10 years ago this week, the first Deus Ex game was released by publisher Eidos. The game was by far the best title made by Ion Storm, the rock star-like Texas-based game developer that started in Dallas and then expanded to Austin. It was in the latter office that Deus Ex, under the supervision of Warren Spector, was made along with the less acclaimed sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War.
A couple of years ago, before Eidos was bought by Square Enix, the publisher announced plans for a third game in the Deus Ex series to be developed by their new Montreal-based studio. While the third game would have no direct input from Spector (who now works for Disney Interactive Studios) fans of the original have been hopeful that this third entry (which got it's official name Deus Ex Human Revolution earlier this year) would recall the good points of the first game in the series. At E3 2010 we got to see a hands-off but live gameplay demo of the title (the two trailers that have been released were both CGI pre-rendered movies and don't show actual gameplay).
Oddly enough, the third title in the series is actually set well before the first Deus Ex game in the year 2027. Even with a future set just 17 years ahead of our own there's been lots of changes. One of them is the use of advanced prosthetic devices which, while not ad advanced as those found in the first two Deus Ex games, can still do a lot of damage. They are a part of your lead character in the game, security specialist Adam Jensen, who in the first part of the two part demo is being transported to Shanghai to try to find a hacker.
The city has changed quite a lot in 17 years. Indeed Shanghai has turned into a two-level urban location with a massive flat level separating two parts of the location. Jensen is flown into the city and then heads for a nearby bar. We were told that all of the NPCs in the game will have their own little story and motivations and will react differently with Jensen if he tries to do something like pull a gun on one of them.
The demo then proceeded to the bar where Jensen will have a number of choices for entry. He could sneak into the back, shoot the guard in front, hack his way in and more. In this demo's case he simply bribes the guy out front to gain entry. Once inside he chats it up with what appears to be a simple but cranky bartender to find out more info about a crime boss called Tong. After the chat Jensen did a little stealth action that netted him some access codes to another part of the building simply by listening in to an underling saying he had lost his codes. Jensen, perhaps a little too easily, found the minion's access codes via a device in the bathroom. After that Jensen entered a air shaft, Die Hard style, and found out with more eavesdropping that the bartender he chatted with was in fact Tong himself.
So all of this interaction with NPCs along with the stealth gameplay design was cool enough but the second part of the demo showed off how the game handles combat. Again, Jensen can charge in but in this demo he decided to sneak into a warehouse to find out more about what's going on with this hacker. However the shooting and the killing were not far behind as Jensen demonstrated a variety of ways to kill the unsuspecting guards.
These attacks include jumping down from the rafters and releasing some grenade-type weapons to take out a circle of foes. First person shooting is of course part of the game but you can also use some special items like thermal imaging to see enemies that are hidden behind walls. When you have to take cover the game switches over to a third person viewpoint to give you a better look at where you are. The E3 2010 demo ended on a bit of a cliffhanger as a much bigger and smarter than your average red shirt guard showed up to attack Jensen. There's seems to be a bit of a history between them and the demo ended with the bad guy's mechanical arm morphing into a really, really big gun.
What happens after that? We honestly have no idea (although we bet Jensen finds his way out of this predicament) but the demo for Deus Ex: Human Evolution certainly has us very interested in this new chapter in this franchise. We hope to learn and maybe even play more before the game's release sometime in 2011.