Stealth games have come a long way since the golden age of Metal Gear Solid – especially considering that it's no longer the option you have to take to get things done. Sure, sometimes you have to do a little sneaking around, but the goal of effectively completing your mission is more important in some cases – like that of the assassin.
That's exactly what we get with the two main heroes introduced in Bethesda's Dishonored and Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed III, which both hit shelves in October and have gotten rave reviews and huge sales since that time. Both have intriguing stories to tell, about people who are driven for specific reasons to do the dastardly things that they're assigned. Both also have the skills to get the job done, whether it's slashing a few throats or using a tool of the trade in their environment – a gas lamp, a rope dart – to execute an adversary.
But who would be better between the two? While we aren't able to get them in the ring for an actual grudge match (maybe one day, like in PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale…?), we can compare some of their best techniques and see who comes out on top. May the best killer win. (And may Agent 47 not interrupt as soon as he'd like to…)
Corvo isn't just a man with a knife and a crossbow in his hand. He is able to use a variety of supernatural abilities at every turn, stuff that comes in handy when the odds are stacked against him. For instance, he can teleport to higher locations, losing enemies much more quickly and without drawing much attention climbing up in real time. He can also possess enemies, wipe away bodies with a powerful blast of energy, and bend time to his will.
Meanwhile, Connor, also known under his birth name Ratonhnhake:ton, is no slouch. He's always got a tomahawk in his hand, and can also use a bow and arrow to great effect, similar in range to what Corvo's crossbow can do. He has a number of tools of his own, including the ability to hide in crowds and flower beds (should he need to get close to enemies and listen to their conversation) and rope darts, which he can use to grab and hang an enemy in plain sight. He can also turn weapons against his enemies, such as taking someone's head off with a musket.
However, Corvo has the advantage here, mainly because his abilities are more superhuman. Connor is effective, of course, but Corvo could easily slip behind him and finish him off – or take control of him and guide him off a cliff.
Close Range Combat
Corvo is quite useful in close-range combat, as he can use his sword and various types of ammunition for his crossbow, including incendiary shots that can light a man and his friends on fire. He can also pick up gas lamps and other objects to distract or harm foes.
Meanwhile, Connor is able to take on more than one opponent at a time, thanks to a distant third-person camera view. This allows him to see more than one enemy on the screen – something Corvo can't entirely do with his limited view – and react quickly with counters. Corvo can counter as well, but not as quickly or stylishly. What's more, as he could do with striking enemies from behind, Connor can easily turn an enemy's weapon against them, while turning around to counter his buddies in one fluid movement.
Sorry, Corvo, but when it comes to straight up combat, Connor could carve you up in a heartbeat.
When it comes to getting around and figuring things out, Corvo is no slouch. He can shimmy along ledges and jump down to lower areas with ease, and quickly run out of harm's way should the situation call for it.
However, in terms of physical agility, Connor has him beat. The guy can run up walls and along trees, flying across rooftops and jumping into haystacks to avoid a nasty fall. He can also use stealth better to his advantage, as Corvo is too easy to spot in a hallway – even if he's hiding somewhat in the shadows. That's not to say Connor can't get spotted, as sometimes an enemy is a little too observant about seeing where he's at. So neither is perfect.
However, when it comes to really getting around and coming that much closer to his target, Connor has Corvo beat. That said, at least he doesn't have to contend with large groups of rats – but that also means he doesn't get to throw bodies around.
We'll give Connor the slight nod here, just because of being able to jump down from distances and stab someone in the neck.
The Other Stuff
In Dishonored, Corvo is able to take part in a number of activities as he attempts to clear his name and keep the city in one piece. Being able to consciously decide whether you want to be a brutal killer or sneak by everyone (it can be done throughout the game, according to the developers at Arkane Studios) is pretty sweet. The worse city conditions get, the more rats and plague-infested victims show up. So he has something weighing down on his conscience. That's something to put up with.
Likewise, Connor has a full plate. Along with dealing with various historic types and completing side missions that tie into his past, he gets to control a ship during some points of the game, responding to incoming cannon fire and ordering targets destroyed. These naval battles are a nice change of pace to the typical Assassin's Creed games, though, essentially, everything does tie in to the modern-day Desmond Miles again. So he has a little bit of conscience too, even if Desmond is just replaying his history.
Tie game here. As excellent as the Naval Battle advantage is, Corvo has a lot on his mind.
Corvo is a badass. There's no question he can easily slice someone up and stay devoted to his cause. And you should definitely play Dishonored without hesitation when you get the chance.
However, with better physical prowess, slightly stronger stealth skills and the ability to elegantly bring down armies of red coats to his feet with killer moves, Connor is the top dog when it comes to assassins. At least, until we see how the downloadable content shapes up…