Remaster. Remake. Definitive. These have all become strangely dirty words in the past few years. With a relative dearth of genuine new content for the Xbox One, and in particular, the PS4, the gaps have subsequently been filled by up-scaled versions of games that the majority of us have already played on the PS3 or 360. Sure, some games are unquestionably worthy of a second crack of the whip, while others receive enough additional polish to make them feel like relatively new experiences, but recently, jeez, we have seen some odd games receiving the ‘Definitive’ treatment. Prototype 1 and 2, Sleeping Dogs, heck, even The Legend of Kay got a re-release…..The Legend of Kay for Heaven’s sake. And with the utterly mediocre likes of Resident Evil 0 and Deadpool just around the corner, it seems that there is no end in sight for this glut of largely unwanted remakes and re-masters.
The one thing I will say however, is that some developers do at least have the decency to release such titles with minimal fanfare. Say what you will about the merits (or lack thereof) of releasing a Prototype compilation, but it was snuck out with little fuss and subsequently made available for those who might have missed them first time around. The same is largely true of, Bathesda’s, Dishonored: Definitive Edition. While a far superior game and a much more justifiable release given the announcement of an upcoming sequel, this was nonetheless released rather quietly, seemingly made available for anyone who might fancy giving it a go………I suspect there is a reason for this though.
While games such as The Nathan Drake Collection and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition are advertised like new, potentially system selling products, a lot of work clearly been done to bring them as close to modern day standards as possible. Dishonored: Definitive Edition though, well, it’s really more of a Dishonored: PC Edition if truth be told. Yes, it has all the DLC added for good measure, but beyond the higher resolution, this is little more than a Game of the Year Edition. Don’t get me wrong, this remains a fantastic game and the upscale in visual fidelity and the extra DLC story missions are certainly a welcome addition, but make no mistake, this really is largely unchanged from the game released on PS3 and 360 three years ago. Is it worth playing? Absolutely……is it worth playing again? Perhaps not.
That’s ok though, as again, this is clearly aimed towards those that might have missed it first time around, and despite being originally released back in 2012, the game has lost none of its original lustre. It’s somewhat bewildering that the slightly iffy framerate has not been improved and that the load times are actually even longer this time around, but despite this handful of technical hiccups, this remains a truly gorgeous video game, one that, while never the most technically impressive game on the market, is one that is effortlessly held aloft by its gorgeous art design and unforgettable world. The plague-ridden, industrial city of Dunwall with its Victorian aesthetic and steam punk underbelly is as unique and engrossing as ever. The cast is largely memorable and while Corvo Attano’s tale of betrayal and revenge can be a little muddled, the game is always dragged along by its moment to moment gameplay and the open-ended structure of its mission design.
And that’s where Dishonored continues to shines brightest – the upscale might not have done much to sell the game as a technical showpiece, but on a structural and artistic level, Dishonored remains one of the finest first person adventures on the market. The way that the world opens up during missions never fails to impress. They are often straightforward in terms of the core aim of the mission, but with numerous different routes, NPCs that are able to provide valuable information or items that can essentially turn the mission on its head and a great balance between stealth and more aggressive gameplay approaches, completing each mission is never as simplistic or as straightforward as it might initially appear.
The balance between stealth and action is also as finely balanced as in any game since the exemplary, Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay. Both systems work independently from each other (you can actually finish the game without killing anyone), but more impressively, it’s the way that they combine so effortlessly that really makes Dishonored’s core gameplay work as well as it does. Whether it be choosing an approach based upon the situation or being forced into battle due to being spotted, the switch between each style feels totally natural, and with additional supernatural abilities also thrown into the mix, the combat is nothing if not varied.
Speaking of the supernatural abilities, it is these, if nothing else that might draw those who have already finished the game back for another run. Unlocking all of the abilities that the game has to offer in one playthrough is impossible, and with some of the abilities delivering powers that can fundamentally change your approach to the game, the opportunity to take on a totally new skill-set is as good a reason as any to return to the decrepit street of Dunwall. It’s not just the powers that change the experience either; your approach to the game also has a very noticeable effect on how the world responds to you. With your actions and decisions having major consequences on the ongoing story, Dishonored delivers a surprisingly robust and undeniably challenging set of choices. This is no simple light or dark stuff – Dishonored asks you to make major, often tough decisions and is subsequently all the better for it.
It probably doesn’t do enough to warrant a double-dip for those who have already experienced the game on last-gen consoles, but despite the lack of a noticeable overhaul, Dishonored remains one of the best first person action games on the market. The additional DLC missions are entertaining rather than essential and the visual upgrade is decent without being all that noticeable, but despite this being far from the, ‘Definitive Edition’ that it claims to be it, it’s still a fantastic game in its own right and a fitting appetiser for what we can only hope will be an exemplary follow up.
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