Deus Ex: Human Revolution Extended Hands-On Preview, Part Two

Now that we know about Adam Jensen the human being, let's learn about Adam Jensen the augmented killing machine.

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A few weeks ago, Square Enix and Eidos Montreal were kind enough to let us play through the first three or so hours of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. We brought you our impressions of the pre-credits prologue not long after that, and now, we're back to give you a little more detail on what happens after the title fades and the game's conspiracy starts to build. Be sure to read part one for all the necessary context of what we're about to explain. Go ahead, we'll wait for you. Done? Then, let's get started.

In fairness, these two guys did make fun of Jensen's sweet new haircut.

Adam Jensen is in an awkward position leading into the first proper mission of this new Deus Ex. Having been left for dead and subsequently rescued using biomechanical augmentations that he was never fully intent on getting, Jensen simply isn't the guy he once was--not by a long shot. In fact, the game is pretty clever about how Jensen stumbles into life with augmentations. When he returns to work doing private security for Sarif Industries six months after the events that threatened his life, you see a flickering and illegible heads-up display as you're walking into the office. Why's that? He's still getting used to his new retinal display augmentation. But, on the plus side, he's also got retractable sunglasses that pop out of his head on command. So that's a bonus.

A quick walk-through of the offices of Sarif Industries reaffirms one of the lessons we learned from the last preview we posted: the atmosphere in Human Revolution is so fantastic that even a simple stroll through a corporate workplace can feel intense and stylish. It's a world done up in vibrant shades of gold and black, like the sun is constantly setting. This is an ominous metaphor, perhaps, for the impending fate of humanity at which so much of the game's story hints. But the gameworld isn't all art-house pretentiousness. In a wink toward developer Eidos Montreal's parent company Square Enix, you'll encounter a fellow named Pritchard who seems to be a big Japanese role-playing game fan; so much so that he's got a poster for Final Fantasy XXVII on his office wall. (Hey, it is 2027 after all.)

Unfortunately, Jensen finds that there's no rest for the weary when the boss man Sarif fills him in on the details of this first mission. A group of activists have broken into one of Sarif's warehouses, and because this happens to be the same warehouse that contains an extremely sensitive military prototype, it's not a job for the police. It's a job for private security, also known as you. What makes this mission especially tricky is that these activists are anti-augmentation activists known as Purity First, so it's not as though the newly mechanized Adam Jensen can just walk up and offer them an olive branch. No, not when it's a carbon fiber olive branch that extends out of Jensen's robot arm on a telescoping rod.

The world of Human Revolution is easily described as Baroque mets Cyberpunk.

On the helicopter ride to the warehouse, you're able to chat with Sarif and get better idea of what's about to go down. The boss lets you know that it's entirely up to you to decide whether you want to use lethal or nonlethal means. The conversation system plays out like most Western role-playing games, with a list of options to choose from at certain breaks in the dialogue. Using this conversation system, we informed Sarif that we intended to approach the situation using nonlethal tactics. He then told us what to expect from the warehouse's layout and asked whether we'd prefer to go with the long-range tranquilizer rifle or the short-range stun gun. Rifle, please.

Once on the ground, we got our first taste of the augmentations upgrade menu (not to mention a few catty SWAT officers who called the newly augmented Jensen a "can opener"). This screen is what takes Human Revolution from a first-person shooter with a branching dialogue system and drops it more firmly into the realm of action role-playing games. As you progress through the game, you'll earn what are called praxis points, which is the currency you use to purchase augmentations. Whichever path you choose to pursue, these upgrade trees effectively determine how you're going to play the game, whether it's as a run-and-gun supersoldier, a stealthy ninja, a chatty wordsmith, or some variation.

"My eyes! The retractable augmented glasses do nothing!"

For this mission, we decided to take the stealthy approach. We had enough points for three augmentations, so here's what we went with: smart vision to see enemies through walls; cloaking system to temporarily become, if not invisible, then at least very hard to see; and stealth enhancer to see enemy positions on the minimap. (We would later gather enough praxis points to upgrade stealth enhancer to level two to see enemy cones of vision on the map, all Metal Gear Solid style.) We used this suite of upgrades to terrorize those poor Purity First saps like a ghost in the shadows. Much of this was thanks to the fact that level layout in Human Revolution gives you a lot of options for how to take on enemies. Carrying on the legacy of the original Deus Ex, there's an abundance of spacious air ducts, catwalks, and off-the-beaten-path routes to let you traverse through buildings with ease, so long as you've got the patience to learn enemy guard routes and linger in the shadows for long enough to make your move.

We started by sneaking past a trio of guards watching over the entrance to the warehouse simply by sticking to the shadows and hiding behind stacks of crates. Then, we got inside and climbed up to the top of a 20-foot storage shelf, which we used as a sniper's nest to drop each and every one of the half-dozen enemies patrolling within. Had we not cleared the room out, we would have needed to drag those unconscious bodies into the shadows so as not to give away our presence. Much like the first game, the pressure is on you to survey the environment and shuffle things around to best suit your needs. Whether that's hiding a body in the shadows, moving a stack of crates to reveal an alternate air-duct pathway, or simply knowing which way a door swings open so that you can remain hidden when an enemy walks into a room, Human Revolution is a game that rewards a keen eye. Likewise, you learn a lot about the story by keeping a close eye on the environment because you can find notepads and news tablets that give context for the story. And, naturally, you can also find pass codes for locked doorways by snooping through discarded notes and computers with e-mail left accessible. In other words, this is a Deus Ex game through and through.

Overall, we were quite impressed with how intuitive the stealth elements were and how smoothly the game played. The only issue we had was with the power gauge. Each skill, including cloaking and seeing through walls, uses up a portion of your overall power gauge, which you can think of as Jensen's internal batteries. And that makes sense: These are special technologies that require power to use. But sneaking up behind an enemy and performing a stealth takedown on him is also one of the things that consumes power, even though you're often just giving him a good old-fashioned judo chop to the neck. The only way to fully replenish these power cells is to find consumables scattered about, such as energy bars. The whole thing feels a little contrived--you can only smash a dude in the back of the head if you've got a granola bar in your belly--and winds up throwing off the pacing of a sneaky trek through enemy territory. It's a system that takes the universal last defense of the first-person shooter game--the melee attack--and removes its usefulness as a desperation move.

We can confirm here today that there are, in fact, guns in Human Revolution.

Of course, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is still a ways off and design elements like that are things that could easily be fine-tuned in the months ahead. All in all, things are looking great. We won't spoil the story outcome of this first mission, but suffice it to say that after all the engaging in stealth and dragging of bodies, you reach a point where the only weapon you have is your mind and your choice of words--and it's a conversation with at least one life on the line that carries a lasting impact throughout the story. We're excited to see more of this story in the upcoming months as we get closer to Human Revolution's release later this year.

Discussion

111 comments
BudgetMonkey82
BudgetMonkey82

I find the idea of having to find energy bars a lot more realistic than the system in MGS4 where you could phone in just about anything at any time.

Rentonboyo
Rentonboyo

I've already started walking around in a trench coat looking hyper aggressively at security guards...

GreyWolf217
GreyWolf217

@Moloch121 Don't get me wrong eating is technically more realistic, its just that with the innovations of halo games and the like it just seems to flow with the action a little better to take a breather and then jump back into the action. Then again I could just be the product of my generation and being brainwashed. lol

zaphodbblbrox
zaphodbblbrox

Really nervous about this one. It looks good so far, but I won't know for sure until its out. Fingers crossed.

seanvin
seanvin

another lame develpoer who postpones game over and over to the point I don't care anymore.

rpgisforme
rpgisforme

I loved the first Deus Ex. I rate it as one of the best games I have ever played. The sequel .. Invisible War .. really let me down. I am praying that this one will redeem the series. Looking forward to it.

greyzhaze
greyzhaze

It is looking amazing which is to be expected from SE, however, Im a little concerned with Square's games lately and Im hoping this one doesn't let us down. At least its not EA doing the sequel. just my opinion...

DBZKING1234
DBZKING1234

Well the game looks good. Hope Square Enix didn't screw it up.

ParisSun
ParisSun

I'm really hyped about this game. I really hope it lives up to the hype. That said, this game doesn't seem like it will be out until 2012.

system3142
system3142

Typo on image 2. Proverb of the day: The greatness of the gaming industry can be summarized by saying that it can simply do what it did in the last thirty years again for the next thirty years.

ccgod
ccgod

dam amazon switched it to dec 31st :( guess that means i won't have to debate on weather i play this or dragon age 2 lol

anger021780
anger021780

lol I love the whole "Here's a bunch of info on the game!!... what? release date? /shrug"

fociz
fociz

I'm now seeing Dec 11 at Amazon. Something tells me this game aint ready for prime time.

Uhagi
Uhagi

Well i'm still in to renting this game and checking it out. It may be fun and a little fresh.

ghassanko_007
ghassanko_007

They should make the energy bar a rechargeable ability on its own. I don't like the fact that you have to make sure that you have ample energy for stuff when from what I've read about this, the character is more than half robotic. Games today are weening out the health pack and energy pack options of old. Granted health and stuff, since this is an RPG esque game, should be affected by pick ups like food and such, but to have your energy meter limited like that and for every action to drain it seems rather dul

madgame23
madgame23

They should make the energy bar a rechargeable ability on its own. I don't like the fact that you have to make sure that you have ample energy for stuff when from what I've read about this, the character is more than half robotic. Games today are weening out the health pack and energy pack options of old. Granted health and stuff, since this is an RPG esque game, should be affected by pick ups like food and such, but to have your energy meter limited like that and for every action to drain it seems rather dull!

mrhagane
mrhagane

well, i though Square change DX to Final Fantasy EX. lol, i just tired to play FFXIII, serously SQ need more Action game

Red-DogBluewolf
Red-DogBluewolf

revanknight Since You just started playing it I don't want to ruin any part of the story so I'll just say that you are in for a real treat, Deus Ex has to be one of My all time favorite games. I hope you have as much fun playing it as I did.

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

if it's only 2027 the poster should probably read "FFvsXIII coming soon"... Other than that game looks good.

Albaficas
Albaficas

"cecpunkrock" if u dont know a game history plz stop talkin craps....."U want this game to be new vegas" New Vegas was made by THE ORIGINAL fallout team 1,2 and its far better than fallout 3

snared04
snared04

I would rather hope that they decided not to have every last action require power... That would make this game pretty tedious if the flow of it were at all like the original DX. That's another issue with making every skill in the game attached to augments, or in this case, biomechanicals. On that note, I was a bit disappointed that they, for the second time, decided not to go with actual skills in addition to augments. The original game's skill system was as, if not more, interesting than the augments. A big part of that was that the augments required power, and to run them all at the same time drained you in no time flat; another issue with turning every action into power-based. The skills were both hard to earn, and passive, so they were supremely helpful throughout the game. Medical Expert: "The agent can perform bypass surgery with household objects" ^ Beat that.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

I played and finished the second Deus Ex Game: Invisible War. I enjoyed it. I just hope they implement the combat and first person shooting segments well, so it doesn't feel tacked on. I lknow it's not a true fps game, but if the fps 'parts' played and controlled well, it might be able to win over some people who don't traditionally enjoy steal/action/rpg adventure games.

revanknight
revanknight

I just started playing the original DX and I am VERY impressed by what I have seen so far. I have high hopes for this one.

Big_Dre_D
Big_Dre_D

@Solidsizzle I check gamestop. @cecpunkrock normally I'd agree that a game having more dev time is a good thing but in this case deus ex is essentially finished and what I've read on this and other sites the game is good. So how much better can they really make this game.

cecpunkrock
cecpunkrock

people shut up about release dates. The longer this game is in Dev the better it will be when its released. Do you want this to be Fallout NeW Vegas? Have characters glitch through the ground, and quests just decide not to be completed?

SolidSizzle
SolidSizzle

@Big_Dre_D August!? How did you find out? Man, that sucks :(

Big_Dre_D
Big_Dre_D

@ Boromir028 Sqaure Enix pushed it back to August to "fine tune the game".

Boromir028
Boromir028

If it's not coming out next month, then you may as well be prepared for a Q4 release..."still a ways off" tells me that whole March release date was full of it from the beginning.

GT_APE
GT_APE

oh God please don't dumb this down for consoles like you did with Deus Ex 2 garbage.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

Looking forward to this game, but extremely poor release date management by Eidos Montreal here. Come on guys, get your act together. Don't put out a firm release date, then move it back 30 or 60 days before launch to a TBD date.

Blaiyan
Blaiyan

I'm glad this gives me a choice. I wonder though if you can play non-lethal throughout the whole game like Mirror's Edge? Anyway this is definitely high on my watch list. Hoping to check it out on either PC or 360 later this year.

Piter
Piter

Amen, it's time for games to be accountable with regard to release dates and delays. The film industry never pulls that sh!t. When was the last time you saw some badass interview that ended with "TBA"? Or, better yet, a film with a set release date that gets pushed back last- minute? Okay, sorry for the rant. That said, this game looks dope, and I'll probably play it naked.

ccgod
ccgod

Amazon has it coming out 8 march 11 so who's wrong GS or amazon lol

JimBob2424
JimBob2424

It sounds to me a little like they've "Mass Effect'd" Deus Ex in order to make sure it appeals to the console generation. They're both great games no doubt, but I'm not sure heading away from what made the first game so wonderful is the right way to maintain your own identity.

leesempai
leesempai

no free melee? that has to be changed for sure... i look forward to this game...

tehcris
tehcris

Oh man, i am desperately waiting for this game...

PouyaDH
PouyaDH

Sounds promising, even better than its teasers but Cmoooon TBA 2011 ??? :- ? /: )

emkplayboy6
emkplayboy6

@FlashCharge There have not been game demo for PC if you've noticed for some time, I would hope they'd have one but we'll see!

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

the real prove of the game will come out in the demo. It will either promote a must buy, or I'll wait to the price comes down, or skip it.

A1pha0mega
A1pha0mega

@ warhawk-geeby It's very frustrating amid all the hype not to have a release date set. The official website says "Available Early 2011" whilst a copy on Amazon (UK) says March 8th (doubtful) Most games, even if they are due for release at the end of the year have a release date by now!

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

@Alex_09 You are terribly dense. It's Eidos who are producing this game, and it's being distributed (in other words, given out) by Square Enix. It's not made by Square Enix.

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

I am VERY interested now... PLEASE! GIVE US DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION NOW! I don't care if the Invisible War was rubbish, just give it to me!