Deus Ex: Cardboard Box Revolution

Been playing DE: HR for about 11 hours now, and I have come to some early conclusions.

  • Many of the design incentives are all screwed up.

It is one thing for your reward scheme to be rote enough that a player can earn XP for knocking out a guard, and then earn even more XP for killing the unconscious guard. Or that there are obviously invisible XP triggers in the duct-work, that encourage players to actually wander around up there long after there was a need to. Those are fine, whatever.

Where I begin to draw the line is the differences between hacking a computer and using the known passcode for the same computer. It is not just the XP that you get for doing the former: the hacking bit is actually fun and rewards its own loot. Not getting the hacking loot might be considered an acceptable “cost” for someone who never bothers to upgrade those skills, sure. But the game design in regards to hackers doesn’t make sense on two levels. 1) Using the passcode prevents you from playing the fun minigame, and 2) it makes no goddamn sense that you couldn’t unlock those secret files with full administrative access to the computer. If I can find secret files while hacking, why can’t I find secret files when I enter the password?

Of course, many people have commented on the above inconsistencies months ago. While I haven’t gone around killing the guards I knock unconscious or running around in the duct-work unnecessarily for the XP, I find the hacking bit to be especially jarring. That could be a sign of my atrophied “simulation is important” organ lurching back to life, but I prefer to think of it as the principal of the thing. If I’m a hacker-type and get your password, I should automatically get all the goodies on your computer. It’s only fair.

  • I’m getting nervous about my computer investment.

Perhaps its unrealistic expectations, but I honestly thought I’d boot up the game and play on the highest settings at 60+ FPS. That… is not the case. I turned some settings down, usually the ones with the acronyms that they don’t bother explaining, and am at a point where everything still looks good and plays smoothly. Considering Kotaku pointed out a deal today on a laptop with a i5-2430M, GeForce GT 555M for $695.20… I’m concerned I may not have got $500 more oomph for my money. Ultimately, it will come down to how BF3 plays, since that was my primary impetus for the purchase.

  • Did this game begin as a cardboard box simulator?

Seriously, you cannot walk 15 feet in-game without half a dozen cardboard boxes being highlighted in helpful yellow. At first I was confused about all this seemingly pointless interactivity. But that was before I got to the basement of the police station…

Nothing out of the ordinary here, Mr. Camera.

Directly behind me was a keycard reader I was hacking; behind the boxes is an oscillating video camera with its helpful green beams. In a break from FPS tradition (Bioshock, et tal), hacking in DE:HR forces you to stand up and do so in real time. After some close calls with attempting to disable the camera with my stun gun and hack my way through the door while getting all the goodies, I came upon the more… practical solution.

Posted on December 10, 2011, in Commentary and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Deus Ex: Cardboard Box Revolution.

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