Transhumanism: A Primer

We kick off our week of Deus Ex: Human Revolution coverage with the inside scoop on our exclusive visit to Eidos Montreal's office.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: August 14, 2011
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Dateline: August 11th, 2011

It's a beautiful early afternoon in Montreal, and here I am deep inside the Eidos Montreal studios, mildly annoyed. Yes, Level Designer JF Champagne is playfully nipping at me with his "cybernetic" arm (which looks suspiciously like a Fisher Price grabber toy) as I walk past him, but the real cause of my annoyance is a rumbling in my tummy. We haven't really eaten much today besides an early morning croissant, and I tend to get a little cranky when I don't get fed.

We're getting ahead of ourselves though… let's rewind to the start of the morning. Fifteen of the top journalists in the industry (and me) stroll through the lobby at Eidos and gaze at the giant poster of Lara Croft watching over us with her steely eyes. We file into the conference room and after signing the mandatory NDAs that primarily said we couldn't mention Thief 4 (I will NEVER call it Thi4f) if we happened to see any of it, we waited with bated breath for what came next (and ate the aforementioned croissant). Shortly thereafter, we were joined by Game Director Jean Francois Dugas and Art Director Jonathan Jacques-Belletęte who were looking striking in their casual vacation outfits. They tagged-teamed us with tales of their vision of transhumanity and the 4 pillars of the Deus Ex: Human Revolution gameplay. Those four pillars, for those that haven't heard yet, are Combat, Stealth, Hacking and Social.

Once we'd gotten the lowdown, we all headed out to spend some intimate time with a variety of the team to delve deeper into specific aspects of DX:HR and get our myriad questions answered. My first stop was with Frank Lapikas, Senior Game Designer, who wanted to talk to us about both the Hacking and Social sides of the "four pillars." If you hadn't heard, the Hacking in this game has taken the place of both Multitools and Lockpicks from prior entries in the series. My first worry was that we'd be seeing a return of the "Pipe Dream" repetitive mini-game that plagued BioShock. Instead we get something I would describe as both more interactive and less skill-based than BioShock. The most interesting part of this conversation, I think to all of us there, was when Frank showed us the original prototype for the Hacking system. Beautifully mocked up in an Excel spreadsheet (it's quite impressive what you can do with a little Visual Basic), the original plan called for a far more complex simulation of hacking that was reminiscent of the fantastic Uplink from Introversion Software. Proving to be too much for the "common man", it involved not only assigning processes to zombie terminals you had hacked earlier, but also physically moving your location throughout the room to avoid "real life" detection as well as cyberdetection.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Social game plays out like an advanced version of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Adam Jensen engaged a former friend in dialogue attempting to convince the man to allow him access to the morgue of the police station. In a system similar to Alpha Protocol, the player selects one of two or three "tones" to use to address your subject with, and the interplay continues along those lines with your adversary gradually becoming more receptive or hostile until he either gives you what you want or shuts you out. With the correct Augs, you get access to additional information, like your subjects personality traits and what they are likely to respond to, as well as a flashing indicator that tells you if they are Alpha, Beta, or Omega personality type. Results will carry over to future conversations, making later encounters with the same character either easier or downright difficult or even nonexistent. Of course this wouldn't be Deus Ex if you didn't have the option of skipping the conversation entirely by finding a different route in the the morgue or bringing enough firepower to bear on the situation that no one is left to oppose you.
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