Gamersyde Preview: Deus Ex HR
When you wake up on a Saturday morning to find a preview code of the Playstation 3 version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution in your mailbox, you think to yourself that it's a pretty good start. Ten days of quality time with Adam Jensen later, there is only one conclusion: waiting until the end of August to find out what happens next is going to be a lot harder than expected. We could even leave the article at that, but we wouldn't want you to miss the opportunity to read another Gamersyde preview. Want to hear the whole story about a future hit? Just come inside.
Detroit, 2027. Things are going pretty well for Sarif Industries, a biotechnological research company. They are indeed about to announce an important discovery at a time when human beings resort to biomechanical augmentation. Science has come a long way since 2011, but not every cloud has a silver lining and augs, as they are called now, have to pay a high price in every possible sense of the word: neuropozyne. This drug is actually mandatory to any person who has undergone any type of augmentation; without it, their body is bound to reject the biomechanical enhancement. For those whose life depends on it, needless to say that neuropozyne is vital. The problem is that this drug is terribly expensive, preventing many people from having access to augmentations. That's why David Sarif is so thrilled to make a public announcement to let people know his scientists have found a way to make neuropozyne unnecessary. Of course, things do not go according to plans and the company is attacked and suffers many losses.
Not only does this prologue serve as a tutorial but it also allows to reveal the premises of a plot that will turn out more complex than what it first seems. Adam Jensen, the main character, is in charge of the security at Sarif Industries but he also happens to have been very close to the head of the research team, Megan Reed. The end of the prologue actually leaves Jensen in a very bad shape, after he failed to protect both his firm and his ex-girlfriend. He would even have joined Megan in death if it weren't for David Sarif. The CEO is indeed determined not to let Jensen die and he uses all the manpower he has left to save his security chief's life thanks to the magic of augmentations. The whole surgery is beautifully shown in the classy opening credits, sublimed by the original soundtrack of the game. Promising to say the least!
The Ex Factor
The real deal starts six months later, as Jensen is back to work at Sarif Industries, but that's something you will find out on your own. No way we are telling you about all the events that unfold in the preview code. It is now time to talk about the game's content and the way it is built. Deus Ex Human Revolution wanting to cling to the franchise's heritage, it had to include a complex universe and offer a real sense of freedom to the player. The freedom to choose which mission he will do first, but also the freedom to tackle Jensen's assignments the exact way he wants. Mission accomplished. Indeed, whether it is the main quest or the sidequests, the player is never stuck on rails he cannot move away from. If you are the shy type of guy, you will probably want to keep a low profile (and stay low to avoid being shot at). If gun powder is more your thing, then no need to lose any time chitchatting, your arsenal is more than chatty enough to do all the talking. More than ever, in Deus Ex, you play the game you like.
The will to give as much freedom to the player as possible can even be found in the option menu. Everything can be tweaked to your liking: the display of your objectives, the cover system (either by maintaining L1 or by pressing L1 to pop in and out of cover) and of course the augmented reality sort of yellow halo. Since we are mentioning it, leaving it on is not as intrusive as some expected it to be. Sure, it makes it easier to “read” your surroundings and you gain time (since interactive objects are underlined) but it does not feel like you are taken by the hand all the time. What's more, this now optional feature is even completely integrated in the game's universe and design, much like the rest of the HUD.
A few words on the cyberpunk design that has actually been revamped a bit so it creates a believable world - after all, the story is set only 16 years from now. The city of Detroit in which the adventure begins is the perfect reflection of a world where the gap between the rich and the poor, between augmented people and 100% natural ones, can be found at every street corner. Hobos, hookers, office clerks or even cops, they all wander around, talk to each other or simply go about their business, giving life to the miserable streets of the American megalopolis. A feeling of loneliness and fear can be felt when walking around, as papers whirl in the cold wind like the disillusions of a population plagued with doubt and division. Deus Ex Human Revolution actually depicts a society in which pro-humans strongly disapprove of the progress science has made in biotechnology.
Each task at hand can be dealt with in different ways, which usually depend on the abilities the player chose to upgrade. Augmentations can be acquired thanks to the PRAXIS points you gain when you reach a new level of experience, but you can also buy them at the local clinic (provided you have 5,000 credits to spare). Optical camouflage, smart vision (to see through walls), inventory size (the inventory system is close to Resident Evil's where a certain number of squares is dedicated to each item), strength, hacking abilities, the list goes on and on and is pretty costly. Depending on your capacity to jump to reach higher grounds, or to move the heavy objects blocking the way, the path you will take will differ. Words can even be very effective to work your way around a problem more easily, so don't hesitate to talk to an informer or a former colleague of yours.
Quite early in the adventure, you will be asked to get access to the morgue, which can be done in a few different ways: you can convince a cop to let you in (provided you find the right words to persuade him) or try to break into the precinct. The first option is probably the most comfortable one and you are free to walk into the station. Of course, if you start sneaking around and get inside unauthorized rooms, you'd better make sure no one sees you. Or else you're pretty much done for. Infiltration can be achieved through several points of entry, which I am not going to give away. Other missions will also allow you to take the lethal approach and burst your way inside a perimeter gun blazing. Jensen being the perfect mix between Neo (Matrix) and the Terminator, I'll let you imagine what he can do to his enemies.
Without a doubt, the stealth approach will require more planning and observing on your part, hence more time. That being said, finding the best way to slip under your enemies' nose unnoticed is just priceless. Playing ghost will definitely remind you of the hours you spent playing Splinter Cell, Thief or Metal Gear Solid, with bodies you have to hide, cameras you must avoid at all cost and constant caution on the noise you make. Armed with a tranquilizer rifle, a taser or your fists, you don't even have to use them if you prefer avoiding contact from beginning to end.
Nothing forces you to stay under the radar though, and you can decide to make the best use of your guns, just like Jonathan Jacques-Belletête showed us too a few weeks ago. This way, Deus Ex Human Revolution looks a bit more like your standard FPS (with the third person cover system as a bonus) but it is still quite challenging even in normal mode. Don't expect to be able to digest a big amount of lead when being fired at. The preview code ends with a boss battle that is actually the very first time you cannot avoid direct confrontation. The big augmented hulk you have to face is sort of an old acquaintance of Jensen's since he was part of the team that attacked Sarif Industries. A die hard henchman that will clearly give you a difficult time should you play in the hardest difficulty setting.
It may be a little too soon to call the game a prodigy or a genius, but it can't be denied that the guys at Eidos Montreal have achieved a very meticulous job to create the world of Deus Ex Human Revolution. The soundtrack completely fits the futuristic atmosphere of their title and it is in perfect tone with the world led by multinationals it presents. A lot of effort has also been put in writing an interesting story and creating charismatic characters. However serious and dramatic the plot is, the developers have not forgotten to add a touch of humor. At some point, you will find a Final Fantasy XXVII poster on a wall, later you will notice that the surveillance cameras have all been manufactured by a company called “Big Bro”. Another example: say you accidentally end up in the women's bathroom at some point. Well, if so, the next time you go see Pritchard (the tech guy responsible for the security of the network), don't be surprised if he reminds you that, no matter how much change your body has gone through, you are still very much a man.
Another area of the game that is praiseworthy is the artistic direction which is just top notch and actually makes Deus Ex Human Revolution so immersive. It even compensates for the graphics that can just be considered average, especially when compared to the other titles out there. The textures are rather simplistic overall and the character models are a bit rough around the edges, which clearly shows during the dialogue sequences. Facial animations are indeed quite poor to convey the protagonists' emotions. It is not all that bad though, as the indoor environments are filled with many little details, which kind of reminds of what you could see in Metal Gear Solid 2. There are also nice locations like for example Jensen's apartment; the first time you get there, the shutters automatically open, letting the city lights filter through the windows and I have to say it looked really cool.
The preview code also had a few framerate issues, but nothing that made the game unplayable. Given that the development is now finished and that the remaining months will be dedicated to polishing the title, everything should be fine in the retail version. As far as AI is concerned, it may not be perfect in all circumstances, but overall the guards react quite logically. Even when in cover or hidden under a staircase, they actually can spot you if you are not careful enough. As soon as they see something odd, they become suspicious and, much like in Metal Gear, start searching the area until they make sure the area is clear. If you stay out of sight long enough, then they return to their patrol and stop looking for you. Well unless they really see you and become hostile, in which case the only thing left to do is to take them down.
Graphics aside, Deus Ex Human Revolution seems to possess everything a gamer could wish for: a very deep background, an intriguing story and a good amount of freedom. All we saw lead us to believe that Eidos Montreal actually managed to create a game that will please the fans of the franchise. We probably should be a bit more cautious and not get too excited at this point, but what the hell. Here at Gamersyde, the end of August will be entirely dedicated to Deus Ex, no matter what. We advise you make arrangements in your schedule, just in case you need some time off to play the game...
About the game
GriftGFX @Moonwalker: How bad would TitanFall 2 sales have to be to offset the success of Battlefield... TitanFall 2 is an EA Partner's game... seems like a little bit of an overreaction. (17 minutes ago)
nostradamus have you seen titan...who? (19 minutes ago)
Moonwalker Maybe they should have pushed it into November,December or even January. If thr reviews are anything to go by the game is damn good. (1 Hour ago)
GriftGFX I do get the sense that TitanFall 2 got very little marketing attention. They promoted the hell out of Battlefield. (2 Hours ago)
GriftGFX The TitanFall 2 review? EA not Activision. They're both having pretty good years though. (2 Hours ago)
nostradamus btw, i already have my Silent Hill Downpour copy, amanonz got some stock a couple of days ago. now its selling for 15 quid and not the 5 i snatched it. i'll leave some impressions. (2 Hours ago)
Driftwood GSY is getting some nice content at 3 pm CEST with our July podcast and some videos of the Deus Ex Mankind Divided preview build. :) (> 3 Months ago)
Driftwood For once we'll be live at 4:30 pm CEST. Blim should not even be tired! (> 3 Months ago)
Driftwood More Quantum Break coverage coming in a few hours, 9:00 a.m CEST. (> 3 Months ago)
Driftwood We'll have a full review up for Firewatch at 7 pm CET. Videos will only be tomorrow though. (> 3 Months ago)
Driftwood Tonight's livestream will be at 9:15 GMT+1, not GMT+2 as first stated. (> 3 Months ago)
Driftwood New GSY Live dedicated this time to Just Cause 3 on Tuesday 9:30 GMT+2 (> 3 Months ago)
Driftwood Join us tomorrow at 10 pm GMT+2 for a new livestream. We'll be playing Rise of the Tomb Raider. (> 3 Months ago)
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