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I was going through some of my old games when one particular disc caught my eye: Deus Ex. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of preview coverage and discussion about Deus Ex: Human Revolution, so this is no surprise. After installing the game, grabbing the multi/single-player patch, and setting up the DX10 renderer, I was ready to jump back in to one of my favourite dystopian futures.

As I hadn’t played the game for about 7 years, I went through the tutorial to re-familiarize myself with the various systems and controls. I was certain that I would make it through the last section with all my limbs attached, but of course I was a little too close to the TNT when it went off… Fortunately for me, so was the security bot. I sheepishly dragged myself to the exit and hoped that Dr. Reyes had a couple legs to spare.

Now to start the game proper. I am immediately transported back to late 2000 when I first played this with barely any more information about it than what was on the box. Cyberpunk? Check. Grand conspiracy? Check. First person? Check. Sold. After the introduction is over I immediately put 9 millimeters of lead in the back of poor Corporal Collins’ head. Unfortunately, since I forget to throw the body in the water, my “brother” Paul notices and opens fire. He takes 3 rockets to the face before I’m cut down by his spray of semi-auto fire. Reload. This time I chuck Collins’ body in the ocean and Paul is none the wiser.

What follows is 30 amusing minutes of multiple reloads before I get a handle on the shooting and remember that on Hard, J.C. can’t take many close range shots to the body before expiring. I do manage to finally kill every NSF grunt I find, save Agent Hermann, look in every nook and cranny, and convince the NSF leader to talk. During all of this I am constantly impressed with the expansiveness of the Liberty Island level. The vegetation and other details may be a lot more sparse than modern games, but the variety of ways to approach a situation and the interplay between all the gameplay systems more than makes up for this. There are also so many doors to unlock, computers to hack and air vents to crawl through that it’s easy to look past some blocky level design and blurry textures.

This leads me back to Human Revolution, and whether or not I think it has any hope of achieving the unique blend of elements that makes the original a classic, while appealing to modern sensibilities. I have seen much discussion about the effect 3rd person cover systems and scripted takedowns will have on immersion, but I feel that is a far too literal focus what makes a game immersive. It is about more than if the camera is placed inside a character’s head or slightly above and behind their head.

Does the game provide the information I need to evaluate how to effectively approach a situation? Am I able to resolve a situation in a variety of ways? Does the world provide a strong sense of place and cohesion? To me these are the more important questions to ask than if the game is viewed in 1st or 3rd person. Fortunately, from the preview coverage (Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Eurogamer) and gameplay video I’ve seen, the answer to all of these questions looks to be a very strong “Yes”. Of course as Hamlet said, “The play’s the thing,” and the wait to get my hands on the next Deus Ex is nearly unbearable.