Friday, May 31, 2013

Dos Equis

After mastering Deus Ex: Human Revolution over three playthroughs, I felt I needed to go back and replay the first two games on the hardest difficulty since I had only played them on Normal previously.

For Deus Ex, I installed the New Vision mod that just had had its final version released. It replaces all the terrain textures with higher quality ones, and I s'pose they looked quite swell. Sadly the mod doesn't do anything to the character models or their textures, which definitely are the biggest offenders.

The only difference between Normal and Realistic difficulty I noticed was enemy snipers doing 100% body part damage, which lead to couple instant deaths. Otherwise it was pretty much the same experience. Enemy awareness or AI didn't seem to differ at all.

I build JC pretty much the same this time as well, mastering the rifle skill first. Sniping enemies from afar really is the best thing. I also carried an assault shotgun; mostly useful against unarmored foes, though the sabot rounds were handy for taking out the annoying spiderbots.

I managed to save Paul and the pilot, too. Apparently you just need to knock out the suspicious mechanic to trigger the dialogue for finding the bomb. Saving Paul was somewhat nonsensical as well. Even if you kill every enemy in the hotel but then exit via the window, Paul dies. And if you just run cloaked past everyone and use the front door, Paul lives. And of course it makes so very little sense how Paul claims to be too weak to climb out of a window but just fine to take on couple dozen dudes.

Invisible War on Realistic wasn't much different either, as far as I could tell anyway. Again I used mostly the same weapons as on my first playthrough with the addition of the shotgun again. What can I say; I really learned to like them in Mass Effect 3.

The better physics engine in DX:IW really adds that something to the experience. It's so satisfying to send enemies flying with close-up shotgun blasts and make them do flips with sniper rifle headshots. The alternative fire for weapons is a pretty cool idea, and for grenades it's very much needed. Exploding upon contact makes it that much easier to hit something with a grenade. In the first game, enemies most of the time manage to dash to safety with their fast movement speed.

But could the maps feel any more confined in Invisible War? It's like you were put in a box after the open areas of DX. Although thanks to their small size, you only need to have the patience to stealth only a little bit to find the console to hack the turrets and bots to clean out the place.

I didn't have the patience this time, though, and instead used the other good Deus Ex tactic; make enough noise to make every enemy to come see what's going on and then take them all out at once. Piles of bodies everywhere! Doesn't work that well in the ruins of the Unatco HQ, though. The game's been throwing you plenty of ammo all the way and then it suddenly stops at the end and you really to have make sure every shot hits.

After finishing IW, my missing Factory Zero achievement in The Missing Link started to bother me and so I played the DX:HR DLC through again, this time making sure to not even pick up any gun or explosive. I got the achievement, and it only took me less than half the time than my first playthrough. Helps quite a bit when you know where to go and what to do.

Of course that still wasn't enough Deus Ex and I had to launch Human Revolution for a fourth run. I didn't bother stealthing and just ran and gunned down everything. I only used stealth and non-lethal solutions in the sidequests that specifically ask you to do so. And I was given the "good" ending again. I think that confirms my suspicion of what decides the ending tone.

I also found that even though non-lethal takedowns give more experience, it doesn't really leave you out from that many augs. I did hack pretty much everything again for increased exp, though. I guess I could've skipped that part of the game to make the run even faster. One could skip quite a bit actually; just run to each map exit as fast as possible.

One particular thing in DX:HR I learned to appreciate while playing the first two games is the lack of melee. The 'press button to take down an enemy' is so much more rewarding than flailing a melee weapon in first person. Heck, even in third person melee can be imprecise and frustrating. (See Mass Effects) There were quite a few times in Deus Ex I sneaked behind an enemy to prod him, only to have it miss completely! And often the enemy didn't even notice a thing.

The third person cover hugging in Human Revolution also helps in making the game world feel more tangible. At least for me; I like to see my whole character interacting with stuff, instead of just hands. I guess the take-down animations could be shorter, though. Like the ME3 cover grabs are brief. No reason to have that much time spent on watching cutscenes that will eventually get old.

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