Deus Ex is one of the most beloved PC titles of the past decade. In fact, it was ranked the #3 game of the decade by this site. Many were disappointed with the sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, which cramped the wide-open levels of the first game into manageable bites to support the Xbox version. Even so, the IP was and is considered a hot property, and when Square-Enix expanded by acquiring Eidos last year, the publisher resurrected the dormant IP alongside Thief, announcing Deus Ex 3 (now known as Deus Ex: Human Revolution) and Thief 4 (otherwise spelled “Thi4f“.)
This caused some consternation amongst Deus Ex fans, especially when it was revealed it would be a multiplatform title for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. These fans were still smarting from the second game, and news that Human Revolution would be a prequel furthered those doubts, even though Invisible War’s radically different endings made a definitive launching point for a sequel nearly impossible.
Fortunately, Square-Enix made the Eidos purchase to explore Western game development, and have adopted a “hands-off” policy; Deus Ex: Human Revolution is firmly in the hands of Eidos Montreal. Little was heard from the game since the announcement save a GDC ‘10 teaser and the recent E3 ‘10 trailer.
The closed door presentation of Deus Ex: Human Revolution showed off actual gameplay for the first time, albeit with unlimited ammo and energy. The developers also noted that the demo would be HUD-less save for crosshairs; the HUD had not been designed yet.
The demo was divided into two parts. The first had our protagonist, Adam Jensen, landing in Shanghai to get information about a missing hacker. The portrayal of the city of Shanghai is astonishing, right out of Blade Runner, with impossibly tall skyscrapers and arcing highways, all towering over a seedy street level. Right away, the devs showed us how much of a living, breathing world they had created, slowly walking through the streets as passerby chattered away and walked around realistically; most games have random citizenry that seem robotic and mechanical – in Human Revolution, they feel a lot more genuine. At one point, Adam pulled his gun on a male, who put up his hands and cowered at being threatened with a weapon.
As Adam’s handler told him that the leader of a nightclub had critical info on the hacker, he approached the bouncer of said nightspot. The bouncer refused him entry unless Adam greased his palm. Adam did so, but the developers said that like the first game, there were tons of ways for Adam to have gained entry to the club, such as killing the bouncer, punching him out, going into the back alley and finding a side door to pick, or going onto the roof and gaining access that way, to name a few.
Inside, Adam found a bartender and tried to convince him to allow Adam to see the owner of the club. This revealed Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s conversation wheel, which was very similar to Mass Effect’s. According to the dev, Adam could solve even tense situations with the threat of violence looming with words. In this case, Adam was unsuccessful in gaining access to the owner, but did get valuable intel. Adam then snooped around the club and found one of Deus Ex’s classic methods of transportation: duct crawling. He finally found the owner’s office, where he found the bartender barking orders to a henchmen regarding the hacker. Yes, the owner was posing as the bartender, but even better, he let slip valuable clues to the hacker’s location.
The next part of the presentation showed off combat, which was pure adrenaline. One of the criticisms of Deus Ex was that as a shooter, the game was subpar. This is definitely not the case with Human Revolution. The first notable aspect is that the game makes Adam a pure predator. He can use cover, turn invisible and see through walls – which JC and Alex could do in previous games, provided they had the biomodification for it; one can assume Adam will have to earn these abilities as well – and use silent tactics. Conversely, he can simply run and gun.
Combat is extremely cinematic. When Adam does any sort of takedown or multiple takeout, the game goes into a third person view to show Adam dispatching his opponents in ways that would make John Woo green with envy. Adam can use his x-ray vision to look through walls to burst through them to take out an enemy, or drop down from a ledge and take out two soldiers at once by impaling them with his Wolverine-like retractable arm blades. He can turn invisible, sneaking behind an enemy to snap his neck in silence, or use a futuristic fragmentary explosion to take out a group of enemies surrounding him. The combat climaxed with Adam facing off against a giant robot, culminating with Adam destroying it with a stinger missile that Adam had modified to be a heat-seaker, firing it from behind a stack of crates. The devs, however, stated that it would be possible to win the game with non-lethal methods, which was an option in the first two games.
Overall, Deus Ex: Human Revolution looks like the game every fan has been hoping for since it was first announced. A futuristic world that lives and breathes with palpable energy, visceral cinematic combat, multiple puzzle solutions, and what seems to be a strong story. Hopefully, more will be revealed in the next few months.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a 2011 release date.
Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews and up to date gaming industry news and rumors.