The first time we landed in a futuro-Asian city was during the original Deus Ex, while we were in pursuit of a hacker called Tracer Tong. It wasn't all work though. During the search we took some time out and went to a Triad-run club called Lucky Money. Here we bought an Australian NPC countless drinks in an attempt to seduce her, then gave up and hammered the space bar so we could jump up and down on the dance floor in front of a big mirror.
Well, that's what I did anyway. What with it being Deus Ex you probably went about it in an entirely different way - perhaps involving extreme violence, air ducts, or a code you found on a datapad in the toilets.
In its prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you'll land on the bottom layer of a double-decker futuro-Asian city: an island called Heng Sha that lies just off the coast of Shanghai. It's a Victoria Sponge of an urban conglomeration, the silicon valley of human augmentation, and you're here to track down another hacker.
The only information you have to go on is that there's a man called Tong who runs a downtown (and below town) club called The Hive who has some information, as well as ringing a bell or two.
While you're there you might even be able to dabble in some extreme violence and air ducts, and there's certainly a datapad with a code on in the toilets. The presence of Australian NPCs and mirrors is yet to be confirmed. The more things change, the more they seem to stay gloriously the same.
And that - somewhat early on in what will be a glowing preview of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, by the way - is the message I want to convey. This is, recognisably and joyfully, a true Deus Ex game - we can stop worrying and start tentative negotiation with the hype train.
When you see the game in motion you find yourself breathing sigh of relief after sigh of relief at the tiniest of things - from the way the screen looks after you've hacked a computer and are fiddling with security feeds, to the way a strength augmentation will let you pick up boxes that are in your path.
Sure, a 20-minute preview presentation of the nerfed and agoraphobic Deus Ex: Invisible War may well have featured box movement and correctly represented CCTV too - but with DX3 you can't escape the feeling that Eidos Montreal knows what made the original such a classic, and the follow-up a disappointment in comparison.
It helps, of course, that the game is utterly beautiful and its world painstakingly created. As you descend the metal steps into one of Shanghai's main streets you see that it's an area where the Eidos Montreal team is letting itself go full-on Blade Runner. The narrow, neon-streaked avenue is bathed in mist and smoke while a huge number of characters get on with life beneath the moving video-adverts that stretch off into the sky - from winking Asian ladies selling fizzy drinks to a solemnly glowing butter-like spreads.
Below, pedestrians make their way through the streets, heavily armed cops make their patrol, prostitutes ply their wares on street corners and shifty guys leaning on walls look on over the scene. It's a sight that genuinely takes your breath away.
As does (having either beaten up the doorman, beaten him in verbal banter, snuck round the back, gone through the sewers or - rather boringly - paid your entry fee) the inside of The Hive club - where a good 50 NPCs dance, gyrate, order drinks and pose in stunningly realised environs. Turns out that we have come a long way from jumping up and down in front of the Lucky Money mirror after all.
Much like Hong Kong, Paris and New York were hubs in the original Deus Ex, Shanghai will be an open and exploration-demanding world - with apartments to rootle through, whorehouses to wander around in, Triad bases to converse and/or shoot within and the Ty-Young augmentation corporation to bother.
It won't however, be the first place you'll be let loose - much of the game's first six hours in fact takes place in Detroit, the home town of the game's hero Adam Jensen. (A man forever doomed to confusion with Extras and Ugly Betty star Ashley Jensen).
The Detroit we enter is one riven with debate over the mixing of flesh with machine. The year is 2027, two years before the birth of JC Denton and 25 years before the opening of Deus Ex, and mechanical human augmentation has left the laboratory and is now flying off the production line.
Monolithic corporations such as Sarif Industries sell augments to the rich and powerful (all intent on getting metal legs so they can jump higher) while factions such as the Humanity Front campaign against this sudden shift in evolution - representing the impoverished underclass who can't afford throat-mounted iPods.
Jensen is a private security specialist working for augment-entrepreneur David Sarif, who has charged him with protecting his staff on the eve of a historical political hearing that is due to debate the issue of human augmentation.
The game, however, will open with you (still non-augmented) playing through a murderous attack on Sarif's business by Black Ops mercenaries - all toting things like scary guns that pop out of their arms with a noise like a DVD tray opening.
This unfortunate situation leads to Jensen becoming all kinds of messed up: his only hope of salvation being for Sarif Industries to augment him without politely asking first. As such, you awake to find yourself mechanically violated and tasked with finding out just who or what prompted the assault.
What with this being Deus Ex, you won't know who to trust or who to kill; the only things that are certain are that there'll be a conspiracy that goes right to the top, and ultimately you'll decide the fate of humanity. No pressure then.
The world that you'll then stalk through, leather jacket flapping in the breeze, is a remarkable one. Not only will insanely futuristic buildings sit pretty within the recognisable dull and dowdy Detroit streets, but their occupants could be just as spectacular.
The fashion among the chattering classes is that of a cyber-renaissance - themes of Da Vinci and his anatomical studies, bouffant frills and ruffs in clothing and even floor designs taken from real-world castles and cathedrals can be found wherever the posh and augmented roam. Even Jensen has a velvet-y swirl design on his shoulders that wouldn't look entirely out of place on your grandmother's curtains.
The whole world won't be this way, however: not everyone has an art installation office apparently built only out of white walls, white floors, white furniture and with a general theme of white blinding light. The further down the social tree you go the less futuristic and frivolous the common man can afford to be.
Jensen himself lives in something of a halfway house: an apartment with arched windows, a vaulted ceiling, plush padded chairs and the occasional candelabra - but it's also very much reminiscent of the near-future shown in Minority Report with a vast screen at one end ticking over the news and sports results and hexagonal lights hanging from the ceiling.
The narrative detail Eidos Montreal is talking about is staggering. When you return from your elongated shift at Sarif Industries (perhaps with some newly elongated arms and legs) the plants in your flat will be withered and dying - what with Jensen having not been around to water them.
This detail extends to another cyberpunk trope that the Human Revolution art designers have hit upon - the clutter that you could see in, say, Deckard's apartment or the building that toy-maker and stunted geneticist JF Sebastian inhabits in Blade Runner.
On both cases there's stuff piled everywhere, and it's clear that neither character knows the meaning of dusting. To this end in Human Revolution, alongside the wipe-clean veneer of a trans-humanist future, there will be heaps of fascinating stuff piled up on other fascinating stuff on most available surfaces.
There are between 1100 and 1300 different props in the game, each of them honed and designed to look like something that would be used (and useful) 17 years into the future: from microscopes and electro-photo frames all the way to cars and bus stops.
To add depth to this universe too, there will be a hundred different fictional in-game brands, whose logos you'll see everywhere - from the butt of your gun, to a flashing video-screen on the side of a skyscraper to the side of a cargo crate at the city docks.
Eidos Montreal truly is taking the trappings of near-future capitalism that science-fiction has been chuntering about for so long (Tyrell Corporation in Blade Runner, Weyland-Yutani in Alien etc.) and using them to bind together a seamless world in which you simply cannot sense the creative cracks.
As you make your way through this world your time will be split between combat, stealth, hacking and more social activities. Details on the former two are coming right up, although for more technical detail on the latter (and exactly what other ideas are coming and going into the design document) I urge you to read the developers' own thoughts on the subject, which we've gathered into a special "nerd thrills" roundup.
Essentially, however, hacking is a mini-game that borrows the spirit of Introversion's Uplink - with a mainframe searching you out as you dance between different nodes in a network of different connections, and with you using any augments you've collected to aid you in your unlock quest.
As for exchanging pleasantries, veiled threats and open threats with the people you meet, there'll be the usual question-and-answer sessions, but when you need to persuade a character, you will enter a game of verbal sparring.
Take the encounter with the barman in Shanghai's Hive nightclub for an example - a scarred, Asian 50-something with an augmented right hand. You're looking for and must correctly read your new friend's (quite brilliant) facial animation as you choose between 'pinpoint', 'insist' and 'threaten' from four different options.
It's a simplified process, but certainly an engaging one that you're forced to pay attention through - rather than jab the A button in an attempt to skip to the end. As it turns out, this chap actually is Tong - but in the turn of events I witnessed he was having none of it.
It took a code found in the toilets, some camera-dodging, a stealthy takedown of a patrolling guard, the carrying of his body to somewhere less obvious and a trek through some vents before Jensen heard what he needed to know. The hacker he was after was down at the docks. It was time to go and augment people in the face.
Down at the seafront, in the area where Heng Sha's massive freighters refuel, you're faced with one of the most utterly gobsmacking sights yet seen in gaming. The dual-layer city, as seen through a hazy gauze of residue fuel burning from the area's chimneys, is mind-blowing.
It soon becomes nothing but backdrop, however, as Jensen's stealth incursion to an enemy facility begins (although, clearly, the style of your grand entrance will entirely be up to you). What immediately becomes obvious is the seamless way in which the flicks from first- to third-person have been integrated - predominantly in the admittedly Gears-y way you can take cover, duck-run alongside said bullet-shield and then make a roll into the protection of sandbags/walls anew.
The other prime way the third-person makes its hovering viewpoint known is through the stealth takedowns you can inflict on unwary guards. These can be non-lethal, but those with a more bloodthirsty outlook can enact some stunningly violent moves: a guard minding his own business watching security cameras can suddenly find himself gutted with your huge arm blades, or two guards with their backs turned can have their spines skewered in an Ezio-style pounce.
If you've got the right augs, meanwhile, you could perhaps turn on your X-ray vision and see a guard casually leaning against the inside of a building - then break through the wall behind him and snap his stupid guard neck.
The stealth in Human Revolution may not have the traditional 'follow guard and bonk them on head' pattern, but it still looks an inordinate amount of fun - giving you reasons to feel both powerful and slinky at the same time. Besides, these guards have developed the worrying ability to look backwards at the same time as walking forwards. It seems that AI routines just went 21st century.
The ways in which you can bring the pain in a more upfront fashion, meanwhile, appear expansive. You can still peck someone with a tranquiliser and watch them collapse metres away from an alarm, but if you're less picky about themes of mortality guards can also be pinned to walls with crossbows, peppered with bullets and exploded with rockets.
The most visually stunning move that's present within the E3 demo has Jensen stood atop a warehouse skylight, looking down on a huddle of guards who are urgently discussing the likelihood of their imminent demise. Using a bungee-type augmentation, if you so choose, from that point you can smash down through the glass and slam into the concrete below - and then trigger the claymore aug implanted in your back that fires an ever-growing circle of ball-bearings into 360 degrees-worth of surprised henchmen.
The whole manoeuvre is simply stunning to witness, and hopefully even better to play, and in all honesty the rocket-launcher vs. stomping mech gameplay that happens after it in the demo is something of an anti-climax by comparison.
In this era of re-energising the brands that once made PC gaming great (Fallout, XCOM, Deus Ex), there is a level of cynicism that simply has to be expected. These games are simultaneously being made to cater for those who know and love the old games, and to a wider (console) audience of youngling innocents.
There will always be people caught in the crossfire, and they will always set comment threads aflame with vocal disappointment and irritation. When a community has already been singed with a lacklustre sequel then it's a phenomenon that's doubly understandable.
All of which makes it slightly hard for me to whisper that Deus Ex: Human Revolution appears to be on track to being a faintly mind-blowing experience, wrapped up in a truly fascinating vision of the future. Despite the design tweaks and despite the streamlining, this is truly a Deus Ex game - made by people who know what that means.
Could it all fall apart? Might the developers talk the talk, but not perform the Denton strut? Well, we've all seen it happen before - but as long as the game is given the development time it needs then my gut feeling implicitly states otherwise. The renaissance within Deus Ex: Human Revolution may well stretch further than the confines of its game world.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is due out for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in early 2011.