Preview: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Posted 2 years ago By - Kyle Baron
I didn’t expect a ’pre-alpha’ build of Deus Ex: Human Revolution to blow me away. Pre-alpha is usually when a game is between the stage where it can be played and when it’s feature complete. From where I was sitting behind closed doors at Square Enix’ E3 booth, it’s easy to see how this prequel to the previous Deus Ex games is quickly shaping up.
As the lights dimmed, a member of Deus Ex developer Eidos Montreal picked up the controller and started the hands-off demo. The giant screen in the room flicked to life as a black aircraft floated lazily past a golden sunset towards a two-tiered island super city in the year 2027. Slick particle effects mix with some smart lighting work over the game’s metallic palette. Adam Jensen, a cybernetically enhanced man, jumps out of the aircraft and into the control of the Eidos Rep. His mission is to find information on a hacker from a local club owner who goes by the name of ’Tong.’
The game’s first person perspective shows the horror in the eyes of a bystander as he recoils from the gun in the hands of Jensen. The Eidos Rep holsters the gun and walks into a seedy neon-lit street as I’m told that anyone in the game who isn’t an enemy can be spoken to. They don’t show this in action in the demo, so it’s hard to judge how deep this interaction goes.
A bouncer blocks the entrance to a club as the door behind him muffles the thrumming bass of techno music. The camera shifts into third person as the player chooses from several tones of responses, rather than a direct indication of what will be said. Jensen eventually gives up on trying to convince the bouncer to let him in and opts to bribe his way into the club.
A member of Eidos talks over the demo, telling us that there are multiple ways to solve problems in the game. Eidos says that rather than speak to the bouncer, the player could have shot their way into the bar, overheard the password from a local, or snuck in through the roof of the building.
The ’failing every persuasive option’ route of Deus Ex’ multiple solution gameplay resurfaces moments later when Jensen fails to convince a bionic armed bartender to tell him where Tong is. Our cybernetic hero slowly plods around the club until a not-so-subtle conversation between two security guards reveals that a data pad has been lost in a bathroom. Sure enough, it’s right on the floor when Jensen enters and, surprise, it has a pass code on it.
The camera smoothly slides into third person just moments later as Jensen puts his back to a wall in a forbidden back hallway of the club. A guard turns his back on Jensen’s hiding spot long enough for the player to sneak up behind him. The camera slides into third person again as a Jensen’s cybernetic arm reaches out and taps him on the shoulder. Before the guard can finish turning around, Jensen’s other metal arm cracks into the guard’s skull. Now is a good time to say that Eidos told me that for the sake of the demo, the heads up display has been deactivated and that health and energy - presumably the energy sources for takedowns like this - are unlimited.
A separate level in the demo opens up a few minutes later. Jensen stands in front of a secure dockside complex under a starlit night sky. There are no bouncers this time. The upgraded strength of his cybernetic arms creates an opening to the side of the gate, and a bit of subterfuge has Jensen standing right behind a seated security guard at the gate office.
A blade slides out of Jensen’s arm and crunches through the backing of the chair. Stepping to one side, Jensen hacks a terminal and deactivates the cameras before tuck-and-rolling past another security guard and into the darker corners of the facility.
After Jensen cloaks and walks right in front of a guard before shooting him in the head with a pistol, I started to see an increasing variety in the takedown moves. The Eidos rep sent Jensen in between two guards, which resulted in a single moment where two arm blades and a bit of martial arts took both enemies out. Another moment had Jensen crash through a window in the midst of five enemies. A pirouette sent explosive discs circling outwards from his body before they detonated and took out everyone. I think it’s important for me to remind you that the ammo and energy was set to ‘unlimited’ during the hands-off demo.
As you may have guessed by the mention of cloaking, the game isn’t all about dialogue choices, hacking, and stealth take downs – it was clear from the demo that gunplay is paid attention to. Shooting takes place in the game’s primary first person camera, with the vision switching to an over the shoulder viewpoint that fans of Rainbow Six Vegas will be familiar with. The guns ranged from a crossbow that stuck men to walls to a rocket launcher that was usable from behind cover, and they all sounded great.
In fact, the sound design is one of Deus Ex’ strongest points so far. There’s a metallic texture to all of the sound effects that you can almost feel as it slides into your ears. Techno music is applied in tasteful proportions, never overriding the action and making itself too prominent.
It’s frustrating as a journalist to have to use a hands-off demo as an object of judgment. When it’s unreasonable to make gross criticisms of a game because of its status as a work-in-progress, the goal of the journalist shifts to the point of E3 – looking for potential. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is definitely one game that I hope makes good on its potential when it releases in 2011.
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Release Date :
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Square Enix
Developer : Eidos Montreal
Category : Action
ESRB : M
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