A few of us in the office have been playing the first ten hours of Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the last few weeks, but we weren't allowed to tell you much about them until today. The trouble is, it's incredibly good. So all that pent up excitement has turned itself into a series of diaries: today I'll talk you through what happens if you try to play the game as a cyborg psychopath.
Tomorrow Graham will tell you about his hacking-focused style, and on Friday Rich will try to talk and sneak his way through the whole thing. We'll avoid specific plot spoilers, but inevitably we're going to be mentioning situations you'll encounter yourself when the game comes out in August. In the meantime, you can read our general impressions in my preview , and all our spoiler-free impressions in a Deus Ex special of our podcast .
Deus Ex: Human Revolution starts with a conference call between four or five shadowy figures. It's possible they're conspiring. I'm not going to talk about that, and I'm not going to talk about the next half hour: it's an only semi-interactive intro, so it doesn't have much to do with the rest of the game.
I'll start from the first meaningful choice you get: you're flying out to stop terrorists from stealing a secret new augmentation prototype from your employer, Sarif Industries. Sarif himself is, for some reason, your personal caddy in the chopper on the way over. Would sir care to murder his opponents or render them unconscious? Murder? Very good. And would sir prefer to engage at range or close quarters? Close quarters murder, an excellent choice if I may say.
That gives me the revolver. Hang on, I have a 5,000 pixel wide picture of it somewhere.
Dropped in front of two SWAT agents, I suddenly get the urge to use it. I've already played this first mission sensibly, at a hands-on event with the console version. So this time, I ask the question every gamer must ask themselves at some point in their lives: "Can I just, like, shoot these guys and take their stuff?"
BLAM. Yep! His colleague is appreciably startled, but only gets one shot off before I switch my aim to him. Friendlies aren't invincible in this game, it turns out. And mouse control makes shooting people in the head much, much easier.
The SWAT guys in the next room are alert but not hostile - they heard the shots but didn't see who did it. It's an unsolvable case, guys, give up. It definitely wasn't the guy with the revolver now ducking behind a crate to pick you off.
This is harder: three armoured guys at once. I get the captain easily, but have to take cover as the other two spray fire back. The switch to third person when you hide feels much nicer now that I'm playing on PC - it's almost identical to the way Rainbow Six: Vegas works, and that's one of my favourite shooters.
One SWAT guy reloads, the other pushes forward. I peek out to shoot the reloader, then stand up to melee the other. Giant chisels flick out of my wrists, I stab him in the throat and spleen, then smack him to the floor.
Wow, I am a terrible person. With a free assault rifle.
I go easier on the terrorists, only breaking their arms and jaws with non-lethal takedowns. I dive into cover and bring out the revolver when things get out of hand. Pretty soon I find the hostages - they're only an optional objective, but I screwed this up badly during the console hands-on session. This time I've already found the defuse code for the bomb in someone's' e-mail, so I stroll in and save everyone easily. Then, I wonder.
How will the game handle it if I save the hostages, then kill them myself?
"Pritchard," Jensen radios in, as he stabs both fist-chisels through a woman's ribcage. "I've found the hostages."
"I'm relaying good news, I hope?" Jensen throws the woman's limp body onto the sofa and turns to the next.
For science, I headshot the rest of them and sneak out the vent. Deal with that , game.
Later in the mission, I get my first Praxis point. These are how you buy or upgrade augmentations for your now semi-mechanical body. It costs 2 to buy a new one, so if you want to spend your first right away, you can only upgrade what you've got. One of the upgrades for your arms lets you haul and throw heavier objects, so of course I went for that.
First thing to throw: a goddamn turret. I have to sneak by a security camera to get behind it, so I pick the whole gun emplacement up and hurl it at the camera. It smashes, naturally, and I leave the turret facing a corner like a misbehaving child.
Finally I face the lead terrorist, Zeke, who has another hostage. Negotiate? Sure, I'll negotiate with bull- hang on, missed. I'll negotiate with- oh, he's killed the hostage. I'll negotiate with- well, yes, I just shot him in the end, so that's not really negotiation.
I also shot the guy who burst through the door immediately afterwards, before I even realised he was SWAT. Then I shot all the other SWAT troops on the helipad, then I shot all the other SWAT troops on the top floor, then I discovered the entire complex had been completely repopulated with SWAT troops. And I did the whole mission again, in reverse.
It's like Hitman: these guys aren't hostile until they see you attack, so you can stalk them carefully, get them on their own, and puncture them with your fist-chisels without alerting their friends. I have no idea why Eidos Montreal thought I might go through a whole 90-minute mission backwards after I'd already completed it, but they accounted for the possibility. And for a deranged serial killer like my character, it was fun in a whole new way.