DISHONORED (M) ****1/2 Bethesda Softworks Xbox 360
With first-person shooters feeling more and more scripted and linear of late, it’s nice to come upon a game with a healthy variety of choices. In Dishonored, you have been betrayed and imprisoned, like a steampunk version of the Count of Monte Cristo, and as you embark through the beautifully grimy, industrialized yet antiquated city of Dunwall on your mission of vengeance, there are a number of ways to proceed. You can run through guns-a-blazin’, leaving every street littered with corpses to feed the city’s growing rat population. Or you can take a subtler approach, quietly subjecting your prey to a series of gruesome assassinations. Or, if you’re up for a challenge, you can attempt a more civilized form of retribution without claiming a single life. The pacifistic choice is certainly better for the citizens of the increasingly chaotic city, where the rat-spread plague worsens with each body you leave to the vermin, but the violent approach comes with a much more satisfying assortment of toys.
From old-fashioned crossbows to vaporizing bolts of electricity to supernatural powers like the ability to teleport or possess the minds of rats, there’s a seemingly endless series of tools to utilize in any given situation. Is there a large group of enemy guards huddled together in the next room? Try freezing time, resting a grenade in the middle of their ranks and returning to the hallway to observe the fireworks through the keyhole once you’ve unfrozen the clock. Dishonored is best when it allows you to be inventively macabre. Although, disappointingly, as the game progresses, it encourages you to take the less interesting, non-violent path (a necessity if you want the best ending). Fortunately, Dishonored’s vast world of possibilities offers more than enough incentives to play through both ways.
007 LEGENDS (T) *1/2 Activision Xbox 360
007 Legends begins with a scene from the new Bond flick Skyfall, in which Daniel Craig is shot and falls from a moving train to his would-be watery grave below. As the Brit superspy flirts with the afterlife, his life flashes before his eyes—or rather, the lives of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and all the other actors who have portrayed 007. What follow are five missions loosely based on movies like Moonraker and Die Another Day. But with its buggy A.I., cheesy set-pieces, clumsy stealth and quicktime event boss battles, 007 Legends is likely to leave even the most nostalgic Bond fans emotionally shaken, not stirred.
DOOM 3: BFG EDITION (M) **1/2 Bethesda Softworks Xbox 360
With its inclusion of un-updated versions of the first two Doom games, Doom 3’s BFG Edition makes a decent collector’s package of unholy first-person carnage. Unfortunately most of the love is bestowed upon the franchise’s most recent installment, and even though its graphics hold up well and it finally allows players to point a gun and a flashlight at the same time, Doom 3 has never felt like a proper Doom game. The action is more sporadic than frenetic, and there’s far too much creeping down dark corridors and far too little circle-strafing around hellish beasts—the latter being what Doom is all about.