Deus Ex: Human Revolution gameplay preview
21st Aug 2010 | 12:30
The Deus Ex titles mean four things: sneaking, hacking, talking and ﬁghting. The original mixed these up so well that it's regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, and the second is no ordinary shooter either. What's exciting about the third game, Human Revolution, is that the devs are still balancing those four elements but have improved each one. It's smoother, cooler and more vicious than ever before.
You're Adam Jensen, a security guard for a ﬁrm that makes mechanical prosthetics, or 'augs'. You're almost killed in an attack on the scientists you're escorting, and when you wake up, you've already been altered. Your injured arms have been replaced with synthetic replacements, giving you superhuman strength.
As you ﬂy around the globe uncovering the conspiracy behind the attack, you have the option of replacing even more of your limbs. Each new part has a range of nasty things you can do with it. Initially, your arms just make you stronger, but as you complete objectives you can upgrade them to dampen recoil from guns, lift heavy objects and punch through walls.
Despite there being plenty of ways in which you can brutalise people, HR is more about stealth than action. Out in the open, two or three shots will kill you. So when Jensen heads through a guarded shipyard, he relies on diving between cover and avoiding patrols.
Your enemies can see well in the dark, so sneaking means getting behind something and staying hidden. When you take cover, the perspective changes from ﬁrst-person to third, allowing you to see out without revealing yourself. The same switch is used in Rainbow Six Vegas, and it feels surprisingly natural.
You can avoid most guards entirely - that kind of freedom is one of the core principles of Deus Ex. But if you do want to take one out, it's all about getting close. The game has a huge number of takedown options: lethal and non-lethal moves, surprise attacks and frontal assaults. If you want to kill, hold the trigger rather than clicking it. Jensen ﬂicks long blades from his wrists and skewers his opponents in a horriﬁc, third-person kill sequence.
After he's finished one guard in a needlessly nasty way, Jensen breaks into his security terminal. It's a more interesting hacking mini-game than most - you have to navigate a map of the system you're inﬁltrating by taking over network nodes and progressing towards the main computer registry.
Each time you capture a node, there's a chance you'll be detected, at which point a trace will start closing in on you. If you make it to the registry before it catches you, you can disable it and take over the system. If not, an alarm's tripped and the system shuts down completely.
Once you're in, you can disable security cameras, turn turrets on your enemies, control bots and even trip alarms in other parts of the map to distract the guards. Hacking's not just a gimmick here, it's a play-style.
The other section we've seen is a chatty one: a good chunk of it's taken up with exploring new places, asking locals for leads and tracking people. The city hubs are gorgeous - smog-
ﬁlled, busy and ﬂooded with coloured neon. Everyone can be spoken to, and there are many unique dialogues.
Key conversations are handled by a sort of social combat system. For example, Jensen's after a hacker named Tong but a lackey won't set him up with a meeting. Instead of choosing from speciﬁc lines of dialogue, he has a choice of three approaches: Insist, Pinpoint or Advise.
You get to choose from these three times and have to judge from the other person's response whether to change tack. Plough on with the wrong strategy and you'll annoy them so much that they'll refuse to talk to you. At that point, the options shut down and you have to ﬁnd another way of achieving your objective.
That's the beauty of Deus Ex - there's always another way and you get to choose it.
It already looks like the most refreshingly open-ended RPG-FPS in years, and we've only seen a slice. The shooting's punchy, the hacking's inventive and the stealth just works. Eidos, you're probably sick of hearing this, but please don't screw it up.