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E3 2011: Deus Ex: Human Revolution First Impressions

Feature; Jun. 13, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Jenner David Cauton
Subtypes: Opinion, Preview
It's not the end of the world... But you can see it from here.
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Deus Ex was critically acclaimed for one thing: choices. Whether you wanted to go for the stealthy approach or with guns blazing, it was up to you. Deus Ex was also extensive with its conversation options. You could be polite or simply let your gun do the talking. Every choice had a reward, and every choice had a consequence.

With Deus Ex: Invisible War, many players were disappointed. The game was simplified with fewer upgrade choices which were still useful, but they didn't really allow for much customization. While both games had stealth, neither was as engrossing. However, I’m happy to say that the problems of the sequel have been addressed, especially the stealth portion.

The demo (on a 360 unit) started with Adam Jensen, the game’s new protagonist (the game is a prequel to the first) in a chopper being briefed on his mission. While listening to the details of the mission, I was able to choose whether I wanted to take a stealthy approach or a full-on assault. Prior to starting the demo, I was told that the demo I was playing had very limited ammo in it and it was recommended I go stealthy -- and so I did. (It was going to be my original choice anyway.) I then got to choose whether I wanted to be equipped with a stun gun or a tranquilizer dart gun. Remembering that the only stun weapon from the first game was a prod (melee), I opted to go for the tranquilizer.

The game uses a cover system very much like Gears of War, although its stealth capabilities have been tweaked a bit (i.e., going around walls while still being locked onto the wall). The view is once again from a first-person perspective, but taking cover will temporarily change the angle to a third-person viewpoint. You can walk behind enemies tapping the B button to do a silent take down, or holding down the button to do a more aggressive (but noisy) approach. Players can also drag bodies, effectively removing the dirty deed, but unlike the last two games, bodies are actually heavy.

Experience points are back and can once again be gained by passing certain areas or accomplishing certain goals. Many players complained that the inventory from the last game was a bit too generous in space, leaving no strategy as to what you should hang on to. The grid-based inventory window returns here, as well as being able to loot many things like containers or lockers -- and good ol’ vents. (You can’t have stealth without them.) Also returning are, of course, augmentations, and they are much more robust than in the last game.

No matter how much I find stealthy and sneaky approaches cool, I can’t claim to be the best secret agent around, and eventually I got caught. Just like in the last game, an alert sounded and a back-up team was called in. The stealth now behaves very much like a Metal Gear game. Players have a radar that shows enemy positions, and it becomes distorted when caught. (I’m hoping this can be disabled entirely in higher difficulties.) When you’re caught, soldiers will be under a red alert status and will actively attack and follow you. If you manage to stay out of their sight for long enough, the soldiers will go into a yellow status, actively searching for you but not really knowing where you are. Stay hidden longer (or just kill everyone in the vicinity), and you can start humming your Mission Impossible music again.

Of course, not everything in the demo was A-OK. Let’s get the worst out of the way. The frame rate, at least on the 360, was rather sub-par, making aiming difficult. It wasn't so bad (or noticeable if it was there at all) when sneaking around, but the minute chaos ensued the game slows down quite a bit.

Coming back to the same machine again on the second floor showing and I saw an invisible talking Jensen (the main protagonist) during the same mission briefing. I heard a voice, I saw subtitles, but it was simply the chair talking. After starting the mission, the game glitched up, and was essentially frozen.

Being that the first Deus Ex was better heralded than the sequel, I tried out the PC version of the game, the only platform the first Deus Ex was ever made for. (At least, upon release.) The PC’s framerate was much better, and to anyone having the rig to run it, I highly recommend it over the sluggish Xbox verison. Of course, the game is still a bit over a month’s away, so here’s hoping that Square-Enix can take care of the technical issues by then.

Deus Ex was critically acclaimed for one thing: choice. Whether you want to go for the stealthy approach, or go in gun’s blazing, it was up to you. Deus Ex was also extensive in given the choice how to keep the conversation going. You could be polite, or simply let your gun do the talking. Every choice had a reward, and every choice had a consequence.

With Deus Ex: Invisible War, many players were disappointed that the game was simplified with fewer upgrade choices, that while still useful, didn’t really allow for much customization. While both games had stealth, neither was as engrossing. However, I’m happy to say that the problems of the sequel have been addressed, especially the stealth portion.

The demo (on a 360 unit) started with Adam Jensen, the game’s new protagonist (the game is a prequel to the first) in a chopper being briefed on his mission. While listening to the details of the mission, I was able to choose whether or not I wanted to take a stealthy approach, or a full on assault. Prior to starting the demo, I was told that the demo I was playing had very limited ammo in it and was recommended to go stealthy, and so I did. (It was going to be my original choice anyway.) I then got to choose whether or not I wanted to be equipped with a stun gun, or a tranquilizer dart gun. Remembering that the only stun weapon from the first game was only a prod, (melee) I opted to go for the tranquilizer.

The game uses a cover system very much like Gears of War, although it is tweaked a bit to be more useful in stealth, (going around walls while still being locked onto the wall) which has been greatly improved. The view is once again from a first-person perspective, but taking cover will temporarily change the camera into a third-person view. You can walk behind enemies tapping the B button to do a silent take down, or holding down the button to do a more agressive (but noisy) approach. Players can also drag bodies, effectively removing the dirty deed behind as before, and unlike the last two games, bodies are actually heavy, so don’t hesitate.

Experience points is back, and can once again be gained by passing certain areas, or accomplishing certain goals. Many players complained that the inventory from the last game was a bit too generous in space, leaving no strategy on what you do or do not need. The grid-based inventory window returns here, as well as being able to loot many things like containers or lockers, and good ol’ vents. You can’t have stealth without them. Also returning are of course augmentations, and they are much more robust from the last game.

No matter how much I find stealthy and sneaky approaches cool, I can’t claim to be the best secret agent around, and eventually I got caught. Just like the last games, an alert was sounded, and back-up was called. The stealth now happens very much like a Metal Gear game. Players have a radar that shows enemy positions, and becomes distorted when caught. (I’m hoping this can be disabled entirely in higher difficulties) When you’re caught, soldiers will be under a red alert status, and will actively attack and follow you. If you manage to stay out of their sight for long enough, the soldiers will go into a yellow status; actively searching for you but not really knowing where you are. Stay hidden longer, (or just kill everyone in the vicinity) and you can start humming your Mission Impossible music again.

Of course, not everything in the demo was honky dory. Let’s get the worst out of the way. The framerate, at least on the 360, was rather sub-par, making aiming rather difficult. It wasn’t so bad (or noticeable if it was there at all) when sneaking around, but the minute chaos ensued the game slows down quite a bit.

Coming back to the same machine again on the second floor showing and I saw an invisible talking Jensen (the main protagonist) during the same mission briefing. I heard a voice, I saw subtitles, but it was simply the chair talking. After starting the mission, the game glitched up, and was essientially frozen.

Being that the first Deus Ex was better heralded than the sequel, I tried out the PC version of the game, the only platform the first Deus Ex was ever made for. (At least, upon release.) The PC’s framerate was much better, and to anyone having the rig to run it, I highly recommdend it over the rather sluggish Xbox verison. Of course, the game is still a bit over a month’s away, so here’s hoping that Square-Enix can take care of the technical issues by then.

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