Hey guys, long time no talk what with all the developer’s conferences and kicking fools asses at curling I’ve been attending. Let’s see…

OK, well just sat down for 2h 15mins of Halo 4. Started it up, thought “gosh this is pretty!” played it… and… yeah. After about 2 hours I was done for the day. Not because there’s anything WRONG with Halo you understand, it’s just… you know…

I have no doubt I’ll go back to Halo eventually for a few hours per day again until I actually finish the storyline. Then, whoop, back to the store with ye for tradein credits. Perhaps I will convert it + Dishonored into Hitman.

Speaking of Dishonored, I finished the entire game since we spoke last. I’m happy (?) to report that as a certified Thief evangelist, Dishonored holds the mantle reasonably high for the kind of sneaking around grabbin-and-exploring experience that the youth of today crave, though as Lynette says “This game just makes me want to play Thief again.”

For fun’s sake, here is a bulleted list of how Dishonored basically rips off Thief whole hog and/or is basically a Thief fanfic or homage.

Similarities:

  • Mildly distopian historical periodpunk setting. Edwardianpunk vs Steampunk. Dunwall and The City are so close in their intangible flavorings that they might be sister cities.
  • Pagan faction vs Civilized Erathis faction as the primary social conflict.
  • No, seriously you guys. Overseers = Hammerites, Nature magic = whale magic (?!) They’re not even trying to be subtle about it.
  • Difficult to put one’s finger on “weird world” flavor that follows its own internal logic but delights in lording over the player the fact that it understands 100% of the micro-lore and world details while you, the player, do not.
  • “Goin to the [Hound Pits] [Bear Pits] Tomorrow?
  • Tons of extraneous flavor which is injected into the world but totally missable in the form of guard conversations, books lying around everywhere, hidden or off the beaten track rooms full of curiosities.
  • “Musta been rats.” Also constant whistling.
  • Choffers = Taffers
  • (grabs loot) bwing bwing bwing. Click those coins. Click them!
  • Enigmatic “Outsider” is totally not the Trickster in another name. Belay that, The Trickster is overtly more malicious… but it’s basically 100% the same thing.
  • Built in rewards for nonlethal play and scaling difficulty system that rewards elaborate, complex solutions. Your task list increases the more stylish and “pro-level” you want to be.
  • Tallboys etc. Are bascially hammerites / mechanists.
  • A straight-up Easter Egg homage in which some assassins recreate the opening moments of Thief 1’s training level, complete with verbatim dialogue rip.
  • “Leaning” and manteling
  • “Flooded Districts” and zombies that are totally not zombies
  • Steampunk magitech

NOT the same, strangely:

  • Garrett speaks and has a strong personality. Corvo does not. Advantage Garrett.
  • Pickpocketing yes, lockpicking no. Why?
  • Corvo has a lot more magical power than Garrett. He can posess rats and fey step all over the place, the best Garrett ever does is a sword that doesn’t reflect light and some gas crystals. Still, advantage Garrett. Compared to Thief, Corvo just looks like some lazy trust fund kid who got access to his parents’ magical Ferrarri. I do appreciate that you can eventually put crepe rubber on your shoes… something we always complained that Garrett SHOULD be doing.
  • Totally bizarre but kind of endearing fixation on whales and whaling
  • Thief’s doodle maps totally kick the crap out of Dishonored’s not-maps.

Bascially, at the end of the day, Dishonored was a cromulent homage to a more visionary forbearer, and while totally enjoyable falls somewhat short of the mark of greatness. Even on “as hard as possible” difficulty I found it possible to sleep through most of the stealth sequences without much in the way of real effort, which was a bummer. The gushing praise for Dishonered you hear all over the place comes from people who’ve never played the original Thief 1/ Thief 2 series before. To be fair though, we did certainly enjoy our time in Dunwall considerably and I don’t want to give it a bum rap here. If nothing else, they earn massive points for striking out from the mainstream template and creating a game environment and world resonant with a very distinct (Theify) flavor.

It should also be said that perhaps some of these grumblings you here above are the result of us just playing that game as if it WERE Thief. I never once made a lethal kill in Dishonored, never used a single offensive power nor explosive shell, nor got into a swordfight with anybody, nor posessed a guard with magic, nor summoned any rats to devour bodies or did anything else that wasn’t basically just skulking around, occasionally nonlethally choking out fools. Your mileage may totally vary depending on how much you enjoy doing that sort of thing. As I said before when we played Deus Ex, we’re basically incapable of doing lethal manouvres if the game rewards nonlethality in any way or fashion. Ended the entire game with zero enemy fatalities, wished I was getting paid to rob people and be a guild hero instead of assassinate them.

Dishonored’s ending and overall story arc are much weaker that Thief, but it was still OK fun times. B+

Want to congradulate MJ for his journey though Spec Ops. I have a personal mission to see that we do a podcast on the subject of that game at some point in the future. If any shooter ever deserved the Squad treatment, it was this one. Still #2 in my end-of-year game review after Journey.

OK, I’m going to chase my Halo indifference by going and pretending to be Sherlock Holmes in an adventure game now. ADIOS!

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