When it comes to franchises, few are bigger than Deus Ex. The original entry in the sci-fi series stole many a gamer’s heart, but with a disappointing sequel and diminished interest the license petered out.
However that all changed last year when Eidos Montreal released a ball busting trailer which peaked everyone’s interest once again. After subsequent demos and playthroughs the Canadian developer has proven that the flashy cinematic wasn’t all just window dressing. The third-person cyber-punk action RPG promises futuristic combat, hacking, social interactions and a freeform structure which facilitates players to enjoy the game in a number of different ways.
Last week we witnessed the latest gameplay demo, which featured the protagonist Adam Jensen investigating an abandoned factory outside Detroit in an effort to learn more about a mysterious augmented mercenary force which had crippled his employer, Serif Industries, and left him for dead; only to be saved via radical experimental body augmentations grafted onto his broken form.
The mission began with Jensen meeting a couple of local police officers who were suspiciously waiting outside the factory. The NPCs could not only be quizzed on local activity in the supposedly abandoned factory, but we could also purchase items from them. After learning that, “All types of caravans have been movin’ outa here” from an officer with an absurdly ‘street’ accent, he told us that spooky government types have been moving around and fittingly we decided to investigate further.
Our art director guide, Jonathan Jacques Belletete, elected for the super stealthy approach when infiltrating the building which featured narrowly avoiding each guard’s non-predetermined patrol route whilst ensuring no sound was made, thanks to a sound dampening augmentation. After working our way past aisles of shipping containers we needed to hack our way through a gate, which involved bypassing some grid style circuitry and from there we entered another building which was filled with even more guards, necessitating us to use our dart-equiped sniper rifle to put enemies to sleep or perform non-lethal finishing moves from close-range which again knocked guards unconscious.
We also got a glimpse of the Resident Evil inspired inventory system which gives players a finite amount of space to store all there loot. It’s all about maximising the space available, so any Tetris enthusiasts will definitely feel at home.
As we’ve noted before in our previous previews, the engine handles the basics of stealth really well, with guards able to awaken those forced into slumber and any noise or shots made will spell disaster for any player wanting to get that hefty XP bonus for infiltrating areas silently. However one area which Eidos Montreal has seemed hesitant to show off before is what happens when everything goes to hell and it becomes clear that’s what this presentation is all about.
After neutralising the guards, we entered an elevator which granted us access to the underground innards of this seemingly innocuous factory space. Unsurprisingly the area was a thriving hive of villainy with government operatives packing up and shipping out to an undisclosed location. We didn’t have much time to ascertain what was going on, so Mr Belletete went loud and proud with his arsenal.
As we emerged out of the lift, we walked into a main hall which was filled with guards complaining about their jobs and a walking tank which appeared as though it had stomped straight out of Ghost in a Shell.
From the safety of cover we tagged the maximum of seven targets in our HUD, to ensure we knew where the guards were at all times even if they were behind walls, and tossed an EMP grenade to deactivate a camera covering a route up to higher ground. Unfortunately our actions were detected and suddenly the facility erupted into action, with guards abandoning their position to assault ours. The brown stuff had properly hit the fan and accordingly Belletete introduced us to a fully upgraded assault rifle which rather than firing bullets dispatched flechettes (steel darts) which could curve around cover to get at the fleshy parts of their target.
As soon as the first shots were fired the alarm sounded and the robotic tank finally noticed us as well. Facing many more than the seven tagged targets, several enemies attempted to flank and get their shots off. Jensen was forced to pick off enemy combatants from cover or throw out grenades. The importance of cover was paramount as any health would have disappeared in a matter of seconds, should he have decided to venture out all guns blazing, however the action didn’t feel slow and enemy HP seemed to chip away quickly under fire.
Once the guards were dispatched all that was left was the tank, which was dispensed with in cinematic fashion, thanks to a helpfully placed rocket launcher. Again tackling this mini-boss was all about taking cover, noticing the different attack patterns and emerging safely to take your shot before the mechanical monstrosity unloaded his missiles into your soon to be lifeless carcass. After a handful of shots the tank soon exploded and at that point the demo concluded.
After watching this thirty minute segment we saw nothing which dissuaded us of our opinion that Human Revolution will be a rewarding experience for both new Deus Ex fans and old. It felt accessible, dramatic and atmospheric with interesting gameplay which backs up the plot’s intriguing premise. Seeing both stealth and more action-orientated approaches play out was enjoyable and even though both appeared stimulating, we’d still lean more towards a stealth approach. Messing with enemies without them even knowing you were there seemed like too fun an opportunity to pass up.
In the grand scheme this level was only a tiny snippet of the much larger campaign, but we still came away feeling enthused about this long overdue threequel.
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