Monday, 14 June 2010

A Convenient Solution To An Impossible Gaming Problem

I think 2000 went a little something like this.
It's terrifying to think that the year 2000 was an extremely daunting ten years ago now! My memory is a little fuzzy, but I'm relatively sure it was a simpler time for me back then, I didn't have to maintain this cool beard for starters and my gaming was happening solely on home consoles, the very concept of using a PC for gaming seemed way too complicated, installing a game? Pah! Had I not been a stubborn teenager I would have known that actually the PC was offering experiences way beyond what my Playstation was offering, especially when it came to Deus Ex.

A few years later I was wearing glasses, and therefore had all the necessary qualifications required to start PC gaming. Deus Ex was the first game that I bought for my super powerful gaming PC (featuring a staggering 64MB of RAM and a blazing fast 300Mhz processor) and I was absolutely blown away by the experience. In all honesty at first I was terrible at the game, I spent the latter part of the training mission having been liberated from my legs dragging my stumps towards the goal desperately hoping that I wouldn't be spotted by more angry robots. The game offered a lot more scope than I was used to, I could have hacked the robot, tried sneaking past it, or stood in front of it while it filled my knee-caps with hot lead, and while the option I chose was not the wisest it did provide me with my first gaming introduction to location based damage. Imagine my surprise later in the game when I was scolded by my boss for going into the women's toilets earlier, or when a character reacted to me having already having completed an objective before it had been issued instead of just going into a pre-recorded mission brief when I approached him. In fact Deus Ex completely changed what I came to expect from games, it had presented me with the ability to carefully plan attacks or completely bypass combat, and given me control over the dialogue and outcome of the plot in a genre that I had until then associated with running head on at enemies holding the trigger, and once I'd been presented with a such variety by one game I started to wonder why more games weren't giving me this sort of freedom. The bar had been set incredibly high, even Invisible War, the sequel to Deus Ex, failed to live up the the standards of it's predecessor despite being a fairly good game in its own right.

Now Eidos Montreal are resurrecting the franchise with a prequel called Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It's a daunting task for sure, I am certainly not alone in my high regard for Deus Ex, and many others like me are desperately hoping that this game will finally be the exceptionally high quality addition to the series we have been waiting for the last ten years. This must have been at the forefront of their consciousness when creating the trailer that was released recently, as it truly is a thing of beauty, the obvious stand out area is the high quality of the pre-rendered visuals, they may not be reflective of the final product, but it provides a clear look at the artistic direction Eidos Montreal have settled upon. It looks like a fantastic combination of Ghost In The Shell, Blade Runner and The Dark Knight, and would probably make an exceptionally good stand alone movie in its own right. Some have criticised that everything looks more advanced than it did in the original game considering it's a prequel set 25 years beforehand, but to be fair we have better technology in 2010 than they did in the original's interpretation of 2050, so this is completely forgivable. Having a strong art direction and an exciting cinematic trailer is all well and good, but it is the gameplay that will make or break Human Revolution.

The recent gameplay demo certainly has put a lot of fears to rest, and while it was a strictly hands off presentation the spirit of the original Deus Ex seems to be alive and well. There is no pre-set way to complete a mission, if you want to infiltrate a building how you'll do so is completely at your own discretion, burst in the front door guns blazing will work just as well as talking your way in or sneaking in, or maybe a combination of all three. Whatever option you settle on you'll have to be prepared for the consequences, the violence may result in a character being killed who may have proved to be useful later on in the game whereas the stealthy option may mean bypassing this person all together and will result in a completely different interaction with him at a later stage, those who believe that there is no situation that can't be resolved with conversation will find that they open up an even greater array of options depending on the course the conversation takes. There has been a fairly big revision to NPC dialogue which some may find a little frustrating, gone is the simple list of dialogue options presented in the original, in its place is something more akin to a mini-game the developers are describing as 'sparing dialogue' where the player has to read the NPCs expression and try match their response accordingly. If the player re-enters conversation with the NPC (assuming they haven't upset them to the point of turning violent) the dialogue will be completely different, so there won't any repetition or cheating by coming into the conversation pre-prepared.

The ability to add augmentations to your character to enhance their skills has always been a big part of the Deus Ex series, this hasn't changed any in Human Revolution, in fact they will be an even more of a focal point than ever before. Stealthy players will be able to equip abilities such as x-ray vision, stealth suits, or maybe even a couple of handy arm blades for some wonderfully brutal stealth executions. Those hoping to bust some heads will be able to chose from augmentations that allow them turn their arms into rocket launchers, or as was the case in the demo a 'claymore' augmentation that allows them to turn themselves into a human mine, which proved rather useful when jumping into the middle of a large crowd of enemies. As the 'skills' option from the original has been removed there will be a greater element of balancing to the way augmentations can be applied, the player could choose to have lot of low powered abilities or they could instead choose to specialise in a select few. It appears that for every feature Eidos Montreal have removed or simplified they have made sure to improve upon an existing one.

The game is certainly looking really impressive at the moment, although it is a little to early to call it either way for sure, but that hasn't stopped a lot of people online deciding that the simplified dialogue options and occasional switch to third person will make this game will be the worst thing ever. As I have mentioned before it is easy to feel a sense of entitlement from a series that we hold dear, and it will be nigh on impossible for many to look at Human Revolution with objectivity. Everything I have seen so far however does look absolutely amazing, it seems possible that unless Eidos Montreal make some incredible mistakes of the next six months Deus Ex: Human Revolution may finally be the game that is able to meet the most of the fans expectations.

No comments:

Post a Comment