GAMERSYDE | X360, PS3, PC Wednesday, June 15, 2011 | 2:20 PM

E3: First Look at Square-Enix's line-up

E3: First Look at Square-Enix's line-up

This year's E3 was once again the opportunity to realize how impressive the different publishers' line-ups were. So impressive that it will be hard for us to talk about everything we saw there. That being said, we like a good challenge so we will try, and to begin with, let's focus on Square-Enix. The Japanese publisher is obviously willing to take some risks by bringing new ideas to such famous franchises as Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution. A new presentation of Deus Ex: Human Revolution also allowed us to discover the differences between lower and upper Detroit. Time to get inside for this very special First Look article.

Lara is now dirty and scared

Developer Crystal Dynamics has decided to show Lara Croft from a very different angle, back when she was still a lot more fragile than the hard ass everybody knows. The young British woman has just left her teenage years when she embarks upon a ship which will lead her on the traces of her family's past; a journey that will change her forever. The boat is indeed hit by a violent storm and the shipwreck that follows almost costs Lara's life.

Thankfully, the young adventurer is tougher than she looks and she survives the catastrophe. Things do not look so good for her though since she finds herself hanged by her feet in a dark and gloomy cave. Time to take control of the situation for the player by swinging Lara from one side to the other until the rope finally breaks. Lara's fall unfortunately comes with a price as she hurts herself on a spiky stick, forcing the player to press the X button frantically to get it out. A really painful moment which is so well conveyed you can actually feel how much it hurts. Fortunately, Lara is a resourceful young woman and she can make a good use of her sense of survival, an ability that allows her to spot any useful object in her surroundings. And she is going to need it to get out of this hellish place.

Hell is actually the first place that comes to mind when first discovering the spooky cave Lara has to go through. Torches can be very useful is such a dark environment, but you must be careful because the cave is also very humid and there's water dripping everywhere. Small puzzles, quick time events, the first steps in Tomb Raider do not seem to leave much space to exploration. That's is precisely why the second part of the presentation is set in a more open environment. The scene takes place in the middle of the night, it is now raining and Lara has to help a very close friend of hers. The man is injured too after he was attacked by a pack of wolves.

Although he is older than Lara, this man has to rely on her abilities to survive, and so they decide to set camp there. The campground system allows to fast travel from one point to another and to create the necessary objects to your survival in this very hostile environment. Exploration is then still of paramount importance in this new Tomb raider game, so you will need all of Lara's agility skills to reach normally unattainable areas. The essence of the franchise is still there, it has just been improved with new survival features.

General impressions

This new episode in the Tomb raider series seems very promising to say the least. The survival aspect allows to reveal unsuspected parts of Lara's personality and will explain how she managed to toughen up through the many ordeals she faced in her life. Technically, the graphics engine looks rather good, though some tearing could be seen at times. Considering the game is not planned before the end of 2012, there is still a lot of time to deal with such issues, so no need to worry for now. In the end, we are clearly looking forward to seeing more of the game, as from what we have seen, the new gameplay elements seem to bring a lot to the game's atmosphere.

Agent 47: From hunter to prey

Let's now talk about Hitman: Absolution, which also comes with a few changes in the gameplay department. The presentation we went to insisted on one of the main new ideas of this new adventure: the hunter has now become the prey. Indeed, Agent 47 becomes public enemy number one after he has been double-crossed during his last contract. He no longer is the invisible ghost he was used to being and he now has to deal with the daily problems of a primary target. With the utterly motivated police forces that are after him, he will have to use his best skills to remain unnoticed and to find out who tricked him.

The demo starts in an abandoned library as 47 tries to escape. Much like the new Lara Croft, he can count on his instinct to make things easier, by underlining the available weapons as well as the different paths taken by the police officers who are chasing you. Thus, you can make sure that nobody will ever get close to you, or you can choose the best itinerary to slip away without being seen. Any kind of objects can be used to get rid of your enemies, like a wire to strangle them, or a statuette to knock them out , but you will have to be smart to lure them.

After demonstrating the abilities of the coolest red tie wearer in the world, we see 47 disguise himself as a cop and manage to leave the library safe and sound. He then goes to a nearby apartment full of junkies who apparently believe they are the reason why the police are searching the neighborhood. A pretty amusing sequence since there is even a room entirely dedicated to growing weed. Soon, things get very serious again as the cops barge into the apartment, forcing 47 to pass for one of them and run into SWAT and police officers on his way out. This scene actually reminds a lot of The Professional (starring Jean reno) where there is a similar sequence. Things do not go according to plan though and 47 has to take one of the cops hostage to even the odds. Unfortunately, we won't see more, that's the end of the demo.

General impressions

Once again, we really appreciated the changes that have been applied to gameplay and that allow to switch roles. The former hunter now has to keep a very low profile for different reasons, he must keep running away but we have been guaranteed he will still be able to be the hired killer he used to be in some missions. With nice graphics and impressive lighting effects, Hitman: Absolution could actually make up for IO Interactive's last two attempts with Kane & Lynch that some found disappointing. Let's hope so because 47 clearly deserves it.

A little tour of futuristic Detroit

At the very end of the last day of E3, we had the chance to see a new gameplay sequence of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This time, the goal was to show us how radically different the game's artistic direction can be depending on the place, lower or upper Detroit in that case. When we meet with Adam Jensen again, he is about to infiltrate the upper part of the city, the problem being that he has no clearance to get there. It's up to the player to find a way around security, the only condition to be able to admire Detroit's upper level.

As always, you are given quite a good number of possibilities to tackle the situation. Because there are a lot of civilians around, you can't choose to force your way in the elevator gun blazing. Since you need an access badge to be allowed in, Adam first tries to talk the guard into letting him pass. Bad luck, we do not have enough charisma points to be convincing, which leaves us no other choices than to sneak in one way or the other. There are actually several solutions to do so. If your strength level is good enough, you can move a vending machine to clear the way to a small platform above. Spying on people to get some precious info is also possible. A simpler approach would also be to neutralize the guard silently and get the access badge from him directly.

Once in the elevator, we get a breathtaking view of the lower city, in all its black and yellow glory. Then, as if we were actually leaving the innards of the earth, we pass the platform which separates both sides of Detroit. What a change! The landscape is a lot more organic, with blue skies and green and lush vegetation contrasting sharply with the dark and yellow colors of the underground city. No time to enjoy this new environment though as a punishing fade out ends the presentation leaving us as frustrated as ever.

General impressions

We may not have learned a lot more about Deus Ex: Human Revolution during this new presentation, but it does not mean it makes the wait for the release of the game more bearable. On the contrary, August cannot come any sooner, which shows how much potential we see in Eidos Montreal's upcoming title.

All comments

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Commented on 2011-06-15 10:49:55
Tomb raider was the most interesting and promising one of the three by far IMO.
Commented on 2011-06-15 10:50:44 In reply to wazark
Having played Deus Ex, I would not say so, but TR sure is promising.
Commented on 2011-06-15 11:08:11
I'm pretty exited for all three, square-enix seem to have a good thing going.
Commented on 2011-06-15 11:12:00
I think Deus Ex will surprise everyone when they play it, come August.
Commented on 2011-06-15 12:39:20
I think Dues Ex is going to be poor, It got put back 6 months due to everyone playing it thinking it was rubbish that got a hands on with it.
Commented on 2011-06-15 13:14:14
Tomb Raider Tomb Raider Tomb Raider Tomb Raider :D
Commented on 2011-06-15 13:37:20
3 great franchises, Square Enix are on a winning streak here.
Commented on 2011-06-15 13:40:46 In reply to UkHardcore23
Posted by UkHardcore23
I think Dues Ex is going to be poor, It got put back 6 months due to everyone playing it thinking it was rubbish that got a hands on with it.
and yet everyone is loving the leaked preview code. i think it's gonna be awesome. i can imagne tomb raider dissapointing come release tho, same goes for hitman: conviction
Commented on 2011-06-15 13:57:06 In reply to Driftwood
Sorry for the silly question but, doesn't Deus Ex look a bit dated from a technical point of view? I was more impressed by the other two games to be honest though I probably haven't seen enough of DE.
Posted by Driftwood
Having played Deus Ex, I would not say so, but TR sure is promising.
Commented on 2011-06-15 14:05:57 In reply to OldSchoolGamer
Posted by OldSchoolGamer
Sorry for the silly question but, doesn't Deus Ex look a bit dated from a technical point of view? I was more impressed by the other two games to be honest though I probably haven't seen enough of DE.
The only thing that's dated is the character detail, but then it has a much bigger scope compared to the others. There's an insane amount of level clutter, big cities, and complex level design. The artistic design is good enough to overshadow the technical details.
Commented on 2011-06-15 14:18:08
All 3 games look great, but lets not give Square Enix the credit because they don't deserve it.
Commented on 2011-06-15 14:18:15
Not worried about Deus Ex, good vibes coming from that one.

Very worried about Hitman:Conviction as someone coined the phrase, really hope they dont go down that route with checkpoints and scripted events, really want my Hitman to be big open levels with plenty or replayability to finish levels in multiple ways. Still plenty of time on that one at least so maybe they will get the message in time, fingers crossed :-(

Not too fussed about tomb raider, never really been into in since the Saturn.
Commented on 2011-06-15 15:08:08
sorry to say , but hitman :conviction is looking more and more like the failed attempt of splintercell to get the casual wii-mote kids,
if they dumb it down , they aint getting a cent from me
Commented on 2011-06-15 15:28:13
Y'all remember when Square made games like Xenogears and Chrono Cross? Oh the 90s were good. Even the first couple years of the 00s were nice.
Commented on 2011-06-15 15:31:41
"Hitman: Absolution could actually make up for IO Interactive's last two attempts with Kane & Lynch that some found disappointing." - i think pretty much everybody was left disappointed with that. It looked nice but there was absolutely no substance there... i'd never completed a game start to finish in under 3hours (not skipping cut scenes or rushing) before K&L2.

But if Hitmans anything like the movie LEON i'll keep my eye on it and give it a go.
Commented on 2011-06-15 15:43:48 In reply to Jollipop
Posted by Jollipop
All 3 games look great, but lets not give Square Enix the credit because they don't deserve it.
Square Enix deserves a little credit for buying Eidos. All 3 games are from that division.
Commented on 2011-06-15 15:47:14
no more than Enix deserves credit for being bought
Commented on 2011-06-15 15:59:48 In reply to PlumbDrumb
Posted by PlumbDrumb
no more than Enix deserves credit for being bought
Credits or congratulations. They did get a productive company. Hopefully Eidos receives the support from the bigger company. And that the franchises won't get ruined. And I did mean Eidos. Square Enix Eidos, Squendos. :)
Commented on 2011-06-15 16:07:40
The sad part is the most important game was not even shown. TGS they should only talk about FFv13 and announce release date.

Out of these I think Deus Ex will be good and TR also looks intreasting. Hope it is survival in Jungle rather than cave or dungeon
Commented on 2011-06-15 16:07:53
From the gameplay vid's i've seen, my only complaint on Deus Ex would be the "killshot" cutscenes. I can see myself getting very sick of those. TR looks awesome! but, the voice acting could use some work. As for hitman, meh...that's gonna be one of those rental/freebie sort of games i think.
Commented on 2011-06-15 16:15:49
Deus Ex is the only one I care about, my last experience with both the other franchises (admittedly a while back now) left me frankly baffled at their popularity.

Unfortunately, at least in visual terms DE:HR fails to impress although the mechanical design and production design are top notch. As long as it runs fairly smooth without my number one nemesis (screen tearing) I will almost certainly check it out.
Commented on 2011-06-15 16:20:14
Already pre-ordered Deus Ex Human Revolution for PC, I was blown away by the leaked gameplay vids on youtube. Its my kind of game for sure...

I love Hitman series so I will probably buy the next game as Tomb Raider looks mighty interesting as well. I will probably end up buying all 3 lol
Commented on 2011-06-15 17:21:45
I'm very impressed with Square Enix upcoming games. If they don't screw up anything important regarding gameplay, then I'm going to have to buy all of them.
Commented on 2011-06-15 17:56:59
Really really really looking forward to the new Hitman.
Commented on 2011-06-15 21:49:36
I look forward to Tomb Raider and Hit Man.
I heard it is a new era in TR series, I hope it rocks
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