Deus Ex: Human Revolution • Page 2

Terminator, too.

Tackling this mission, this factory full of heavily-armed mercenaries and elaborate security systems, was beautifully organic. While there was a point A and a point B to be traversed/blundered between, the actual route is relatively open. I made it through a frankly cack-handed hodge-podge of running, tasering, hacking, panicked EMP-grenade lobbing and, mostly, hiding. I made a terrible mess of things, ultimately - a bunch of hostages were murdered, I got spotted about six times a minute and the so-called terrorists' leader escaped, killing another hostage en route.

More, much more than that, I did it my way. I made those choices, I made those blunders and - happily - I didn't kill a single soul myself. Sure, I hadn't exactly been subtle: the maze-like factory/office/lab building was littered with slumbering Pro-Human nutters and deactivated robo-turrets, but no blood was spilt. Not by me, at least. I could clearly see how I could have been far more discreet - telltale ventilation hatches here and there, security terminals I hadn't found the password for or was too busy being chased to hack, and a warren of ignored staircases, doors and gangways.

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Still under wraps: what Augmentations are activated by Jensen's pointy goatee.

While the details of Deus Ex may be different, the fundamentals are not. The scope of Human Revolution's moral dilemmas and tangled conspiracies remains to be seen, but in terms of being a free-form action game it's very much in the spirit of the original - not neutered and 'streamlined' for a perceived more impatient audience. The systems are modernised, made to look and feel slicker, and the result is a game that evokes Deus Ex as you remember it, rather than Deus Ex as the remarkably progressive but now somewhat lumbering game it is by today's standards. I'm a little wary about growly, guarded Jensen himself, who I haven't found a sure reason to like as yet, but then there might be a good reason for his relative lack of personality - and one that's the single most astonishing thing I've seen in the game so far.

This first major mission ends, in grand old gaming tradition, with a boss fight. No daft glowing weakspots or feckless quicktime events here, however - instead Jensen's climactic conflict with the one-eyed leader of these Pro-Human purists is purely a mental one. Zeke Sanders, a man so outraged by augmentation that he's ripped out his own ones (including that telltale missing eye), knows that the gig is up. His men are dead or sleeping, and he's faced with his own living nightmare - someone who completely blurs the line between human and machine. That's why he's taken a terrified hostage, to whose head he holds a gun. The spit'n'polished Tomb Raider engine behind Human Revolution flexes its best muscles here, with Sanders convincingly betraying his desperation via body language and facial expressions. He's a man on the edge. Watchoo gonna do, Jensen?

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What should we call a game that's both a prequel and a sequel, anyway? Sprequel. Yes, that's elegant.

The challenge at hand is reading and predicting Sanders' reactions and mental state, whether it's to talk him down from killing the hostage or to get him off guard enough that you can take him out. There is, I'm told by a nearby dev, no one fixed path, a golden route of conversation options that leaves everything sweet as peaches. I need to listen to what Sanders says and watch his body language. If he's getting hysterical, perhaps I should appeal to his reason. If he's puffed up with pride, the smartest thing to do might be to humble him, make him realise he's not top dog here. If he's visibly afraid and torn, perhaps I should emphasise with him.

Apparently, his initial reactions are randomly chosen from a small pool; it's my job to keep up with them, get him closer and closer to calming down and doing the right thing or leaving himself open to a takedown. I almost get there, but stick too doggedly to rationality, which eventually headbutts against his rage and passion for his cause. He makes off with the hostage, whose corpse I find in the next room when I try to follow him. Sigh. Blown it.

He's gone, and I've made a right pig's ear of my mission, but maybe I got through to Sanders a bit. I showed that Jensen was no cyborg killing machine, and I made the pro-human zealot aware that he was being used by someone else - that his invasion of Sarif's lab had been used to mask a hacking attempt by an augmented man. A remote-controlled augmented man in fact, made to take his own life by forces unknown when I discovered him. There's a much bigger picture here than the debate between natural and man-made humans: someone, somewhere, is trying to control the destiny of both. Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of conspiracy. The game's afoot. The Deus Ex game's afoot.

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