Much like the threat of death or mistakes in Heavy Rain, it's pretty clear the developers want gamers to live with their mistakes rather than trying to prevent them. After a brief exchange with the man in the cybernetic arm, Jensen was forced to retreat from the social battle during the demo session, giving him no choice but to find some other way of getting the information he needed. After some eavesdropping on some local thugs, Jensen learned of a way to bypass the club's security in hopes of sneaking into Tong's office. A brief stealth section followed after Jensen bypassed security via a stolen door code, showing off the game's third-person sneaking elements, which work like a stripped-down Metal Gear (you can hug walls, perform stealth takedowns, and hide bodies). Although with so many gameplay systems working at once the AI doesn't seem too complex—no guard is ever going to notice that his buddies have suddenly all disappeared, for instance—stealth in Human Revolution is much more of a "point A to point B" affair, though I was told for those who want to utilize stealth more there will be upgradable augmentations for that purpose.
The second half of the E3 demo was much more straightforward. Tracking the hacker to the bayside harbor, Jensen infiltrated an industrial warehouse area crawling with guards who were then dispatched by the demo rep in a number of ways. Jensen's battle armor has retractable blades not unlike the weapons used to swiftly attack in Assassin's Creed, and he can brutalize enemies using takedowns with them in a number of ways: running them through, stabbing them in the back with acrobatic flourish, even just knocking enemies out. Jensen's augmentations in the demo also allowed him to ambush a group of enemies from above with what looked-like a cluster of mini-carpet bombs that launched in a circle around his body when he body hit the ground. Though again I was informed that the whole dock warehouse segment could be played with stealth, by the end of the demo, guns were blazing. Jensen had a variety of weaponry available to him, from standard pistols and machine guns to bazookas and a crossbow. The icing on the cake came when, inside a warehouse, Jensen was spotted by some guards who called for backup, which arrived in the form of a Fuchikoma-esque spider tank—a scripted moment that would have never happened if Jensen hadn't been spotted. The segment ended with Jensen coming face-to-face with a hulk of a man, grotesquely augmented with a retractable cybernetic hand that transformed into a gatling gun.
The second demo shown involved Jensen undertaking a heist in the middle of the police station in Detroit, just one of the locales you'll be spending time in during the events of Human Revolution. The goal of the mission was simple: Jensen had to get to the police station's morgue and extract a brain chip containing valuable data from a corpse being housed there. Though the demo segment was relatively short—generally taking about fifteen minutes to complete, the dev team ran through it three times, with Jensen choosing to approach the situation differently.
The first approach was the most obvious: blast through everything that moves. Once inside the police station, only the lobby is available for public access. Beyond the front desk, there was a guard that warned Jensen that the rest of the station was a restricted area. Barging through anyway, every cop in the place suddenly drew their arms, and what followed was a series of shootouts that showcased some of Jensen's offensive augmentation abilities. One of the most useful (and innovative) moves Jensen could use was moving heavy objects during a shootout and strategically arranging them to provide cover. It may not sound like much, but using movable cover was actually an effective defensive strategy, and certainly not one seen in most other games (at least outside of using riot shields). After killing everyone in the station, Jensen was able to easily nab the brain chip from the corpse and make his escape.
The second scenario involved a different approach: as it turns out, the desk clerk at the station used to be Jensen's old partner, who was demoted after an incident involving the fatal shooting of an augmented fifteen-year old boy. Using social skills, Jensen gets the poor sap to open up about the incident, where it's revealed that he actually took the fall, after Jensen refused to follow orders to fire on the boy. His partner wasn't so lucky, and has been playing desk jockey ever since. Although you have the option to simply demand your ex-partner allow you to roam through the police station at will, he did not seem keen on the idea during the demo session. However, by talking through his past with him (and the promise of helping him out of his situation as best he can), Jensen was able to gain access to the rest of the station. Of course, since the cops aren't your enemies this time, you can choose to talk with them and get additional information (including the location of a non-lethal stungun you can choose to use if you're not the bloodletting type). Upon arriving at the morgue, you are mistaken for someone else—the brain chip contains data that would be of use to certain parties in the game that may or may not be opposing Jensen—and, going along with the case of mistaken identity, Jensen is able to retrieve the chip.
On the last playthrough, Jensen was able to break into the police station going through a nearby entrance to the sewers. Although this puts you at the furthest point from the morgue, Jensen's stealth abilities make getting there easy: taking a cue from Metal Gear, Jensen is equipped with stealth camo (our hero was given unlimited energy for augmentation abilities for the demo session). Along with stealth and x-ray vision (think Arkham Asylum), Eidos Montreal promised there would be a host of others. Getting through the police station required navigating some cloaked shootouts, the biggest issue was getting past the security system that had the morgue on lock-down. Thankfully, Jensen's hacking abilities—getting through a security system without activating any subroutines—made short work of the alarm. As before, Jensen was mistaken for someone else and allowed to take the brain chip.
If the demo session at Eidos Montreal was any indication, it seems pretty clear the developers have gone to great lengths to make an experience that allows to approach any given scenario in any number of ways (within reason). Given the tunnel vision that so many games seem to suffer from these days, I can't wait to see more. Hopefully Eidos Montreal's hard work will pay off when the game hits sometime next year.
CCC Freelance Writer