The Deus Ex 3 demonstration, blow-by-blow

Tom Francis at

7m25s

Adam relents and pays the cover charge, growling something reluctant. Game director Jean-Francois Dugas explains that he could have just shot the doorman, but with police and bots directly behind it would have been a tough fight. There's also a back route that can be found by exploration.

The club is cool - Deus Ex 3 actually has an art style, and this interior shows thought and creativity. It's called the Hive, and gold hexagons dot the walls - a reference both to honeycomb, and a recurring motif on a lot of the cybernetic augs the game is about. There's a second-floor balcony over the dance floor, and the ceiling space is filled with dozens of irregularly hung flourescent tubes: a messy crosshatch of lights in club's thick smoke.

9m30s

Adam finds a barman upstairs and asks after Tong. He's unwilling to let him in.

What follows is a verbal fight: Deus Ex 3 has conversations you can actually lose, closing off the social path to your objective forever. Adam has to choose a tack: Insist, Advise or Pinpoint, then try to tell by the barman's response whether to stick with it, or change. Those verbs are different for each of these arguments, but the same within this one: he gets to choose three times.

It's a long, angry conversation. Adam tries to intimidate the man - he's aggressive, but with a low menace rather than any shouting - then convince him he's of use to Tong. Both ploys fail, the barman is abusive and ultimately refuses to even talk to him anymore. Whoa. I'm not used to there being a genuine risk when you choose how to talk to someone in an RPG.

12m50s

Adam overhears a conversation about someone losing their keycode to the backrooms, and finds it quickly. If he hadn't, Jean-Francois explains, he could have hacked the keypad if his hacking Aug was up to it, or found a sidequest for someone else in the club in exchange for an introduction to Tong.

The code is 0415!

Excuse me. This is exciting because it's a nod to the code for the SatCom trailer at UNATCO in the first game: 0451. That, in turn, was a nod to the code to the first door in System Shock: 451. Which, in turn, is a reference to the book Fahrenheit 451. Which, in turn, is a reference to the temperature at which books burn: it's a dystopian classic about banning critical thought. Looking Glass, Ion Storm, Irrational Games, 2K Marin and now Eidos Montreal have all snuck nods to this heritage in their System Shocky games: games where you have options, games where you have to think.

System Shock 2, first airlock: 451000. BioShock, first keycoded room: 0451. BioShock 2, code to the Sauna: 1540, written on the other side of a window, so it reads 0451.

And now Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the code to the backrooms at the Hive: 0415. Scrambled slightly perhaps out of modesty: they don't have a lot of staff in common with the other companies who've used this calling card.

13m30s

Adam slips into the backrooms and hugs a wall. I finally get to see one of the most worrying details of Human Revolution in action: the third-person cover system.

It works. Adam slinks stealthily along the wall till he hits a corner, and because of the external perspective, I can see round it. A guard is coming.

He waits till his back is turned, then comes out of cover and walks up to him. Adam taps the guard on the shoulder and knocks him out.

Melee was never really a form of combat in the Deus Ex games: you either knocked them out with one blow, or slapped them repeatedly with your nanosword while they shot at you point blank. Human Revolution cuts out the slapping: if you're close enough to hit them, you just press the key and the takedown happens perfectly - in third person.

It's a little jarring, yes, and people are going to decry it as a mere action game. But the mechanics make sense to me: Deus Ex was all about getting close enough to someone to be sure you could take them out instantly - whether it was with a crowbar or a headshot. This way, at least it looks cool.

What I can't tell without playing it is whether this will feel like you're doing it. I think that's the biggest risk.

13m45s

Adam grabs the guard's body and drags it into a storage closet - all in first person. Corpse dragging! Yay!

Apparently guards can wake up their unconscious friends if they find them. So lethal kills are safer, but as in Deus Ex, certain characters will judge you for it.

14m

Adam finally finds the ultimate alternative route: an air vent. He's failed to get a meeting with Tong, but he can spy on his office from here.

There's a twist about the identity of Tong in this game that I won't spoil for you. We weren't asked not to mention it, so be aware that a spoiler for this scene may well be mentioned in other coverage of DXHR. I don't reveal it in my preview feature in the mag (PCG UK 215), but I do go into more detail about how the Tong name may link the plots of this and the first game.

A conversation unfolds in a cut-scene that reveals the hacker you're after is at the shipyard. Fade out.

16m

The next section of the demo takes place at the dock. Adam ducks behind a low wall as he approaches the security gates - again the switch to third person feels useful rather than weird. He dives and rolls from one bit of cover to the next until he comes to the fence on the other side. It's blocked, but only by a crate. He picks it up.

He picked up a crate! It's Deus Ex! Me and Will Porter from Eurogamer are grinning like idiots. If you want to make a cool looking modern game, this is the feature you scrap: having a big transparent box in front of your face looks weird, and letting the player rearrange the scenery leads to all kinds of AI, level design and testing complications. But if you want to make a Deus Ex game, this is a feature you keep. They kept it.

17m

Adam sneaks through the gap, over to a guard hut, and sets the crate down underneath its window. He hops up onto it - Deus Ex! - opens the window and slips through. Deus Ex: Invisible War had a pistol mod that would dissolve glass to let you break windows without setting off alarms. Deus Ex: Human Revolution just lets you open them.

Inside, there's a guard at his desk working on a computer. Adam sneaks up to him, we go to third person, a square blade flicks out of his wrist, and-

Ewww!

With a deeply unkind animation and very little noise, the guard is impaled where he sits. It's gruesome, cinematic, situation-specific, and a total dick move.

Adam, you're an asshole. Welcome to the Deus Ex family.