Deus Ex: Human Revolution diary - The Psychopath
I finally find what I'm looking for, the apartment of someone involved with a theft I'm investigating for a friend. While snooping through his computer, though, I hear someone approaching. Esc! Esc! Esc!
I press myself up against the wall and look round the bedroom door. A punk with a pistol is prowling the apartment, shouting for me to come out. I decide not to oblige, and blind-fire with my new shotgun.
The crack is vicious, but the cloud of lead only glances him. He fires wildly at the doorway until his clip is empty, at which point I swing out, take aim at his neck, and hit him with a more accurate blast that sends him sprawling over the living room table.
He's not the guy, but I know where to find him now. He's loitering by a skip outside, and I know from his e-mails that he has the recording I need on him. When we talk, he gives me a Robin Hood justification for his actions, and says he'll only give me the recording if I deal with the drug dealers who've been hounding him.
I consider it, then hit him in the face so hard that his head hits the skip.
Not everyone is OK with this. Most of the hobos and punks in the alley cower, but two pull uzis and open fire. I'm hit before I make it to cover, but alive - barely. When they split up, I lean out and headshot one, then skewer the other as he tries to flank me.
This is why you make a game this way: if the quest you've written isn't compelling to a certain kind of player, or they don't feel the reward measures up, they can still end up having an awesome time. I wouldn't have minded having to kill some drug dealers - I do love killing - but even if I hadn't been on a psycho playthrough, I just didn't feel this guy was in any position to send me on an errand. The game let me express that, with fists.
The final treat in the apartments of Detroit is something I missed until Rich told me it existed. The block's entrance is locked, but if you stand precariously on a barrel and jump up to the fire escape ladder, you can get in. And there's a man slouching on a desk, hood up.
It's not the man. It's the silencer he sells.
He doesn't know my character, but I'm not the right guy to sell a silencer to. I shoot his bodyguard in the back of the head with a gratifying thud, then spin and shoot him in the face before he can level his shotgun. Most of his merchandise is locked up in the heavy boxes around us, but he has some good stuff on him too. I slip out.
One of the most substantial sidequests in Detroit comes from a prostitute on Derelict Row who claims to know you. "Jensen, over here!" She says as you walk past. I walk over and slam my robot fist into her face. Everyone screams.
Um. Look, I know how this is going to sound, but I honestly didn't mean to do that. I just switched my melee key to what I normally use for 'Interact', and my muscle memory kicked in.
She's out cold, and depressingly no-one much cares that I hit her - no-one with a gun, at least. On her body, I find a thousand credits and a rare weapon mod. Well, no sense letting this stuff go to waste. I mean, sure, she'll probably wake up soon, but... look, I'm just going to take it. Judge away.
The last thing in this build of the game is the mission Rich saw last week. It's a fun mission, but there's less scope for a psychopath to experiment with, since everyone in it is already hostile: killing them seemed like stating the obvious. And it ends in a boss fight that's the only major disappointment so far: we've all searched, but there seems to be no non-violent or alternative way around it.
In general, the hubs are where most of the richness and flexibility of Deus Ex really shines. The missions work well to give you renewed purpose and a chance to put any new weapons and augs to a tougher test, whether it's a stealth or combat one. But I hope the full game sticks roughly to this pattern: a few missions per hub, with at least as much of your time spent exploring the world and its story. There are three city hubs in total and the game takes around 25 and 35 hours to complete first time, so the maths suggests exactly that.