Today sees the release of the much anticipated prequel to one of gaming most loved titles – Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and What Culture’s very own Ed Moorhouse has the review here.
In the meantime he and some other members of the gaming team have been at work cooking up this collection of articles inspired by the game and its choice of options regarding approach. In order to celebrate the release and prepare you for the choices you’ll be asked to make, the team have prepared their own personal testimonials, each championing one the various styles of gameplay you can choose from i.e. Combat, Stealth, Social and Hacking.
Not limited to the Deus Ex franchise exclusively, our writers have taken it upon themselves to champion their favourite mechanics telling you why it’s the only way to play. Take a look and decide for yourself.
Social – Playing it Robo-Bond
By Ben Rayner
As the release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution crept ever closer I found myself thinking more and more about how I plan to play the game first, obviously I wont be sticking to one solid path (who can resist all the choices your given?!) but with the creative team behind this mammoth of a game pushing “the four pillars” of game play there’s things to plan…
Me and a few friends on WhatCulture have gotten together to talk through each pillar, to give our different views on each of our favourites and I’ve gone with the Social aspect of gameplay.
Don’t get me wrong, I love kicking down doors and tearing bad guys a new…. well let’s just say I like action, but I also love getting to play the silver tongued lothario who can get his way out of any situation just by his sharp wit and slick charms (perhaps this is a reflection of my real life wishful thinking).
Since games have moved on RPG’s have especially moved forward with titles such as Mass Effect building upon the speech mechanic allowing us to woo love interests or team mates, leaving us with the age old dilemma of who to choose, as well as talking your way out of a hugely taxing gun battle.
Even though this concept isn’t new, Deus Ex: Human Revolution looks like it has moved this social element forward even more, with every NPC in the game ready to spill important information if you can just hide around the right corner or better yet impress them with your command of the human language, so much so that they’ll be more than happy to shower you with that invaluable information.
Another important thing for me within this aspect is how much more you can enjoy within the game by taking the time to talk to all the characters you can; you’ll meet some really interesting and funny characters (although some might try to extort you for the privilege of a chat) and through these meetings you’ll get the chance to play some of the many (and I mean MANY) side missions this game has to offer.
So thats pretty much why I LOVE the idea of the social element to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it may seem like the boring option but trust me, casually strolling into the right areas, and talking your way through all situations like a futuristic James Bond can, and I’m sure will be, very rewarding!
Stealth – Killing Them Softly
By Jim Cross
Of course every player worth their salt will use a bit of hacking here, a bit of social interaction when necessary, and even indulge in a crafty headshot when needs must, but having played the game a day before it’s release, suspicions have been confirmed. Ultimately, the way to net the most XP in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is to do a bit of everything, scour every inch of the game and see all there is to see.
But that’s not why we’re here is it? After all, every player will favour one method, there’ll always be the “go to” mechanic and so what better opportunity to welcome the uninitiated to the glorious school of Stealth.
Stealth, you ask?
Stealth is being ten years old and sneaking downstairs after your “bedtime”, to watch the late night movie your parents are asleep in front of through the crack in the living room door. Stealth is pretending to be asleep when your dad brings the stocking into your bedroom on Christmas Eve in bad Santa outfit. Stealth is cheating at the test with the answers written on the bottom of your shoe, getting back into the club you were just kicked out of through the back door, having sex in your parent’s house while they’re asleep in the next room and stealing the last brownie.
Stealth, in no uncertain terms, is “getting away with it”.
The psychological thrill of being the unseen predator and running rings around your foes, taking them by surprise, outwitting them and out manoeuvring them is clear and apparent. Facing massive odds and coming out out unscathed and unnoticed is the name of the game. But even in games where stealth is an avoidance tactic i.e. where your character cannot face the obstacles in his or her way directly for whatever reason the joy still remains. Stealth get’s into your head, it transcends the simple mechanics that define it i.e. moving unseen and watching guard movement patterns. Indeed stealth creates a link between character and player that the straight up run and gun can’t.
Characters such as Snake and Sam Fisher are loved because they’re badasses yes, but more so because they let us take they’re potential for combat and play it out as we see fit. As Soap, Price or Roach in Call of Duty you shoot a hell of a lot of guys sure, but it’s the character and the character’s animations that reloads quickly, hold a steady aim and regenerate health by breathing heavily – he knows how to operate the gun, it’s his show – not yours. In stealth games your are given options and character skills of course, but you have to decide when and where to strike. Each kill, knock-out or non-lethal bypass seems more satisfying because you’re hands were behind the steering wheel more directly. You found the right vantage point, you timed your move correctly, you hid when you had to and struck at the opportune moment. Your polygonal puppet obliged but you gave the order.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory sits in a special place in the hearts of its fans. The culmination of that classic wait and pounce gameplay undoubtedly but also not least of all worthy of mention for that beautiful moment where on a certain level, should you sneak up on and interrogate one specific guard he will cry “I knew it! I knew there were ninja’s here”. Shooting a guy in the face is one thing, but sneaking up behind him and whispering in his ear is on whole new playing field of satisfaction.
At its best the stealth game is a series of challenges that punish the player for carelessness but reward him or her for subtlety and guile. Stealth games don’t high five you for a head shot, no indeed they shoot you a wry smile when you walk out unscathed with no one the wiser.
But then stealth doesn’t just allow you to pass your enemies unnoticed, it allows you to straight up dominate them. Hitman: Blood Money is part stealth em up, part shooter, part puzzle game but the reason it’s appeal remains so strong is in part because of the options it gives the player. You don’t have to be stealthy at all. Indeed, if you wish you’re welcome to massacre the rehab patients and play boy bunnies with your automatic twelve gauge till you’re blue in the face and red in the shirt. But, if you prefer, you can kill them all right under everybody else’s noses without ever breaking sweat. As 47 you can supe-up your pistols with meaty silencers and scopes –but more importantly, it’s actually possible to finish a level in five minutes flat, having murdered all your targets, engineering them all as apparent accidents and without anyone knowing you were even there.
If run and gun is for frat boys and those in need of a short term kick, stealth is the thinking man’s game. In games which give you a choice, such as the Elder Scrolls RPGs or the Deus Ex franchise, stealth affords the player more rewards. Overhearing a conversation, finding the secret weapon stash, sabotaging the security systems or sneaking to the top of a certain guard tower in Morrowind to find a certain game-ending-sword, only to then sneak back out into daylight unnoticed or whatever – the fact remains that the stealthy approach will always net players with more experience, resources, rewards and often too, more ambient story telling.
Arguably, one of the turning points for character and player development in the seminal Bioshock, is the moment where as a player you stop fearing the crazed denizens of Rapture; get the ‘natural camouflage’ gene tonic, (which allows you to become invisible when stationary) and start feeling like a predator to the splicers as opposed to the prey.
You may still be unconvinced by stealth, as there is of course the argument for it’s somewhat cowardly and passive nature. Yes, in Arkham Asylum Bats is a melee powerhouse as well as a ninja, but then not all stealth heroes are. Garret, of the much loved Thief series, may have been a master thief and shadow in the darkness – but then again he didn’t have much choice (see: embarrassing sword play).
Arguments of cowardice aside, the ultimate stealth joy is undoubtedly to be found in multiplayer. Playing as The Spy in Team Fortress Two is one thing, but landing a single but beautifully subtle game winning kill in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood‘s multiplayer is a euphoria not explicable in words. For those without the wits or patience stealth can be an incredible annoyance, but for those who can master it’s finer (and sharper) points, there really is nothing better. Trust in the knowledge that to sidle up to another human player and shiv him in the guts without him seeing it coming, is really something you have to experience first hand. And please – get the cold shower running before you do.
A kill streak in a shooter is one thing, but systematically murdering every other player in a game without ever biting it yourself is different. If you’re good at Halo you’ll boost your Kill/Death ratio, join a clan, move up the boards, maybe get respect or maybe and more depressing and more likely be subject to griefing. But if you were good at any of the Splinter Cell Franchise’ online versus modes you could grow to be genuinely feared. They don’t shout “lag switch!” when you creep up, whisper and snap ‘em – they just scream.
Choosing to ignore the unsettling psychological implications for a moment, the feeling of making other people actually fear you is an incredible and unmatchable high, indeed one of the best you’ll find in gaming.
So yes, exploration is key to success, hacking is vital for XP, social will let you worm you way your in and out but as far as how you conduct yourself otherwise – the choice is clear: Stealth doesn’t care how big your gun is or how much gold you have or how many points you’ve put into the conversation skill. Stealth is only interested in one thing – are you one stone cold son of a bitch? – because if you are, damn, are you gonna enjoy this . . .
Combat – If the Gun Works Why Shouldn’t You?
By Ed Moorhouse
I love stealth, I really do. Games that make stealth a key gameplay feature always get my attention. I generally reject games such as Call of Duty on the basis that people don’t heal from gunshot wounds within a few seconds. Now, I understand that people also don’t heal from taking painkillers, eating chickens or any of the other ludicrous ways that games have offered us health bonuses over the years. Still, some games offer a level of realism that regenerative health detracts from and military FPS games are the most guilty. Soldiers don’t run and gun, if they do they die. Still, while stealth and tactics are realistic and offer their own brand of awesome sauce, sometimes I just want to take names and kick arse.
Unlike my colleagues, I have played through Deus Ex: Human Revolution before writing this article, check out my review for what I thought about the game. I entered into the world of Deus Ex fully prepared to stealth my way through the entire game as I laugh maniacally in my living room and upset my neighbours. I tried people, I tried. I failed. The stealth works really well but I just found my self getting tired of sneaky sneaky and wondering what the high power rifle was like.
Now for the record, Adam Jensen has regenerative health (as well as consumable health boosts) but here’s the difference; he’s a frigging cyborg and he lives in the future……he’s allowed! So firstly I could get over him taking a quick breath and shaking off heavy artillery like it was a mild case of stitch but that doesn’t explain why I wanted to break away from stealth. Well, once again, it is down to the simple fact that he’s a cyborg! Why should a man with millions of dollars (or perhaps billions of Yen as that is the in-game currency) hide in the shadows. Robocop doesn’t hide, Terminators don’t hide, Bruce Lee didn’t hide and he wasn’t even a cyborg, so why the hell should Adam Jensen hide? Adam Jensen should walk into a room, pop a guard in the head and then proceed to cut them down like pine trees at Christmas.
That is genuinely how I felt during the game, I wanted people to know that I wasn’t just super good at sneaking about but that I could clearly introduce my self and still own the room. There were times when I wanted to revenge, there were times when I just wanted to see what would happen but mostly there was just a room full of people with the ability to kill me but instead I killed them and they watched me do it one by one. Unlike most games that use stealth Deus Ex allows this to happen. The guns can and will blow your enemies to smithereens, the levels do give you ample cover and the enemies don’t respawn until you are hidden from sight.
Jensen isn’t a tank, he cannot even take as much damage as a Call of Duty protagonist but it is a game that makes you think tactically regardless of your approach and that is why I love the combat so much, you genuinely feel like you are out performing your foes. If you just hide in cover and don’t shoot people they will flank you, grenade you and even just walk up and shoot you in the face. These are not the equivalent of AI turrets but increasingly challenging opponents that you must thwart.
If you came from COD and tried to transfer your skills to Deus Ex you would be faced with a lot of loading screens. Deus Ex makes you re-evaluate your FPS playing style and it rewards you for doing so. It succeeds in the same way that Batman: Arkham Asylum succeeded in that it makes you genuinely feel as empowered as the character is supposed to be. You are a killing machine (at least partly) and it shines through the gameplay in a glorious hue.
Like I said before, I love stealth but I was seduced by Deus Ex into doing more than just pouncing in the dark.
Hacking – Don’t Speak – Just Open Up, Baby
By Matt Mann
In Deus Ex Human Revolution there are four gameplay pillars combat, social, stealth, and of course the best method hacking. There is no better gameplay mechanic in the entire world than hacking. Almost every game that comes out now has some form of hacking BioShock, Mass Effect, Fallout 3, and now Deus Ex Human Revolution. Everybody loves hacking, just look at Commander Shepard in Mass Effect; he has to save the entire galaxy but still has time to stop and rob people by hacking into their vaults and stealing the contents inside.
Now you may be asking yourself okay that is all well and good but why should I choose to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution as a hacker instead of any of the other three gameplay pillars?
The answer is simple, because hacking makes the other modes of gameplay obsolete.
For example, you know those guards you are hiding from? Well I just hacked a terminal, and they are now being killed by their own turret system. Same thing for combat, why kill the men yourself when you can just as easily hack a terminal and watch as the guards all get wiped out by their own giant mech?
Oh and guess what, you know that locked door you are standing in front of? It isn’t going to be opened even with your rocket launcher so don’t waste your missiles, you will need to hack to get inside it. OR you could waste a lot of time sifting through all the dead guards looking for the key to the door, (if there is one) but since I am hacking my way through the game this won’t be a problem.
All joking aside, hacking will probably be the most useful tool you have in your vast array of augmentations. But you don’t have to take my word for it (yes a Reading Rainbow reference); here is an excerpt from one of the numerous reviews out there about how awesome hacking is:
Hacking is by far one of the most essential elements of the game, and it’s highly recommended that hack augmentations are equipped early. Not only does hacking net significant amounts of XP (used to obtain “Praxis” kits, which buy new augmentations) and cash, it also unlocks doors to vital equipment and plot-sensitive areas, rewards players with heaps of cool information and Easter eggs, and eliminates various security measures such as lasers, alarms, cameras and turrets.
This quote justifies everything I have said up to this point, which is hacking is the only way to play this game. You can use combat and stealth to help you out but at the end of the day hacking will get you in more doors, unlock more equipment, and is a necessity for anyone who wants to use the stealth method of gameplay (unless you want to try stealth without shutting off cameras and alarms).
In other words, if you want to actually beat Deus Ex Human Revolution you will need to be a hacker.
So what do you think? How will you be playing transhuman hero Adam Jensen? Will you be kicking down doors and taking names? Is hacking really the only option? Will you play the game different ways in multiple playthroughs? Let us know in the comments below.
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This article was first posted on August 26, 2011