Monday, August 29, 2011

Deus Ex-ing it up

Played some Deus Ex: Human Revolution this weekend. Startlingly fun game, especially noting that I’ve never played the original or the (badly panned) sequel. Very interestign game to look at in terms of its relationship with tabletop for two reasons, one abstract one one nerdishly specific.

Thr abstract one is something that’s held up as one of the great strengths of the game: That almost any problem has multiple possible solutions. Faced with a goal (get in and get something) you can sneak, climb, hack, fight or god knows what else to get the job done. HOW you do it matters less than the fact that you actually do it.

It’s a great idea, though it’s much stronger for solo roleplay than traditional group play. One thing it depends on is thae idea that there are areas where the character is stronger than others, and by making the right choices he can play to his strengths. With a group, the expetation is that the weaknesses of one character will be compensated by the strengths of another, so you don’t want to offer challenges that play to only one character’s strengths. As such, the explicit range of approach variety DE:HR provides may be excessive for tabletop, but if you can look at your group as a whole, you might be able to find a way to assess their aggregate strength and weaknesss and build options that way.

The second point is one which warms my little nerd heart. The hacking system looks like it could easily have come out of any of the past century’s cyberpunk games, with their pseudo-network maps and their disposable viruses. These sytems, I shoudl add, pretty much universally sucked.

However, the model translates to the video game medium much better than it has any right to. Gaming is full of old systems which were cumbersome on paper but which can come to life with automation, and this is probably the most visible example I can think of. I’ve made my character a super hacker almost entirely for the sheer joy of playing the hacking minigame.

Anyway, good game. Definitely scratching some of my Bioware itches, while still bringing something new to the table. I’m enjoying it enough to see about maybe playing the first sometime.


  1. I have just start this up as well (and am painfully reminded why I rarely play this type of game ... I suck at shooting, thats why I like V.A.T.S.)

    You made a statement about the hacking system sucking, I wonder what you would want a Hacking system to be like?

  2. My short answer to that is "Leverage"

    Longer answer is probably a post in it's own right.

  3. Honestly, that is a fair answer... and hope that you run with it for a new post because I wonder if its due to the separation of the party when the style of hacking mimics being its own dimension... but that is a different subject/post :)

  4. Damn you, Rob... I was hoping to stay away from feeding the video game addiction until Skyrim came out. :)


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