Preview: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

One of my most anticipated games for 2011, as well as one of my favorite games at this year’s E3, is Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I recently got a chance to check out the Gamescom demo of the game here in New York.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution, an RPG/FPS hybrid with third-person cover elements and special abilities known as augmentations, allows players to go about several ways in completing a mission. To demonstrate this feature, I was shown the same mission three times, completed three different ways. The objective: to get into the morgue of a police station and retrieve an augmentation piece from some guy’s corpse. To do that we entered Detroit, a city once run down but now fixed up by Sarif Industries, a leading company in developing augmentations. The city is fully explorable and even offers the players numerous side-quests to complete.

Can you do me a favor, buddy?

The first option I was shown was the ‘social’ path. This is probably the best method to go about completing your mission. It’s safe, nobody gets hurt and everything is done clean.

I saw Jensen enter the police station and make his way towards the back, where an officer kindly told him that the area he needs to access is off limits. Moving back towards the front of the police station, they had Jensen approach the front desk where he saw an old friend who apparently is just getting his life back in order. Story is: this guy shot and killed an augmented fifteen year-old kid under direct order a while back and his life’s been pretty messed up since then. It was originally Jensen’s order, but he passed it on to him because he didn’t want to do it. Now this guy is a bit angry with Jensen, so convincing him to open the door for you could be a bit of a task.

Now is where the persuasion kicks in. Players are given a few options during the chat to try and convince the guy to open the door — I was able to catch ‘Absolve’ and ‘Plea’ as two of the options but wasn’t able to catch the third. Looks like the options are different in each conversation as I remember seeing ‘Insist’, ‘Advise’ and ‘Pinpoint’ in the E3 demo. In the mission shown to me, Jensen was able to persuade him to allow him entry. Of course, players may fail in the conversation and not convince the man to open the door, in which case they’d have to take a different path (we’ll get more into that later). There’s actually a social augmentation that could provide players hints at how to win a conversation, which would come in handy in such times. From then on, the player is able to move through the doors, take the elevator down to the lower floor, enter the morgue and retrieve the piece. Simple and safe. Afterward, they player could merely walk out. Apparently, Jensen gets more experience points when taking the safe route.


The second method of going about I was shown was the ‘stealth’ path. This time, rather than enter the police station and try to work our way around the man at the front desk, Jensen took his sights to an alleyway that led to the back of the station. A fence blocked the way, though; to get over it, I was shown both the ‘Jump’ and ‘Strength’ augmentations. ‘Strength’ was used in order to pick up a dumpster and move it more towards the fence and ‘jump’ was used to get on top of the dumpster, then again to hop the fence. Francois Lapikas, the game’s senior designer, informed me that the dumpster hop isn’t the only way to get to the back.

There was a ladder-escape hanging down that Jensen was able to climb, leading directly to the second floor of the police station. Of course, the door’s locked. If the police left their doors open like that, that would surely cause some security issues. In order to bypass the door’s lock, you could either enter the PIN (which we didn’t know) or hack it. Hacking it initiates a small mini-game in which the player’s goal is to capture computer nodes. Each node has a rating; the higher the rating, the more time it takes to capture. There are these small red towers that may “capture” you, if you’re not careful enough. Fortunately in the demo I was shown, the hacking went well and Jensen entered through the second floor.

As soon as Jensen sneaked his way in, he went into stealth mode — you know, taking cover, crouching, the whole nine-yards. He sat and waited for cops to move forward so he wouldn’t be seen. There was one point where he used an ‘invisibility’ augmentation to make himself completely invisible. That made it easier to bypass the cops, however, Lapikas did tell me you’ll need to walk slowly in order to keep your footsteps clear of noise. If not, they’ll hear you and know that you’re there.

After a lot of sneaking, Jensen eventually made it to the basement. With a guard incoming, he snuck into a vent to hide, waited for the guard to turn his back from the vent, then came out and performed a sexy behind-the-back assassination. With a body recognition laser door blocking the path ahead, he dragged his body over and used it to pass. From there, he went to the morgue, retrieved the piece and headed out through the sewers. Lapikas told me the player will earn bonuses for not being seen.

Say hello to my little friend!

The third method of completing this mission was simply to go in Scarface-style, guns blazing and blood spilling. After entering the police station, Jensen made his way towards the back where the police officer guarding the door would not permit entry; this time Jensen ignored him, went in regardless and started shooting up the place. From here it plays like your average shooter, taking cover, the occasional blind-shot, and peaking out every few seconds for a kill. I did get to see some pretty cool weapons and augmentations in the process, specifically the Pulse Energy Projection System (or Peps, as they call it), which allows players to emit a wave of energy that knocks the enemy to the ground. I wasn’t playing, but I could imagine how awesome it would feel get my hands on that energy gun. I also saw a small enhancement to the revolver, upgrading its standard ammunition to explosive bullets. Every enemy shot with the revolver literally had a small explosion hit them in the face.

Hackable doors weren’t an issue for Jensen this time. Rather than hack the thing, he created a frag mine from his inventory and attached it to the door, blowing it off within a matter of seconds. Talk about being crafty!

Looks like a keeper.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution looks magnificent. While it doesn’t affect the overall outcome of the game’s story, the variety in mission accomplishment seems to promise a load of re-playability value for the game. You could even play the game without killing a single enemy (excluding bosses). I would be lying if I told you that I’m not already sold on it. It’ll be out early next year for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.

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