jp's Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PS3)
| [August 29, 2012 10:40:29 PM]
| Woohoo, finally finished it!
Overall I'm incredibly happy and satisfied with the game. It's the sort of game that lingered in my mind as I would go to sleep (I mean this in a good way). Not so much for the story or the ideas expressed in the game about the future of mankind, evolution, or those sorts of things, but more for the setting. This will sound incredibly stupid and perhaps even a little shallow, but I just enjoyed wandering around in the game. I enjoyed hacking devices, and I enjoyed the music. A lot.
I agree with dkirshner's assessment about the (lack of) depth in the NPCs. It didn't really bother me all that much because I saw them as "window dressing" in the same way that many of the locations were designed with cool furniture and that sort of thing. So, things to look at and "take in", but not so much to interact with. I suspect that for a game this size, having interesting NPCs would have been too much for me...I would have never finished the game simply due to wanting to talk to the NPCs!
Curiously, the final battle was a huge mess (for me). I did everything right, but it wasn't until later that I realized what it was I was actually doing! I spent most of the time running around pushing buttons and then hacking some terminals...and then it was over. I'm not complaining, because by now I was ready for the whole thing to end..but still. Also, I might have been a bit thrown off by the last section of the game. I found it an incredibly refreshing change of pace and creepy as hell at the same time. I actually felt bad about mowing down (semi-)innocent civilians!
I'm also incredibly grateful for the possibility to easily see all of the different endings (4!). I suspect that some people were annoyed by the fact that you don't really have to commit to any particular path (e.g. support Sarif all the way?) until the very end - but the flipside of that is that you have probably been thinking about all those issues as a player anyways. When I reached the end I had a clear idea of what I did NOT want to do. So, does it matter how you play if you can make any old choice at the end? I think it does, because you've essentially made up your mind about certain things along the way, you've decided how you feel about the augs, you've seen and heard about the issues, and so on. So, it's not really like you're making any old choice. To me it felt more like I was having to make a choice after carefully thinking, sifting, reflecting, and experiencing everything. In fact, although the end of the game is essentially a cut-scene, I thought it was really cool that Jensen's voiceover acknowledges how you chose to play the game. It felt like Jensen (in his monologue at the end) was reflecting on what I had done as a player (in the guise of his reflecting on how he had acted throughout the game). Way cool! I suspect there's probably very few variations - after all, Jensen's voice was recorded! It did feel quite personal though. I watched all 4 endings one after the other and Jensen's monologue was similar when reflecting on my gameplay style, but filtered through the lens of the choice that was made at the end of the game. Again, very cool because they weren't exactly the same.
So, what was my personal choice? I opted for the 4th choice - it all went down in flames.
On a "not so cool" note - while it was fun to see photos of the game development team, it was a bit disappointing to notice that it was basically a white-male production (with the exception of the asian partners, of course). It's an important issue in the games industry as a whole, and I would have been positively surprised had there been more diversity in the team, but still.
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| [August 25, 2012 03:30:07 PM]
| I played a few more hours last night and pretty much wrapped up (I think) the return to Detroit part of the game. This included 2 sidequests that weren't that hard. Now that I think about it, the "main" mission parts weren't that hard either. I'm sure this will change, but for the moment I've enjoyed feeling super powerful. Since I've been completing most of the sidequests, playing stealthily, and hacking anything with a light on it, I've been able to accumulate a lot of experience points. These turn into "praxis points" that you use to purchase cybernetic upgrades. I've got pretty much everything I wanted and am now spending points on things that seem cool to have. For example, I have the jump higher option, the fall-from-any-height option, and so on. When I play the game now, I actually feel a lot like the character (Jensen) is supposed to be: badass.
But maybe I'm actually better? I was able to beat the 2nd boss on my first attempt (yes, playing on "easy"). I had prepared with a fully upgraded cybernetic weapon system whose name I forget. That stunned the boss - and I then went full-clip with the heavy rifle. I was REALLY surprised I was able to defeat her on my first attempt...
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| [July 21, 2012 12:53:08 PM]
| I have a pretty decent idea of what modern AI is able to do (or not) in videogames. So, I always find it rather amusing to read about how people "trick" AI in certain games. For example, the "pot over the head" in Skyrim. Deus Ex's AI isn't perfect by a long shot, but it definitely does a lot of things right. When things go wrong (or certain opportunities are missed), it's quite amusing.
The other night I was completing a side-mission in the Hive nightclub. I had to hack into a terminal on the wall. The problem is that there was a bouncer posted in a corner who never moved and was staring straight at the wall terminal. I tried to hack it a few times, but he'd get suspicious and come over before I could finish. Since I had a few upgrade points stashed, I tried upgrading my cybernetics so I could turn invisible (for a limited time). I hoped that with the 10 seconds or so of invisibility I'd be able to hack the terminal before the bouncer became hostile. That didn't work either.
Then I noticed that when the bouncer became suspicious, he'd leave his post and wander over to my location (and out of sight of the other bouncers in the club). A-ha! I thought I'd quickly knock him out and get to the hacking. So, I tried that...but the other boncers would notice too soon and rush over with guns drawn . At first I thought it was a line-of-sight issue, but I then realized it was the patrons who were sitting nearby who got jittery when I knocked the bouncer out and alerted the other guards.
What to do?
I deciede to try a straight up violent approach to see if I could survive the (small army) of bouncers. So, I shot the first bouncer...and then died a few times.
Ok, time to try again. This time I shot the bouncer and ran away. I ended up hiding in the DJ's booth. I waited, and then waited some more for the alarms to die off. For a while I thought they wouldn't, but they did.. and I wandered back up the stairs to the corner where the bouncer used to stand. I was expecting another guard to have taken his place, the body removed, and so on. So, I was quite surprised to see the dead bouncer on the floor, the patrons relaxed and enjoying their drinks, and the cost clear for my hacking.
Hello? There's a dead person on the floor right there in front of you!
I understand why this happened, so I'm not criticizing the game or the AI. Partly its due to the need for games to have systems that "reset". Thing of them as loops that go back to their initial state after a while. It's what helps us (as players) experiment in games, try things out. It also helps the game adapt to player agency and behavior. So, if I want to leave the game on with my character standing there, nothing will happen. Time won't "pass", the club won't close, etc.
So, the problem of the dead guard on the floor reflects the challenge the game designer's faced: they want the game to remember that I shot a guard (and they want it to matter in some sense), but they also need to keep the complexity down to a manageable degree - some things need to be forgotten! (the patrons got scared, but then go back to their regular state).
A few minutes later, however, I witnessed another "issue" with the AI that's slightly different.
After hacking the terminal (which controls the club's A/V setup - including some huge screens outside the club) I step outside and meet up with Malik. She's the one who asked me to hack the terminal in the first place, and is the one I'm doing the side quest for (a friend of hers was murdered by someone connected - she wants payback). We exchange words and she tells me to stick around for the rest of the show. Suddenly, the clubs giant screens flicker and start showing pictures of the murderer and playing the audio from his confession (that I had obtained minutes earlier). Malik and I talk a bit more about how I should never cross her and so on.
The issue? No one else in the game seems to care. As this happens, I'm standing next to a cop who is oblivious to what's going on and doesn't seem to care either. I talk to him, and he responds something that's totally irrelevant for the situation. I was hoping/expecting at least some of the characters to visibly react to what just happened. For example, the cop could have said something about it... but nothing.
This second example represents something of a missed opportunity - the could have scripted some reactions or had a few more lines of dialogue that referred to this. But no...
In all, it was quite the bizarre situation - perhaps understandable due to the sci-fi context. In a cyberpunk future, perhaps people aren't fazed as much by these things?
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| [July 19, 2012 10:15:44 PM]
| Played a bit more last night...
I'm not in Shanghai which is somewhat of a disappointment. Mostly, because in terms of the colors, it looks/feels the same. Yellowish. I guess I was expecting the color palette to vary significantly from Detroit, but no. The yellowish (which is nice!) must be the palette for the entire game. That's ok. As far as locations go however, the architecture/layout is entirely different and Shanghai definitely feels foreign when compared to Detroit. I think it's actually kind of cool how many of the things are similar, while others have changed. Also, I really got into hearing the sounds of the city (and the chinese spoken by random NPCs).
I've been making some progress on multiple sidequests (collecting money for a barman, solving an old crime, helping a prostitute) and one in particular got me thinking...
So, there's basically a creep who needs to be "put in his place". The plan is for me to knock him out and then either plant drugs in his apartment (so the cops will lock him up) OR drop him off a ledge. For the latter, presumably he'll die, but people will think it's an accident. I chose the former (plant the drugs) and left it at that. However, I later discovered that there's an achievement for dropping him off the ledge.
What to do?
I'll admit I was tempted by the achievement but I wasn't looking forward to having to replay part of the game. I also wasn't sure how the saved game system works. Could I go to an earlier save, drop the guy, earn the achievement, and then re-load a later save (in which I had planted the drugs). Or, would the game catch on to that and...well, do something.
In the end I went back and dropped the guy off the ledge. I can't say I'm proud about it (hey, I have one more achievement?!), but it got me thinking about how achievements alter the way you play a game as well as how you think about a game. The game has some achievements for doing "evil" things, but also a few others for "good" things. Does having an evil achievement incentivize unethical actions in the game? Or does it encourage greater reflection? Are there people who, knowing about the achievement, refuse to follow along with some of the actions required out of principle? Perhaps. I'm genuinely interested...
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| [July 5, 2012 09:54:07 AM]
| I finally reached the moment I'd been dreading for quite a while: my first boss fight. I'm really bad at the combat in this game, so I was even more worried about this fight than usual. I was ready for some intense frustration followed by the sad decision to quit playing the game.
Things started off quite inauspiciously. I would die in a few seconds. Mostly because I'd fumble trying to pick up a fire extinguisher from a column (get shot), and then try to throw it at the bad guy (name forgotten) only to either die...or miss (and then die). I then tried to run around and see what else there might be available in the area - and died a lot as a result of my crouching by mistake (while trying to sprint). When I get nervous I tend to squeeze the controller, which means that I end up pressing L3 (or R3, or both) more often than I'd like. This means crouching in this game. Sigh.
My desperate scouting revealed "better" things to lob at the baddie (like exploding barrels) but I wasn't successful in throwing or shooting them. What a mess.
I then decided to lower the difficulty level to "Easy" (I had been playing on "Normal") in hopes that it might make some difference. This worked in the sense that I would die less quickly, but I was able to at least figure out a few new strategies: stun the baddie, then shoot him point blank, then stun again, and so on. The idea was better than my execution, and there is a significant (for my purposes) delay in the reload/change weapons animation that made my attempts less exploitative than I was hoping they'd be. And then something strange happened.
In one of the corners I found a large canister that seemed explosive but had (I think?) some sort of bio-hazard label on it. I clumsily tried to lob at the bad guy only to have him shoot it down halfway. It exploded and let a large green cloud that, after I waited a little bit, didn't dissipate. Oh well. Having exhausted my taser, and running out of regular ammunition (as well as "health pills"), I decided to run around some more to see what I could fine. I got shot up quite a bit, didn't find anything useful, and was crouching in a corner when, all of a sudden: big bad boss keeled over.
I'm not sure what happened exactly. I know I didn't shoot him. My only theory is that he wandered into the green cloud and...well, died. Had I done this on purpose, it would be pretty cool. But it wasn't. I'm not even sure that's what really happened...
In any case, to make up for the surprise, I spent the next hour or so backtracking into all the areas I'd missed and hacking all the terminals for fun.
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| [June 6, 2012 03:23:12 PM]
| I was quite worried about going back to this since several months have passed. Several months in which I could forget everything about the game (controls, what I was doing, the story so far, etc.). To be fair, I only plunked it in because I got annoyed that Homefront had crashed. So, I played Deus Ex out of spite.
I booted the game up and I'm crouching behind a desk in some office. I can hear people talking but I have no idea where I am, why I'm there, and what I was trying to do. This didn't bode well..
However, to its credit, the game is SO WELL DESIGNED (I was truly impressed), that after a few minutes I was able to figure out where I was, what I was supposed to do, what I was likely trying to do, and how to go about it. Wow. In fact, quite a few of the things I was confused about before, now seemed to make a lot of sense!
The game wasn't any easier (I still die a lot), but I felt like I was able to make some real progress, uncover some more of the story, and so on. I'm currently infiltrating a FEMA facility and absolutely dreading the idea that I'll soon run into a boss fight. I've heard terrible things about them and I'm worried that I won't be able to beat the boss and have to quit.
I'm really digging the setting and how it resonates so well with my (embarrasing?) love for all things cyberpunk. Please, let this game be patched for the boss fights before I get to one!
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| [November 21, 2011 10:09:49 AM]
| I've always been (well, since the early 90's) a big fan of cyberpunk and this game seems to push all the right buttons. So, I've been pretty excited about it (and a tad disappointed to hear about some of the issues people have been having with the game - especially boss fights..)
Anyways, to say I was excited last night when I popped the game in would be an understatement. And then BAM! there's an update. Sigh. And then BAM! It needs to install on the HD...really? Sigh.
A few minutes later and there I am...looking at some cutscenes (a few with minor interactivity - mostly for looking around). This is going to sound petty, but I was surprised by how "not so good" the graphics/animation seemed. It's probably an issue with my expectations, but it seems like both Heavy Rain and Uncharted 2 looked better. I suspect I'll outgrow that as I become more engaged with the game's setting.
So, the first thing you're supposed to do (in order to learn the controls and whatnot) is head down to the lab because there's some (major!) issue. At this point Jensen (the character you control) has no cybernetic implants (something I was curious about, since he has them on the cover of the box). No surprise in that the whole affair ends badly (we can still save him! Cue "Robocop"...) I was surprised by how hard I found the game so far. I died more than several times trying to take out some intruders. I usually died a few seconds within being spotted. I guess I was used to "usual" FPS games where you can take several hits without dying...and I was still figuring out the controls as well. This was slightly frustrating since Jensen is supposed to be the head of security and a tough ex-SWAT operative to boot. Oh well...
Given how the scene ends, I rationalized that maybe I was up against cyber-enhanced operatives and that it makes a whole lot of sense that I was dying a bunch. Wait until I've got my cybernetic implants - THEN I'll be awesome. Except that I wasn't. Major disappointment there - although I'm starting to get a little bit better since I've realized that stealth matters for a lot and that its usually better (easier and more experience points) to take out enemies quietly and silently. There's also a cover system that is kind of awkward (I've died a few times while trying to peek around a corner or when a guard walks into the room and I'm "stuck" on the cover and too slow to react).
So, all my disappointment so far, I must admit that there is some neat stuff. For one, the HUD system is explained via the cyberimplants (there was none in the first mission, which I thought was odd, but now makes perfect sense), and the tutorials are pretty neat as well. In a nutshell, they're short videos that play in the game and the prompt for them appears when you should be about to use whatever is explained. The videos are neat because they actually take place in the area you're currently in and even offer "tactical" advice if you pay close attention.
So, feelings so far? Definitely still interested but a little surprised and frustrated with how often I end up dying/losing. The RPG elements seem more important than I imagined, but I guess I'll get used to them. It feels a little grindy like Bioshock in the sense that you want to pick everything up JUST IN CASE...
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jp's Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PS3)
Current Status: Finished playing
GameLog started on: Sunday 20 November, 2011
GameLog closed on: Wednesday 29 August, 2012