A couple of days ago I was trolling the Steam Store and ran across the preview trailer for Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution. If you don’t have Steam, you can also view the 3 minute trailer on YouTube or you can view the trailers on the Deus Ex 3 official site. This has been a game that I have been excited about since the release of its teaser trailer a good while back. If you want to see that teaser plus some analysis, I recommend taking a look at GlobalNode’s YouTube video.
The teaser and trailers put a chill in my spine. Part of that chill is because it’s a prequel to one of my all-time favorite games, Deus Ex. Deus Ex is an action-RPG blend set in the mid 21st century where the player takes on the role a nanologically enhanced secret agent. As you progress through the game, you make decisions about how to specialize your special powers, called augmentations. These augmentations (or “augs”, if you are a member of the cool crowd) give you super-human abilities like seeing through walls, becoming invisible, or picking up impossibly heavy objects. You’ll need to choose your augs wisely, as they greatly impact how you play the game. If you want to sneak around, you’d better pick up the invisibility and run silently augs; if you want to to go in through the front door guns-blazing, I would recommend getting the augs that allow you to shrug off bullets or make rockets explode in mid-air, before they hit you. The missions lead you through a complex story utterly dripping with conspiracy and intrigue. I could say more, but that would spoil some of the surprises in store. The original Deus Ex mixed combat, stealth, and conversation beautifully, and allowed the player to choose how they wanted to play the game.
The other part of the chill is because the Deus Ex series deals with a pretty weighty topic: transhumanism. Transhumanism is the belief that humans can (and should) use technology to change our bodies. The technology can be anything really: prosthetics, implants, chemical changes, and so on; it doesn’t have to be solely body augmentation as is portrayed in the Deus Ex games. Whatever the case, the reasoning is that if humans can improve our quality of life or duration of life by modifying ourselves, why wouldn’t we do it? It’s a very scary question and one that will become more pertinent as the 21st century progresses.
A few years ago I compiled a list of transhumanist literature for a class project. The pathfinder can be found on my old, and very embarrassing personal website. My skills at design and web design have improved considerably in the last couple of years, I promise!
Apparently, transhumanism is also a big issue in Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution, as the developer Eidos has stated that characters will react differently to the player depending on the types (and perhaps the number of) augmentations they have chosen. Social stigma will play a role in the game… now that is intense. I’m not too familiar with other gameplay elements, but the developer Eidos has promised to keep the feel of the original game. I truly hope they succeed! *fingers crossed*
It’s refreshing to find a game that is relevant to a political and philosophical problem. Now obviously, the game has to take liberties with the technology in order to make the action more exciting and visceral. Still, just the fact that attempts to unravel a complex issue is amazing. Also, I don’t think that the game series is a tremendous resource for learning about this particular ideology, but it is great at introducing the concepts to a wider audience than otherwise might be exposed to it.
The first Deus Ex is a masterpiece and I’m very excited to get my hands on its prequel. I think I may go through the original game again, in preparation. Hmm. It’s due out in February 2011, so I think I have plenty of time for one final romp through the future.
Till then, enjoy the Fall weather.