Deus Ex: Human Revolution diary – The Hacker

Bloop. The node is captured, no detection. I use the nuke on the first node in the opposite direction, guaranteeing success. I'm now close enough to each goal that, even while being detected on my next move, I have enough time to capture the targets. I'm in.

Depending on the machine, security computers like this can give you access to turrets, robots, cameras and doors. This one lets me turn off two cameras in an upstairs corridor and open the door to the gun cabinet.

I walk inside and, oh my. This is better than I could have imagined. It's the PEPS gun. * A non-lethal weapon that fires a pulse of energy that sends people flying, either stunning them or knocking them unconscious. I ignore all the shotguns and take only this, and crawl back inside my vent.

At the other end, I exit back into the corridor, and this time continue down it. This is where I turned off all the cameras, and there's a sign at the end that says exit. I use it and emerge in the alleyway. No one in the police station will ever know what I did.

O'Malley is out back as expected, and I introduce myself. He asks if I was followed, and I consider my possible responses. Each choice is just a single word - Sarcastic, Defensive, Aggressive, and so on - but mousing over each gives you a slightly longer taste of what you're about to say. I select the option that reads, "By a clown and a midget for a while."

O'Malley tells you who he wants killed and where you can pick up the weapon, and then I'm away, back inside the police station.

At this point I can go pick up the weapon and then move on to the other stages of the mission for Jenny. But there's a third floor of the police station, and the cells downstairs, and another mission in the morgue, and computers just about everywhere. I spend another hour here, just dicking around. I find Jenny's office and read her emails. I find pop culture references, and security keys for still more offices, and names that Tom tells me are references to the original Deus Ex, and a sewer entrance, and a rooftop exit, and so much more.

Jenny will get her man, but she can wait.

By the time I'm on the last mission of the game, the main challenge in playing non-lethally isn't not being seen, it's resource management. Every gang member, terrorist or police officer you take down in the game has their pockets lined with ammunition for pistols, machineguns and shotguns, but very few have tranquiliser darts or stun gun ammo. Outside of the police armory, I never find more PEPS ammo anywhere, and I use most of the few blasts I do have moving boxes out of my way. With the spare space in my inventory, I line my pockets with deadly guns I can never use.

Equally, each melee takedown eats up energy. I eat energy bars and keep on punching and kicking and bone-cracking, but I'm always low.

I keep at it, because I've suddenly found myself playing a character . I never do this. I'm always one of two people in games: myself, or a complete jerktastic asshole killing everyone just to see what happens . What's made me change in Human Revolution is a simple choice about whether I like my augmentations. In most games, the main character is either a blank slate - in which case I assume it's me - or a total douche - in which case I ignore him and pretend it's me.

By comparison, Jensen is a decent character - a little growly, but basically a reasonable, human guy. So when he's given just that little bit of background - he's made part-robot against his will - and it's relevant to the game's mechanics, it's enough to make me think, huh, how do I feel about that?

This is my way of justifying the moment when I start killing people.

The last mission - after well over ten hours spent in the Detroit hub - takes place at an abandoned warehouse facility. It's more interesting than it sounds, for reasons Rich spoke about in his hands-off preview , and it's not long before heavily augmented mercenaries show up. The mercenaries from the very start of the game, in a section I haven't mentioned at all but that Tom wrote about in one of his earlier previews . The mercenaries who slaughtered all of Sarif's scientists, including your ex-girlfriend Megan.

Human Revolution has tricked me into playing a character, and so I'm forced to ask the question: What Would Adam Jensen Do?

The answer comes back: Adam Jensen has been carrying around a rocket launcher he thought he'd never get to use, just because it was cool. He'd probably use that against the people who killed his ex-girlfriend.

The first shot kills three mercs, sending each corpse flying. Three more guards are alerted and run over. One gets fist-chisels in his side and neck, and the other two eat another rocket. Thanks for the machineguns, jerkasses! I can totally use these now.

Five minutes later, I switch back to playing stealthily. It turns out that's what I've tailored all my augs towards at this point, and so it's easier. Also, I really like sneaking up on people and hacking things.

Which makes the end of the preview code all the more galling, where my non-lethal character is forced to kill someone - in a cutscene, no less - in order to progress. But it's one slip-up in an otherwise wonderful ten-hour piece of preview code, which took me 16 hours to complete. That should give you a sense of how rich the game can be, if you go looking for it.

And the main reason to be a hacker is all the things it allows you to go looking for. Every building has multiple points of entry, via vents, brute force, or found security codes, but hacking is the one sure way to get the whole story. And Eidos Montreal have shoved story into everything . I spent an hour just hacking into different offices in Sarif Industries, finding information about sordid affairs and the manipulation of certain staff members.

If you've never played a Deus Ex game, Human Revolution is the time to start.

Want more? Already read Tom's diary of playing the game like a psychopath ? For a spoiler-free take, check out Tom's general impressions or our special Deus Ex podcast . Or wait until tomorrow, when Rich will talk you through life as a talker.