Deus Ex: Human Revolution Preview
Deus Ex is one of the most respected names in the industry, although avid followers of the series may claim the original title was by far the best. All the entries have been more than solid, however, and they all held a somewhat original style; they felt like part FPS, part RPG, and they always fell into an intriguing sci-fi setting. Well, we’ve been waiting a while for the next entry and this next one, recently revealed to be Deus Ex: Human Revolution, represents a bit of a departure from earlier concepts while still remaining appealing on a mental, moral level. See, the role-playing feel in these games comes from the freedom, player choice, and intricate character upgrades and you can expect all of that to make a triumphant return. However, this time, we will focus on the interesting and controversial topic of transhumanism; i.e., how humans can use technology to “better themselves,” and how far we can go before we crash back to earth. It’s the symbolism of that teaser trailer that debuted along with the game’s announcement.
In terms of story, Human Revolution takes place a quarter-century before the events of the original Deus Ex and the city of Detroit in 2027 is a brightly lit, futuristic metropolis apparently inspired by classic sci-fi settings found in the likes of “Bladerunner” and “Ghost in the Shell.” This from art director Jonathan-Jacque Belletete, who spoke with IGN about the game’s ideas, theories, and presentation, and we have to say, the atmosphere should be quite engrossing. Detroit is just rebounding from a downward spiral and the community is springing back to life; this is where we find the main character, Adam Jensen, who works for a security company that played a large role in the city’s resurrection. The company’s owner bought some of the rundown automobile factories and worked to convert them to cybernetics facilities, which will clearly claim the spotlight. Now, we’re not about to guess at the story but it sounds like a classic case of an evil corporation looking to “expand” on the building blocks for humanity…and they’ve gone too far.
That may not be unfamiliar to Deus Ex veterans at all. The concept of transhumanism, which is to use biotechnology, nanotechnology and cybernetics to enhance the power and even intelligence of a normal human, is one that has been around for quite some time. In fact, some say it’s the true wave of the future. Extending human life and ultimately making it better in every possible way is perhaps a noble goal, but it may fly in the face of reality and – dare we say it – God. This story sort of reminds me of the classic “Frankenstein” novel by Mary Shelley… In this case, it’ll be pretty darn fun to augment ourselves to our heart’s content, to eventually turn ourselves into the perfectly honed weapon. We’ll be able to deal with all sorts of obstacles, including computer terminals that require hacking and armed guards that may see us one moment and lose track of us the next. But what if we were never given the choice? Adam wakes up one day with enhancements he “never asked for” and now, he may be seeking those responsible.
Belletete spoke at the Game Developers Conference about the artistic direction involved and emphasized that they wish to tell the story “both visually and literally.” He also said the aforementioned teaser trailer holds some vital clues to the plot and the world in question, so see if you can spot ‘em. Remember, we’re talking about viewing both sides of the issue of transhumanism – an idea that economist and bioethicist Francis Fukuyama said was “the most dangerous idea in the world” in the ‘90s – so as usual, there will be no “right” or “wrong” answer. However you view the situation is what matters; how you approach the story will certainly have a profound impact on what you see and how you see it. As for the gameplay, we know it should be a smooth, dynamic FPS with convincing RPG elements and really, the progression is up to you. They even say you can make it through the entire game without killing a single solitary soul and if you’d rather not augment your body, so be it. The idea of choice in games has become massively important this generation; just look at how our choices in Heavy Rain affect the outcome.
We still need some in-game footage and more gameplay details, but in all honesty, we expect it to play like past installments and as always, the atmosphere, story, presentation and style are crucial for this franchise. If all this sounds interesting, make sure you pay attention to future updates, which should be right around the corner.
3/18/2010 Ben Dutka