The lights are on
Many gamers were disappointed when Square Enix revealed that Deus Ex would miss its original March 2011 release date. However, if what I saw at E3 is any indication, the game needs the extra time in development.
The demo involved protagonist Adam Jensen sneaking into a medical facility, showcasing more stealth scenarios than combat. This means that he spent a lot of time avoiding detection and looking for ways into places, so the demo had a heavy emphasis on the ways the players' choices will affect which options are available.
For instance, Jensen appears to run into a dead end when the only way to proceed is by falling down a long shaft. Because he has invested in a special ability, he can fall the distance without getting hurt. However, if he had not bought that upgrade, he'd have to turn around and find another way in. Another example surfaces when Jensen needs to cross into a new area, but the path is blocked by electricity. While an upgrade exists that allows him to traverse it, he didn't have it in this scenario, so instead he picked up a nearby vending machine and used it to jump up to another section of the facility.
Along the way, Jensen ran into a few patrolling guards, but he generally took them out quietly to avoid attracting attention. This was another puzzling aspect, though; performing takedowns on guards requires you to use one "charge" from an energy meter (which only had four charges in this demo). Once you've used them all, only the first charge regenerates, which means that after the initial expenditure, players could spend a lot of time waiting for their one charge to come back. Maybe it would make more sense if Jensen were using some awesome ability, but you can grab people and snap their necks without cybernetic augmentation...why does it require energy?
While Deus Ex successfully showed that there several ways to attain your objective in the medical compound, the trick with providing multiple options is that they should all be compelling. Otherwise, it feels you're just like walking through different doors that all lead to the same room, and it seemed like Deus Ex leans more toward providing lots of options rather than adding depth to them.
Maybe the stealth-focused demo just doesn't show off the things Deus Ex does best, but as a fan of RPGs and stealth games, I walked out of the demo feeling like the gameplay was culled from the last generation and dressed up with current-gen graphics.
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