Deus Ex: Human Revolution Preview (Xbox360)

So, a couple of weeks ago we gave you some initial impressions on Deus Ex based on a presentation. Since then, we've been getting down and dirty with a more complete build, and now we're ready to give you a more comprehensive insight into how the game actually plays. As we've mentioned before, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a very story driven game, and you really see how the team have tried to cram in as much character depth as possible.
Meet Sanders. He represents one of many choices you will have to make. We wonder what the end-result will be...
We were given access to the beginning portions of the game, so the first mission, first city-hub, and related content. It's not completely indicative of the whole experience, but you can get a feel to what the game is going to be like. The City Hubs especially are interesting - both in the way they are laid out but also how they just mess with your sense of scale. The first hub, Detroit, is actually a pretty small area when you think about it. We realise you're supposed to suspend belief, but it's funny how everything conveniently happens within what can be only a few city blocks. Still we like the run-down, cyber-punk visuals and the way the developers have at least tried to make the place feel alive.

Eidos have been quick to quash hopes that this is a fully sandbox/open world game, and yet there is an incredible degree of flexibility here. Sometimes you just want to poke and prod and see what will happen if you shoot these guys, or not shoot these guys. Paying attention to who's around as well is key... it's not completely micro - people without names, for example, aren't really worth talking to, but canvassing the general public will help you pick up key information or start hidden side quests.

Like most RPG's it takes a while to get going... the first few minutes are oddly restrictive, but you're soon thrust into the action and taken through the basics. After that, you have a compulsory 'proper' first mission to do, and then the game pretty much opens up to you. (Although, if you take too long to get to that first mission and decide to explore, it can affect how that mission plays out, which is rather neat.) And that beginning bit in itself can easily take up to five or six hours or more, so you know you're in for a lengthy experience.
Yeah... be careful where you draw your weapon. Remember you're 'supposed' to be the good guy...
Levelling up doesn't happen as often as you might think it should, and whilst you can also purchase or find points to put into increasing your augmentations, expect the 'Praxis Points' to be a scarce resource. How you choose to spend the points will heavily influence your course in the game. For example, we specialised in hacking early on, so when presented with the usual choices of how to approach an obstacle, we were mainly left with the hacking choices because the others were more difficult. There's usually always a route that suits the kind of skills you've decided to field, but not always - so far though, it doesn't look like choosing one or the other, or none, prevents you from progressing further. We'd need the full game to verify that though.

Speaking of Augmentations, they really can add new dimensions to the game - side-skills like hacking, or social manipulation, make mundane tasks like talking to someone or cracking a code that much more interesting. And of course there's the usual augmentations you would expect, like more power, better aiming or health... even something that allows you to jump from any height and not die, or something to make you jump higher. All of these have clear and obvious uses as well... you may trying to figure out how to get somewhere, and realise "damn, if only I'd put points on this, or that", but there should be an alternative that you can handle as we mentioned above, so don't fret.

A quick note on combat - whilst the third-person perspective with the cover has been controversial with the fans, it does help keep things smooth. Combat in first person can see a little clunky, and the third person cover system helps smooth things over and also fits into what the game really is - it's not a first person shooter, after all. The cover system also really helps enhance the stealth elements of the game. Whether you shoot someone with a stun gun, or a silenced gun, or do a take down on them... how you kill people and in what order is key. Although if things degenerate into a massive fire fight, then you're pretty much allowed to just spray and pray.
How will you approach this - like a puzzle? Or like a room full of people who really need to die?

August really can't come quick enough - not since the Fallout games have we seen a game that's so immersive, and so story driven, and from what we can see this game won't have any of Obsidian's technical mistakes either. This is a true action/RPG that gamers can enjoy, and it carefully balances it's heavy themes to make sure no one is put off as well. If this isn't on your wish-list yet, now's the time to put it there, in bold ink, underlined a couple times, and don't forget to set a reminder on your phone... or your augmented brain chip. Either works.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is due out on PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on August 23rd in North America, and August 26th in Europe. The Aussies get it on August 25th, but we don't care about them...