Deus Ex: Human Revolution

After 18 seasons, David Caruso just had retractable sunglasses grafted onto his face.
After 18 seasons, David Caruso just had retractable sunglasses grafted onto his face.
Some new information regarding the third entry in the Deus Ex series has recently surfaced. Eschewing the standard tradition of naming sequels, the game is now called Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I don't have to tell you how much I love the first game, so my interest is more than piqued. With regards to Deus Ex: Invisible War, many fans of the original would like to pretend that it doesn't exist. The Deus Ex: HR developers jokingly do the same, as mentioned in this article: "Going back to the original was very, very important. We all started playing [Deus Ex] thoroughly, and then somebody voluntarily played the second one, just to make sure". I managed to enjoy Deus Ex: IW, but it was more out of a sense of nostalgia rather than on its own merits. In the first few levels, you're walking around in cities and interacting with a wide variety of NPCs who all give you conflicting goals on both a microlevel (collecting evidence on a corrupt senator or helping him out for cash) and a macrolevel (aligning yourself with one of the game's central factions against the others). This evoked a familiar sentiment, which was subsequently snuffed out as the game moved forward to generic bases and uninspired set pieces where the stunted combat mechanics became more apparent. Regarding Deus Ex: HR, a new (CGI) trailer was recently shown at the GDC (available here). What I like about it is how they show that the biomechanical implants are unsightly and cumbersome. They significantly alter a person's appearance and are designed for combat, which makes certain everyday tasks difficult (as shown by the glass cracking), which was an aspect that Deus Ex focused on with the characters of Gunther Hermann and Anna Navarre (especially when explicitly contrasted with JC's augmentations). I remember that during BioShock's development, it was stated that the player's humanity would suffer under repeated splicing, but in the game itself, this was quickly swept under the rug. The gruesome effects the plasmids had on the body (for instance, charred skin with Incinerate and a beehive for an arm with Insect Swarm) were temporary, and the question of "sacrificing one's humanity" was left by the wayside. I mention this because it would be interesting if Deus Ex: HR introduced this aspect in full. I like how Deus Ex subtly illustrated the stigma laid upon those who chose biomechanical implements over social acceptance. And although the trailer shows a protagonist already rife with robotic limbs, there is nothing in the preview coverage to indicate that he starts out this way. Just because he is a "private security officer with a company that specialises in these augmentations", there's no need for him to have already dipped his pen in the company ink. Basically, what if Deus Ex: HR were like this?




I love how the Gamasutra interview focuses so much on the visual design of the game. You already know how bored I am with the overabundance of photo-realistic games out there, so it shouldn't surprise you that I was grinning a bit when he talked about the fact that you could look at certain screenshots of a lot of recent FPSs and they could all be from the same game. There's something about the Icarus myth that they've latched on to that I think could really work, thematically. Despite the fact that the trailer showed very little, it wasn't forgettable thanks to the imagery.

In that respect, I'm actually looking forward to the "Youtube aesthetic" that Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days is using. Unstable camera angles, rough edges, washed-out imagery,... those who see that as an excuse for not using high-definition photo-realistic textures are missing the point. Check out the recent trailer here to see it in action. It sure allows for a very consistent set of ideas, like the pixelation seen pasted onto an NPC.

There is something very immersive about rough, unsteady, dirty footage. I love it. (And I loved it when Firefly and Battlestar Galactica did it with TV CGI. District 9 is another great example.) That's really what I was getting at: they're doing something different, and it adds to the game. I don't dislike realism because it's realism. I dislike it because it's in virtually every first person shooter, and they all look the same because of it. I should have been more clear on that. If everyone starts doing Team Fortress 2-style graphics, I'll dislike that. Homogeneity kills. Give me variety and originality.

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