The Deus Ex 3 demonstration, blow-by-blow

Tom Francis at

17m30s

The computer the guard was using controls the security cameras throughout the dock. With a little more exploration, Adam could find the password, but instead he hacks.

My first thoughts on the hacking minigame are "It's... Pacman? No, it's... an RTS?" It's a map of nodes, and you start at the I/O port. You have to reach the Registry on the other side by taking control of nodes. Each node you capture could trigger a trace. If it does, you have to reach the Registry before the trace gets back to you and trips an alarm.

Adam manages it without problem, disables the cameras, and slips out into the shipyard proper.

18m30s

The scene has a very crisp, dark, glowing, bloomy look. There's that pervasive gloom Deus Ex always had: like it's not only night, it hasn't been day for several years. And unlike Invisible War, here we have a big, open, outdoor environment. Not huge, from what I can see, but Eidos tell me plenty of the levels are bigger than Deus Ex's.

Adam sneaks around its circumference, jumps up onto a storage container - why sir, your jump seems augmented - and takes stock. Two guards on the ground, one on the crates, watching their backs. He brings up the inventory - simple, placeholder stuff for now - and chooses the crossbow.

But Adam! That guard will just run around going "Uh!" for ten seconds, alerting everyone and probably shooting you a fair bit!

He shoots the crossbow. It nails the guard's head to the corrugated metal behind. Oh, it's that kind of crossbow.

Eidos assure me there are plenty of non-lethal weapons, including tranquilisers like the old mini-crossbow. This is not one of them.

20m

Lookout dealt with, Adam jumps down in front of the two remaining guards and skewers them both in one horrible move. You don't have to do these moves from stealth, though some of the fancier ones have to be unlocked by spending experience.

He runs into another guard around the corner, and takes him out with a rapid series of punches to all the wrong parts of his body. When you do a takedown like this, you can tap the key to beat them up, or hold it to get your blades out and eviscerate them. So right from the start, you always have a choice of lethal or non-lethal.

20m30s

Adam flicks into a new vision mode: green with gold figures everywhere. He's seeing people through walls. The nearest guy is in a flimsy-walled hut, so he approaches from the outside and- Jesus Christ!

He smashes both fists through the wall, completely demolishing it, and grabs the poor guard from behind. A few nasty blows and he collapses in a heap of rubble. I'd heard you could punch through walls, I didn't realise that meant bringing the whole thing down.

He finds the explosives he's looking for, and Malik tells him where to head to plant them for the best distraction. There are a few too many guards to take on along the way, so he slips into stealth mode and sneaks past them invisibly until he finds one on his own.

Another inventory switch: this time to that slimline silenced pistol we saw back in the city. Ca-thack! It makes a sound like a particularly satisfying holepunch as he headshots the guard.

22m20s

Adam's found a route up to the roof of the main building, and his standing on a skylight through which he can see guards talking below. He does exactly what I would do if I were playing: shoots out the glass.

He hits the ground in slow-motion, third-person, knocking all three guards on their arses. Then, absurdly, dozens of tiny red spheres shoot out of his body in a cloud around him - and detonate.

Now everyone is dead.

These are two separate augs, I'm told: one lets you land with a stunning slam, the other emits tiny mines all around you. This allows you to use a "Blow your tiny mines" pun.

That's the only thing that's been rigged for this demo: he's playing with infinite energy. Normally each of these abilities would consume at least one of your 2-6 energy pips, and you'd need to find something to replenish them before you could bash down any more walls or blow up any more crowds. Only your first energy pip regenerates over time.

22m40s

There are a few more guards in the building, so Adam ducks behind some boxes - third person cover system - and peeks out to fire a few bursts at them with the assault rifle. It's a big, boomy weapon - fully upgraded apparently, which explains why its red muzzle flash colours the whole screen with every shot.

The guards are down, but there's an ominous zoomy noise coming from overhead. A massive steel cube is dropped from an unseen aircraft, smashes through a skylight, and lands in the centre of the warehouse. It unfolds elegantly, limb by limb, into a four-legged combat droid the size of the giganto-bots from the first game. Which is to say: giganto.

Its elephant legs crush the puny cardboard boxes it stomps on, while two miniguns protruding like antennae pelt Adam with fire. He dives between pallets with acrobatic commando-rolls and keeps firing back at the bot in short bursts, and I become worried.

In Deus Ex, bots are puzzles. It's completely inviable to fight them with mere bullets, so you have to hide, look at your toolset, and think about how to deal with them. This was starting to look like a boss fight: do enough damage and you win. That only requires - spit - skill. Deus Ex should require thought: can I afford to use up a rocket on this? Can I get away? Do I have any EMPs? If he beats this thing with an assault rifle, I will be sad.

24m10s

After a lot of diving, shooting and hiding, Adam's found a good vantage point above the droid, and he's rooting through his inventory. He has a rocket launcher. And he has a weapon mod for the rocket launcher that lets him acquire a target, then fire-and-forget.

Boom, whoosh, crash!

The bot is totalled. Phew. This is still about having the right tool for the job, and not just brute skill.

26m

After the fight, and the explosion, a military-looking chap with an augmented jaw shows up. I recognise him from concept art: Barrett. He has a minigun for a hand, and looks like the type to say something awful like "Looky here, we got us a boyscout."

Barrett: Well looky here, we got us a boyscout.

He goes on to explain that we 'done good' to get this far, but that 'this ends here'. Not really looking forward to hearing more of the Disgruntled Paramilitary Phrasebook from this guy in the final game.

28m

That's the end of the demo. I am left confused and excited. It's good? It's good! When did this become good? I thought this was going to be the slightly embarrassing bastardisation of the Deus Ex template that I would play to death anyway, find some underlying virtue in, then spend seven years apologising for. That's what happened with Invisible War.

There are third-person kills, you can shoot from cover, and there are a few mid-mission cut-scenes. But you don't have to clone Deus Ex to stay true to it, and seeing some of the slicker changes here gets me thinking about how silly some of Deus Ex's rough edges really were. I usually defend them, because things like the half-blind enemies and inaccurate shooting were key to making you plan your approach. But here, I can see those things replaced by better systems without reducing the thought required.

It's a sneakier, prettier, more violent Deus Ex. That doesn't mean it'll be better than Deus Ex, but just seeing a game that's comparable gets me buzzing.

Next in Deus Ex week, we have an interview with game director Jean-Francois Dugas about what made Deus Ex great, what was wrong with Invisible War, and which side of the line Human Revolution falls on.