Gamescom 2010: Deus Ex: Human Revolution Preview - Let Choice Be Your Weapon
Written Sunday, August 29, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Too often is choice in games rarely implemented to the extent where you can truly tackle your missions how you wish. A decision here or there which changes the story; or giving the player one of two ways to enter a building is hardly what I call choice. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was another of these titles at E3 this year that claimed that they will truly give the player the choice to tackle a situation how they want, although rather than show us at E3, everything was hypothetical. Fast forward 3 months and at Gamescom, Eidos Montreal were ready to put their money where their mouth is.
One mission. Thirty minutes. Three live gameplay demonstrations. Three totally different routes. One very excited journalist.
Taking the action away from the heavy-on-the-neon Shanghai this time, we pick up with the protagonist, security specialist Alex Jensen, in the good ol’ US of A, in Detroit. Compared to Shanghai, a city so steeped in Blade Runner influences that the remnants of its former city are nowhere to be seen, Detroit paints a much different picture. Yes, the skyline is obscured by that bright yellow neon haze, but here, the elements of our era are still there for the world to see, but with a somewhat futuristic twinge. This is a poor district; that much is clear.
Jensen is tasked with the mission to head into the Detroit city police station’s morgue to infiltrate and obtain some very helpful information for his case. Sounds easy, right? Well, it would be if the morgue wasn’t a fortified hotspot and the info wasn’t implanted in a chip inside some poor dead guy’s head.
Walking up to the morgue, Jensen may have been surrounded by some flashing neon signs, but nowhere near the amount that dazzled us in Shanghai. Instead, not only did Jensen get worrying looks from armed security officers and brush past tourists who obviously must be in the wrong part of town checking billboard maps to get their bearings, but he also passed under a rickety monorail that went overhead and trundled past a poor homeless guy in the fetal position, who seems to have been left behind by society. Totally different to the buzzing street life of Shanghai. That incidentally is the only part of the three part demo that played out exactly the same each time.
It was now Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Eidos Montreal’s time to shine, as they readied up for the first of three playthroughs of the Gamescom demo; opting to kick things off with the more action-orientated of the three.
Walking into the police precinct, Jensen is welcomed by a clichéd 21st century representation of a civil service style building; fresh with bulletin boards, waiting seats and a small office with a hatch directly ahead of him. To his right stood an armed officer, warning our man in black that where he was heading was a restricted area. Rather than turn around, Jensen proceeds through, only to turn around and snap the arm of the guy that previously stood between him and his goal.
Naturally, this act of aggression triggers a station wide alarm and Jensen has to deal with wave after wave of police officers that are working the night shift. In the traditional first-person perspective, Jensen takes down a few of the unsuspecting foes that charge through to the foyer with deadly efficient headshots. Dashing in and out of cover, the augmented security specialist slowly makes his way through to the main precinct floor.
Using his smart vision, Jensen is able to see through the walls and various other objects that stand in his way, meaning he is able to track where his next assailant is coming from. If that fails, the player always has the radar in the bottom left of the screen to get a feel for where his targets are. Equipping the explosive rounds for his pistol, he continues to proceed through the room, blasting away anyone that stood in his way.
Having made his way through a good 10-15 police officers on duty, Jensen makes his way down a flight of stairs and into the underground level of the precinct - more importantly, towards the morgue. All that stood between him and victory now was a secure door, but after combining a mine template with a frag grenade, the door was no more. Quickly dashing in and snatching the chip from inside the target’s head, who lay on his back in the cold morgue, Jensen was out of there before you could say “Job’s a good ‘un.” Escaping out the back, the job was complete. Jack Bauer would have been proud.
The second approach to the task at hand was the more diplomatic of the three, with Eidos Montreal keen to show that on some occasions, the specialist can even talk his way into places without the need for bloodshed. Instead of heading right this time when he enters the precinct, Jensen talks to the officer behind the desk, a Mr. Wayne Haas and it’s clear these two guys have a history.
It’s instantly clear that Mr Haas is a troubled man with a heavy conscience and immediately Jensen uses that to his advantage. With four different selections, Jean-Francois Dugas, Deus Ex’s Lead Game Director, opted to select both the “plead” and “absolve” selections on numerous occasions throughout the conversation, in a bid to turn the troubled man against his employers. It’s not long before he gets Haas to cave in, granting Jensen access to the morgue.
Ultimately, the mission is a doddle from here on out, as Jensen walks the floors of the station without a care in the world, taking in the sights of the office hustle bustle along the way, as police officers tap away at their computers, chat with one another and book prostitutes long into the night. Once in the morgue - no explosives to get in this time - a simple exchange with the mortician and Jensen was able to take the chip and get out without a single blood or tear shed. James Bond would have been proud.
The third and final playthrough took Jensen a completely different way, opting to head around the side of the building this time, instead of heading in through the front door. Passing a police officer and waiting for him to turn his back, Jensen uses his strength augmentation - incidentally, it’s one of about 40-45 different ones - to move a large dumpster, before using his jump augmentation to jump on the object and jump over the fence.
While down the alley, aside from the group of homeless individuals that crowded around a barrel as they warmed their hands over a fire, the specialist is completely alone. Noticing another box, Jensen uses his strength augmentation once again, placing it under the fire escape, leaving him free to climb up and gain entry to the fire escape. Incidentally, according to Dugas you don’t necessarily have to go through the first floor door - which they do here - but you can go through the second floor or onto the roof, after all, there are three floors in this precinct that are fully explorable. It’s particularly handy if you want to loot a load of items from the lockers, draws and cupboards… oh, and even the dead bodies you leave behind.
After completing a simplistic hacking mini-game, Jensen was inside, making full use of his invisibility cloak augmentation. Rolling from cover to cover, stopping cheekily to loot draws from under various police officers’ noses, Jensen sneaks through the station undetected. Heading to the vents, Jensen is presented with a much more tasking challenge here, as to get through to the morgue, he has to go through a set of door lasers.
Noticing that the lasers shut down temporarily when the guard passes through them, Jensen pounces upon this chance the next time the guard returns. Taking down the guard with a non-lethal takedown move – then looting him of course – Jensen drags his body through the door, which deactivates the lasers along the way. After stealing the code to the morgue door and then making his way through to the final room, a brief exchange with the mortician later – who was none the wiser and presumed that Jensen was granted access from the gatekeepers above – the main man was able to steal the data and head for the door.
Opting to exit through the sewers, his progress is hampered by a series of lasers and security cameras. As it always seems to be the case though, he’s got a tool just for that. Flicking out the EMP, Jensen tosses it down the hall, meaning he can escape undetected and without triggering the alarm. Sam Fisher would have been proud.
Funnily enough, there aren’t just three ways to tackle the mission either, but that’s all they could fit into the short demonstration. Dugas pointed out that going through the sewer or even investigating the second and first floor more would also reveal various other paths to the objective – a mouth watering prospect to those that relish the ability to truly make their own decisions, and a great sign for the game’s replayability.
Running on the PS3, the game wasn’t as stable or visually stunning as the build we’d seen at E3 - which we assume was running on a PC - but there is still a good 6 months for Eidos Montreal to refine that experience. Impressing us on two different occasions now, if Eidos Montreal keep this up, then I have no doubt in my mind that the once great franchise will be back. And back with a bang.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is scheduled for a spring 2011 release.