Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Hands on Preview
SquareEnix were kind enough to recently provide us with an early build of the upcoming Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Though the game doesn’t totally attempt to re-invent or re-establish the formula laid down by the original, Human Revolution is still a polished, intelligent and highly engaging title that is immensely worthy of your continued attention.
The game sees you controlling Adam Jensen, a security guard for mechanical augmentation firm Sarif Industries. Following a recent breakthrough by a Sarif scientist, who also happens to be Jensen’s girlfriend, a group of augmented mercs see the need to break in and torch the place. In the ensuing chaos, Jensen is severely wounded. The company save him, but but they are forced to heavily augment his body in the process. Before he knows it, Jensen is swept up in a conspiracy plot revolving around purist freedom fighters attempting to shut down Sarif Industries’ augmentation operations.
Deep characters and plot threads lend Human Revolution a meaningful narrative
Being a prequel to Deus Ex, the augmentations in the game are still a rather new technology. As a result of this the game deals with the initial public backlash to the new legion of “Augs” and the teething problems with the technology. There are also a variety of sub-plots regarding the inner workings of Sarif Industries and the details of the mercenary attack that left Jensen crippled. The plot is conveyed through a variety of cut scenes and dialogue. Fans of the original may be disappointed to hear that the abundance of dialogue options has been cut. Rather than a lengthy list of responses for each situation, you now only have a choice of three. It generally works rather well though, with conversations keeping a pace that they lacked in previous Deus Ex titles. Things are made even more interesting when you gain the ability to persuade, with read-outs of personality types helping you make informed decisions on how to interact with NPCs in the game.
New abilities are numerous in the game and, as you gain experience and cash, you can constantly unlock and upgrade new augmentations that will enhance your skills. The upgrade points are fairly scarce however, so you really need to pick and choose what kind of abilities you want to specialise in. Stealth, hacking, accuracy and perception are just a few of the key areas you can focus on and, before you know it, you can see through walls and turn invisible at will. The pace of progression is satisfying and, in conjunction with a variety of intriguing gun upgrades, Human Revolution allows you to customise your character fit your play style.
A vast array of augmentations allow you to customise your abilities as you see fit
The game plays out from a first person perspective primarily, with a series of central city hubs linking the game’s missions together. Combat is handled as in most first person shooter games, but with the addition of a cover system. It’s the first time a cover system has been used in a Deus Ex game, but it fits in rather nicely. The camera pulls back to a third person viewpoint whenever you take cover behind an object, and movement to other pieces of cover is smooth and satisfying. It’s necessary to master the cover system in order to give yourself an advantage over your enemies in combat and espionage.
One thing that immediately becomes apparent during the combat and stealth sections of the game is Human Revolution’s rather unforgiving difficulty level. If you jump out of cover hoping to mow down your prey with automatic weapons, you will go down quickly. One misstep while sneaking behind a guard will see your cover blown sky high. This is certainly a good thing though. Deus Ex has always been a thinking man’s game, and Human Revolution has not betrayed this element of the franchise. Careful thought and planning is required in most of what you do in Human Revolution, for the consequences for your actions will always come back to haunt you. The only time this difficulty became annoying was when trying to play through a mission in a stealthy manner. The problem I found was that, once one guard became aware of your presence, all the guards in an area immediately became aware as well. Some kind of system where guards radio in would’ve made this element of the game a bit more realistic and forgiving. This is but a small blemish on an otherwise satisfying engine however.
The cover system works well, for both combat and stealth situations
The presentation for the game is also solid. The graphics and sound both have show a level of polish that is becoming of a game as high profile as Human Revolution. The voice acting in particular, minus a few frustrating actors, is smooth, fluid and well delivered. There were a number of glitches that involved very quiet or inaudible sound clips and disappearing textures but, as this is an early build of the game, I’m sure this is the kind of thing that will be rectified in time for the game’s release.
Deus Ex is a series that has always been about choice. I ran through a level running and gunning and had a very different experience to when I stalked my opponents in the shadows. The level design and XP systems accommodate a variety of gameplay decisions, allowing you to handle situations your own way without fearing penalties. The dialogue choices are also deep and multi-tiered, causing you to constantly question your actions. I let a felon go in order to save a hostage. Should I have obscured justice like that? Would the hostage have survived if I took a different approach? Will my employer be annoyed that I let the perpetrator escape? Deus Ex forces you to consider the consequences of your actions, and it is an incredibly engaging and involving experience because of this. My preview experience with Deus Ex: Human Revolution included a few rough patches but, when these are fixed for the game’s release in august, Human Revolution will certainly be a must play title. Mark the date in your diaries, as Human Revolution is a game that will demand your time.