The stylish nature of combat extends beyond these scripted executions, too. Early on in the second half of the demo, Jensen produced a scoped crossbow and sniped an enemy from across the yard, leaving the poor bugger pinned against a packing crate. Later, he used a cloaking device to crawl under a parked vehicle and right in front of an unsuspecting trooper, who was swiftly snuffed out with a single shot from a silenced pistol. As with the more pacifistic side to the game, it seems that there's a huge amount of choice with regards to the way you approach your goals – and that's hugely exciting to me, because this freedom was one of the very things that made the original Deus Ex so wonderful.
And just to heap yet more icing on the proverbial cake, Eidos' demo finished with a short sequence that seemed designed to cram as much exciting stuff as possible into a three-minute scene. The fun started as Jensen climbed onto the roof of the warehouse and approached a glass skylight, allowing him to peer down onto a quartet of guards in the room below. Rather than taking the subtle approach, the demonstrator simply crashed through the window and dropped into the middle of the group, activating some form of body augmentation as he went. Just as the guards began to react, Jensen span in a quick circle, releasing several steel orbs. These orbs opened to reveal several more smaller spheres, which then opened in turn... and then suddenly all four of the bad guys had been wiped out in a hail of shrapnel; at this point in the presentation, I thought the man next to me was about to start crying.
It didn't end there, either. Moments later a helicopter flew over the top of the warehouse and dropped down an enormous shipping crate, which then unfolded itself to become a giant spider-mech. Jensen then duelled this beast with an RPG, demonstrating a weapon upgrade that allowed him to fire rockets from behind cover: from the looks of things you tag your target, summoning an on-screen icon distance counter, then blast away as soon as you're in a safe spot. After that Jensen finally located the office with the data he needed, only to find himself facing the lethal threat of a... actually, I'm not going to say. We can keep that last bit a surprise. Don't want to spoil all the fun now, do we?
To state the blindingly obvious, I think that Deus Ex: Human Evolution looks amazing. I know it's important not to jump the gun on these things, and Eidos Montreal clearly still has some way to go before next year's release, but I'll happily admit that I'm now utterly stoked for this game – and I say that as someone who dearly, dearly loves the original title. Aside from the new perspective, the only potential irritation I can foresee is the use of a recharging health system. I know that's the in thing these days, but the first Deus Ex gave you a different vitality score for each of your limbs. That might sound ridiculously hardcore, but it meant that you could get crippled arms, affecting your aim, or even have your legs blown off altogether. I can't say I'm that surprised that Eidos has ignored this feature in favour of a more inclusive system – the second game also scrapped it – but it's a minor shame none the less.
There are unanswered questions, too. The developers have told me that the shooting in the game is based around player skill rather than stat points, so it'll handle more like a first-person shooter than, say, Fallout 3: if you carefully aim at a foe and pull the trigger, you'll hit them. But if that's the case, how exactly do the RPG elements factor in? Eidos has also said that it'll be impossible to max out all the skillsets in one playthrough, forcing you to either specialise, or to play as a jack of all trades (and master of none). But what exactly are these skills? And how do the body augmentations work?
And then, of course, there's the biggest poser of all: Can Human Revolution match the greatness of the first Deus Ex? This is the question that pains me the most, because despite everything I've seen – or perhaps even because of what I've seen – I have some kind of internal self-defence mechanism that's kicking into gear. It won't let me see through walls, or shower people with shrapnel; it's a barrier that's designed to protect me from disappointment. If Eidos Montreal fail now it's going to hurt like hell, but every fibre of my body wants to believe that they can pull it off. Godspeed, boys.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be released early next year on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.