|"The guards will be looking out for you, and since there are no|
high-def printing presses in this industrial era city, it only
seems fair to give you a mask to make you super-visible to any
but the stupidest guards."
Storywise, it's all a bit 'well, yes'. I kind of wanted to shank the conspirators on the way in because it was laughably obvious which ones they were. Moreover, although the Empress is supposed to be the good from which the Empire has fallen, she came off as weak and ineffectual more than trapped by an impossible situation (plague, deadly killer rats hordes;) it might have helped if they were a little more subtle in their hints that she and Corvo were totally doing it. I'm not sure if the Princess is supposed to be Corvo's daughter or if she knows it or is just way okay with Mum's new fella; perhaps it doesn't matter.
Anyhugh, you get captured and then sprung from jail and make your escape; picking up what appears to be a flick sword en route. At rebel headquarters you are told that you are needed to eliminate several key members of the new government and given a mask to hide your identity. This begs a couple of questions, such as: How is your actual appearance that famous in a pre-television world? Even if it is, how is a metal skull mask any less obvious in the open street? And isn't the point of an assassin's mask to hide your identity, and isn't that more or less pointless if your only identity becomes that of the scary guy in the mask?
As the icing on the cake, a god/devil/spirit dude gives you magical powers, because why not? Seriously, he's some sort of universal trickster dude, so he's pretty much 'have some powers; use them as you will'. The main power is Blink, a short range teleport useful for travel and stealth.
I do appreciate the grey and darker grey morality of the whole thing. Pretty much everyone who isn't dead or kidnapped is a complete dick, so I'm not going to feel too bad if I turn the whole thing into a dystopian nightmare with my choices and stealth failures.
As of this writing I'm in the middle of the first real mission of the game and struggling a bit. I confess I was thrown by the failure of a first person sneaker to be Thief. That first person aspect also makes it hella difficult to maintain a decent peripheral awareness, so half the time I end up being shanked in the side while trying to sneakily take down a guard with his back to me.
I also at one point fell through a tree that I wasn't apparently able to land on... after ninjaing the rest of the area completely. So embarrassing.
I'm now getting more comfortable with using Blink for stealth and hiding behind cover instead of just in shadows. It also helps that I'm using the correct button to block (ph3ar my 1337 skillzorz!)