I've got a slight dilemma here. On the one hand, I'm absolutely dying to tell you all about my recent hands-on with Deus Ex: Human Revolution; on the other I'm being held hostage by the angry gunman in my head who absolutely hates the discussion of spoilers, in every size, shape and form. I'm quite tempted to listen to his irate demands - partly because I totally agree with him, and partly because I don't know what will happen if he starts blazing away with his imaginary AK-47.
We've actually another preview in the pipeline for Human Revolution. Due to embargo restrictions, today I'm only allowed to discuss what happens in the opening sequence, the 15 to 20 minute interlude that sets out the game's paranoid, cyberpunk conspiracy stall (generally the one next to the tombola at the school fête). In a couple of weeks I'll be able to talk about the first "proper" mission, and in doing so I'll be able to go into detail with regards to the Mr Jensen's various skills and party tricks; for now, however, I'll be sticking to the intro - and thanks to the aforementioned spoiler-terrorist, I'll be proceeding with extreme care for your sensitivity to narrative. Lie back in my dentist's chair, and let me go to work with my preview drill. This won't hurt a bit... honest.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution begins with our leading man, the gruff Adam Jensen, heading to his place of work - the super high-tech Sarif Industries. These guys are a bit like Apple, only rather than making shiny consumer gadgets that fit in the palm of your hand, they make shiny consumer gadgets that are the palm of your hand. If you've just suffered a 127 Hours-style boo-boo, and your right shoulder now ends in a bloody mess, Sarif will happily sort you out with a mechanical workaround. Naturally, you'll have to stump up the cash; I'm going out on a limb here, but I a bet these things cost an arm and a leg. I can't think of any more amputation jokes - but you get the idea.
In any case, the point is that Sarif Industries are the leading experts in transhumanist technologies. Like Apple, Sarif has its detractors, but where today's iCritics tend to just write whiny blog posts on their HTC smartphones, Sarif's naysayers favour a more violent, let's-poke-Camilla-Parker-Bowles-with-a-stick-style approach to protest. At the start of Human Revolution, it's clear that everyone at Sarif is a bit nervous. Something is clearly about to happen. And then... something does.
In the interests of avoiding unwanted spoilers, I'm not going to state exactly what happens to Adam on this fateful day. Suffice it to say the intro is neatly divided into two segments. In the first, we're introduced to Adam's colleagues, and furthermore to a number of plot threads that will (presumably) tie into everything that follows; the latter half then acts as your first real introduction to the game's stealth and combat mechanics, as events take a serious turn for the worse.
While the sinister conversation of the opening cutscene is a clear nod to the original Deus Ex, it's Half-Life that springs to mind during everything that follows. Sarif Industries feels like a living, breathing workplace, and everywhere you look there's a neat detail to reward your curiosity. Through a window, a pair of mechanical legs can be observed jogging on a treadmill; elsewhere, test dummies are devastated by a brutal-looking claymore device. Adam's movement through the facility is fixed, but we're free to shift his gaze around as we like. And where Dr Freeman was a mute witness to the pre-resonance cascade world of Black Mesa, Adam actively converses with the colleagues he passes by. He's the head of security, after all - it's his job to know things.