It's easy to understand why brutalism has been such a potent source of architectural inspiration for games. The raw forms - solid, legible and with clear lineation - are the perfect material for level designers to craft their worlds with. Simultaneously, these same structures are able to ignite imaginations and gesture outwards, their dramatic shapes and monumental dimensions shocking and attention-seizing.
If you're looking for an expert on immersive sims, speak to Randy Smith.
There may be spoilers for the Dishonored series of games ahead.
Whether you're traversing an expansive open world, climbing crumbling ruins or sneaking between shadowy city corners, the landscapes and environments we see in games have never been better. Gone are the days of miracle-growing trees popping up at certain draw distances. Instead, we have places and environments deliberately and carefully designed, and landscapes so realistic we can relate to them, be astonished by them, even yearn for them. Naturally, ever-improving graphical capabilities have a lot to do with this, because as environments get more realistic, we increasingly experience them as 'real', but there can be, and often is, so much more to it than just the technical ability to crank up the aesthetics.
Let's Play videos can be appealing for a variety of reasons. Sometimes you watch them because you like the personality of the presenter. Other times you want to get tips or tricks and seek a video walkthrough. And often gameplay videos are engaging because someone is trying to pull off a particularly impressive challenge, like, say, playing Dark Souls 3 with a controller made from bananas, or speedrunning a title to near perfection.
Arkane Studios is known as the developer of "immersive simulations" - worlds you sink into, wallow in, made up of intricately interlocking systems tied to exotic abilities, which can be manipulated to resolve a scenario any number of ways. But perhaps it would be more accurate to describe the Lyon and Austin-based company's creations as "emersive" sims, frameworks you struggle to break free of, using tools that aren't quite under the designer's control.
Man, I love a hub in games. And so few get them right. A good hub can elevate a game that, otherwise, I don't really care much about.
Having decided to replay Dishonored recently, I was faced with a dilemma. Not a big Walking Dead "choose which of these people you want to live" dilemma. More of a Bioshock-level dilemma. In my excitement over going back to Arkane's magical murder-sim, I had neglected to consider that I am a parent now. As such, I am as likely to find time to return to a game I have already played as I am to find El Dorado in one of my daughter's nappies.
With a sequel to Dishonored in the works, a remaster of the original game for current-gen consoles was all but inevitable - a release confirmed at E3 earlier this year. Dubbed the Definitive Edition, the latest version of Dishonored promises a substantial upgrade over the Xbox 360 and PS3 releases, featuring updated visuals and the inclusion of all the downloadable content. There are also improvements to frame-rate, but the boost only goes so far: we're still looking at 30fps, albeit with a higher level of stability in performance.
Coming up to its three-year anniversary, it's fair to say that the look of the UE3-powered title hasn't aged particularly well when viewed through a full HD lens, though the gameplay still captivates. Both consoles hand in a native 1080p image, bringing with it a substantial boost in clarity and sharpness over the 720p last-gen releases. That full HD presentation is backed by run of the mill anti-aliasing - and based on a comparison with the PC version, it looks like standard FXAA is in play on both PS4 and Xbox One.
Curiously, there does seem to be a small amount of variance in the overall coverage offered by the AA solution, producing a slightly sharper image on Xbox One with distant scenery lacking the mild softening effect that appears sporadically on PS4. However, shimmering around fine details is more commonplace across both near-field structures and those further away from the camera, while long edges lack the same level of smoothness compared to the other platforms. Here, the PC game offers the most refined presentation with the PS4 following behind. On PC we opted for FXAA for our captures, which provides a smoother image than the MLAA alternative, at the expense of a slight blur to texture clarity.
Towards the end of my preview time with Dishonored's new story-based add-on, I'm stood deep within a slaughterhouse, speaking to a compact, rather determined sort of lady. "Mister Daud," she tells me, with a conspiratorial air, "we're both professionals."
We've all got lost in games. I don't mean that we've become so engrossed that external factors cease to matter - toast burns, cats starve, love falters, etc - although if you're reading this site then that's probably true as well. I mean we've gotten lost in games. It used to be a common complaint, in fact, that games spun you around or suddenly stopped saying new things and it would take ages to figure out what you were expected to do.
It's been a hell of a year for sneaky bastards. From Mark of the Ninja, which purists might even argue was the high point, to Far Cry 3, where I spent many a fabulous hour creeping up on STD-obsessed mercenaries - sometimes just to watch them being mauled by a passing tiger - everyone was at it. So much so, in fact, that we needn't mourn Assassin's Creed 3's relocation to the action-adventure genre, or the disappointment of Hitman: Absolution, which had its moments but ultimately satisfied neither fans of the series nor those who crouch worshipfully behind low walls. There was more than enough going on elsewhere to make up for them both.
Bethesda Softworks doesn't do post-mortems. That's always been the line, which is why it's pretty rare for anyone to get to speak to one of the publisher's studios about a recently released game. We've never been able to look back at Skyrim with Todd Howard or talk to Tim Willits in hindsight about Rage, when at times during those games' development they and we were probably all sick of the sight of each other. We've never even spoken to that sweary lunatic who was involved in Rogue Warrior. Demo Dick! That was his name. Actually, there are probably other reasons we've never spoken to Demo Dick.
Last week, I started playing Dishonored. I fell in love with it. All that talk of the game being short was, as ever, internet exagger-annoyo-mania. I spent about five hours doing the first proper mission. Just hiding under tables and sneaking around houses, watching people. I loved how you could take a lot of different paths to your objectives. I loved how you could just crawl about on a roof, unseen, and then appear behind an enemy in the blink of an eye.
Size doesn't matter. It's true. It's genuinely true. The saying doesn't exist just to make you feel better about your bald little half-incher.
The blue placards have been pulled down, the special carpet's been ripped up and we're left to reflect on another fantastic Expo. How was your show? It certainly wasn't short of highlights, whether that was Hideo Kojima outlining his vision for the future of Metal Gear and reflecting on 25 years of its past or Peter Molyneux proving once again what a charismatic showman he is.
There's a certain dignity to Dishonored, though it's not to be found in the high-society masquerade party that houses the most recent playable demo of Arkane's stealth-minded action game. The dignity is in the details and in the design, in its noble intentions and in its respect of the player and their choices. Dishonored's a game that promises its players the world, and at times it looks damn close to being able to gift it to them.
But the first thing to hit you about Dishonored is its majesty, even if it is a willfully scuffed, frayed splendor that Arkane has created. Dunwall's an intoxicating construct, and the fingerprints of one of its grand architects, visual design director Viktor Antonov, are smeared across the city. Monolithic black steel gates crash awkwardly against 19th Century townhouses and sheer concrete walls. This is City 17 under Queen Victoria's rule.
In Dunwall, filth washes up against the walls of stately homes, and it's amidst this flotsam that the lead character of Corvo conducts his business. Framed for the murder of an Empress, Corvo's offered a chance to exact revenge on those who set him up, and does so from the squalor of Dunwall's dank shadows.
That the closest touchstone for Dishonored should be BioShock, a game from 2007, speaks volumes to the stagnating creativity of video games. As celebrated art maestro Viktor Antonov put it to Eurogamer: "It's been a poor, poor five years for fiction in the video game industry." And he should know - he created Half-Life 2's iconic City 17, not to mention he's now making Dishonored.
Hello! It's Wesley, your friendly neighbourhood news editor here. Don't worry, I haven't sensationalised the story with this headline, or taken anything out of context. This really is the Eurogamer Podcast 110 and it really is about Dishonored, Medal of Honor, Crysis 3, SimCity and Project Zomboid!
The Cat House is a high class brothel, a dramatic white building sat far above the city of Dunwall's harbour. Your mark is a regular customer, and he's currently cavorting with a masked lady of the night in its lavish penthouse - you, meanwhile, are crouching unseen on a window sill, peering through ornamental glass.
What next? Well, I guess you could stab him or shoot him. If you don't mind making a mess you could also pause time and hang five separate crossbow bolts in front of his face. That way once normal temporal service resumes he'll be very dead indeed.
Alternatively, you could get creative. Why not leap into control of his body and steer him towards the white marble balcony that overlooks harbour? Then simply jump backwards out of his body and, while he retches up his guts in panic and confusion, spend a little more magical Essence on a Windblast. As he ragdolls into the wild blue yonder it'll feel like the perfect crime, if it weren't for the dainty witness screaming behind you.
Back in December the Eurogamer editorial team had a massive public fight about whether 2011 was a good year for games. Well, we had the closest thing we're capable of having to a massive public fight - we wrote polite editorials disagreeing with one another. One thing we all agreed upon, however, was that we would very much like to see more Actual New Games in 2012.
"Choice and consequence" may be the action-adventure cliché du jour, but being able to define your own combat style through a suite of overlapping toys is definitely up there too. Pretty much ever since BioShock invited us to paralyse splicers with electricity and then whack 'em with a wrench, everyone's been at it.