When I first got wind of the game I was just looking for ninja images on google and pictures of this game came up. Now I didn’t know at first. I thought they were just images such as you would see on Deviantart.com but then I realize that these images were of a game. I was curious and so I looked further into the game and found a trailer of sorts. This trailer was actually the prologue of the game.

 

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Seeing this prologue had my attention even more so I went and got it. After playing the game further Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z’s hero, seemed more of an Antihero…lol. The game is a hack-and-slash game with an unlikable star (Well depening on you of course. I’m sure some people will like him.) that has, well, its own sense of humor. There are numerous reviews of the game that talk it down stating for the most part that it is crass, stupid and not really funny. The characters in the game, their speech is rather naive. The game id full of profanity and sexual humor which can be appealing (actually these type of games do sell more), and games like South Park: The Stick of Truth and MadWorld delight in their lewdness with great success. Ninja Gaiden Z’s profanity and licentious imagery wants you to laugh. I was playing the game and caught a little laugh at this part here:

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Yaiba Kamikaze

Yaiba who is very rough around the edges is pursuing his revenge against Ninja Gaiden star Ryu Hayabusa. Miss Monday, whose primary character traits are her monumental breasts which the game makes sure you see, is Yaiba’s guide in the game. Alarico “Rico” del Gonzo is the eccentric leader of Forge Industries, the company that revived and rebuilt Yaiba. My memory fails me at time and there was something mentioned regarding Gonzo that I copied “After six years of holding our dicks in our hands, finally that Spanish knobhead Del Gonzo authorized some action,” and get this later makes mention of his “blood-boner.” I like the comic-book art style and the initial gore are enough to inspire a momentary blood-boner, but sadly, the lacking dialogue is not the game’s biggest problem.

The action itself at times is a problem and leads me to believe that maybe Comcept and Spark Unlimited released it too soon. You know, it’s seem unfinished such as a beta release of a game would be. As cyberninja Yaiba Kamikaze, you fight through cartoon zombies using your sword, your metal fist, your flail, and once in awhile weapons that killed enemies drop, like a rocket launcher or electrified nunchuks. The action is satisfying. It is a button mashing type of game where just about every button press you get blood splattering all over your screen. Pretty cool actually. I liked watching the executions.

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Mechannibal

The flail gives the combat a God of War feel, is useful for getting through large numbers of zombies at once. The flail doesn’t do a lot of damage but its appeal is its ability to allow you to make surrounding foes simultaneously vulnerable setting you up to make those gory executions that I like. You can make the executions one after another the push of a button when one execution pauses to move on to another. Watching the zombie heads fly into the air is and undead bodies being split in half at the torso are very cool and enjoyable. They make the game fun actually. As in any game they get sort of boring to watch but you can improve Yaiba as you go along in the game. Performing executions are also neccessary because doing them rewards you with red cubes that replenish your health.

The camera is a frequent problem, you are forced at times to move around and fight off unseen enemies without a good view of your surroundings. Jumping around across different thresholds while in combat gets annoying at times. It was really annoying fighting a mechanical boss that acts like a dog. The thing is huge and ends up blocking view of Yaiba, especially when you dash around behind it hidding you from view. I found myself dashing under it through its legs only to get slammed on cause I kept getting stuck under it. Unsure why at times, either the legs are in the way or something else that I just could not see. Dashing in the correct direction took some figuring especially when the thing turns around on you looking for you so you have to dash out in the right direction. That freaking thing shows up more often in the game which was annoying. This also moves me into my next point.

electric infected zombie

The level of difficulty, there are numerous foes some fling fire, some that sizzle with electricity, and some that puke bile in your direction but Ninja Gaiden Z takes the old school approach to adding difficulty to a game by throwing increasing numbers of these enemies into the arena and introducing old foes into the mix. The enemies too while fighting come off of with random cheap shots all the time that seem impossible to avoid I saying, blocking and countering certain attacks is possible, but it does not always work due to how quickly and randomly this mess plays out onscreen.

yngz_Holy_Roaster

Ninja Gaiden Z’s has a chemistry thing going to it which can cause more frustration. The flames of a holy roaster and biological spew of a blister sister cause interactions. The chemistry is okay at times like when you use it to solve the game’s mild puzzles, but there is a part in the game where you use static electricity to help eliminate some foes (I guess….they seemed to die quicker once I figured that out.) from the lightning storms that ignite when fire and lightning meet are more hazardous than the threats they alleviate. I walked into one and found that out. My first though due to the game’s notification was to walk into them but then I thought oh he is a cyborg that may not be the best idea. Some website said “Death is a frustration and not a teaching tool” but it just matters on the player really. I will say this though, the game’s main method of healing (execution health drops) is unreliable. The prompts to execute enemies might appear do appear but are a bit hard to catch. Yaiba though moves so fast and this makes them hard to catch. I found myself spamming the execution button while fighting through the zombies so I can catch the opportunities to execute. While some reviews found this as part of the game’s flaws while I just see it as one of those things you see on all fast-pace games.

Ninja Gaiden Z almost impairs itself in a way. The executions are satisfying but each chained execution is visually distinct leaving no connection to the others. They are basically like watching a video clip than showing off those ninja skills of the player. Ninja Gaiden Z’s parkour sequences are diminished I would say compared to the actual Ninja Gaiden game. I remember playing Ninja Gaiden and jumping was also a skill you had to learn but instead in Ninja Gaiden Z they jumping requires timing and the hitting the right button. Some parts though remind me of Ninja Gaiden. The jumps requiring at times what to look for so you know the right button to hit while the camera angle messes you up at times causing more deaths.

yngz_ryu_hayabusa

Keeping that “blood-boner” up maybe hard (lol) to do with the game’s annoyances but overall it is still fun to play. I wish the game had been out of the beta stage before they released it but, hey, what can you do? Do a review. I got a kick out of Yaiba and his vulgar attitude and the game’s sutle jokes. I read several reviews on the game and I concur somewhat with all of them but I also think having Ninja Gaiden in the name places a standard on it that it was not meant to accomplish. It’s like a phone having Windows name attached to it. Due to the old Windows Mobile and how it performed it had a bad taste to it so the now new Windows Phones that come out have to overcome that stigma even though Windows Phone now is a good phone O.S.. I do wish though Ninja Gaiden Z’s style had been applied to a better foundation or at least just put more work into it then bring it out. The original price tag of $60 I think was a bit high but then again probably necessary having the Ninja Gaiden name to it, not to mention Ryu makes an appearance in game. (Extra bills to pay to the original makers of Ninja Gaiden series)

The rumor… A newer version of Windows, a 9th version? Windows 9. Now I still think more work is needed for Windows 8 or 8.1 bu tI have to admit 8.1 isn’t so bad.  I resisted moving from good ol Windows 7 but as I found the need for 3 screens and I found an issue with Win 7 always dropping into Aero Basic. So I try out Windows 8 and it had no issue with the 3 screens at all and obviously had more support for multiple screen setups. I could setup a random wallpaper for each screen based on image I placed in a folder. Cool right? Although I did have a serious issue with Windows 8 and no Start Menu button but 8.1 eased that out a bit. It is acceptable.

Moving on it seems September 30th is when one may get to see Windows 9 in a event preview by Microsoft. So what is the deal with Windows 8? Well it is an attempt to bridge the gap between desktop and phone/tablets…A unified O.S. (Operating System). Sounds good but not even Apple has that. (Looks can be deceiving.)

What is it?

Some say a complete update to Windows but how much different can Windows really get?

When is it out?

2015

What will it cost?

No idea. Windows 8 though didn’t cost much to upgrade if that means anything to you.

Windows_8_1Update1

In the meantime I am sure there will be a few updates, there has already been Windows 8.1, then Windows 8.1 update 1, and maybe a Windows 8.2. The new 8.1 update 1 update features improvements to the Start Screen including the ability to boot straight into the Desktop, a task bar to unify the old and new user interfaces which will be more familiar to some, and the return of shutdown on Start Menu. The update was announced at Build 2014, along with other features mentioned for Windows updates in the future.
Hmmm, looks like Microsoft is moving at a pace that the phone world moves at. Microsoft is set to put out new releases of Windows, Windows RT and Windows Server every year.
I reiterate, the next complete version of Windows is being called Windows 9 which may change. A new codename has appeared – Threshold, possibly in reference to moving across from our reliance on the desktop to a new world where the Start screen is at the heart of how we use Windows.
While still just a codename, Windows 9 was referenced by Microsoft in a job posting, spotted by MSFT Kitchen on March 13, 2013.In January 2014, well-known Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott said he believes the company plans to release Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold) in April 2015, less than three years after Windows 8. There are a lot of rumors so I’m not gonna get long winded here. Don’t you hate when the news site are not too the point? It’s like they are just trying to fill the webpage up with words. So here go some of the rumors and possible garbage out there:

Windoows Cortana?

Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now on Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft seems to be expanding its reach to the company’s desktop and tablet OS. Microsoft heads at Neowin seem to have inside sources that say Cortana is running on internal Windows 9 builds with performance improvements.

The Charms menu…

No more charms? No more pretty goodies anymore? A leak by Winbeta claims the Charms menu of the current OS will not be included in the desktop and laptop versions of Windows 9. And, I read on ZDNet, the feature will be gone for Windows 9 tablets and 2-in-1 laptops as well.

The Windows 9 experience and gestures too.

Features predicted for Windows 8 by serveral sites I wouldn’t really think too much of becauase they are based on Microsoft patents. I simple check on the government patent site and you could make the same prediction. There are also other technologies demonstrated by Microsoft leaders like CTO Craig Mundie that didn’t make it into the OS that if you were there or saw it you would think will eventually end up in Windows eventually. As with any company there are always features that get planned for whatever version of software that gets cut to ship on time; sometimes they reappear, sometimes they don’t.
Kinect-based 3D gestures might be around this time, especially since supposedly some notebooks will soon get 3D cameras. Cool right?
Although there are other ways to do it. They could use two cheaper webcams rather than an expensive 3D camera to make gesture recognition hardware cheap enough for laptops. This may not be the best thing for some. Being able to wave from a distance means maybe one should reconsider getting dressed in front of their open laptop.
And then there is Direct Experience. The patent explains this as a way of starting Windows to play media files in a special purpose operating system and there are improvements in Hyper-V for Windows Server 8 that Microsoft could use to make Windows 9 work better for this, like being able to move a virtual machine from one place to another while it’s running. I copied and pasted that part from a site. The patent sounds cool but is still rather vague for most eyes.

FAST BOOTING A COMPUTING DEVICE TO A SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE

From Techradar

Windows 9 (You ever been alone in the woods and can hear all the crickets?)

A rumor but more of a confirmation, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella commented somewhere on the future of Windows recently, painting a picture of a unified operating system across all platforms. Nothing new there really, I’m saying… Windows 8 is like, uh, the proof of that direction being taken.
“In the past we had multiple teams working on different versions of Windows,” Nadella said. “Now we have one team with a common architecture. This allows us to scale, create Universal Windows Apps.” Ok so Microsoft is dedicated to the idea. I wonder who is gonna copy that idea? (Looking at an apple on the table that I feel I will lose eventually due to legal proceedings.)
So, will Windows 9 spur the beginning of a single OS for all Microsoft devices? I don’t know. Do I want that? Really want that? Techradar says, “We can only hope.” But I ask this question: If one Windows OS fits on all then will I need good antivirus on all of my devices?

Windows 9: Horray! The Start Menu

Well let’s see…during the Build 2014 keynote address something was a bit, teased I would say. The Start is basically guaranteed to make its return in Windows 9 which I figured they had no choice. Okay this is what I have seen. When I did remote tech support for Geeksquad during the beginning of Windows 8. Numerous calls came in from customers asking for help in just figuring out how to use their new computers. Some were using the power button to turn off their computers cause they couldn’t figure out how to shut it down. So since that preview of the Start menu showed up, having both Desktop and Modern UI elements, should be a shine of relief for a lot of people. I have a screenshot (seen below) of an updated version of the feature.
Whether or not the picture is legit, since Microsoft has publicly promised the return of the Start menu, it’s safe to expect its debut in Windows 9 … whenever that is.

http://ninjatechc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/win9startmenu.png

Image from Yahoo News

Windows 9 and the cloud

This is a part of Windows 8 that sort of annoys me personally. You know sort of like how Windows 8 almost forces you to create a Microsoft account in order to login. Well the idea for a smaller version of Windows with more apps. Certainly still sounds good though. There are rumors that Windows 9 will focus heavily on cloud computing. WZOR claims to have information that supports the idea, alluding to a Chrome OS style operating system that requires an internet connection.
According to leaks from said leak groups, the core of Windows 9 will live in the given system’s BIOS (This has my attention), while the rest of the OS will reside in the cloud. What concerns me is what how much of the Windows functions would be left out. How much of Windows could be included in this manner? Would this say make Windows Media player a simple web-based player?

Windowed Modern UI apps?

What does that mean really? Most Windows users just wanna use their computers without having to read a manual. Well what it means is if you are familiar with Windows 8 you know on the Start Menu you have those apps and on your desktop you have your normal programs that you have been used to using for years. They are different even though there is some overlap like Internet Explorer. There is the Desktop version and the Start Menu app version. They look very different and definitely are not equal to each other in their abilities. Well this feature basically says you will be able to run those apps (on the Start Menu) in a window on your normal desktop. Sounds cool. Moving on, We already know that the new Start menu will be alive and well in Windows 9, but the latest leak points to this improvement that I explained. So when you see the words “truly windowed Modern UI apps” you will know what it means. Actually you can do this now, Modern UI apps can be opened and managed from the desktop, but they immediately switch to that interface when selected.
Myce claims through a newly-leaked screenshot (seen below) that this will be no more. The image, allegedly pulled from Threshold build # 9795, shows a Metro, or Modern UI, app opened in a window on the Windows 9 desktop.

Windowed Metro UI

From Digital Trends

Windows 9 Greenify…sort of.

I’m going to just copy and paste is part from techradar.com. “A recent Channel 9 video featuring Bruce Worthington, who leads the team working on Windows power management fundamentals, included some rather technical details about saving power in Windows and the improvement in Windows 8.
“If you look at the number of times we would wake up the CPU per second,” he explained, “for Windows 7 you would typically see numbers on the order of one millisecond. We would literally be waking up the CPU a thousand times per second. If you look at Windows 8, on a clean system, we have numbers that are better than a hundred milliseconds. ”
Now that Windows Phone 8 is based on the Windows Phone kernel, power management has to get better. “Now we’re looking forward to the next release and we can get even farther – especially as we start interacting more and more with our phone brethren.
“They want us to be quiet for multiple seconds at a time. They even talk about minutes in some scenarios which is pretty far afield for us, to be thinking about minutes of being completely quiet. At least getting into the multi-second we’re definitely ready to think about that.”
Especially with Intel Haswell bringing Connected Standby to Core systems, not just low-power Atom tablets, saving power looks like a priority for Windows 9 (especially if it comes out at the same time as Intel’s new chips.
“For the next release there’s all kinds of things we’ve already identified that are going be quite challenging but at the same time the user is going to get a tremendous boost forward,” Worthington promised.” So basically they want to save power. You know make those batteries last longer by pulling less energy while still being able to run those apps on your cool Windows 9 tablet. I think on a subject every 2 mins to make sure I remember it but maybe if I think on it every 5 mins instead of 2 I can save some brain power there. What you think?

Windows 9 to be smaller, with more apps

CFO Peter Klein made it clear that Microsoft has received the message that the Windows 8 tablets’ prices need to come down; “we know that our growth depends on our ability to give customers the exciting hardware they want, at the price-points they demand.” Uh yeah, your cool tablets cost too much.
A Microsoft job advertisement talks about having Windows Phone and Windows RT apps run on both Windows Phone and Windows. There goes that unify stuff again.
“Do you wish the code you write for Windows Store apps would just work on the Windows Phone and vice versa? If so, then this is the role for you! We are the team leading the charge to bring much of the WinRT API surface and the .NET Windows Store profile to the Phone.”
The advertisement was on the Microsoft Careers site at the beginning of February 2012 which is being lead by the Windows Phone team.

Machine learning and Windows?

Well I can create a heading but what the heck does it mean? Well, Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can teach themselves to grow and change when exposed to new data. This is what Peter Lee, Microsoft Research lead, wants out of Windows 9. In an interview with Digital Trends, he pointed to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform and Bing to hopefully be the drivers behind the next versions of Windows.
“Using machine learning to extract relationships, entities, key ideas being worked on and bring those to the surface in tools. Maybe even digital-assistant tools to make companies more productive and smarter. That’s one area we’re going at”, Lee said.
He also says “If I write a document and I want to say, share this with the appropriate people that work with Vikram from the meeting, or say, ‘what’s trending around me at work,’ not in my personal space but at work … answering questions like that requires a very different kind of machine learning,”. Sounding pretty cool but for all you privacy freaks out there if you run into a chance to open your mouth make sure a way to disable these features is added. Your voice counts as long as you use it.




Update:

Microsoft has decide to skip Windows 9 and goto Windows 10.
CLICK HERE to read on…

World of Warcraft fan? Maybe?… Maybe not?… Or do you like card games? Blizzard Entertainment has released a free to play card game based on World of Warcraft. Having been a World of Warcraft player I was able to acquire a free mount for playing the game.




Well, yeah I had to do something in the game first. I had to do all the work of installing the game and then I had to play it.  As I played I started to have fun which kind of snuck up on me since I only wanted the mount. As I played and hours actually passed I saw how easy to understand the core rules were.  See it does not really rely on some complex and complicated rules. You can be a good player by simply playing the right cards at the right time. Now I did see a some exceptions related to what was related to a Crazed Alchemist.  For the most part the cards and their effects were simple with few words used to communicate what it is they do.  Actually some of the ones I like are Fireball which deals 6 damage, Chillwind Yeti is a minion with 4 attack and 5 health. The objective, of course, is to kill your opponent or rather get their health to zero.  As for the cards, some are very accessible, some not so much.

The game does take a lil brain power and playing mindlessly may just cost you a few losses.  There will be times when attacking may not be the best idea cause your opponent played a card that gets stronger depending on what you do. You may wanna knock that card out first. It is also good to have some protection instead by playing a card that Taunts attackers to attack it giving you some breathing room while you hope for a good card to show up so you can setup a good combo to knock your opponent’s health down. So you play at first to improve your deck. Also important to mention is what class you want to play cause each class has its own special powers.

  • Druid: Poison Seeds (spell) – Destroy all minions and summon 2/2 Treants to INSERT them.
  • Hunter: Webspinner (minion) – Deathrattle: Draw a random Beast card.
  • Mage: Duplicate (secret) – Secret: When a friendly minion dies, put 2 copies of it in your hand.
  • Paladin: Avenge (secret) – Secret: When one of your minions dies, give a friendly minion +3/+2.
  • Priest: Dark Cultist (minion) – Deathrattle: Give a friendly minion +3 Health.
  • Rogue: Anub’ar Ambusher (minion) – Deathrattle: Return a friendly minion to your hand.
  • Shaman: Reincarnation (spell) – Destroy a minion, then return it to life with full Health.
  • Warlock: Voidcaller (minion) – Deathrattle: Put a Demon from your hand into the battlefield.
  • Warrior: Death’s Bite (weapon) – Deathrattle: Deal 1 damage to all minions.

iPad version

As for this version, I honestly am not sure but the news is that it plays identically as on Mac and PC.  This sounds good to me and I would rather be able to play it on a tablet anyways but it is only available for iPad. Nothing Android at the moment but Blizzard states they will be working on one projected near the end of 2014. So myself being an Android person am not happy about that.  I played the game but not as often as I would like. Maybe if it was on Android I would play it more. (Actually I would.)

New Expansion Curse of Naxxramas

Curse_of_Naxxramas

Recently Blizzard has released a new expansion for Hearthstone adding new challenges giving players a chance at improving their card decks. If you play the game this is a must. As other players get these cards you may need some of your own to survive.  The first wing, The Arachnid Quarter will be available for free for at least a month but after that it will cost $6.99 or 700 gold to download. I hear Blizzard will let players buy multiple wings at once at a discount.

Here’s the full list of prices: 

US

  • All five wings: $24.99
  • Already own first wing: $19.99
  • Already own first two wings: $14.99
  • Already own first three wings: $9.99
  • Individual wings: $6.99, or 700 gold, each

Europe

  • All five wings: 21.99 euros or 17.49 pounds
  • Already own first wing: 17.99 euros or 13.99 pounds
  • Already own first two wings: 13.99 euros or 11.49 pounds
  • Already own first three wings: 8.99 euros or 6.99 pounds
  • Individual wings: 5.99 euros, 4.99 pounds or 700 gold each


So check out Hearthstone. It is a fun game, especially if you like card games. With the World of Warcraft feel to it, it is a treat for any WoW fans. Blizzard just need to get those other versions out there. Mainly iphone and Android. Once they do that the game will really flourish.
Hearthstone on Facebook

Update:

Looking back I see Hearthstone is available for Android now. At first the android release was for only tablets. During this time I was able to get the game going on my phone by finding the game from a 3rd source and at the time it ran really slow and was a bit weird to play. I had issues tapping in areas on the board so I could basically play cards but firing magic was an issue.  Blizzard has now released its hold on the game and now some phones can play it.  It ran fine on my phone. I have/had a Note 3.

Do you like the smell of gunpowder after a battle? Just what does victory taste like? For all of you Killzone: Shadow Fall players the smell and taste might not be what you expected. That is if you pickup the latest DLC.  Killzone: Shadow Fall’s new “Fun & Games Spotlight Pack” bring with it new “Fart, Planking & Comedy spotlight moves”, allowing you to taunt your opponents with a dose of flatulence.  Remember to keep you mouth closed during these battles.

The pack costs $1.99

Fun & Games Spotlight Pack

This seems to be the new thing now adding little things to add a little humor to enhance the games we play.  Now you can destroy an opponent and fart over their dead corp or even listen Snoop Dog as you play. (Will throw in some info on this at a later date. So keep check the site.)

 

Reviewed on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360

→ OCTOBER 7, 2012 

Are you getting sick of playing games that don’t actually let you play? You know the ones I mean: they funnel you down a narrow path, don’t give you much freedom in what you can do, and rely on cinematic set pieces to drive the spectacle. I am, and that’s why Dishonored is such a refreshing experience. It picks up where games like Deus Ex and BioShock left off, and puts choice back in the hands of the player.

As Corvo Attano, protector to an Empress, players find themselves in Dunwall, a grimy port city whose population is being decimated by a rat-born plague. It’s an industrial setting; a fishing town grown rich off the back of the whale oil that powers the city’s circuits. It’s also a hive of corruption, political machinations and power grabbing, and this all comes to the fore when the Empress is assassinated, and Corvo sets out to avenge her death.

That vengeance can take many forms. Unlike so many video game protagonists, Corvo is not pre-ordained to be a mass murderer. The entire game can be completed without killing a single person, so guards can be avoided or knocked unconscious, and non-lethal options can be found for assassination targets.

Of course, if you want to cut a bloody swathe across Dunwall, that’s catered for too. Just be warned: killing your way to the end of the game has a number of ramifications. More dead bodies means more rats and more guards, and a darker overall conclusion.

If you’re anything like me though, you’ll probably take an approach that’s somewhere in the middle – at least for your first play-through. Whatever you do, the mechanics are highly versatile and each setting has been designed to give players multiple options for achieving any one goal.

I demand satisfaction, sir.

By way of example, in one mission Corvo has two targets to take out inside a brothel, but there is, of course, an alternative to killing them. If you can find another guest in the complex and get him to give up the code for his safe, you can then give this code to a character in the Distillery District and he’ll make both your targets disappear. In my first playthrough, I got the code, but went and eliminated both the targets anyway, then took the contents of the safe for myself.

These kind of options make missions much more engaging than if players were simply tasked with the usual ‘go here, kill this’ objectives. That said, it’s actually the moment to moment gameplay choices that make Dishonored so compelling.

What happens, for instance, if you need to get past a ‘wall of light’? These electrified gateways are set up throughout the city and will fry anything that’s not authorised to pass through them. You might be able to circumvent it by climbing up onto the rooftops and traversing around, or use the possession power to scurry through a drainage pipe as a rat and get to the other side. On the other hand you could deal with the gate itself by removing the whale oil tank that’s powering it, or hack into the system and reverse it. This last option is perhaps the most entertaining, as it means you’re now able to step through, but any guards who give chase will be instantly incinerated.


The approach you take will at least partly be determined by how you’ve customised Corvo, and these options are incredibly robust. Each of the game’s ten powers can be unlocked in any order (after Blink), and each can be upgraded. Runes hidden throughout the world are the currency for unlocking and upgrading powers, and that hunt is brilliant fun in and of itself. For my first play through, I focused on using and levelling up three core powers: Blink, Dark Vision and Agility.

Blink is a short range teleport that’s useful for moving from cover to cover, getting the jump on enemies and scaling buildings. Dark Vision lets players see enemy movements through walls, and also highlights other important objects in the world. Agility, on the other hand, is a passive power which increases jump height and movement speed, and reduces fall damage. As you can see, I opted for agility and stealth above all else.

To further enhance my cat burglar-like skills, I also spent cash upgrading my boots for quieter movement, and activated perks – via the game’s hidden bone charms – to drastically reduce the time it takes to choke an enemy, as well as to increase my movement speed in stealth mode and while carrying corpses.

You may well choose completely different abilities and perks. If you’re combat-focused, whirlwind sends enemies flying and is really effective, as is slow time, which actually freezes time when fully levelled up. While some powers are more useful than others, it’s a good selection and great fun to experiment with. They’re backed up by more traditional weapons: crossbow, pistol, grenades, spring razor, and so on, and these can all be upgraded too.

Dishonored’s nine missions are all very distinct. You’ll attend a society gala in disguise, scale a bridge, escape from prison, wander through flooded slums and stalk across rooftops. You’ll take part in a duel, carry an unconscious man through a gauntlet of enemies and decide whether or not to become a torturer. Each mission is designed as a sandbox, allowing players to utilise whatever approach they want, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll take your time, getting the lay of the land, discovering alternate routes, listening in on conversations, taking on optional objectives, looking for secrets and treasure, and generally just playing.

Players who really take the time to enjoy the experience are rewarded too. The more runes, bone charms and money you find, the more you can augment and upgrade your character, and the more bad-ass you’ll become. In fact, by the last couple of missions I was almost too powerful; able to stalk, choke and kill with ease. Good thing there are hard and extra hard difficulty settings to move on to, which ramp up the perceptiveness of enemies and increase the general challenge.

It’s also worth noting that taking out the actual targets in each mission can often be a bit of a letdown. In almost all cases you’ve got a serious advantage over them – no matter how heavily guarded they are. That’s not much of a deal breaker, however, because Dishonored really is about exploration and experimentation as much as the end goal. This is one of those games in which you’ll save often, reloading again and again to try different approaches, until you get each gameplay vignette just right.

Even though the odds are very much in your favour (on normal difficulty at least), the gameplay evolves nicely alongside the story. New factions and enemy types are introduced, which help shift up the vibe and introduce new challenges. One mission in particular pits Corvo against foes that aren’t so easily outmanoeuvred, and it’s a great touch, even though I’d have loved to see that sub-story pushed a little further.

Some of the more bad-ass enemies in Dishonored.

Some of the more bad-ass enemies in Dishonored.

In fact, that goes for a lot of the game. It’s a fascinating world with a memorable cast, not to mention an interesting overarching tension between mystical pagan magic and industrialisation, but all these elements never really feel like they come to fruition. The experience is still engrossing from start to finish, however.

You may also have some small issues with the controls. Climbing ledges – particularly when getting out of water – sometimes isn’t as smooth as it could be. The mechanic for sneaking up on guards and grabbing them from behind can be a little temperamental too – nothing worse than coming up behind a guard and blocking instead of grabbing. It’s also a little disappointing that the well-implemented first person perspective doesn’t extend to carrying objects, which just hover in space, in stark contrast to wielding weapons, powers and knocking guards out. Oh, and you’ll come across a few invisible walls in the play spaces, too, which is a bit of a shame, but probably unavoidable. None of these concerns are deal breakers, as Dishonored is very much a joy to play.

It’s also one of the prettiest games of recent years. The art direction is nothing short of incredible, and it’s matched with a visual aesthetic that makes the world look like an oil painting in motion. Dishonored isn’t competing on detail; it’s driven by soft textures, intelligent use of colours and contrast, and beautiful lighting. From terraced urban streets to industrial warehouses, menacing fortresses to regal palaces, it’s Victorian England meets City 17 meets whalepunk. The character modelling is superb too, even if the facial animations could be better… and the oddly oversized hands could be smaller.

As is becoming standard, PC owners are in for the biggest visual treat. Dishonored does look excellent on console – I finished it on Xbox 360, then started again on PS3, and thoroughly enjoyed playing on both. You may notice minor frame rate issues and a little tearing, but nothing that will really take away from the gameplay. That said, it’s significantly better-looking on a modern PC, so that should be the platform of choice for players who have the option.

THE VERDICT

It’s a shame that Dishonored’s story isn’t greater than the sum of its decidedly memorable parts, but its gameplay absolutely is. Each mission is built as an elaborate network of choices for players to explore, and the same can be said for Corvo himself. Each player’s selection of powers, perks and other upgrades will inform how they see and interact with this world, and no two play-throughs will be exactly the same. Dishonored is a game you’ll talk with your friends about, and that you’ll want to play multiple times. In this game there are always other paths to be taken and other challenges to conquer, and that’s a refreshing thing indeed.