Deus Ex: Human Revolution preview

By Xav de Matos, May 24, 2011 2:30pm PDT

The first time I played Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the game wasn't capturing my attention. The world and characters are all interesting but I had a problem finding my way and keeping myself alive. Save for the objective markers floating in the air--which can be toggled on and off--there weren't any cues to help me piece together my next move.

After putting it down and restarting the preview build I received, I pledged to pay more attention to the world. This is where I found the "sweet spot." Deus Ex: Human Revolution is extremely subtle. The game doesn't hold your hand; however, like I mentioned you can toggle a few menu options to make things easier. Finding your way around the world in a game like Fallout 3 is vastly different, while the possible interaction with the people in the world is quite similar. It's easy to look off in the distance and spot a landmark in Fallout 3 and realize "there must be someone there that can give me a mission." Deus Ex is completely different because the world is so populated and rich with life, it's hard to spot those opportunities from a distance.

Perhaps because the world is so different, the game can feel overwhelming. The world is densely packed with buildings, spread out with NPCs that have a similar look. It's hard to notice one person out of a crowd. It's almost a combination of exploration and investigation.

There's a moment after the game's first primary mission where Adam Jensen returns to the Sarif Industries office. Upon entering the office, a PA announcement requests Jensen to make his way to the office for a visitor. It's a small detail that is easily missed, but it's the realistic subtly of it that really brings the world out.

The first section of my preview version had already been outlined by Jeff in our past coverage. Here Jensen tackles a hostage situation. A number of hostages are taken mid-way through the complex and while Jeff was unable to secure their safety at the time, I was. To say that Deus Ex: Human Revolution has branching paths is an understatement. The game can diverge in so many ways.

Not making it to the hostages in time can cause a rift between Jensen and his friend. It could cause a hostage found later to become emotional and offer no new objectives. Saving them could make Jensen's friend proud of his good deeds. Talking to the hostages could offer new objectives, which opens the game off into a new branch later. Speaking with multiple people during missions can offer tiny scraps of information that become vital pieces later. One decision can offer a plethora of opportunities.

Side-quests were readily available during my preview. Each one, like the primary quests, offers different approaches. Players can tackle objectives stealthily or with guns drawn, sure, but there is another element to it. Players can take on objectives with the intention of supporting good or evil. Want to help someone out of the kindness of your heart? You can. Or force them to give you a reward for your time.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is reminiscent of the classic game. It's unflinching in its demands. Players attempting a full-on attack had better be sure they can manage the swarm. Stealth users must manage their surroundings to ensure a silent approach--this is where the game's cover system shines.

There may be a perception that developer Eidos Montreal is taking the Deus Ex franchise in a completely new direction geared toward gamers of this generation. From my time with the game, the team's goal seems more in line with pulling gamers of today back into what made the cult-hit so loved.

I've only buried ten hours into the game so I can't make a final judgment on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but I will say the game did eventually capture me when I gave it my full attention.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution seems to be a splendid mix of classic gameplay and modern visuals. If the entire experience can straddle that line, Eidos Montreal could deliver something special when it launches on August 23.

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