PAX East 11: Impressions: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
I felt genuinely important as I hurried into the quickly filling main theatre on level three of the convention center. You would too if you saw that the line to get in spanned level two in its entirety. We were lined up for good reason though: we were about to witness a technical demonstration of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
After a lengthy and very fancy trailer for the game and the short introduction of Community Manager Kyle Stallock, Game Director Jean-Francois Ducas, and Art Director Jonathan Jacques- Belletete, the demo began. Jean would be playing, Kyle would be narrating and Jonathan would be providing commentary.
The stylish main character Adam is delivered orders by his techie off-site partner to infiltrate a base and a route of action concerning an entry point on the roof of the base is recommended. It becomes obvious pretty soon though that that isn’t the only viable course of action.
First Adam meets up with one of the soldiers who had been holding down the fort whilst waiting for Adam’s arrival. The dialogue proceeds in a manner quite similar to Mass Effect. Several conversation options are possible, and each choice branches off to give more information. You can also eavesdrop on NPC conversations to learn valuable information. One of the characters mentioned another character “smoking a cigaweed” which was pretty funny. Afterwards, Adam quietly exited the complex to head into the base.
As he proceeded through the hallways, he collected various items from the ground and from lockers. This immediately brought Fallout to my mind, and I think we can all agree that’s a good thing. He opened up the menu and it looked flawless. The flickering visuals as he scrolled over his augmentations and items were immaculate.
The next area had a few guards on patrol. Kyle explained that there were a number of different paths that could be taken through this stage, and the game in general. This time, we’d see a stealth plan of action. The player fired off a tranquilizing projectile and knocked one of them to the ground, unconscious. Kyle explained that an unconscious NPC would not wake up on its own, but if found and woken by another NPC, it would pose a grave threat. So Adam drug the unconscious guard (the animation for this looked a little odd) behind some crates before continuing.
Another guard was close by, and he must have gotten a look at (or heard) Adam because he headed towards him. Of course, you can hide from enemies when detected, which Adam did. Then the guard walked slowly towards Adam (the audience) and things got pretty tense. Unfortunately, the guard didn’t spot Adam (despite coming as close to him as I imagine an NPC can without detecting someone) and turned around and continued patrol.
Kyle then explained that we were about to see an awesome takedown and explained the two types: lethal and nonlethal. Lethal takedowns kill foes and are loud and brutal, thus not good for stealth situations. Nonlethal takedowns knock the victim unconscious and are still pretty cool. Jean chose a nonlethal takedown, which consisted of Adam choking the man.
He continued a short distance and we noticed some steps and planks leading up to the roof. Kyle noted that this was the path that our tech partner suggested, but that we’d find another route. After taking out the last guard in the area with the projectile from earlier, he found a path on the ground. There were exposed wires and fire on the ground, and Kyle explained that these hazards would damage Adam, so Jean (mostly) avoided them.
The next big area was filled with enemies, and Adam utilized an awesome x-ray vision to scout them. This looked purely awesome and very creative. Special abilities like this, and becoming invisible, draw on a battery in our augmented main character. Kyle explained that we could improve the battery in the game. Then we were introduced to an encryption mini-game that needed to be completed to open the door into the next area. This game was pretty neat, if easy looking. Kyle explained that they would get much more difficult later in the game. Another thing of interest, he said that the key code could have been obtained earlier in the level and that would have allowed us to forgo the encryption, but we hadn’t taken that route. Isn’t that cool?
The next room was large and had several enemies in it, but Adam used an invisibility skill and waltzed right through it to the next area. He had almost gotten caught by a guard but he hid again, and again the guard came so close to him he should’ve smelled him, yet didn’t detect him. I found that to be just a tiny bit disappointing. He did end up using a lethal takedown though, and it was sweet, the audience got all riled up. He ejected the long blades in his arms and ripped through the guard.
Then Kyle explained that they were about to load another saved game and start right before they entered the last room. This time they would have a different skill set and would take a more aggressive approach through the room. Things did play out very differently, too. Adam launched into the room, firing a kind of assault rifle. Jean’s aim was kind of off, but he quickly felled two enemies with his gun. Then he took cover outside the door and threw in a grenade. It exploded in light and had a cool deafening effect. Adam leaned back into the room and killed off the last of the dazed enemies. At this point, it looked a lot more like an FPS than it did when we were collecting power bars from lockers, but that is beautiful.
The design in this particular room was stunning and there were orange glass trinkets hanging all over the place. The biggest was a huge sheet of orange glass hanging above the room. Jean destroyed it for the lulz, and the glitter of the falling glass was visually amazing, so the audience applauded some more.
At the end of the demo, Adam walks in on a character threatening him with a gun. After a moment, the character turns the gun on himself and his arm is apparently out of his own control. He then starts crying and tells Adam to help him. We see the fingers coiling around the trigger, the man looks tortured and Adam runs to him. At that very moment the demo ends and the audience goes berserk because it was all just that awesome .
Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the following Q&A, but we had our own exclusive interview with Jean-Francois Dugas which you can check out here. Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be available on August 23rd for the PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and OnLive and it just might change the gaming world as we know it.