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Deus Ex: Human Revolution diary – The Thinker

As great as the social aug is - and trust me when I say it's great - it's somewhat of a Praxis point dead-end. Once I'd unlocked the pheromones, I didn't have another step in the tree to take. But by the preview build's final mission, I still had some Praxis points floating around in my augmento-sack. Which powers to choose? Hacking had been covered by Graham, being an insane multi-murderer by Tom. That left stealth, but it was a broad church. The helper aug I mentioned before had a host of add-ons - things that show vision cones, or dampen footstep sound. But they were too passive. I wanted something I could use in a panic, an ejector switch to get me out of trouble. I wanted something suitably futuristic. I wanted something that let me turn absolutely invisible at will, so I could rise from thin air like some kind of mad land-shark with metal arm-teeth. I wanted the cloak.

I'd finally cobbled together enough Praxis to afford it by the preview build's final mission. Deus Ex's full-fledged MISSIONS (capitals for distinction between the hub's side-missions) take place in bespoke areas. They're closer to a standard shooter's levels - there's a beginning and an end - but there's still a quadrabajillion ways to approach them.

The job opened out into a small, dusty courtyard. It was late evening, and the guards posted in front of my Jensen were upgrades on the basic grunts I'd met earlier. They had assault rifles, body armour, and mean looks. But that was fine. I could disappear from reality.

Problem was, I'm not much for reading the fine print on things. When I'd selected the cloak, my mind had filled in the blanks I couldn't be bothered to skim. Probably shouldn't have done that. My first trip across the courtyard was taken at a gentle jog after engaging my cloak. The sound of invisible feet on floor attracted the ears of every guard in the vicinity, but not quite to the same extent as Adam's sudden burst back into visibility in the centre of the courtyard.

It turns out the cloak last a scant few seconds at its basic level. Even the Praxis upgrades only provide a slight extension to its lifespan. I found out the hard way. With bullets, in my face.

Reloading and starting the stage again, I started to use the cloak as a last-gasp saviour instead of a constant crutch. Towards the end of the stage, the facility - I won't spoil what it's facilitating - opens out into a huge office floor, studded with cubicles. I started moving methodically, stunning guards and dragging them into dark corners. But the room made for long sight lines, and the stun gun's ball of electricity had a limited travel distance. I broke out my tranquiliser rifle - purchased from a helpful arms dealer in one of Detroit's apartment tenements - and loosed off a few darts at distant targets.

One guy slumped to his knees, alone off in a corner. Except, he wasn't alone. A friend, previously hidden by a crate, came jogging up to his unconscious body. In a panic, I fired a second dart. It missed, high and to the right, and the nearby guards flipped into an alert state. In groups, they began sweeping the upper floor I was residing on. To take the sniper shots, I'd holed up in a small control room. I had doors to my left and right, both about to be occupied with the bulky frames of heavily armoured guards. In front, beyond a window, the edge of a balcony that dropped ten feet to the comparatively safe ground below. Earlier in my travels, I'd used some extra Praxis to glue the fancy-sounding Icarus Landing System to Adam's feet, an aug that slowed falls from any height with a halo of light that looks like a shuttle re-entering the atmosphere. If I could make it to that balcony and leap off, I'd be safe.

Augs are classified into two major categories: passive, and active. Passive ones, like the noise detector I'd installed earlier, were always-on. Active ones drain power reserves. These reserves can themselves be beefed up with Praxis points, but I'd been neglecting that branch of the upgrade tree. I had two blips of battery to put toward my cloak, which equated to around five seconds of invisibility.

Both guards were set to burst into my hidey-hole at the same time. I waited in a crouch, one finger hovering over F1, watching the door. The one on the right twitched first, and I flipped on my cloak. I had but a few seconds to make it past him and launch headlong into the void, but were I to sprint, Adam's robo-footsteps would give away my position. I shuffled slowly past the suspicious guard. Once behind his back, I stood up, still invisible, and ran for the lip of the walkway. I rematerialised in the visible light spectrum a millisecond before I began my jump. Any guards looking my way would've seen a man appear out of thin air, fall a few feet, then turn into a shimmering human fireball and drift slowly to the ground.

But none did. Once on the ground, I was able to squirrel into a nearby vent and wait out their extended patrol routes. Human Revolution's augmentations had yanked me out of a spot almost impossibly tight.

It's that rarest of games: it rewards both meticulous planning and split-second reaction calls. To experience everything Human Revolution has, I should plot an entirely different Adam come the full game's launch. But I don't want to. I want to make exactly the same character. In ten hours, I know my Adam Jensen. I know he can get out of trouble with his head or his hands. I want to get to know him better.