Deus Ex: Human Revolution diary – The Thinker

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This is the last of our Deus Ex: Human Revolution diaries. Yesterday, Graham scythed through computer security. Two days before, Tom killed every single person he met in the name of science. I'm focusing on a more cerebral approach, sneaking past any obstacle I can't talk my way through.

I'm surreptitiously fiddling with the lock on my co-workers office when I get the call. It's my boss, and it's clear from the tone of his voice that he's not happy. I close down the hacking interface I've been using and wheel about, trying to look as nonchalant as a man with matte black robo-arms who's just been trying to worm his way into a locked room to dig out dirt on his co-workers can. But David Sarif's not bothered about that. He's upset because I've taken too long.

My first job as Adam Jensen – after the game's introductory mission blew off my arms, legs, and ability to talk like anyone other than Batman – was to interject in a hostage situation. The victims are Sarif Industries employees, like me, and they've been taken by a group of anti-augmentation terrorists. The mission's sold as time sensitive. But I've heard that schtick before from other games. I can leave the mission hanging, leave my helicopter pilot dawdling, and leave the hostages unrescued for as long as I like while I break into offices and read the juicy gossip secreted on the computers inside. Surely?

Sarif's call says otherwise. The extra time I took made the hostage takers antsy, and they've gassed their charges. That's eight of my co-workers' deaths on my robo-hands, all because I was too busy snooping through their emails and climbing through vents to come and shoot their captors. This wasn't meant to happen. I've already spoken to others about their hostage rescuing escapades. I swear Graham never mentioned they were dead. I'd remember something like that. I offer a moment of silent sadness to the hostages' pretend memory, and get back to hacking the door. What's another twenty minutes of wandering around? It's not like the hostages are getting any more dead.

There's the vestiges of a sidequest in this earliest part of the game. Someone is pilfering Neuropozene, the medical goo that augmented types need to keep on hand to ensure their mechanical parts aren't rejected by their weak human body. I was convinced the mystery would be solvable before I packed myself off on my first mission proper, and my poking and hacking uncovered a stash of items and an incriminating note in one of the office's ventilation shafts. But there the trail ended: my hacking ability was too low to allow access to a critical office cubicle, and I was saving my Praxis points. I packed up and headed out, after rifling through one final desk for gossip fuel.

Sarif gave me the same choice in weaponry as both Tom and Graham , but I plotted a different course. Like Graham, I wanted to play non-lethal, but I was keen to try two distinct methods: talking, and hiding. The sniper-style tranquiliser rifle would be unwieldy in exactly the kind of tight spot I planned to find myself in, so I went for the stun gun instead. It's a beautiful bit of near-future design: black and yellow plastic that fires a glob of taser-like electricity and folds up to look like a particularly naff mobile phone.

Not that I had much cause to use it. I've seen Human Revolution's stealth in action before, but this was my first chance to try it in person. I was half way through the facility before I was even heard, three quarters before I was seen, the game's Rainbow 6: Vegas-esque cover system feeling consistently reliable. I halted at the facility's final open-plan office, watching the terrorists' patrol routes for a few minutes. My back to solid cover, I inched down the stairs. Human Revolution is surprisingly generous with its cover: chances are, if it's got a vertical surface, Adam can duck behind it.

I'd been holding onto my Praxis points, unwilling to spend them without genuine reason. At the foot of the stairs, I found one. I plugged my initial allotment into a stealth 'helper' aug, part of a suite of abilities designed to assist the sneaky player in their invisible travels. Now, when I moved, my minimap glowed with a circumference of sound: the noise my clunky footsteps were putting out as I bounded around the level. Perfect for me. Sneaking games get me so overwhelmingly paranoid that I spend levels in a perma-crouch, waddling in silence even with no terrorists nearby to hear my shuffles. Now I had a quantifiable value to measure my stance against. I could stay out of sight all I liked, but if those waves of sound lapped against an enemy's eardrums, it'd flip them into an alert state.

The area in front of me was rich with terrorists, their vision cones leaving few corners of the room unswept. Spying a door off to the side, I planned an exit, before rolling deftly into cover with the space bar. I opened the door in a crouch, and came face to ass with another terrorist. Panicking, I hammered the left mouse button, bringing up my most recently selected weapon. A good few thousand volts flicked from the muzzle of the stun gun into my opponent's unlucky buttocks, and he crumpled to the floor with a sad little moan. Moving quickly, I slammed the door shut behind me, rifled through the unconscious body's pockets, and grabbed his leg. Considering this excursion wasn't planned, it was going better than expected. Until his friend walked in.

He spotted me crouching over his workmate, who was slumped on his back, arms wide, one leg cradled softly in the augmented arms of a strange man. It looked worse than it was. I immediately dropped the unconscious man's leg, and raised my stun gun, firing another blurt of electricity. My rude interrupter collapsed too, but not before yelping a warning to the men outside. Sprinting over to his body, I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into the same dark corner I'd been trying to stash his colleague. Hiding bodies has a practical application, as well as letting you put one man's hand on another's crotch: should a conscious foe stumble on a sleeping one, he'll shake him awake and raise the area's suspicion level.

The sleeping terrorist's warning was more useful than expected: the region's bad-men were all drawn to the same point, and while they fussed over their spooning friends, I was able to slip through to level's final confrontation with Zeke and his lady hostage. After my fairly successful infiltration, I was comfortable with my current level of sneaking ability. I resolved to jam my next Praxis points into the speech centre of my brain, and upgrade Adam's social augs. With that in mind, I tried to talk Zeke down from the edge.