a great soundtrack and we want it on CD, so Arkane and Bethesda take note!
There are some wonderful performances in Dishonored, some interesting accent choices for the City of Dunwall and some familiar voice actors who we won't spoil. Then you have the likes of Susan (Granny Rags) Sarandon to round out the cast. Yeah, there's some great work here and it shines through in the voice acting. The Outsider is particularly creepy, nice job there.
Dishonored features some of the best world building we've seen since Witcher 2 and the dialogue in the game is spot on. It creates a perfect picture of the plague threatened City of Dunwall and its people, as well as Corvo's story.
Single player only and that's how we like it!
Yes, Dishonored reminds us of Thief and we're proud to say we love it just as much as we do the Dark Project, the Metal Age and even Deadly Shadows. It has all the elements that make a great game and doesn't skimp on anything - it tests your ingenuity and offers complete freedom of movement/choice through the whole game.