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By Spencer . February 24, 2011 . 6:05pm
Not counting the pre-augmentation opening, which we covered before, I got to play through the beginning of Deus Ex: Human Revolution twice. (Actually, two and a half times.) Since player choice is at the core of the Deus Ex multiple runs gave me an opportunity to experiment and see how my decisions affected the game. We’re going to dive into this in detail, but spoilers will be covered with giant black bars. Highlight the text for "what ifs" and to know more about the game.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution continues six months later with Adam, now augmented, heading back to work. David Sarif called Adam in to take care of an emergency, but Adam says he needs to speak with the sarcastic Pritchard to tweak his vision. You’re free to explore from here, but Mary DeMarle, lead writer, warned if you spend too much time in the office there will be a penalty. Sensing urgency, I ran to Prichard who carelessly tweaked Adam’s augs while taunting him. I had the option to respond with an insult back or drop the topic and move on. Insult Pritchard and the two get into a fight discussing a certain character’s death during the assault on the lab.
I took sometime to explore Sarif’s office building, which was populated with scientists, janitors, and media relations staff trying to figure out what to do with the hostage situation. Ah, that’s what Sarif wanted Adam to handle. I stopped by Adam’s office to pick up his pocket secretary (think iPad) and a hidden recovery item in his desk drawer. An e-mail explained an office side quest, someone has been stealing drugs and they want Adam, being the security specialist, to handle the problem. Not even an hour into the game, you can break into the offices of your coworkers to investigate. Each office is locked with a four digit code, but can also be accessed if Adam’s hacking skill is developed enough. Thanks to careless employees, I didn’t need to hack to snoop around. E-mails on computers and sticky notes on desks often had the necessary access digits. Deus Ex: Human Revolution conveniently keeps track of those for the player, so a code pops up when you’re at the right door. Crawl through an air duct and you can find the stash of hidden drugs plus some extra credits. The catch is if you hang around Sarif Industries too long all of the hostages you were supposed to rescue are killed. Sarif will give Adam a warning before this happens, but the consequence is not revealed to players.
Faridah Malik, a stern helicopter pilot who isn’t convinced Adam has fully recovered, is ready to take Adam on the mission at anytime. When you first speak with Malik you can make Adam reassure her you’re OK or question her lack of faith. While in the air, Sarif explains the situation. Zeke Sanders, an ex-military hero, has taken over a factory with a group of anti-augmentation activists. At one time Zeke was augmented, but believing the implant made him mad he removed it. Now he wears an eye patch and resembles a scruffy pirate. Sarif was less concerned about the hostages, the Typhoon augment was his first priority.
Before heading into the factory Sarif gave Adam choices on how to deal with the situation. Lethal or non-lethal? Close or from a distance? Each one resulted in Sarif giving Adam a different weapon.
Lethal, close –> Revolver
Lethal, distance –> Combat rifle
Non lethal, close –> Stun gun
Non lethal, distance –> tranquilizer rifle
I chose non-lethal for my first time into the factory and Sarif handed Adam a tranquilizer rifle with a limited supply of ammunition. Police offers told to hold their position until after Adam entered the building were waiting at the site. Frustrated with the situation, a lower ranked officer greeted Adam with a colorful four letter word. The man in charge offered Adam more information about the situation like where the hostages were held and information about Zeke. He seemed like an honorable man in the past.
Step outside and you’re awarded with six Praxis points. These are used to purchase or enhance skills, but you won’t get these this early in the game. The six Praxis point bonus was just for the hands-on so attendees could try out some of Adam’s augmentations. There were combat specific augs like hardened skin, which reduced damage and an aiming aug that reduced bullet spray while moving. The Icarus system, a back augmentation, allows Adam to fall from any height with a dramatic effect where gold rays radiate from his body while he drops to the ground. Arm augmentations allow Adam to pick up larger objects (even robots!) or punch through walls. Leg augmentations let Adam run and if you upgrade them enough jump without making a sound. Each new augmentation costs two Praxis points while upgrading costs one. Settling on stealth, I picked a cloaking aug, a reflex skill to takedown multiple enemies at once, and upgraded Adam’s batteries. You get two when you start the game, but since each take down consumed one I thought having three was better. The most useful aug was one I didn’t get the first time around, an ability to see through walls. While this drains a bit of Adam’s precious batteries each time you use it, this is essential for stealth players. It’s also possible to purchase the Typhoon system Adam is trying to recover. Equip this and Adam has a smart bomb of sorts that kills every nearby enemy. Upgrade the Typhoon and it destroys robots too. Since the Typhoon has its own ammunition you could only use it once during the demo, but there were some neat tricks. Remember the Icarus system? Mix that with the Typhoon and you can jump down from a rafter and launch bombs just like in one of the trailers. Augmentation abilities such as x-ray vision and cloaking are easily accessible with different buttons on the d-pad. Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a quick select inventory system too. You can spin through Adam’s inventory with an analog stick to pick a weapon on the fly. The game pauses while you’re choosing a firearm or grenade.
Guards patrolled the entrance to the factory. I took out the first one with a non-lethal takedown. Tap a button to spare their life, hold it down and Adam will stab them with knives in his augmented arms. Other enemy units can wake up unconscious soldiers, but mercy has its benefits. You earn 10 experience points for defeating an enemy plus 20 for not killing them. Go the lethal route and you only get 10 points. Adam, reminiscent of Solid Snake, can drag bodies to hide them. I pressed on and knocked out two more soldiers with takedown moves, which meant I was out of energy. While I had three batteries, Deus Ex: Human Revolution only restores *one* of them overtime. It takes roughly a minute or thirty seconds, if you upgrade Adam’s charging ability to the maximum. The other battery bars can only be restored by eating cyber-energy bars.
This means Adam can only use his cloaking ability for three seconds with a "full charge" and has to wait a good minute before knocking out another enemy. Patience is required if you opt to go for the non-lethal assault route. There aren’t enough tranquilizer darts to disable all of the enemies. You can slip by many of them as they pace back and forth if you’re careful. If you decide to let lead fly, Deus Ex: Human Revolution stocks players with plenty of ammunition. Bullets are in plain sight, hidden in lockers, and can be obtained by picking up guns dropped by fallen foes.
In my second run, I found another way into the facility. You can access the roof by using a crate as a step ladder. Grab it from a forklift and place it in front of a cargo container and Adam can avoid the whole first fight I described earlier. The factory had a handful of optional routes, like walking on the rafters and climbing through more air ducts. Pick the roof route and Adam will tell Pritchard, who is assisting remotely, about the security leak in a snarky way. Alternatively, Adam can crawl underneath some boxes, which puts him in a better position to take out the first set of guards.
Inside the warehouse, I darted through another set of guards by distracting them by throwing a box. I stumbled onto some guards chatting and you can hear them shooting the breeze while waiting to give them a fist to the face. A locked door blocked me with the same kind of four digit pin. Unfortunately for Adam, there weren’t any codes on the wall written with spraypaint. I had to hack my way in by playing a mini-game. The goal of the game is to capture nodes to move towards a node that unlocks the door. Each time a node is captured there is a chance the security system will notice you and try to kick you out. While you can rush to the system core just to unlock the door, some nodes give Adam an experience point bonus. Yes, there are many ways to earn experience in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Discovering alternate routes and reading e-books can grant experience points too.
I found the hostages by climbing up an air duct. They were noticeably freaked out when Adam showed up with gun and shouted at him to put it away. After holstering my non-lethal weapon, a man explained there was a bomb in the room. I walked up to it, thinking disarming the device would be a good idea, but triggered a timer. With only seconds to disarm the bomb I rushed to hack it, but actually discovered a second way to disarm the bomb. Now safe, the man told Adam his wife has been taken hostage by Zeke. You can reassure the worried employee that you’ll save his wife or that’s not part of your mission.
Moving deeper into the warehouse, a robot armed with two machine guns blocked my way. If you get too close the robot will automatically fire and kill Adam. I tried hacking the nearby terminals and found a virus disc, but that just opened doors. The key here was to avoid the fight and seek out another path. I looked around and noticed part of an air duct blocked by two crates. By now I associated air duct with "escape route" so I moved the crates and went around the robot. Entering the next room triggered a cutscene. Even though the invading group is fighting against augmentation, an augmented man was plugged himself in to a computer. He drew a gun, pointed it on Adam, and then turned it onto himself. What was going on here?
Zeke was waiting a few rooms and tranquilizer dart fights later. I thought I was going to be thrust into a gunfight, but text choices popped up. Zeke was standing there with a pistol pointed at a hostage, the middle-aged man’s wife from earlier. You have a choice – let Zeke go, enter a fight or try to talk Zeke out of the situation. Attempt to shoot Zeke and he turns his gun on the hostage saying her blood is on Adam’s hands. It only takes a single bullet to kill Zeke. DeMarle said its possible to shoot Zeke before he shoots the hostage, but difficult. Let Zeke go and he’ll try to leave the factory with the hostage resulting in both of them being shot. Not really a happy ending, but that completes Adam’s mission. I tried to talk Zeke out of it.
Adam can respond in one of three ways: humble, reason, and emphasize. One thing interesting about these sequences is there isn’t a "correct" path of choices to pick. Zeke responds differently each time and if your goal is to get him to release the hostage you have to pick the answers you think Zeke wants to hear. Fortunately, the game gives you a preview of what Adam will say before you pick a choice. I was glad because humble wasn’t what I thought it was, a humble response. "Humble" was a way to humble Zeke. One augmentation in Deus Ex: Human Revolution helps during "chat combat." Upgrade Adam’s mind and you can see, through his augmented visor, a profile of who you’re talking to. Other indicators kept track of Zeke’s pupil dilation, heart rate, and perspiration. The most handy indicator is a rhythm-like meter that moves up or down after each choice, which gives players a clue on how well they were doing at convincing Zeke.
I played this part a number of times in an attempt to see all of the outcomes. If you pick an undesirable response Zeke attempts to escape with the hostage killing her. Sometimes it took two "mistakes" for this to occur. I found rationalizing with Zeke, telling him he was a patsy, got Adam on the right path. Reminding Zeke of his honorable history and telling Zeke he wasn’t a killer helped too. If you "win" Zeke lets go of the hostage, but goes free. This event has consequences later in the game. With the hostage free, Malik and the helicopter waited to take Adam back to the headquarters, but instead I was kicked back to the main menu.
My curiosity piqued after seeing how a few decisions immediately affected the game. How will saving or sparing characters unravel the plot? How much of a butterfly effect do these choices have? We’ll find out when Deus Ex: Human Revolution is released in North America later this year.