Deus Ex: Human Revolution FEMA Camp Preview
Detroit, 2027. Adam Jensen, head of security for Sarif Industries, has received the ol’ mysterious transmission and in tracking it, has discovered a warehouse in the city being occupied by a group of special forces soldiers who attacked the company. After gathering some information, he prepares to infiltrate the building and discover the motivations for the attacks that killed Sarif’s head of research and Jensen’s former girlfriend.
Between about six and 10 hours of game time have passed at this point in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Eidos and Square Enix’s prequel to the last entry in the Deus Ex series, Deus Ex: Invisible War. The last time I spent any time with Adam Jensen, he was defusing a hostage situation at Sarif Industries lab, making choices about whether to use lethal force against a gang of low-rent punks in an anti-human augmentation group that had been manipulated into staging the attack, and dealing with the consequences of those actions. He had also survived the horrific attack on Sarif’s headquarters and had come out of it outfitted with several “augmentations,” or mechanical enhancements to his body, that keep him alive and give him some superhuman abilities.
This time around, I’m at Square Enix’s offices in El Segundo, and while I don’t get to play the new level, I do get a first-hand demo of the encounter and some of the possible ways through it.
The facility has a secret, as is immediately made apparent by the presence of red- and black-armored soldiers surrounding the outside — clearly this is no ramshackle warehouse, but a front of some kind. After speaking with someone nearby (who turned out to be an arms dealer — guess this isn’t exactly a great Detroit neighborhood), Jensen learns that the troops inside have been moving crates out. It appears they’re planning to move.
Through most of the demo, Jensen chooses a non-lethal, stealth approach, although in Deus Ex, the player has full reign to approach every situation however he or she chooses. Unlike other more open, non-linear games like Fallout 3, for example, I’m told Human Revolution’s options for approaching a situation are more about access — players can sneak into off-limits areas and hack their way through doors, as long as they aren’t seen. That sort of world gives the player a lot of options but it also requires strategy and tactics. The more you do, the more rewards you receive for Jensen, like the ability to add further augmentations to his body and make him stronger, or items to use to upgrade weapons.
As Jensen sneaks into the warehouse by carefully combining an aug that allows him to use active camouflage and basically become invisible for a short period, and the game’s cover system. Staying behind cover (which switches the player out of the default first-person view mode into a third-person camera setup) and breaking lines of sight is key to staying hidden when using stealth; Jensen waits for enemies to turn their backs as he moves around the outside of the compound, diving from spot to spot and turning invisible when the gaps are too big between trucks and concrete walls. He also uses an aug called “mark and track” that allows him to paint different enemies with a tracking marker, which he can see on his heads-up display through walls, and which displays the enemy’s distance from Jensen.
Every so often, Jensen runs into a patrolling soldier he can’t easily bypass, which is when he pulls his stun pistol. The short-range Taser knocks out guards, allowing Jensen to pull their bodies clear. Before long, he sneaks up a concrete staircase and finds a door to hack, accessing the game’s hacking minigame. I got to spend some time with hacking during my hands-on preview, but with 300 possible hacking levels spread throughout the game, it sounds like the only way a player will ever run into the same hack twice is to play the game over again.
Hacking quickly through the door puts Jensen inside, where he spies the soldiers he witnessed attacking Sarif three months previous. The whole group of modded commandos is in the facility, so Jensen radios back to his HQ before pushing deeper into the warehouse.
Here we get to see a couple of Human Revolution’s many weapons upgrades. These mods allow for a great deal of customization outside of just augmenting Jensen himself — they give players a lot of combat options, both in choosing which guns to mod (a single-action tranquilizer dart rifle versus a lethal machine gun, for example) and how those mods will affect gameplay.
I got to see two “special upgrade” weapons mods during the demo. The first is a target leading system that can be attached to long-range weapons like that dart rifle mentioned above — once it’s installed, aiming through the gun’s scope presents a highlighted target on the enemy the player is sighting in. The target takes into account the enemy’s motion and the conditions around him, showing you where to fire to make sure your weapon hits home. It seems pretty effective, although the darts take a few seconds to be effective, unless the shot hits an enemy in the head.
The second upgrade is a target-seeking system that Jensen adds to his combat rifle (upgrades can only be attached to certain weapons, and only combined with a weapon once). The target seeker allows players to curve bullets slightly by firing off-target, with the mod directing the bullets to a marked target or enemy. Aiming displays the bullets’ intended trajectory before firing, allowing you to fire around cover or obstacles to hit enemies even though they think they’re safe.
After sidling up a catwalk and clearing out snipers in the interior of the warehouse, Jensen is spotted and all hell breaks loose. He tosses the dart rifle in favor of the combat rifle — the one with the curving bullets mod attached — and starts dispatching enemies from a distance before they can successfully get to cover. Most go down pretty easily, but he has to keep moving to avoid being flanked by reinforcements. Enemies in this demo seem easier to take on than they were during my hands-on — according to Eidos, the difficulty balance has been shifted since then to take it down a notch from before, when Human Revolution’s bad guys were near-super soldiers with no fear of death. They remain pretty smart, however.
Jensen dispatches the soldiers pretty easily, but then he faces a much tougher challenge in a huge security robot. The mech rips bullets his way at an alarming rate, and Jensen has to stick to cover and move fast in order to avoid getting ravaged by enemy fire. The cloak helps, allowing him to scurry away and locate a handy rocket launcher. A couple of those bad boys puts the robot down for good. Jensen hoofs it for a nearby cargo elevator and escapes before more soldiers can show up to give him a hard time.
As he descends, Jensen sees some alarming stuff — soldiers rounding people up and throwing them into pens and signs reading “FEMA.” He remarks that it looks something like an internment camp, and the demo ends with the apparent conspiracy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution growing ever deeper.