E3: Preview: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution plays like a scene from its most recent trailer, and that’s a great thing indeed. As a fan of the first game, I observed what appeared to be familiar and yet updated gameplay. While it doesn’t appear to be revolutionary in its technology or game design, watching the live demo played by the Eidos level designer reminded me what was so attractive about the first game.
Deus Ex could be called “Choices: The Game”, for its focus on providing players with a plethora of ways of accomplishing any one goal. The lead artist explained that, like the earlier games in the series, gameplay is split into action, stealth, hacking, and social encounters. As the heavily-modified Adam Jensen, the player can choose to focus on one or all of these tactics, and successfully play through the game with their chosen skill-set.
Jensen was once an employee at a large cybernetics corporation and, after some sort of life-altering event, has become part machine himself. The corporation is attacked, and Jensen is tasked with seeking out the assailants and unraveling a global conspiracy. Sound familiar? It’s pretty standard fare for the franchise, but as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The gameplay is split up into alternating sections. The first is discovery, which involves social interaction and environmental exploration. With the leads attained during this phase, the player moves on to the second section, which involves combat, stealth, and subterfuge, depending on one’s personal style.
The game is played in first person mode (third person may be available but was not used in the demonstration), but when Jensen interacts with his environment, the camera switches to third person. So, if he ducks behind a wall to pounce upon an unsuspecting guard, or engages in a melee takedown, we see it in 3rd person mode. Jensen can eventually use heat vision, which allows him to see enemies behind walls. Like the trailer, he can walk up to the wall, and with the click of a button, engage in a special takedown. The camera switches to the other side of the wall, and we observe Jensen punch through the concrete and snap the poor guard’s neck. The animation is literally the same as in the cinematic version, which was nice to see.
The final battle showed a few more cool abilities. One such is a grenade takedown, in which Jensen lands in the middle of a group of enemies, throws grenades in a 360 degree arc, creates a shield around himself, and then detonates them. It is exciting to think of all the other ways of eliminating foes Eidos has thought up for us gamers.
Despite many cool gameplay features, it is still clear that writing will make or break this game. There are plenty of great action and shooter games out there. What Deus Ex brings to the table is a sprawling story that drives the player to uncover the next big plot point. If the player cannot get invested in Jensen’s fate, and that of the world around him, then having choice in your path through it is a pointless exercise.
This preview has certainly sold me on the style and gameplay of the title. If the writing can follow, then I predict a huge hit that will finally satiate the hunger of the legions of fans of the series.