Last week, we had to get up very early to be on time for an exclusive presentation of the highly-anticipated Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The artistic director, Jonathan Jacques-Belletête, was there to show us a whole new sequence of the game and we obviously would not miss such an opportunity. Since Jonathan does not come to France that often, we also took the liberty of asking him a few questions as you will see in our video interview. More good news is we didn’t leave empty handed: we were given a preview code of the game, which means Driftwood will soon be able to tell us everything about it. Before that happens though, here is a short summary of what we saw.
To those of you who know nothing about the main storyline, here is the rundown. Detroit, 2027. You are Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT specialist working for Sarif Inustries. This small firm, specializing in biotechnology, is attacked, leaving you badly wounded. As a result, you must undergo emergency surgery and are then mechanically augmented. Once back on your feet, your task is to find the people responsible for what happened and understand their motives. Your investigation will take you all around the world and will unveil a much bigger story than you initially thought. The events that occurred at Sarif Industries are in fact just the tip of the iceberg.
A short introduction
The mission that was presented by Jonathan takes us to the very beginning of Jensen’s investigation, a few hours after the beginning of the game. He has to infiltrate a warehouse owned by the organization responsible for the attack at Sarif Industries. Just outside the building, two apparently friendly guys were hanging out. Our host then decides it would probably be best if we had a chat with them. It turns out the men is a sort of street arms dealer and he has a few upgrades to sell. Time to buy a non lethal weapon (a taser like gun), as it is without a doubt the best way to go unnoticed. After asking the guy a few questions, our intel was confirmed - there really was something fishy going on in there. The arms dealer then tells us we’d better stay under the radar.
Sam Fisher beware
Jonathan followed his advice to the letter and decided to take the stealth approach. It allowed us to have a sneak peek at some of the augmentations dedicated to infiltration. Provided you’ve used your PRAXIS points to enhance your stealth abilities, you can see through walls and see the guards, and even spot the cameras of the security system. Better yet, you can use the optical camouflage ability of your suit to become invisible and just slip under the sentinels’ nose. Noise is also part of the equation if you want to keep a low profile, so you can actually activate some device to suppress the sound of your footsteps.
It’s with all these upgrades that the artistic director neutralized all the guards one by one. He told us that the enemies follow no predefined path when they are on patrol, which makes it then impossible to plan everything beforehand. This means you constantly have to watch your back and observe their reaction. Armed with his electric gun, Jensen took out a few guards and hid the bodies. When asleep, they can’t wake up on their own, but if someone finds them, you can be sure that they will wake up the sleeping beauties the hard way. If you are out of ammo, no worries, you can also take down your enemies with a melee attack. Your arsenal is also composed of a tranquilizer gun, and much like in Metal Gear, aiming for the head will be the most efficient method. If you miss the head and touch the rest of the body, it will take a bit more time for the tranquilizer to kick in.
After this demonstration of stealth gameplay, our host tells us there are actually seven different ways to tackle this mission. You can hack into the security system (there’s even a mini game), you can neutralize the different cameras with EMP grenades (provided you don’t rush out of cover too soon, you are a cyborg remember). If you have upgraded your agility skills, you can also reach new heights and take the high ground. So basically, like in all good Deus Ex games, the player can choose the way he wants to play, depending on his tastes and the situation. For the second part of the demo, Jonathan tells us he would now play the game his way, much more brutally…
This time, some people are gonna die
Contrary to non lethal melee attacks, deadly attacks make a lot of noise. They are just what you need to make people understand you are not here to play, but they also put the guards on high alert. That’s when we realized that not only could Jensen be mechanically augmented but his weapons could be upgraded too: we saw a machine gun that had some kind of lock on system, allowing to shoot while in cover and remain very precise. One could not help but think of the Fifth Element or, in the video game world, Resistance Fall of Man. You can also mark your targets so you can always keep an eye on them on the battlefield.
Maybe Jonathan should have thought of activating it sooner, as the AI managed to flank him and tried to knock him down. Nice try, but Jensen had retractable blades to show to the guards abdomen. In the next scene, Jensen had to face a huge spider-like robot that looked like it came straight from Ghost in the Shell. With all the missiles it threw at Jensen, the best option was to stay in cover. Thankfully, Jonathan found a rocket launcher that was just sitting there. What a coincidence! After taking a few hits, the robot was no longer a threat and the investigation could continue. Well, except that’s where the demo ended.
From a technical standpoint, the PS3 version we were shown suffered a bit from some aliasing issues. I also noticed that in third person view, the main character’s outline almost seemed cel shaded, which I didn’t find very alluring, though it was probably on purpose. Sound-wise, the music score is fantastic, to the point it could make Blade Runner’s pass for the music of a B movie. Jonathan told us it would take 20 to 25 hours to complete the main story for those who want to rush through the game, but that it could easily require 30 to 35 hours if you take your time. Most of the gadgets and objects we saw during the presentation seemed realistic enough to be actual future projects from high tech companies. But I’ll leave you with Jonathan Jacques-Belletête so he can tell you more about this point in our exclusive interview.
Note 1: Part 2 of the interview will be up ASAP. It was done in French and needs to be subtitled.
Note 2: Kudos to PlumbDrumb who always checks our translations so you have the best possible articles.