Posted on Monday, August 15 @ 16:05:57 PST by Josh_Laddin
I was absent for the latter half of last week because Square Enix was nice enough to fly me out to Montreal (again) for one last hurrah before the release of the highly anticipated Deus Ex: Human Revolution. We laughed, we cried, we wined and dined, and oh yeah, we played a few hours of the final build of the game!
Now, I know these technically aren't first impressions per se. I mean, we've done that before. More than once. Many, many times in fact. But this is the final build, the big potato, the honest-to-goodness retail version of the conspiracy to end all conspiracies that's you'll be able to dive into yourselves a week from now.
The folks at Eidos Montreal dropped me off quite a ways into the game, in the dirty, seedy island of Heng Sha off the coast of Shanghai. The streets in Heng Sha are full of chatty civilians and patrolling guards employed by Belltower, one of the biggest private security contractors in the world. My goal was to get into The Hive, a nightclub/strip club/I-don't-want-to-know-what-else, where I needed to gain an audience with Tong, the club owner (I'm not going into the why, of course. That's for you to find out).
Right away the multi-path gameplay offered itself up to me, three different paths all beckoning me with the soft promises of easy entry. Mmm, innuendo. Anyway, the direct and easy way in was to pay for a membership from the bouncer at the door, which cost 1000 credits but provides unlimited access. I could also go around the back alley, uncover an air vent blocked up by some cardboard boxes and crawl through the backdoor. Mmm, more innuendo. Finally, I could hop down a manhole and navigate my way underneath and up into The Hive through the sewers.
The sewer entrance, I should note, was only available to players who chose to put their skill points into an augmentation that resists poison gas. Speaking of skill points, for this dry run of the game, I decided to go with a combat-heavy build since I planned on doing a stealth build for my "real" playthrough. And let me tell you something about combat: It's tough. Even putting my points into combat abilities like reduced damage and recoil, I still died plenty of times when getting into firefights. It doesn't matter if you go with a combat build or not, if you don't use the cover mechanics properly, you'll get dropped in just a few shots no matter what.
Anyway, I paid my way into the club 'cause I'm baller like that (and I also didn't want to crawl through the vent every time to go in). Finding Tong on the upper floor, I engaged in what the dev team calls their "social boss battles", of which they said there's seven in the game. These lengthy conversations are like an intricate dance, Jensen and his target weaving together snide remarks and biting comebacks, tempered by placating compliments or blunt common sense when the situation dictates.
The battles are somewhat random, in that the statements that get thrown at you don't come in a set order and don't necessarily trigger the same responses. But if you pay attention to the opponent's mannerisms, tone of voice, and subtle hints as they lead you around in the social dance, it's fairly easy to navigate. It's similar to LA Noire, but more about paying attention to what is being said rather than how.
After extracting the necessary information from Tong, I left for my next objective, but got stopped on the way out by the bartender. This scummy son of a bitch offered me a sidequest to basically track down a woman who owes him money and get it back. The quest involved hacking three consoles up on the rooftops to triangulate upon her position—a mini-game which takes a little getting used to but remains relatively simple for the whole game—and then confronting her.
Turns out the woman was suckered into a scam by the bartender and the racket he's running. He offered her augmentations that would keep her in business, and now extracts monthly cuts of her profits instead of accepting a one-time payment. This proves to be a moral dilemma for Jensen, as you can choose to help the woman by confronting her "creditors", or take the money forcefully. Since this wasn't my real playthrough, I went the forceful route (What? Don't judge me).
With the woman knocked out with one swift knock to the jaw, I removed the augmentation from her unconscious body and brought it back. Unfortunately, the piece of shit bartender said that wasn't the deal, and refused to pay me for the goods. In retrospect, I should have helped her since this guy was going to screw me over anyway.
I looked around the city for a while longer (gorgeously and meticulously detailed, by the way), but it was around that time that I had to call it quits. It was an engaging and thought-provoking couple hours, and that was barely a fraction of the game. I'm currently playing the review copy they sent home with me, and next week you'll get another earnest earful about this amazing game when the review drops.