Deus Ex: Human Revolution Preview - Extended Hands-On Impressions

We play through the beginning of Human Revolution to discover a little more about the hero at the center of this conspiracy.

There's a moment very early on in Deus Ex: Human Revolution that leaves you feeling a little guilty about what's going to happen to protagonist Adam Jensen. He's knee-deep in a conversation with a female colleague--clearly one whom he has some sort of history with--and in an effort to brush aside the political turmoil bubbling up within the office, Jensen insists he doesn't keep enemies; he likes everyone. But as the player, you have the benefit of foresight. You've seen the trailers that reveal Jensen's fate, knowing that he'll soon be transformed into a fully weaponized tool of surgical violence with more biomechanical augmentations than you can count. But looking at this Jensen, the one you see in the first 30 minutes of the game, you can't help but anticipate something terrible on the horizon. [Spoiler Alert: This preview details a small number of story elements from the first hour of the game.]

So go the early moments of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the highly anticipated sequel to an all-time classic. We're introduced to a troubled world and characters that aren't spared any shelter from its chaos. Jensen is an especially intriguing figure because of the way he's pulled into the heart of the conflict through no choice of his own. To set the stage, Human Revolution takes place in a stylized and not entirely optimistic vision of the year 2027. It's a world where powerful corporations are pioneering biomechanical science at a breakneck pace, producing a fractured population of those eager to upgrade themselves and those deeply disturbed by this technology's effect on humanity. Through the ambient chatter of news reports and whispered uncertainties among side characters, the game establishes an atmosphere of tension and unease early on in the story. To recycle Eidos Montreal's catchy slogan, "It's not the end of the world… but you can see it from here."

Likewise, you don't have to wait long to see what triggers Jensen's metamorphosis. The game begins with our protagonist walking through the hallways and laboratories of Sarif Industries, an augmentations company where Jensen, an ex-SWAT officer, provides private security. Glancing around the research and development labs, you get a good idea of what sort of technology this company is working on when you catch sight of fleeting but thoroughly creepy visuals--a sea of dismembered limbs and people being rebuilt with mechanical attachments. (Though, oddly enough, the most unsettling visual we saw was a guy just running along on a treadmill right next to a pair of robot legs lacking an upper torso matching his pace.) Imagery like this certainly helps to understand the motivations behind the reluctant Jensen we see early on, a guy who's unsure of these augmentations as a way to develop his role within the company. After all, who's all that eager wants to run home and eat steak when you work at the slaughterhouse all day?

Meet Sarif, your boss. Clearly he's a man who indulges in his own product.

We should mention, though, that this is a very pretty slaughterhouse. If you've seen the various screenshots and trailers for Human Revolution, you know that Eidos Montreal is aiming for a very specific look; namely, a gilded cyberpunk landscape rendered in various shades of gold and black. The aesthetic that the CGI trailers established carries over to the game astoundingly well. Even doing something as simple as walking through office hallways, the sense of atmosphere is terrific. The game's art director, Jonathan Jacques-Belletete, calls this a "visual texture" designed to let you know right away which game you're playing. It's hard to say Eidos Montreal hasn't succeeded there. While the facial detail is a little underwhelming during cutscenes that really focus on character faces--at least on the Xbox 360 version we played--the overall art style more than makes up for it.

Eventually, you make it up to the office of the head honcho who has called you in for a meeting. But before you can get down to business, an alarm sounds and you're sent rushing back down to the labs to see what has gone wrong. What follows is your first taste of combat, as armed mercenaries have overtaken the labs and left a trail of burning offices and bloodied scientists in their wake. All you have is a simple assault rifle and a knack for using cover to avoid gunfire. Nevertheless, we were pleased to discover that even when you strip the combat of all its biomechanical bells and augmented whistles, there's a solid foundation underneath it all. The guns carry a heavy impact and the fluid cover system manages to avoid feeling jarring as you switch from first person while running around to third person while you hunker down behind an object.

Carrying on the Deus Ex legacy, you can also pick up objects and throw them at enemies, but in our limited experience, we didn't find much practical application for flinging empty cardboard boxes at armed mercenaries. We imagine that particular ability will come into use later in the game when you begin to really explore and dig apart environments--this opening level was a strictly run-and-gun affair apparently designed to get our feet wet.

The game's opening prologue is more Call of Duty than Deus Ex, but that changes once you get your augmentations.

Whatever success you feel after this quick-and-simple introduction to the game's combat soon comes to a sudden and violent halt. It's here that Jensen runs into a mysterious augmented figure that turns his one-man security operation on its ear. We won't go into details, but suffice it to say Jensen is left for dead and the doctors tasked with rescuing him elect to go the full-on biomechanical recovery route. The opening credits sequence that follows paints a grim picture of the transformation Jensen goes through, and in keeping with the game's uniformly stylish aesthetic, it's a thoroughly awesome montage with an art design that can't really be overstated. This despite the fact that you're essentially watching a man on the verge of death being outfitted with robot arms--and not exactly by his own choice.

At this point, we were about a half-hour into a three-hour demo of Human Revolution's opening moments. We'll have another preview coming your way in a few weeks that details how combat works once you settle into your augmentations, so be sure to check back for it. In the meantime, why not have a look at our previous coverage of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

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Discussion

357 comments
generalbig
generalbig

Will somebody tell that fella it's pronounced 'day-us' not 'dee-us'! it's latin, means 'god'. As in Deus Ex = From God.

clydeknightwind
clydeknightwind

In regards to the art director looking like jensen, he probably changed his own look to make himself look more like jensen. I don't think it's the other way around.

Blaiyan
Blaiyan

I just watched the trailer on this page and I don't know if it's been mentioned already but it looks like Jonathan, the art director, modeled the main Character after himself. Just read the comments and it was. Anyway his augmentation sort of reminds me of Wolverine in a way. I'd like to build my own PC before this comes out so I might just get this on PC late in the year if it has controller support and I don't have to register through steam and spend 10 hours downloading it first.

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

This guy must be on an ego trip. Jensen is a working model of this guy don't you think.

lowkey254
lowkey254

Wow, I can only imagine what happend to him. Must play.

TheoleDominion
TheoleDominion

Mixing gunplay and a "deep"melee combat system is very tricky, few games have successfully pulled this off. I really hope they get it right. The first Deus Ex was pretty good, though it had some great gameplay with shooter/enhancements, it didn't have a true melee combat system.

Jeronimo99
Jeronimo99

so this year ?! i thot it was 11/03/2011

kleminem
kleminem

@Gooeykat I totally agree with you man, but I personally cant wait to play them all!!

ploftkaploft
ploftkaploft

What's wrong with these directors? The main character looks just like the Art Director, and the new Dante (DmC) looks just like the Creative Director of Ninja Theory. This game looks great, that atmosphere. =)

Gooeykat
Gooeykat

@kleminem Crysis 2 - played and loved the original, the sequel looks like a generic sci-fi shooter to me in overly done setting (NYC). Bulletstorm - Played the demo on my PS3, it was okay. Brink - Haven't been following this one much, it could be good.

kleminem
kleminem

goeykat@, what about crysis 2, bulletstorm, brink?

jenova
jenova

Robot arms are only cool when they happen to other people. When it happens to you it's pretty damn scary. This is a recurring theme in Cyberpunk, you become less human if you get replacement wetware. People treat you like a monster.

KOBE23IVAN
KOBE23IVAN

wow... i think this game is going to go into history :D

Gooeykat
Gooeykat

This is probably the only game I'm actually anticipating this year.

RocfeLLer
RocfeLLer

I am confident this is going to be a great game. Would you ever make your look alike character in the crap game?

Saerain
Saerain

I have to say that I kind of resent that they tell me how my character feels about having been augmented. I was rather hoping that such opinions were up to the player to apply to Jensen. Perhaps, hopefully, this is a rare exception.

freesoulvw
freesoulvw

with this game releasing in just under a month i really want to see more than 2 seconds at a time of actual gameplay. I see beauty but that all means nothing without substance. In high school I played a "book" rpg called Shadow Run, and have always loved augmentations, makes me want to be johnny mnemonic :)....really hope to see extended gameplay soon....lots of games coming out need to save and choose wisely. I paid full price for the sabetour and almost pre ordered dark void, so it seems that my fantasy world doesn't seem to work out so well in the game world, I hate paying $60 then a month later the game drops to $20. Makes me never want to buy new, just wait for used or price to settle.

Konviktion
Konviktion

even his hair looks the same :)))

emkplayboy6
emkplayboy6

Holy crap the main character look just like the art developer! lol bet that was easy when they though, "hmmm what should main character look like? I know, me!" lol

DraKKuLL007
DraKKuLL007

Guys; What if the art director "cloned himself" to look equal to the character!? O_o

bobswartz
bobswartz

@666 just because people like to play fps' doesn't mean they are unintelligent and a child. I really don't think you are in a position to make such statements with your broken english. Being in the minority doesn't make you automatically more credible. If you have something useful to say, by all means, otherwise don't write nonsense. RPG's are evolving to incorporate more FPS elements because it helps supplement the action pieces of the game. You can still make choices that affect later outcomes like traditional rpg games. Just because you want a straight RPG doesn't make this (or fps games) a bad choice.

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

Like description say its not rpg anymore, another fps , sick of neverending fps, my so much not smart ppl, fps is simple and made for very young and not smart ppl

bodylotion
bodylotion

This is one of the games i have high hopes for so it better be good ;) The only thing bothering me is the fact that this game as a prequel looks way more futuristic than Deus Ex (1). You can tell me that it's just a damn game, i know that but in my opinion it just s*cks unless they have a good explanation for it.

rene9ade520
rene9ade520

Ha ha ha ha, I thought that too about the art director XP Reminds me of how Max Payne looked like his creator. But in any case, this game looks absolutely amazing!!! One of my most anticipated of the year!!!!

jfoelker
jfoelker

LMAO!! I thought the same thing, Theblob2k4 :)

howardorr
howardorr

The visual style shown in the cutscenes looks rather like that of MGS4. I mean that in a good way :)

thetomato13
thetomato13

Anyone know if they're releasing a demo for this?

TheBlob2k4
TheBlob2k4

When your main character looks EXACTLY like your art director, you gotta ask yourself questions about his ego.

twistyanddark
twistyanddark

Deus Ex HR: The first game that lets you control its very own game designer. I hope this guy doesn't start a trend of designers putting themselves in games. A chris Taylor super robot in Supreme Commander 3 or a Singeru plumber version of mushroom kiiling could be interesting though...;p

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

I hope it's more of DeusEx1 later than CoD, and of improved one. The first game sufferred horribly because of the total lack of any autosave function or checkpoints. Also sometimes in missions it was not obvious whether you have a choice in the events unfolding before you or you don't . Namely - Paul's death and the following immortality of Gunther in the park. Who could've thought that Paul is mortal and Gunther isn't? But overall the game was a giant leap forward. It was a breakthrough "not that we needed, but that we deserved"(tm). I certainly hope that this installment is going to be as innovative as it's legendary predeccessor has, but so far I see only a lot of burrowed staples like covers, regenerative health and fierce gunplay-action with a giant bodycount. For me - as far as the art is as flawless as it already is and the story won't become stale and cliched after the initial stages, this game is a definite buy

Yomonkeyman
Yomonkeyman

@quantumtheo Also if you're more of a console guy like me, there's still no excuse not to play the first because you don't need a good PC to run it well. If your computer is that bad there is the PS2 version I suppose.

thejunglegod
thejunglegod

@Arch-Stanton : Youre kidding right???? go tell that story of ur comp running most games on high to a kdi or something...on second thought, are u referring to flash games???

Moloch121
Moloch121

Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3, The Witcher 2, The Old Republic and Deus Ex. Lots of great single player games coming out this year and hopefully an MMO that can take me away from WoW!

Arch-Stanton
Arch-Stanton

RE: max-1111 So true , you only need a well set up Pc. I,ve got a old single core P4 3.2 , 2Gb ram,XP pro, ATI HD 3850 agp video card with a 22' Lcd and I can play every new game on Max or Med res including games that say min req Core 2 DUO. (the only exception is Just Cause 2, wants W7 dx 10 & that s**t steam)

havocmerc
havocmerc

Like Bruce Wayne is to Batman, like Clark Kent is to Superman, like cool is to ice, like interview guy is to main character.

king_loei
king_loei

@max_1111 - I agree. I spent a moderate amount on a good gaming pc, and I've been using it for two years without a signle problem. I can play every new game on medium to high settings. I haven't upgraded once, and I don't intend to for a long time. @kbutta01- Burma is technically Myanmar, but good point :D

CHANCESUNDANCE
CHANCESUNDANCE

lmao the art director looks like Adam Jensen , BUT only in looks ... For this interview he should have had a voice-over by ELIAS TOUFEXIS (voice-actor /Adam Jensen).

k41m
k41m

Dude talking looks exactly like the main character hahah.

metalmenea
metalmenea

lol .....look at the video the main character looks like the art director !!! mmmmm......coincidence ?

max_1111
max_1111

@kbutta01 totally agree with you on everything except for the fact that you don't need to be "rich" to own a good PC gaming rig, nor do you have to upgrade every 1 or 2 years (been running the same rig for (almost) four years now i can still play at well above acceptable frame rates with all details maxed out for all modern games (Dead Space 2 and RIFT Beta for example))... If Alienware were the only way to get your hands on a decent rig, you'd have a point, but only idiots go down that road and pay for that overpriced, overhyped trash.

laplace985
laplace985

I want this for pc but updating and changing graphic cards are a pain in the wallet. Guess I will get it for ps3 :-)

Cronus1986
Cronus1986

With Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age 2, Deus Ex HR and several others comming out it seems like this will be an epic year for gaming.

hsmgaye
hsmgaye

I want it,I buy it and play it.

Jimmygee123
Jimmygee123

@kbutta01 I agree wholeheartedly. However, for me, I'm tired of being pushed aside on the PC because of piracy. I recently joined the console ranks because of this. DRM doesnt bother me, but a huge chunk of the gaming market is being overlooked because of this.

AZE160
AZE160

Stays true to the franchise, man got to get this one!