Deus Ex: Human Revolution Preview
For our continuing coverage of the upcoming Deus Ex: Human Revolution, this month we bring you a preview demo we saw during a recent visit to Eidos Interactive's Montreal studio. Per usual, Eidos is being very careful with what they show the press (and how they show it) so we weren't given any hands-on time. We were however, treated to an exciting three-pass preview of the title's various approaches to gameplay: combat, social and stealth.
We were told the level takes place roughly two and a half hours into the game and shows hero Adam Jensen entering a police station to retrieve information. Sarif Industries, Jensen's employer, has discovered (and dispatched) an augmented mole suspected of being allied with anti-augmentation terrorist group Purity First and Jensen's job is to infiltrate the police station's morgue and search the dead mole's body for an important info chip. The first pass through the level was fairly quick and straightforward as the demoer took us through with a direct, guns blazing approach.
Jensen stopped to talk to the desk sergeant, who told him he couldn't see the body and Jensen promptly ignored him, stalking around the corner and through security, shooting whoever got in his way. Here we saw the game's dynamic cover system (which allows you to move any object in front of you to shield yourself from gunfire) as Jensen worked his way through the station and took out the morgue security door. We also got a peek at the game's extensive grid inventory system right before the level ended with Jensen securing the chip.
The second pass through the level, the demoer took the social approach, which relies on Jensen's ability to get what he wants by schmoozing NPCs. Eidos has been calling these dialog sequences “social boss fights” and the name fits. Generally, they come down to someone withholding access or information and the challenge is in saying the right things so they'll give up the goods. In the case of the Montreal demo, Jensen had to convince the desk sergeant, an old acquaintance of his, to give him access to the morgue; the problem is, the guy's a basket case. His life's a mess, he's a prescription drug addict and he blames you for everything, so when you come waltzing through the door, he's not exactly inclined to lend you a hand.
This approach was the most story-rich because not only did Jensen have to carry on a fairly extensive exchange with the sergeant to get him to cooperate, once in he was able to casually eavesdrop on everyone in the police station. Cops everywhere were having conversations that gave information with respect to the game's backstory and with access willingly granted, Jensen had the luxury of breaking into offices and hacking PC's.
The third pass featured the approach likely to be nearest and dearest to the Deus Ex fan's heart—the stealth approach. This time Jensen avoided the front door completely and went around to the building's side, entering through a door on the second floor. (We were told there were up to four other stealth options to access the morgue.) Here we saw Jensen's nifty augmentations in action. After hacking the door via a hacking mini-game, he toggled on his X-ray vision which—reminiscent of Batman Arkham Asylum's Detective mode—allowed him to place enemies by seeing their glowing outlines through the walls. Jensen can also cloak himself, making himself invisible and this allowed him to walk right past the officers undetected. The effect turned his body into a shimmering, see-through silhouette but did nothing to muffle noise.
Eidos reps said they consider using this to be the “easy” approach to stealth and so also demonstrated how you would approach the level without using cloaking by hiding behind things and timing your movements. For gamers who think the traditional stealth approach is too challenging, they assured us that even if you're seen you can always hide again and recover. Gaining a group-wide laugh, they finished the level reconfirming that no stealth gameplay would be complete without the obligatory air shaft—yes, as in Deus Ex before it, Human Revolution looks to have its fair share of handy air vents. In the level we saw, Jensen scuttled through one of these in order to eavesdrop on some guards before heading to the morgue.
After three passes, all of which ended the same (with Jensen obtaining the chip and reporting back to Sarif) we were optimistic about how Human Revolution is shaping up. Although we weren't allowed any hands-on time, at this point the game looks polished, fairly intuitive and chock-full of interesting gameplay and storytelling. We're hoping that in the coming months, Eidos will offer us even more insight into the game.