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Deus Ex: Human Revolution preview: talking up the possibilities


I have an admission to make: I have never played a Deus Ex game. But I wish I had, after experiencing a brief encounter with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The first game promised a game world centered around the consequence of your actions -- and a decade later, the concept is still fascinating. To showcase the versatility of the game world, I got to see one level, played three different ways.

Set in a futuristic Detroit, you'll assume the role of Adam Jensen. There's a chip you must recover, but it's hidden in a corpse locked away in the police station's morgue. How are you going to retrieve the data? Shooting your way in is the last resort, you're told over a communication device. Considering the number of (innocent) police officers stationed there, that's wise advice. You can walk into the front door, but only if you have the right conversational skills.

A former partner of Jensen's is the receptionist, demoted for something related to your past. Somehow, you'll have to gain his favor by choosing the appropriate dialogue commands. When given a choice in the conversation, you'll see big key words appear on the screen, not unlike in Mass Effect. A quick glance should give you an idea of the end result, but Human Revolution goes a step further by providing your full response at the bottom of the screen. That way, there's no confusion over what your character will say when selecting an option.

Gallery: Deus Ex: Human Revolution | 9 Photos

Play your cards right, and you'll manage to pull away at his heartstrings, convincing him that no, whatever happened in the past wasn't his fault. You promise to take care of him, if anything goes wrong. You have full access to the building, and so long as you don't decide to hack computers and steal guns in front of anyone, it's an easy trek to the body to retrieve your chip. In and out in just a few minutes, this is undoubtedly the easiest way to solve the mission.

But what if you can't convince your ex-partner to let you in the building? If you lock yourself out of the conversational route, you can always sneak in another way. There's a back entrance you can reach, provided you have the strength augmentation that grants you the ability to move a heavy box. Jump atop the box, and you'll make your way over a fence, to a ladder that lets you into the building. Of course, you're not exactly welcome in the building, and it's likely your dark trench coat and sunglasses-whilst-indoors look make you a conspicuous target. You'll have to stay hidden from view, taking cover around corners, and using your cloak ability (provided, you bought the augmentation for your character).

Getting past the laser defense system before the body is a puzzle unto itself, and like the rest of the game, can be approached in multiple ways. In our demo, we saw Jensen crawling into the vents, jumping behind an unsuspecting guard and knocking him out. You'll then be able to drag the body for identification, and the defense system will be tricked into letting you in. From there, you'll be able to get the chip and run away unscathed.

There are other ways of sneaking into the building, we were told, but the Eidos Montreal representative wanted to show us a less clever solution. The final option, should you give up on the whole "stealth" approach, is to walk in, guns blazing. Walking by the receptionist, you burst through the doors and unload the shotgun. There are a lot of officers to kill, and everyone in the building rushes towards you at the first sign of trouble. It won't be an easy fight, but you do have augmentations that can help you survive. Cloaking is helpful, but so is the ability to see through walls, to find rooms to hide in.

Each playthrough of the level felt radically different, a testament to how the game adapts to whatever style you wish to pursue. I left the demo with a number of unanswered questions -- how do your actions affect later missions? Does each level truly offer the same level of freedom? There's a staggering ambition behind Human Revolution. With the right execution, Eidos Montreal has a real opportunity to fulfill the promise of Deus Ex, and introduce a new generation of fans to the franchise.

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