The Joy of the Replay: Deus Très – Part One
A lot of games claim to be ripe for replaying, “you won't see it all in the first play through” is a line developers love to throw out at press conferences, but how different can a game actually be from play through to play through? And how do you go about differentiating your play-throughs, is it just a difficulty thing? Or do you go with a different strategy in mind each time?
I decided to try and answer a few of these questions by taking a look at one of personal favourite “multiple-path” titles, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, by comparing three different play-throughs and the strategies I used. Oh and yes, there will be spoilers.
...Get it? Deus Très? Because it sounds like Deus Ex? And I'm playing it three times? … and it's French for three?! Eh, forget it.
Play Through One: Quick and Dirty
Strategy: If it's red, it's dead. Take no prisoners, leave no enemy undefeated.
Weapon of Choice: Assault Rifle
Augment of Choice: The Typhoon
Attempted Achievements: Trooper: Finish the game on normal (completed)
This was my original review playthrough, and as I usually do with this kind of game I decided to go on a guns-blazing hitman-esque murder-spree to see the story and get a real feel for the weapons.
And it didn't disappoint.
From killing guards with my sword arms (that's right, SWORD ARMS) to annihilating them with the shotgun, explosive pistol rounds, grenades and the occasional crossbow bolt or well placed mine. I had a blast (pun intended).
A few highlights for me were headshotting a guy with a hostage at the end of the first level – you gotta love the classic “TAKE THE SHOT” over the shoulder headshot while he presses a gun against her head – and using the Typhoon to take out about 8 guys in one shot.
What's a typhoon? Well for anyone who hasn't played Deus Ex (for shame), the Typhoon is a short range explosive system which launches ball bearings from your suit in a 360 degree angle, exploding anything within 5 feet or so. It doesn't discriminate, and friend or foe (usually foe) is wiped from the face of the earth in a matter of seconds.
I'm pretty sure it came close to giving me an erection each time I used it. That's a good thing.
By the end of the run I was happy. I managed to do a little bit of sneaking here and there, a silenced pistol got a fair bit of use, and I left a trail of bodies in my wake to rival the Kim Jong-Il administration. Even when I attempted to go non-lethal, some problems were solved by violence. I strongly remember walking up behind an unsuspecting prostitute in a brothel and trying to knock her out (get your mind out of the gutter) so I could get through a door without her yelling, and instead of the quiet smothered-into-unconciousness which I had planned – my character did a full on robot punch knock-out which I'm fairly certain broke half the bones in her face.
Still, there was a lot of fun to be had. It was, as the title suggested, quick and dirty – but with plenty of happy memories to speed me on my way.
Play Through Two: Let's Hold Hands
Strategy: Killing is bad. Non-lethal take downs are good. Also I should probably do some stealthy things.
Weapon of Choice: Tranquilizer Rifle
Augment of Choice: Cloaking Device
Attempted Achievements: Legend: Finish the game on Hard (completed), Pacifist: Finish the game without killing anyone (failed), Foxiest of the Hounds: Finish the game without setting off any alarms (failed)
As you can probably tell, I may have tried to do a little too much on this playthrough. The hardest difficulty without killing anyone or setting off the alarms? It fell somewhere on the on the line between ambitious and impossible – and probably a little closer to the impossible end.
I set off with some stealth upgrades and a tranquilizer rifle (which takes about 2-3 seconds to knock someone out, and they can then be woken back up if a guard spots them) and attempted to get through the game knocking out guards left right and center when I couldn't just walk through without being seen at all (the in game bonus for this is called “ghost” - I was almost as bad as a ghost as Patrick Swayze).
In hindsight, I may have approached this from the wrong mindset. Sure, I had a lot of fun stuffing unconcious guards into grates and timing some slick melee knock outs for when a previously shot tranquilizer dart triggered – but I may have been a little too focused on my weapons and take downs and a little less on completing my achievements.
The moment of supreme idiocy was when, having assumed I had worked out that the game classified an unconcious guard as “dead” regardless of what happened to him after being knocked out, I dropped one down an elevator shaft.
6 hours later when I didn't get the Pacifist achievement, I would realise my mistake.
Still, it was funny the different approach I took to some of the situations present in my first play-through. The man with the hostage? Well I shot him with my dart gun. He executed the victim before my dart kicked in.
I would make a horrible police officer.
But when it came to augments (or talents as they would be called in other games) I made much more varied use of the invisbility and hacking abilities than I had in my first play through. By the end I had not only learned quite a bit about the backstories of the different companies I infiltrated (nobodies email was safe from my hacking skills) but had also done a few speed hacks during the 5-10 second duration of my invisbility cloak.
All up, I was impressed how the non-lethal weapons actually seemed more interesting at times than the lethal ones – it was almost as if I took the easy way out the first time around, and I was finally playing as the game was meant to be played. I even got to knock out the same 8 guys at once that I typhooned the first time around, with a skillfully placed gas grenade.
And it was the hardest difficulty afterall, so even though I missed the odd achievement (I definitely set off a few alarms here and there), I was happy with the playthrough.
For my last Play-through and concluding thoughts check Part Two of this article.