20 Minutes Of Deus Ex: Human Revolution Totally Blew My Mind
Yesterday I had the chance to watch 10 minutes of footage from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Had I not already seen 20 minutes or so of Dead Space 2, this would have been, hands down, the winner of yesterday’s E3-Makes-Ross-Squeal contest. It’s been 7 years since the last installment of Square Enix’s cyberpunk FPS series, and a hell of a lot has changed in gaming since then. Going into the screening, my first thoughts were less “will this be good” and more “after this long, is there even a point?” How do you successfully update a game series created during the first wave of the FPS craze? Particularly since the genre has largely abandoned narrative storytelling in favor of endless combat simulations? (BioShock aside, it’s obvious after playing games like Borderlands and The Darkness why most narrative games are third person.)
As it turns out, the answer to those questions, if the demo can be trusted, is “by being fucking awesome”. After the jump, I’ll try to describe what made my hypothalamus cry out in triumph.
Human Revolution is set in 2017, making it a prequel to the first game. Square Enix has already said it will serve as a means of explaining in part how the world of the first game came to be. SPOILER: They have a… generous view of the next 17 years of technological progress. Apparently, by the time your infant is a senior in high school, we’ll have harrier style gunships, full-on cyborgs, and megacities engineering and tech right out of Mass Effect. I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to live in that world.
They showed 2 segments of the game designed to showcase it’s robust combat AND extensive social/interactivity aspects. The demo began with the player character on his way to one of Shanghai’s island municipalities. Shanghai as imagined in 2027 is shockingly huge. Enormous skyscrapers dwarfed even bigger freeway overpass systems dominated the skyline as we were dropped off in the middle of a seedy red light district to hunt for the game’s macguffin. The demo walked us through a dingy street where we were shown how its possible to interact with nearly every single NPC. Pulling a gun on a bystander will reduce them to tears. OTOH, you can strike up a conversation with nearly anyone, with a large number of optional topics. We saw the main character speak to the bouncer of a club he needed to get into. After a short argument, the demo operator chose to bribe the bouncer, but the MC assured us that entrance to the club was possible by numerous means. Bribery, charm, stealth, even assault are open as ways of getting past obstacles.
Once inside, the scene was gritty, dark and very realish, in a Gibson-Meets-Star Wars kind of way. Eventually you make your way to a bartender who is entirely uncooperative. The dialogue for that scene was pure noir and pure WIN. Sample lines include potboiler magic like “don’t try to bullshit a bullshitter” and “forget it gweilo, this isn’t your town.” Awesome. The demo operator failed to get access to the club’s mobster owner, so he snuck around the back and underside of the club, showing off the game’s stealth system. The game switches to third person when you’re in cover, or sneaking around a corner. And no disappearing corpses – when the main character took out a guard to cover his tracks, he had to hide the body in a nearby corner. Neat!
After a cut scene that revealed a SPOILER that I won’t reveal, the demo switched to a scene showcasing the action/combat features of Human Revolution. We were informed that you’ll have the ability to purchase augmentations, upgrades to your cybernetic body parts that will open up different play options as you advance through the game. In this demo, they’d opted for a strength upgrade that allowed the main character to break though a fence and sneak into a shipyard, rather than simply going full on the attack. Following this, he snuck into the yard’s security office where he took out the guard and deactivated the camera system. No Goldeneye shoot the camera play, in other words.
Next, we saw how you can hack into almost any computer or data device in the game. This also, we were told, will help provide a large number of options in gameplay. After sneaking around, a firefight began between the main character and the yard’s guards. I won’t bore you with the details except to say that at one point, the main character rushed to a wall and performed what I can only refer to as the HEY KOOL-ADE attack: using augmented strength, he blasted through a wall, at which point the game switched briefly to third person so we could see him emerging through the hole and grabbing the guard on the other side of the wall, delivering a neck-snap kill. To repeat: They changed to third person just because it looked cool, and then went back to first person. So awesome. But even more awesome is the assurance from the MC that it’s possible to play the entire game without killing a single person. Little details like that make for what will almost certainly be one of the best games of 2011.
After a cut scene involving a cyborg who looks like J. Jonah Jameson, we were shown the trailer, and then the door. But mission accomplished. I want this game so badly I can almost taste it. Click the link up top and view the trailer for yourself: I guarantee you’ll feel the same way.