You Can’t Fight Ideas with Bullets
At the turn of the new millennium, a rather unique title arrived on the PC that became one of the first to blend two distinctly different genres into one: the first person shooter with the role playing game. This hybrid was conceived by developer Ion Storm under the title Deus Ex, and it became one of the most critically acclaimed titles of that year as well as this past decade. What set it apart was its innovative character customization, large open environments to explore and a complex and exciting story where there is no necessarily good or bad path to follow. The game saw a sequel in 2003 with the subtitle Invisible War. Due to the simplification of the game’s design in order to adhere to multiplatform development, the game received feedback that did not even come close to the praise its predecessor was given. Soon after, Ion Storm shut down and we lost one of the best game development houses ever to come out of my home town of Austin, Texas.
It has been a long time since then and Deus Ex is now being revived by the development team at Eidos Montreal without the supervision of Warren Spector, the series’ creator. Without his guise though, can the game hope to achieve the same legacy at the beginning of the next decade as its forerunner earned at the beginning of this one?
Becoming the Machine
The story of Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes place in the year 2027 - almost twenty five years before the events of the first game. At this point the world is in the midst of what is being called the Cyber Renaissance. Technology has advanced to the point where human augmentation with mechanical and cybernetic enhancements are readily available and changing the very way we go about our day-to-day lives. Controversy over transhumanism is reaching its peak as protests between groups both for and against human augmentation are becoming more and more violent.
You play as protagonist Adam Jensen, a private security guard for Sarif Industries; one of the leading augmentation companies on the market. When one of their private laboratories is attacked by a group of mercenaries, most of the staff is killed and Adam is mortally wounded. To survive Adam is forced to undergo augmentation of several parts of his body including his arms and portions of his torso and head. Adam is resentful of this necessary process and vows to hunt down those responsible for the attack initially with the aid of David Sarif, the founder of the company. Throughout his journey Adam will also uncover secrets of his past which will more than likely serve to be far more than a character affirmation.
Despite this being an affirmed prequel and reboot of the franchise, one of the more interesting questions to ask is how strongly related is it to the game’s previous iterations? The answer to that question may be that it is stronger than you think. Trailers for the game as well as gameplay demonstrations for the press have previously revealed a man named Tong Se Hung; the owner of a large club in Shanghai’s Heng Sha district. The two previous games, although set twenty five and fifty years after Human Revolution, had a key character named Tracer Tong who aided protagonists JC Denton and Alex D. during their quests. Whether this is the same person or not (or perhaps a close relative) to Tracer Tong is questionable, but the character design does match up with that of Tracer Tong.