Deus Ex: Human Revolution Updated Impressions - Weapon Upgrades, Augmentations, and Hacking

We take a closer look at a later mission in Human Revolution and examine some of the tools at Jensen's disposal.

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When we last saw Deus Ex: Human Revolution, we took you through the opening acts of Square Enix and Eidos Montreal's upcoming sci-fi shooter. We saw series protagonist Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT officer, thrown into a deadly conspiracy after his workplace, cybernetic augmentations manufacturer Sarif Industries, was attacked by an unknown but well-armed force. The ensuing conflict ended with Jensen's supposed death, only to see him return with extensive augmentations--which Jensen was less than thrilled to have received. Now, during our recent hands-off demonstration with game designer Antoine Thisdale, we go beyond the opening to a later mission to explore some new augmentations and abilities at Jensen's disposal.

You can toggle that highlights that appear around certain objects on or off.
You can toggle that highlights that appear around certain objects on or off.

In the not-too-distant future of 2027, cybernetic augmentation is a topic steeped in controversy--religious, political, and otherwise. Where some see only sin, others see evolution. The ongoing debate has already produced disastrous results, most recent of which is the attack on Sarif Industries. After an extensive investigation, Jensen finally has a chance to strike back at those who inadvertently made him what he is today: augmented. After touching down a few blocks from our destination--an unsuspecting lot of warehouses--our character decided it was best to stock up on supplies before attempting the mission. A chatty arm's dealer was nearby, and after some small talk, he was more than eager to tell us all about the heavily armed people he'd recently seen moving in and out of the area. Despite its appearance, we now knew we were on the right trail.

The merchant also supplied us with a target-leading system for Jensen's tranquilizer rifle; it was an upgrade that would prove immensely useful once he infiltrated the enemy compound. For now, the upgrade was stored in our inventory, which was displayed on a large grid similar to the system used in Resident Evil 4. Each item takes up a certain number of slots on the grid, with larger items, such as weapons and upgrades, taking up more space than a CD, for instance. However, you won't be able to carry everything you come across. Once our character made his purchases, he moved onto the target area. Here, our character was faced with his first challenge: infiltration. Guards were stationed all around the building itself, and while there weren't a lot of them, Thisdale (the demo's pilot) decided it was best to use the element of surprise and attempt sneaking inside.

When sneaking past enemies, the game uses a combination of line of sight and sound to pinpoint your location. Jensen's cloaking and silent-moving augmentations easily countered this, but they rapidly drained his internal power supply. After slipping past the guards, his next task was to hack the security gate to the compound. When hacking any computer terminal, the goal is to connect your point of entry (represented by a blue orb) with your target (represented by a green orb). You do this by capturing the numerous access nodes between these two points. However, each time you capture a new point, you run the risk of alerting the network's security system, which is represented by a red tower. It then becomes a race against time as the security system attempts to capture nodes and link itself with your access point. Because the gate's lock wasn't too advanced, Thisdale easily outmaneuvered its security system and gained access.

The game's save system features two overlapping checkpoints, and it allows you to save almost anywhere.
The game's save system features two overlapping checkpoints, and it allows you to save almost anywhere.

Inside was a large, single room that housed numerous crates and a half-dozen guards. From within his inventory, Jensen equipped the previously purchased target-leading system to the tranquilizer rifle. With this upgrade, he now received a visual cue indicating where he should fire to score a hit. This was especially helpful when tracking moving targets. A few well-timed shots dropped enemies behind crates or otherwise out of sight. Those that required a more intimate touch got treated to a sneak attack sleeper hold, a melee technique that depleted Jensen's internal batteries. With the guards dispatched, it was simple to slip under the camera and take the elevator down to the floors below.

Upon arriving on the basement level, Thisdale decided he was finished with sneaking around and took a more direct approach. After rolling out of the elevator and sliding up behind some crates, he used another augmentation to place tracking markers on all the enemies, including one large, four-legged robot. These markers took the form of large, green arrows placed above the enemies to help us track them in battle. From his inventory, Jensen outfitted his assault rifle with a target-seeking system. Modeled after existing technology, this system applies a calculated spin on a bullet when fired. The spin allows it to curve in midair and hit those hard-to-reach targets. Used in combination with the target tracker, Jensen could angle his gun upward and fire bullets downward to hit enemies ascending a flight of stairs on the far side of the room. However, this system wasn't very accurate, and a lot of bullets had to be twisted to drop the target.

With the human guards defeated, our character still had to contend with the four-legged walker. While the machine hammered the balcony with machine-gun fire, Jensen navigated behind it and used the Icarus drop augmentation to jump to the floor below. This ability drastically slows your descent and allows you to touch down without making a sound. After snatching up a nearby rocket launcher, he popped out of cover and made quick work of the walker. Our demonstration ended here, with Thisdale encouraging us to try a different approach from the one he had taken. "There's always more than one way to do things," he added.

When you're in cover the game switches from first to third-person, however you still shoot in first-person.
When you're in cover the game switches from first to third-person, however you still shoot in first-person.

From this brief encounter, we got a sense of Human Revolution's dense gameplay. The gunplay, augmentations, dialogue, hacking, and numerous other factors will make it interesting to see how developer Eidos Montreal brings together the final release. When asked what the team was hoping to improve upon from the first game, Thisdale focused mostly on the story and music. In the original Deus Ex, the story was presented to the player at a much slower pace than the redesigned Human Revolution, where information is presented a bit at a time in a constant stream. Regarding the music, the team loved the original score and is hoping to improve upon it by dynamically tailoring it to what's happening onscreen--whether it is stealth or a firefight. You can find Deus Ex: Human Revolution this August on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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