Bethesda has become an industry darling and fan favourite in recent years, thanks in large part to its open world role-playing games, such as Fallout 3 and the Oblivion and Skyrim Elder Scrolls titles.
And gamers can enjoy a double-dip of Bethesda fun at the moment, as the publisher has released a pair of titles: Dishonored and Doom 3: BFG Edition.
Dishonored is a fantastic steampunk romp through a dystopian world in which you play as Corvo, a former bodyguard of the Empress of Dunwall. You stand falsely accused of her murder and the kidnapping of her sole daughter and the legitimate heir to the throne.
On the eve before your date with the state executioner, you are given means to escape prison and meet up with a group of loyalists. These men and women, a diverse group that includes former military and political heavyweights and a somewhat demented scientist, offer you a chance to restore your name by turning assassin. You are tasked with eliminating military and political targets in an effort to find the young heir to the throne.
The streets of Dunwall are filled with death. A plague spread by rats is killing the citizens and the military has instituted martial law. Under these grim circumstances, you must find a way to sneak into heavily guarded areas, deal with a ruthless street gang and dispatch the traitors who were responsible for the assassination of the Empress.
The story is first rate, with twists and turns worthy of a novel treatment. And thankfully the action matches it. At first glance, Dishonored looked to be an Assassin’s Creed clone. But it’s more than that. There’s a supernatural element at play, as well as a type of internal scoring system that judges you based on how little or how much blood and chaos you create. The story and its epilogue change to reflect your actions and overall approach, giving gamers a reason to dive back into this engaging world.
Doom 3: BFG Edition (which stands for Big – shut your mouth – Gun) is a retooled, overhauled version of its predecessor, timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the release of the original Doom on PC. It also contains the first and second Doom games.
Id, the creators of Doom, have upgraded the visuals for Doom 3, tweaked some of the controls to make them more console friendly and added in a ‘lost mission’ that adds eight new single-player levels to the overall experience, giving franchise fans a reason to dive into an eight-year-old title.
Is it a wise investment? Well, the gameplay is largely unchanged. While the visuals are indeed enhanced, the game’s overall creepiness factor, a combination of lighting and chilling sound design, remains the same. Shooters have changed dramatically since Doom 3 launched in 2004. And there’s none of those major advancements on display here. So, the teenaged Call of Duty, Battleground and Halo fans may find the survival horror hook an interesting concept for a while, but there’s little reason to keep them engaged beyond the campaign’s final curtain.
That’s a missed opportunity to build on the brand and position it to compete in the shooter genre going forward.
The score: Dishonored earns 4 stars, Doom 3: BFG Edition gets 3.
Both titles are rated M.