by Chris Davis
previewed on PC
Of Icarus and Daedalus
Deus Ex games have always been known for having multiple themes and ideologies competing against one another, and Human Revolution is no stranger to this as many intellectually stimulating ideas seem to permeate throughout the title. In addition to the controversy of transhumanism, the question of us enhancing the human condition through unnatural means and whether doing so removes our humanity in the process, is but one of the major themes. The metaphorical phoenix plays a role as Jensen is reborn through his augmentation. Jensen is also haunted by dreams of playing the role of Icarus - the Greek myth of the boy whose father Daedalus, fashioned a set of wings from bird feathers to escape their prison. During the escape however Icarus flew too high against his father’s commands, and consequently the wax binding his feathers melted and he fell to the earth. This seems to be a strong metaphor for the gameplay itself as you can continuously enhance Jensen throughout the game, thus leading to the question of whether he is more man or machine by the end of his journey.
If You Want to Make Enemies, Try To Change Something
Deus Ex was a radical departure from other shooters of the time as it incorporated strong RPG elements such as character enhancements and weapon customization. Human Revolution is going down the same route, if not further than its predecessors. Since a large portion of Jensen is now cybernetic you can purchase (or earn through skill points) various different abilities and attributes to suit your play style. It should also be noted that you can only equip a certain amount of these enhancements during a single playthrough, meaning that the game will hold a strong replay value.
The most recent demo of the game showed Jensen infiltrating a heavily guarded penthouse to retrieve some vital intelligence. From the game's main menu, the player chose to enhance Adam’s arms to be able to lift and move heavy objects. Doing so gave him access to a vent to crawl through by allowing him to move a large cabinet underneath it. Later enhancement demonstrations during the demo included x-ray vision and near invisibility.
Character enhancements are not limited to just hack tools and the like; players can also augment Adam’s combat capabilities. In addition to upgrading the profusely demonstrated melee “blades” built into his arms, Adam can also unleash a devastating 360 degree attack that sends and detonates small explosive charges in every direction - a handy tool for a scenario in which he becomes surrounded. Weapons can also be customized with various attributes such as different types of ammo.
To Be, Or Not To Be
One of the most important aspects of the Deus Ex series is the power of choices and decisions that affect more than just the plot. Upon being given a mission objective (unless it was mission critical), you could almost always choose how to go about it or even not do it at all. Ten years ago this was a radical notion for gaming but nowadays it is present in many games; the most recent and true-to-form title for this principle being Mass Effect 2. During a recent gameplay demonstration at Eidos Montreal’s studio this was seen to be an almost intact carryover from the previous games.
The demo that was shown involved Adam being sent to retrieve an augmentation from a corpse at a Detroit police station. Unfortunately the morgue Adam needed to access was off limits to anyone but key personnel. With this situation set up, Eidos showed off three different approaches to such a predicament: social, stealth, and combat.