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Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Impatience level rising!

July 17, 2010

I have a confession to make – I intend to replace my usual per-post dose of rage with an equal amount of pathetic gushing. Deus Ex, one of the best games of all time, is getting a sequel (no, not another sequel – I like to pretend that Invisible War isn’t a Deus Ex game, because that way I can actually enjoy it), and not only that, but the Steam store went live yesterday, which means that I now am officially in countdown mode for the release (some 8 months off).

Deus Ex was one of those incredible games that had a confluence of brilliant facets; a convincing story, a hauntingly believable, near-future, cyberpunk setting, some great level design, and all of it was glued together with an accomplished mix of first person shooter and role-playing game. It is (rightly) held up as a pinnacle of gaming, and came from the same family of gameplay genes as System Shock and Thief: games that still to this day, 16 years on in the case of System Shock, stand their own against the best we can offer.

Deus Ex followed JC Denton, an experimental super-soldier, augmented with nanobot-based enhancements, as he uncovered a global conspiracy that threatened the entire human race. It is famous for providing a great number of viable paths to objectives, even allowing you to improvise by manipulating the environment yourself (a fancy way of saying “you could even stack boxes to get over a fence”) – something which is almost impossible to do in modern games. Go on, try it. I’ll wait. These things were not scripted in Deus Ex – it was almost like a story driven sandbox game, in that the designers set up the rules of the world and then let you get on with it. Deus Ex is even capable of recovering gracefully when the player goes off the beaten path and, for example, kills (or doesn’t kill, for that matter) a plot-critical character when the story doesn’t expect them to. It’s not just possible, it’s actually a perfectly viable strategy in the game, especially when you go through your second (or, say, twenty-second) time through with the benefit of total foresight.

I lament the death of games like that. Somehow, during the last decade, when the cost to produce a game rose from about $16.00 to tens of millions, people seemed to forget the lessons we had learned about game development. Everyone got obsessed with “streamlining”, “accessibility” and “dirty console players”. Half the first or third person games these days don’t even allow you to jump, and do you know why? No, despite what people may say about keeping the experienced “focussed”, they really mean “we are too lazy to give players the freedom to not follow the exact path we have determined.” Oh damn, I’ve started ranting again.

So, to Deus Ex 3, or “Human Revolution” as they’re calling it (they’ve dropped the ‘3’, maybe because it implies there was a ‘2’). Eidos Montreal is developing it, published by Square Enix, which I have high hopes for as a partnership. For a while, there was a bit of concern amongst observers when they started talking about trying to follow the costume cues from the Renaissance; their reasoning being that the dawn of post-human cybernetically enhanced society would spark a new renaissance – a fairly believable motivation, but everyone walked away with an image of a terminator in pantaloons. The lead designer also said that the original Deus Ex was “too slow” and “like a simulation”, which certainly worried me, but then he talked about how DX3 is definitely following from the steps of DX1 and leaving Deus Ex: Invisible War far behind, and we all calmed down again.

Fast forward to a month ago, at E3, and Squeenix released an amazing trailer, which I still watch about once a day. It also had some fantastic music as well, that they released a few days afterwards. Sure, it was pre-rendered, and done by Square’s prodigial cinematics department, but the development team swore up and down that it captured what they were creating. Shortly afterwards, some lunatics (who undoubtedly won’t get another invite) leaked the closed-door screening of DX3, and I officially became a hopeless fanboy. Now I just have to wait the 8 months before it gets released, assuming they don’t screw us PC gamers and just delay our version for some arbitrary amount of time.

Goodness, that sounded positively upbeat. Maybe I can even stand to read the latest thing about Dragon Age II without imploding.

“The art in Origins was a bit messy, kind of overwrought, pretty generic. So, ‘hot rod the art’ means we’re going to strip it down to the essentials and come up with a more elemental, ownable art style.”

– Matt Goldman, Art Director, Dragon Age II

Hot rodthe god damn art? Oh sod off.

From → Games, News

  1. The Baron permalink

    The trailer is super-sexy, to say the least. They could make a great mindless action film by just filling in all the blanks of and extending that trailer. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more info as it comes out.

    What did the closed-door screening of DX3 reveal? I hadn’t seen anything about that.

    • It consisted of two parts – a walk through of a city block and nightclub (one of the “non-hostile” areas), and a demo of a mission area where the player infiltrated some kind of warehouse. It looked pretty good, and very Deus Ex-y.

  2. The German permalink

    this game looks okay but brink and homefront look way better.

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