Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Preview

It’s now just over a  week until the release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a game that I’ve been looking forward to for some considerable time. Should it live up to its promises, it could easily be in contention for the best game of 2011, or of the past few years. So why am I excited about it?

Lets ignore the fact that it’s a sequel to Deus Ex, because many of you who will be playing Human Revolution will probably never have played the original game, and that’s understandable as it was almost eleven years ago that the game came out and amazed us all. And I’m definately going to ignore Deus Ex: Invisible Wars. Don’t ask. Just. Don’t.

Human Revolution follows the story of one Adam Jensen, a security guard for Sarif Undustries, a leading name in human cybernetic augmentations, who gets left for dead after a brutal terrorist attack on the company. To save his like, Sarif Industries augment him with the latest enhancements that turn him into something like a super soldiers. It’s this human enhancement that lays the foundations for what could be one of the best realised gaming worlds we’ve seen.  Human Revolution is set just sixteen years down the line, and augmentations have become commonplace. That’s not to say that everyone has them; they cost a lot of money and require a certain drug to stop the human body rejecting them. This has sparked civil unrest and raised an important question; should humans really be replacing their already good limbs with metallic ones? While most players will think little of this theme, a few others will note that this has a striking resemblance to what our world could very well end up being. Our advances in such technology are starting to quicken, just like the “renaissance” that Human Revolutions themes revolve around. Eventually, we may get to the point where we can replace our limbs with cybernetic ones. But should we?

But let’s get of the philosophical points that it raises and focus on the fact that it provides an opportunity for some kick-ass gameplay. Adam can buy new augmentations for himself throughout the game, and upgrade existing ones to help him as he attempts to uncover the story behind the terrorist attack that left him maimed . These augmentations all revolve around the central idea of Human Revolutions gameplay; freedom of choice. Each mission and level holds multiple routes to the objective and has room for a vast array of play styles.

Of course, since the game is played in a first-person view and has guns, many will assume it’s a standard FPS and go in guns all blazing, but thing Mass Effect rather than Call of Duty. The game uses a cover system, and running around in the open will get you shot to pieces pretty quick. Combat here is a more tactical and thoughtful affair, requiring you to actually *gasp* think about what you’re doing on the field of battle. The augmentations that you can purchase to help out with your full frontal assaults are things like recoil dampening arms, extra strength to let you throw things at enemies, extra armor and more. You’ll also be up to modify and upgrade your guns to suit your own violent style. Hell, a nice little upgrade even lets you punch through walls to grab an enemy on the other side an open up a new route. And did I mention you have sliding blades embedded in your arms, should the action get up close and personal?

This isn't going well

For those that enjoy sneaking through the shadows, the game can be played entirely using stealth with only the boss fights ever actually requiring that you take on an enemy directly. In fact, should you be quite a moral guy or girl, you can play through the game without ever killing anyone, instead choosing to avoid or simply incapacitate them. Again, boss battles are a different story, but it’s still pretty damn cool. For such players, a raft of neat augmentations are available; x-ray vision, cloaking technology, sound dampening and more are just a purchase away. The entire stealth system is based around line of sight and what guards can hear, so patience is key to success. Should you eventually require a guard to disappear, tricks like using a taser or tranquilizer are available to you, as is some uber-sick takedowns that display just what a badass Jensen is. Once you’ve dealt with the guard, you can drag his body away to make sure no one finds his body and sets off the alarm.

More charming players might wish to use their social skills to bypass gates and more. Again, Human Revolution aims to cater to you with a Mass Effect style dialogue system. In fact, some boss fights in the game can even be one entirely using your silver tongue. While the facial animations seen in preview builds and trailers aren’t good enough to rival L.A. Noire, they’ve been promised to be good enough to let you judge a characters reaction and personality. Should that not be enough a hand little augmentation will display character traits and more beside the intended target.

Finally, for those of a more tech savvy nature, hacking also lets you get around the games levels, opening up new routes, giving you access to new weapons and take control of turrets and drones. A mini-game is employed to let you do all of this, and it remains a little unclear as to how it will work, but once again plenty of augmentations will give you a helping hand here, increasing the time available to you and more.

To top it all off, Eidos look to have crafted an astonishingly detailed world that feel real. The game is set to have five hub cities from which Jensen embarks on his missions, stocks up on gear, garners information and takes on side-missions. This world reflects the current unrest regarding the augmentations, with those supporting it often dressing in a latin-medieval Italian style, with those against in dressing in a style more akin to what we wear today. Their homes will also reflect such things, and this mixture of styles has created a very unique world.

This unique look is also thanks to the games rather striking golden visual style. A gold hue is present throughout everything in the game, broken up by the more bleak blacks, and greys that we associate with normal cities and buildings. On a technical level, Human Revolution doesn’t look able to compete with the big names out there, but hopefully the unique visual style makes up for this, though I do worry that the constant gold will get tiresome after a time.

For those looking for a comparison to another game, I urge you not to compare Deus Ex: Human Revolution to another FPs, because while it does have a resemblance, it really isn’t an FPS, instead it would be closer to RPG. In many respects, Human Revolution actually has much in common Alpha Protocol, an espionage RPG that encompassed many gameplay styles, allowing the player to choose how to approach the game. And  that’s my biggest fear about the launch of Deus Ex; that people will mistake it for yet another dumb FPS, and therefore play it like just another FPS without ever exploring the other options that Deus Ex provides.

We’re just over a week away from launch now, and I’ve let my excitement get the better of me. It’s too easy to be disappointed by a game when you’re overly hyped about it. So I’ll spend the next few weeks calming down and quietly hoping that Deus Ex: Human Revolution delivers what I’m most excited about; freedom to play the game how I want to play it.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be released in Europe on August 26th, in North America on August 23rd, in Australia on August 25th and Japan on September 8th.


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