Deus Ex: Human Revolution preview

Posted: August 4, 2011 by ryanlecocq in Features

Robot lungs, robot liver.  Take that Surgeon General.


Yeah, piracy is bad and I pinkie swore not to do it anymore.  The exception being when it’s something like this.  At the end of May the same preview build of Deus Ex: HR that was sent out to journalists was ‘mysteriously’ leaked onto the interwebs.  Now normally this is a bad thing.  Publishers spend bug bucks  on their security and often go out of their way to sue anyone who so much as comments on a leaked build that wasn’t intended for the public eye.  The exception is a growing trend we’re seeing of what I would call ‘free public beta testing.’  Half-Life 2 had a similar supposed mishap where a few near-complete levels were leaked online and Valve just sat back and let the enthusiasm for the game grow as people got a small taste of a great game.  Think about it: Why pay Sony, Microsoft and Valve to distribute and advertise your demo when you could let the internet build it’s own grassroots marketing campaign?

Now the catch is that the game needs to be good enough that the word will be positive.  In this case that is overwhelmingly true.  I finally got around to playing it once I did my research and made sure that Eidos was really not prosecuting anyone for posting information on the game.  After spending a good several hours with the game, I can tell you the ploy worked.  This taste of the game has only got me more excited to play the final version.

I’ve mentioned in earlier coverage that this game borrows more than a little from the film Blade Runner.  As I speculated way back last fall, this is a good thing.  One of the greatest opportunities games can attain is to take a world you love and turn it into a great big sandbox you can play in.  Let me tell you, this is one killer sandbox.  Granted, not much of it is new ground for media in general, but it’s a world that has not been realized well in a game before.  DE: HR combines the best elements of Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell and of course the previous Deus Ex and System Shock games.  It’s kind of like one big huge (emphasis on big and huge) valentine to cyberpunk.  The characters, the setting, the music and every other component come together perfectly to scratch every itch you ever had when watching one of these other properties and imagining it in a game.

You may say ‘he was just an innocent lab-tech.’  I say ‘any stealth-kill is worth 20XP.”

The augmentation system has finally been streamlined to near perfection.  Augments combine and build on one another to make truly personal user-created gameplay.  Like many, I’ve enjoyed all of the Shock and Deus Ex games in the past, but even with their ‘free-form’ gameplay it’s always felt like a video game.  Now it feels like Shadowrun.  Your options are truly open.  You can shoot ’em up close or from afar of course, but try to stretch your imagination a bit further.  You can jump like the Hulk.  You can put C-4 on a dumpster and throw it a good 30 yards off a building and kill all of your enemies at once.  Or you could become invisible, drop off a building and land as light and silent as a feather before neutralizing an enemy and leaping off to another building.  You truly can become anything from the Terminator to the Predator to Major Kusanagi.  Whereas most games boast about their freedom of choice but only deliver a couple of valid options, any of the above strategies are equally valid.  If you’re a completionist, you can rack up the points to do all of the above.

The rest of the game’s features are a dream team of the best from other popular games.  You have Bulletstorm’s skill shots, Mass Effect’s conversation system and Crysis active HUD.  The thing that makes it more than just a copy is that each is at least as good as it’s original form.  Most of these things can be improved and tailored to your liking with the aforementioned augments.  You can augment yourself to read people’s speech patterns which suggests the best dialogue option.  You can add x-ray vision to your HUD and further tweak it with the ability to see alert levels of enemies through barriers.  All of it comes together flawlessly to create a truly user-customized gameplay experience.  Your game and mine could be as different in appearance and interface as Crysis and Metal Gear Solid, just based on the augments we choose.

The real star of the show is the atmosphere though.  Much like how Batman: Arkham Asylum had me shouting “I’m Batman” like Christian Bale, this game will have you saying “that is so f*cking cyberpunk” about every 2 minutes.  Every minute you spend in the gritty sepia-toned nightscape will be accompanied by fantastic music and great sound effects.  Every building has a perfect dystopian look to it and the political humor is generally spot on.  Your character, Adam Jensen is the perfect combination of Deckard and Neo without being insulting to your intelligence like most similar protagonists.

Overall I couldn’t be more impressed by this game, even though it isn’t without it’s share of beta glitches.  I’m not necessarily encouraging you to download it, as to do so would be illegal, but what I’m saying is if you do, your money is as good as promised to this game.  I’ve always stood by the belief that the righteous have nothing to hide and by the same token, a preview of such a fine game in no way hurts it’s appeal.  I’ll be standing in line at Gamestop in 3 weeks to buy this sucker even though I’ve played what I would estimate to be about 1/3 of the game.  If anything I’m even more excited to do it over again in a completed version.


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