It's safe to say that not many gamers were popping champagne corks when the news broke that BioShock Infinite would be delayed until 2013.
But having played Dishonored, you have to suspect they might have broken out the bubbly at Arkane Studios. With Irrational's similarly-positioned hit-in-waiting out of the way, the path is left clear for Dishonored to wow the kind of gamers who value creativity over body count.
Not that Dishonored is shy when it comes to brutality, (eye-watering execution animations very much being on trend at this year's E3), but what makes it feel special is: 1) The stealth side of things is so much fun to play that you might not actually want to murder anyone, and 2) The sheer amount of potential to be had from combining the weapons and abilities of supernatural assassin Corvo Atano is mouthwatering.
BLINK OR SWIM
Here's one example: we've just stepped into Dunwall, the steampunk/Victorian city in which the game takes place, and we're testing the short-range teleport power, which is called 'blink', and can be used in all sorts of smart ways to circumvent guards and find hidden paths. Obviously, rather than do either of those we instead opt to materialise right in the middle of two of Dunwall's finest. Bugger.
Somehow we manage to choke one guard to death before accidentally hitting a fusebox that unlocks a cage in which some prisoners are being held who promptly beat another guard to death, and then, with a final flourish, unleash a torrent of magical and very bitey rats on the final guard. "Exactly as planned," we suggest to the unconvinced rep from Bethesda.
In the build on show here all the powers are unlocked, which makes the amount of choice (when you pull up the wheel that enables you to assign weapons and mana-powered abilities to either of Corvo's hands, much in the same way as Skyrim), almost overwhelming. Like the best immersive sims - Deus Ex, Thief, BioShock - the fun comes in figuring out cute ways to combine powers.