To support this freedom for the player, every major problem in the game has several solutions. For example, a few minutes into the demo Jensen needed to get into a nightclub called The Hive – a flashy joint with huge video screens filling its exterior walls. In the presentation, the demonstrator took the simplest path and simply paid to get in – but there are numerous ways to gain access. You might talk your way past the hefty bouncer, beat him up or even kill him. Alternatively you might be able to find another way into the building, either via a backdoor or a through a sewer pipe that comes into the club. Some of these entrances are more obvious than others, so it might be helpful to interview local NPCs for hints and suggestions.
The hazy interior of The Hive was just as detailed as the outside world, and contained even more characters: tough-looking punks slouching on seats, and nubile dancers strutting their stuff nearby. Jensen was looking for a man named Tong – the club owner, and suspected associate of the local Triads. After a quick chat with one of the barmen downstairs, the player proceeded to a more secluded area in the upper levels of the club, where a weathered old man was keeping watch over a second bar. This new character looked particularly ravaged by the effects of time: like Jensen, one of his arms was made entirely out of steel mechanisms, while his face was covered with strange red coloured patches, somewhere between a birthmark and a serious burn. He looked decidedly creepy, but Jensen seemed determined to find out what he could.
As with the earlier interaction with the bouncer, the conversation with the barman resulted in a shift to a cinematic third-person perspective, with the camera cutting to Jensen whilst he spoke. Like Mass Effect and its derivatives, Deus Ex uses a dialogue system based on general approaches, rather than fully spelling out what you might say. At important junctures, the D-pad is used to choose between several different angles of approach, each represented by simple one or two-word titles (although a more detailed explanation seems to pop up, if you want one). These options aren't your typical RPG fodder, either: in the case of the barman, Jensen was given the choice of "Advise", "Insist" and "Pinpoint," - each employing wildly different tactics. There was a pleasing sense of underlying psychology here, in that it genuinely felt like the player was trying to reason with and outsmart the barman. Jensen attempted to persuade the barman that it was in his interests to set up a meeting with Tong, because he had information that would benefit his organisation; the barman replied that Tong was already well aware of the hacker in question, and that his operations were too insignificant to be of interest. In short, the player appealed to his opponent's ego, and failed. Had he taken a different tactic, he might have succeeded.
Jensen finally managed to get the info he was looking for by eavesdropping on a pair of club workers who were discussing a lost PDA, then heading to the toilets to retrieve the item in question. From here he was able to gain the password for a locked door that led into the off-limits section of the building, and eventually to an air vent which allowed for some opportunistic spying. Again, this was just one of several paths the player could take; had the meeting with the barman been more successful, none of the sneaky stuff would have been required. At any rate, in the E3 demo the stealthy path won the day, leading Jensen to a warehouse area in the city harbour.
As impressive as the more thoughtful side of the game was, things really started to get showy in the second, combat-focused half of the demo. By this point Jensen had changed out of his long leather coat and into a more practical suit of body armour, exposing his metal arm and other enhancements. We got to see a lot more of these too, as during actions the camera will frequently switch to a third-person perspective – most notably while taking cover, or when sneaking in to perform a stealth takedown. The shift in viewpoint is handled very smoothly, and while it's still a touch that may upset the odd Deus Ex die-hard, these moments seem to fit the game very well – further adding to the carefully-crafted cinematic feel.
Besides, the naked truth is that the third-person bits look exceptionally cool. The non lethal takedowns are decent enough – Jensen creeps up on a guard, taps him on the shoulder and then slugs him as he turns – but when our man decides to get his claws out, that's when things get really slick. At one point the demonstrator snuck up on a guard sat typing at a desk; at the touch of a button, Jensen re-arranged his arm into a long blade, and then skewered his victim through the back of his chair. Later on, he killed two guards at once, Assassins' Creed 2 style, as he dropped down from a height. Oh, and you know that bit in the trailer where Jensen smashes through a wall and snaps the neck of someone on the other side? Well, you can do that too. By powering up one of your modifications, obscured enemies will appear as glowing outlines, mapped against the scenery. Simply line yourself up so that the wall is all that separates you and your enemy, and BAM! Bob's your uncle... a very dead uncle, with a shattered neck and a shocked look on his mushed-up face.