Deus Ex: Human Revolution Hands-On Preview – The First 10 Hours
Written Wednesday, May 11, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
It’s very rare when you preview a game more than a handful of times, that by the sixth preview you’ll still have something fresh and new to say. Well, that is of course unless your name is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Having successfully navigated the first few hours of it at the beginning of February, it was time for a whole new experience; one that threw us in at the deep end and allowed us to go deeper into the rabbit hole than we’d previously gone before. With access to roughly the first quarter of the game, this ladies and gents is Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the first 10 hours.
Before we trek on, when I say the first 10 hours, that depends entirely on the type of player you are and that figure is subject to change. If you blitz through the main story missions – of which there were 4 or 5, essentially – then it’s probably more like 6-8 hours worth of gameplay. If, however, you are like me, who likes to soak up every magazine, do every side mission, plan my angle of attack, not rush into a situation and generally treat it like each life is my last, then you’re looking at 10-12 hours. That’s just to give you an indication of how long a quarter of the game will take you to complete.
A lot of what we played through in the hands-on, we had actually seen and played before, whether you’re talking about the prologue, the first assault mission on the invaded Sarif plant, the Detroit police station level and the FEMA level we looked at a few weeks back. But having a second bite of the cherry or first experiencing those levels hands-on was refreshing, as was being able to experience the delights of the free-roam and its side & main missions in and around Detroit. Clue: it’s as good, if not better, than the actual main missions themselves.
The only real noticeable differences between our hands-on with the first few hours the first time through and this time through was a.) that this time, we had no ability boosts whilst in the Milwaukee Junction factory and it was infinitely harder; b.) we failed to get out of the Sariff Industries pre-mission hub before the first main mission at the Milwaukee Junction factory fast enough and the secondary mission hostages died before we even got there; c.) the different route we took to get to the pro-human group, Purity First’s leader, Zeke Sanders; and d.) the fact that we managed to save the final hostage and let Sanders leave alive: something that had much wider gameplay consequences much later. At least we were able to step in and peacefully resolve one of the two hostage situations this time! Next time, we’ll get them all… promise!
Saving the hostage from the end of the first mission this time was met both with compliments about the protagonist, Adam Jensen, from the SWAT team left at the scene of the intrusion, but also with contempt as Jensen and Sarif’s delay meant innocent lives were lost. That’s the same with the employees and handlers at Sarif Industries as well. Being able to talk Zeke out of his staunch and comprising position was a lot easier this time, having already experienced it too.
The bulk of our hands-on though took place in and around the mean streets of Detroit. After finishing at Milwaukee Junction once again, it was our job to head to the Detroit police precinct to extract a chip from an augmented corpse from the previous mission that’s been put under lockdown in the precinct’s morgue. It’s here where you’re thrown into the sandbox elements of Deus Ex, with side missions and various other missions cropping up for Jensen to partake in. Of course, you can trundle on over to the police station if you so wish and ignore all that, but honestly, you’d be missing out.
As soon as your mission debriefing and next mission briefing with David Sarif occurs in his swanky office, you’re thrown in to the dank and rather pitiful city of Detroit. The first side mission is thrown at you literally moments after you step out of the elevator in Sarif Industries’ HQ. A chap by the name of Tim Carella can be found in Jensen’s office and after a brief exchange of dialogue, you discover that the scientist is being bribed by Tindall to steal the augment-medicine, Neuropozyne, with a video tape of him caught in the act. It’s your job to head across town to his apartment, steal some footage and return it to the Sarif scientist. Things are never that easy though and after breaking into his apartment and hacking his computer, a psychopathic drug dealer bursts in through the door, whom we quickly dealt with. As always is the way, the computer was clean, and it was only after meeting with Tindall to find out he too was being blackmailed by dealers, that the mission throws you into the action. Deal with these drug dealers and you get the tape.
Nestled in the back alleys of Detroit were the drug dealers in question, and after passing various individuals tagging walls with spray paint galore and homeless people keeping warm around a fire, we were upon our pair. Actions speak louder than words, right? Bang! Bang! Both were dead, but in comes the back up. Using the retuned and refined shooter mechanics – which was a grumble from our last preview – we hop in and out of cover and make quick work of them and then return to Tindall to get the evidence so Carella can return to his normal life without fear of persecution.
Another mission we picked up on the way to assisting Carella was from Megan’s mother, Mrs Reed, who wants us to look into why her daughter’s murder case was closed so easily. Naturally we offered to help, seeing as we thought it was the right thing to do. The multi-staged mission has you meet up with an ex-cop for details on the case, before heading over to the downtown precinct to coerce a crooked cop into telling us the truth behind it all, whilst also hacking into the Captain’s computer on the third floor to locate and infiltrate a storage unit to obtain yet more evidence.
Detroit as a city is quite large, with plenty of nooks and crannies to get lost in and new people to discover. There are barrels to move and secret passages to find, fire exits to scale, and plenty of back alleys and various buildings to enter too. Whether you want to check out Jensen’s futuristic storage device in his apartment in the Chiron Building, delve into the sewers, wander through the subway, pile into hostile gang territory or visit one of the many main buildings – including Sarif HQ, the Convention Centre, the LIMB clinic, the police station, an arms dealer who’s holed up in an abandoned gas station and a handful of downtown apartments – the world is your oyster. The only interesting thing I found was that there was no weapons locker per se, but seeing as it’s a persistent world, meaning bodies stay there almost indefinitely and weapons and items do too, you can always throw all your currently unwanted gear on your coffee table in a pile. We did.
You’ll even find mission-dispensing NPCs on the street, with an undercover cop dressed as a streetwalker, Jenny Alexander, being one of those. Alexander wants help to bring down a crooked cop with influential ties. Like the Mrs Reed side mission, it’s a multi-faceted case and you’ll have to meet the infamous Jack O’Malley and pose as a hitman, find the weapon shipment in Derelict Row – hostile gang territory – and even locate evidence on O’Malley’s computer in his apartment. The latter asks that you have a high hacking skill however, so it almost forces you into investing your Praxis points – points you accrue through XP that you can spend on new augmentations – into hacking, something that surely removes a bit of the player choice in terms of character growth. Speaking of Praxis points, players can also visit the LIMB clinic and purchase augmentation kits with 5,000 in-game credits too, so there are other options to help in kitting Jensen out.
Okay... so that’s enough side missions, from there we headed back on track, visiting the Detroit precinct to obtain the chip from the morgue. As we saw at Gamescom last year, because the body is well guarded there are multiple ways in. We opted to talk to ex-SWAT team commander and ex-friend, Wayne Haas to let us down, promising we’d look after him if anything ever happened. Haas, a man consumed by guilt after shooting a 15 year-old boy and with blame after Jensen refused to shoot him, was fairly easy to talk around in truth and making him confront his demons and shoulder the blame, we’re offered access to the morgue and are able to do so without firing a shot.
It was after this instance that we got a mysterious message to meet a friend of ours in some back alley behind Sarif Industries... Was this a trap? An informant? Who cares! We’re Adam Jensen and we can handle anything. As luck would have it, the mysterious message came from no other than Purity First leader, Zeke Sanders, who wanted to help Jensen after he spared his life by giving some information. The problem for us is that we were very conscious of the fact that Sanders and his men had killed a room of hostages and after Sanders had handed over the evidence – and just after one of his bodyguards made a mocking statement about the dead hostages – we did what any normal agent would do. We open fire and ripped them all a new one. Retribution has never felt so good! If that isn’t a win-win situation, I don’t know what is...
The next mission saw us entering hostile gang territory to locate the source of a signal. Detroit incidentally has two hostile gang presences: the Derelict Row Ballers, who are anti augs; and the Motor City Bangers, who are exactly the opposite and have augmented foes in their ranks. We opted to stay invisible throughout this section, sneaking our way through where possible, managing to traverse the huge gang land without being seen, avoiding proximity and motion sensitive mines and also without firing a shot. It was here where we realised that Deus Ex: Human Revolution can be a stealth fanatic’s wet dream, but of course, that’s a choice for the player and if you want to go in guns blazing, by all means, carry on.
After locating and using the signal to run a trace, we we’re picked up on the roof and transported to the FEMA facility that we looked at a few weeks back. The only real difference between our hands-on today and the hands-off a few weeks back was how differently we had approached the situation. While Art Director, Jonathan-Jacques Belletete, took the more aggressive approach, we stuck to watching guard patrols and staying invisible on the warehouse’s elevated catwalks. Our aim? To net that elusive “Ghost” experience bonus, which awards you lots of XP for completing a mission without being seen by a hostile. Oh, that and we got to fight the big boss, Barrett, who’s a chain-gun touting armoured aug. It’s a fairly simple boss battle, but one that is both fair and challenging, whilst being rewarding at the same time. Making use of our invisibility and our X-ray vision, we were able to catch Barrett off guard in between his chain-gun burst fire, by rolling from pillar to pillar and concentrating bursts of fire at Barrett’s face using our assault rifle. With plenty of ammo around and through plenty of perseverance and patience, we were able to topple the foe and end our demo.
One of the most surprising and welcomed little features we noticed in the game though was actually the save system. Saving itself is quite quick, but thanks to a neat addition, it’s actually possible to rely on the autosave system. This is simply because not only does Deus Ex have a “Load Latest Autosave” feature, but it also has a “Load Previous Autosave” feature too. Meaning that should you mess up an area only to have it autosave, you can jump back to the second oldest autosave. It’s ever so simple, but definitely lets you enjoy the experience more, rather than worrying about saving every two seconds.
Now, if the rest of Deus Ex: Human Revolution can keep up the same aspects of player choice, freedom and sheer awesomeness throughout, then there’s only going to be one winner come this August: YOU! It’s very rare that I’ll replay a piece of preview code – you know, because I can’t see the ending and I have to play it again when it ships anyway, so what’s the point? – but Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the first piece of early game code that I’ve actually returned to. If that doesn’t speak volumes for the sheer quality on offer here, I don’t know what will. If this game isn’t on your radar, you must not like life, happiness or indeed games. Do yourself a favour and get this game on your radar. Now!
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is scheduled for an August 23rd and August 26th release in North American and Europe respectively. Don't forget to check out the new screens here.