Deus Ex, released in 2001, is a RPG/FPS game that became a cult success and mostly rested on two features: 1. you were free to finish all the missions using different paths or techniques (stealth, guns, etc), and 2. the story, which was filled with backstabbing, conspiracies, and interesting characters.
A sequel to the game came out a few years later, and gameplay was modified to “fit” the consoles (read: simplified), which caused a major backlash from the original game lovers. It also suffered from small areas and lots of loading screen. Suffice it to say, the second game wasn’t well received. The studio that made the first two games disappeared a few years ago, but Edios kept all the rights to the IP. Edios MontrÃ©al got the mandate, as their first game, to make a new Deus Ex game. They are still marketing it for PCs and consoles, but they brought with them many changes.
First, the game is a prequel set in 2027 (DX1 occurs in 2052) and pretty much acts like a “reboot.” The original game enters the cyberpunk category, and so does the third one. Except this time we can see the influence of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell (a Japanese anime) and not just the low futuristic themes. Like the first two games, the story is mostly about transhumanism and conspiracies. But unlike the first game, everything looks more high-tech, although the art direction is probably more in line with what we would expect now. They also changed the color palette to black and gold from the old blue and gray of the previous games. One of the major distinctions of the art style is the renaissance. I know that lots of people don’t like it, but personally, I think it is really good.
Another change they made was merging the augmentations with the skills. We can now upgrade augmentations and buy new ones in L.I.M.B clinics. We still get XP for completing objectives in the game as well, so it’s very much a RPG with FPS elements once again. Like the first game, Edios claims there will be multiple ways to finish missions, and this time we also have social “skills” (well, augmentations) to help us talk with characters and get what we want. Non-lethal weapons are still in, and so is stealth. Although, now stealth makes use of cover in the third-person perspective, so the game isn’t strictly a first-person game anymore.
The game now has a comic book going and a novel, Icarus Effect. I’m not that much into comic books, but I bought the novel, and if the game lives up to the book, we are in for a really good story. Although, with all the cameos and references, the book is really aimed at fans of the first game.
Caution is required, though: Edios MontrÃ©al gave the PC version to another studio (which resides in France) to do the “PC port” of the game. As of today, no screen or gameplay of the PC version has been seen, which makes me a bit nervous to the state of that version (I don’t own a console, nor a TV). But the community manager at the official forum does claim it’s his favorite version.
The game is published by Square (who bought Edios a few years ago) and is supposed to be released by the end of August 2011. Check DeuxCentral for more trailers, screenshots and information.