Friday, September 30, 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011): Eidos Montreal

I love cyberpunk (except for the piece of shit Shadowrun FPS) in fact I think it's been my favorite genre since forever.  Unfortuantely it's a genre that is drawn upon but otherwise marginalized.  Hell, it's been nigh over a decade since Eidos Interactive released Ion Storm's Deus Ex for the PC - it was released in 02 for the PS2 which is where I played it.  Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel to Deus Ex (yes I know Invisible War was released but we're gonna Crystal Skull* that one) that begins in 2027 Detroit.  I'm about six hours into gameplay and here are my current impressions:

All the reviews tout DE:HR's adaptability and multiple mission approaches and let me tell ya, it's in there.  Frankly I don't know why this type of game play isn't the norm.  As you folks may well know I'm a sniper/klepto/hacker kind of player, more comfortable with hacking enemy turrets than taking the gunfight to the enemy.  That type of game approach is actually well rewarded in DE:HR - exploration and nicking things huzzah!  I spent the better part of last night sneaking around the Detroit PD, raiding desk drawers, hacking computers, and this was when I had permission to be in the building.  The conversation I had to gain access to the building really highlighted one of the best bits of the game for me - I actually had to pay attention to what the person was saying and respond appropriately.  It is a lot more engaging than the color coded chat wheel that's been prominent lately.  Also the dialogue is good and oddly convincing (well written dialogue in a game?) and except for the protagonist's pseudo-Clint Eastwood accent (which works it's just he sounds like Dirty Harry).

The writing is really good - I haven't delved that much into the main story I'm still working on well crafted side quests - which isn't too surprising based on my experiences with Eidos titles in the past (Batman: Arkham Asylum had an awesome story for a Batman game).  What really sets the writing apart is the amount of life they managed to put into the world.  I overheard a conversation about Robocop in the Detroit PD.  Evesdropping in DE:HR is fun and while doesn't directly influence the game makes for some entertaining listening.

Combat kind of sucks for me.  I'm playing the game on the highest difficulty which is fine when I can get the drop on or avoid an enemy but getting into a fire fight means death.  I supposed I could become a combat beast with the right augmentations but that's a low priority for me.  The AI is pretty good but not flawless (in one area I camped the end of a hallway and tranq darted gang members as they ran out to help one another).  Actually the AI can be kind of a sharp eyed keen earred bastard sometimes thus proving in RL I would last roughly 5.6 seconds as a cybernetically enhanced cop.

I love the look of the game but it might be off putting for some because the game thus far is orange.  Nicotine yellow?  Detroit is polluted amber yellow?  I'm exaggerating of course, the fancy buildings looks fancy, science buildings look shiny and sciencey, and endless miles of airvents look like endless miles of air vents.  I personally dig it because it's part of the look of cyberpunk neo-noir.  I get frustrated sometimes when I get turned around in air ducts or the sewer system and end up exactly where I don't want to be (ex. while in the PD I was scurrying around the air ducts and got lost and found an unopened vent cover that led to an office.  I opened the cover, the noise of which alerted the two cops in the room who promptly shot the fuck out of me).

I also like DE:HR right now because I haven't figured out how to break it yet.  Fallout: New Vegas was pretty damned easy (though a few hundred hours of training on Fallout 3 didn't hurt).  I imagine Skyrim though hopefully brilliant will be breakable.  I'm not thinking DE:HR is unbreakable but it's been tough to balance my slow skill building.  For example there's one side mission I am working on that I need a higher level hacking to complete but there's another side mission I needed a soft landing augmentation for.  Decisions, decisions. 

Oh helpful hint/trick to consider before heading into D-Town via rooftops - have both enhanced jumping and soft landing.  The problem with soft landing is that it is an automatic skill - there's one jump that involves jumping from an apt rooftop to a fire escape.  Before I got soft landing I was making the jump fine because of momentum and trajectory.  With soft landing the skill kicks in the moment you starting heading down (soft landing prevents death from falling great heights).  This is a life saver skill, unless you need the extra momentum to carry you through.  Damn it.

I look forward to playing DE:HR further and really exploring the side stories.  More news to follow.

*In reference to the 4th Indiana Jones movie.  All data expunged.

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