For me, getting to take a look at the new instalment of the Deus Ex series, was probably the most exciting part of the whole weekend! Was I disappointed? Absolutely not, in fact I'm even more excited than I was before about the release of Human Revolution. So, heading the panel on the Gamespot UK stage was one of the game's writers, James Swallow, and he had a pretty decent sized crowd to preach to!
First things first, Human Revolution's a prequel to the original game taking place in the year 2027, so the writers had to be extremely careful not to cause any discrepancies with the series' timeline that could impact on the story lines of the previous games. You take on the role of Adam Jensen, a mild mannered security guard, who through no fault of his own becomes horrifically injured and has to receive mechanical augmentations to his body in order to survive.
I think it's important to note at this point that there's a strong core story throughout the game, which tries to answer that ancient human conundrum of 'Can you be more than you actually are?'.
Of course as the title of this instalment suggests, there's a bit of a divide amongst the human race when it comes to augmentations, and you'll find yourself coming up against The Purists, who are fanatically against them, so much so that they'll try and kill anyone who's using them, which places Adam squarely in their crosshairs! The revolution is on a pretty large scale, you can actually see riots going on in the streets when you peer out of some of the buildings' windows, to quote James it's:
Big, massive, jaw dropping, I can't believe they just did that stuff!
When it comes to Adam, he's very much his own man, so don't expect a JC Denton clone, if anything the writers' aim was to make him bigger than JC Denton and you'll get a sense of who he is as the game progresses. Of course, he'll also take on a bit of your own personality depending on how you decide to play the game, which means he might be into his guns, or maybe he's somebody that likes to sneak around in the shadows, or he might be a social kind of chap who likes to mess around with tech equipment, the choice is yours! Plus, if you want to play like a dick you can, which James pointed out by saying:
If you want to go around like a nutter, slashing heads, you can do.
Of course, seeing as this is a prequel, you can come into it fresh, but you'll be rewarded if you've played the previous games. Unfortunately, the appearance of previously established characters couldn't be denied or confirmed, however, I'd hedge my bets that at least one familiar face'll crop up at some point.
Everybody involved in the creation of the game wanted it to look unique, to the point where you could look at a screenshot and go, 'Oh yeah, that's definitely Deus Ex: Human Revolution', as a result the environments take on a sort of neo-cyber-renaissance quality, and I've got to say it looks pretty impressive on the PS3.
There are various ways to play through the game and you'll have to choose which of the its four pillars to explore and develop, which include action, stealth, hacking, and social. Another choice you'll be faced with is whether you're going to go for lethal or non-lethal tactics before you jump into the levels. Going down the lethal route'll drop a load of weapons into your lap, whereas taking the non-lethal path'll see you parading around with a tranquilliser gun. Don't think that going down the non-lethal route's the soft option though, Adam's more than capable of performing a bone-crunching takedown, which'll leave his enemies lying unconscious on the floor. You'll then need to move them out of sight because their friends'll set about reviving them, even if they do have a few fractures! One other bonus to manipulating your enemies bodies is that you'll be able to loot them for a few items if you're running low on supplies. There are also multiple routes through the levels, so you'll need to work out whether you want to crawl through vents up high, or stay on ground level where you'll need to be ready for a gun fight.
Staying out of sight and snooping around'll yield its rewards, so make sure you cover your steps, such as closing doors behind you, otherwise you won't be able to eavesdrop on enemies to slyly snatch yourself a door code. Vast quantities of information can also be gathered by hacking into emails, provided you don't make a mistake and activate an alarm that'll bring a gaggle of guards running.
Lets talk about augmentations seeing as they're a pretty key element to the game. First of all, they've got to be earned, you can't just jam them into Adam's body until he becomes invincible. Praxis points and kits are the currency for augmentations and you can spend them on a new piece of tech, or on upgrading an existing one. We got to see a few of the augmentations featured in the game, which I'll go on to describe. The Smart Vision augmentation lets you see through walls and comes in handy when you're planning a route that's enemy free. If you're taking damage after falling from a height, then you might want to stop this by picking up the Icarus Falling augmentation, which'll save you from losing health following a plunge from any height. The Cloak augmentation turns you invisible for a short period of time, so you'll have to use it wisely to sneak past a heavily guarded area. Finally, the Turret Domination augmentation'll help you to bring turrets down when you're scouting out an area using a hacked camera, although to be fair you could just pick up a bin and repeatedly throw it at the turret until it explodes (you can actually do this!). However, you could always decide not to augment Adam, in which case you could just boost your weapons, or hacking abilities instead.
The action in the game looks like good solid fun; you can blind fire round corners, pop out from a hiding place to bust a cap in an enemy, or even toss a grenade into the fray to quickly dispose of a troublesome group! The guns in the game include machine pistols, SMGs, and assault rifles, in fact one of the assault rifles has a nice nod built into it; the weapon company's name is emblazoned on the side of the gun and reads, Steiner-Bisley, which some of you will recognise as a reference to Spaced's main characters and you can thanks Mr Swallow for its inclusion in the game. It also appears that the developers decided to go for a realistic approach to gun fights because your enemies are only capable of withstanding a couple of rounds. Should you start taking damage, or find that your augmentations are running low on power, you can neck a couple of painkillers, or whip out an energy bar, before continuing on your merry, well . . . broody, way. Another hazard you'll come across are mines, which can be picked up and turned against your enemies, providing you're quick enough to grab them before they explode in your face!
Taking the time to talk to people is incredibly important because it's the only way to discover the game's side missions, which you'll need to complete if you want to get the most of the story. Including the side missions, you're looking at somewhere between 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, and the ending you receive'll depend on how you decided to play through the game. Mr. Swallow was quite happy to let us all know that he provided the 'everybody dies ending!', which I'll certainly be looking out for when the game finally makes its way to us.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution comes out for PC, PS3, and Xbox on 26th August.