Alright, I’m back and have put more time into the game, and so far, I've been really enjoying it. This setup of having Jensen near death and needing augmentations to live really helps the story become more believable. What I mean by that is when you begin the game, after completing the tutorial and the beginning credits have finished, you'll notice the game's HUD (heads-up display) for the first time. It makes sense that you can see it now and not before because augmentations were made to all components of Jensen's body including his eyes, because the HUD that you see is what he sees as well. However, when you climb ladders, the camera shifts into 3rd person point of view, and the HUD is no longer visible. This makes perfect sense as you’re not viewing the world through Jensen’s eyes any longer. When you duck behind cover or hide around a corner, though, and you put yourself back into 3rd person view, the HUD is still visible. This, to me, doesn’t make much sense as far as creating the overall experience, but it certainly doesn’t ruin my gameplay either. I’m playing the game at a 1920x1080 resolution, and the HUD really hasn’t been a hindrance; in fact, even though a lot can be conveyed on the screen at one time as compared to other games where the HUD tends to take up a lot of screen space, Deus Ex does a better job of maintaining the developer’s created atmosphere.
As far as the actual story goes, you find yourself in Sarif Industries about six months after the attack. While perusing the menus in the game, including inventory, available quests, etc, you’ll find the menu of available augmentations, and as you play, you learn that while all augmentations are available to you at some point, the reason that you don’t immediately have them is because, when they rebuilt you, they didn’t know how your body would handle the transition, therefore some augmentations were not “turned on” and would be available in the future. This again makes sense in the story and game world, and while your path of gaining experience points doesn’t realistically transition into why you gain “augment points,” it certainly couldn’t been handled a lot worse. One thing that was handled quite well in this area: the money you find throughout the environment can be used to buy augment points from the “Limb” Clinic, which actually makes sense in the world created, so the developers were certainly trying in that respect.
Anyway, on to the story. To make a long story short and not give too much away, you find yourself sent to a Sarif Industries warehouse in Milwaukee where some Purity First individuals are trying to steal the “Typhoon” weapon. While you make your way through the warehouse, you’re introduced to how to play the game with augmentations, the many paths that can be taken when going through a “level” or mission, and your ability to manipulate your surroundings--and this is where gameplay gets extremely fun.
Let me start by saying…this is not a run and gun game. If that’s what you’re looking for, please walk away, stop reading, and look at something else. Like I said before, a couple shots taken and you will go down. It seems like all enemies have a knack for busting out headshots, and the gun play within the game is “wobbly” to put it nicely. Although there are augmentations to create less recoil and help you aim, this is not a run and gun game in the least due to this “handicap.” You need to be smart, find hidden paths through air vents and around corners and barriers, and also use your surroundings to your advantage. What I mean by that is if you come across an enemy camera, find the computer to hack into the camera and turn it off so that it won’t alarm the enemies. If you find a turret, hack a computer to turn the turret off or against your enemies. Try to dodge “sights” of roaming robot mechs, hack a computer, and make the robots work for you. This is just a small list of what you can do, depending on the mission, and depending upon your chosen augmentations. The world is your oyster. While you need to invest augment points into the hacking skill, you will feel the benefits of these points early on as you find yourself hacking everything in sight, including computers, doors, vaults, etc. There is a hacking mini-game which is fun at first, but as you put more points into the skill, it becomes easier and thus becomes less of a time sink.
All of these options will net you experience. Whether you’re hacking a turret, defusing a camera, or getting off the beaten path and finding a way around the entire situation, you’ll gain experience points which, after you've collected 5,000, equal a Praxis point (also known as an augment point). This is where you begin to notice that the game rewards you for your style of play, which is definitely a nice feature. You’ll earn experience for a multitude of gameplay components including those listed above, plus roaming through the different environments and finding hidden areas or hacking computers for more information regarding the main story or side quests. It’s all in there.
One of the key components in this game comes into play really quickly: stealth. It’s not an option, it’s a must. If you don’t like the idea of stealth, then, yet again, this title might not be for you. A nice feature you’ll become acquainted with early on is the melee takedown. You can either do a lethal or nonlethal takedown. The difference between them is the noise. Lethal takedowns use hidden blades in Jensen’s arms to rip apart your opponent in gruesome ways, while nonlethal takedowns consist of different chokeholds and massive punches. Both are gratifying to watch and make you feel like a complete badass. The best part is that it only consists of a button push. Mix this feature in with the augment to make yourself invisible for a short time, and you have yourself some great gameplay features.
This is where energy comes into play. At the offset, you’re given two “energy” bars for your augmentations. One will always regenerate after time, and one will be replenished only with the help of a “booster snack,” which is an edible item. You can buy more energy bars, but I have not felt the need to as of yet, and reading through multiple forums, it seems that many agree with me. As long as one bar always regenerates and you can invest augment points to increase that regeneration, that’s all I’ve needed. Certain actions and augments take up energy bars, including takedowns and making you invisible for a short time, among others, but this just serves to create a balance to the gameplay. One mission concludes with a standoff where you can either talk your way out of the situation, thus saving the hostage, or push the villain into a do-or-die situation--all by choosing different dialogue options. Certain augmentations will help you with these situations as well. If you talk your way out of it, the hostage will be a part of a later mission, because after defusing this situation and retrieving the Typhoon, you’ll head back to Detroit where you’ll be given time to explore this first “hub” of the game collecting sidequests, collecting items, and talking with the locals. From this point on, the game will open up quite a bit. You’ll notice certain actions create rifts in the future, dialogue options will open to new people, and you’ll soon begin to learn that trusting people can become quite difficult.
Storywise, after the trip to the warehouse in Milwaukee, the Detroit “hub” opens up. While you’ll be given the next mission assignment, with NPCs to talk to before you further your storyline, you’re able to explore the entirety of the Detroit area talking to random strangers and exploring different buildings, apartments, and even sewers. Although there are a host of NPCs that have nothing more to say than a few generic lines, there are some characters you come across who will give you side quests to complete that have different layers. Instead of the typical fetch quests, these quests have you further exploring your abilities as Jensen and what he can do to complete the different objectives, whether that's talking through certain situations, taking the option to kill a target or just frame them, or just collecting some information without being seen. The different side quests available are unique, and while some further explain the main storyline, some are there to flesh out the world presented by the developers. A nice touch added is the newspapers spread throughout the game world which will tell you the latest events, including actions you've been a part of. Checking out a newspaper every once in a while further expands the universe that you're a part of and creates a deeper atmosphere as you spend more time with the game.
For next week, I’ll be discussing the artificial intelligence in the game, further story elements, and the sound throughout the game. While the story will be presented vaguely enough to get the overall concept, it’s the actual gameplay that will be on display. Also next week I’ll go over the idea of “boss” battles within the world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.