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December 22nd, 2011, 22:35
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I find you usually have a very sensible position that one can easily appreciate, if not always agree with.

But claustrophobic levels similar to Invisible War?

Some of the levels were HUGE with a lot of LARGE open spaces/warehouses/corporate buildings and what not.
Yes, I did find it similar to IW in terms of layout and design functionality - a much larger and better layout of course, but still more towards that approach than the original.

Here's what I mean by that comparison: Whereas Deus Ex's levels were open and wide, HR's levels are more narrow and tall; this typically funnels the player and limits where you can go in a level, and makes exploration somewhat (but certainly not completely) trivial. There was really only one level in the game that had a truly open-ended, multiple path approach, and that is the Omega Ranch. That was a truly wonderful example of great "Deus Ex" level design.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I agree that alternate paths weren't exactly hidden, but I consider them very much on par with DE.

Like the Liberty Island "look at that huge stack of conveniently placed shiny boxes on each step of the way to the top", or the boy on the second level who immediately gives you the super secret clue to the vending machine access.

There were also a lot of paths throughout the game that weren't particularly obvious or required genuine exploration to find.

I don't know why people tend to confuse large empty spaces with non-linearity - but I guess we must have different recollections of Deus Ex. I replayed a fair bit of it recently, and it's pretty much the same thing - except everything is very dark and very sparsely detailed compared to the prequel.
I also replayed Deus Ex rather recently (right after playing HR). I would agree that HR is far more detailed than DE (as it should - DE is an 11 year old game now ) and they did a wonderful job with the atmosphere and core gameplay mechanics. But DE is far more open to player creativity, adaptability, and experimentation than HR. HR oftentimes boils down to only two basic approaches: "Should I sneak down this incredibly obvious alternate path, or shoot everybody with an assault rifle?" The only viable option for a stealth player is to use a silenced pistol thanks to the tall and narrow level layout and ridiculous "penalty" for using a non-lethal take-down (the energy consumption nonsense for knocking someone out? That's just a poor decision in my opinion).

DE offers more challenge to a stealth player, more options for a violent player, a variety of useful hacking options, and more opportunities to be anywhere in between. Let's say a player wants to be a "silent assassin," picking off patrolling guards with a silenced sniper rifle before infiltrating a building and switching to a silenced pistol. Given the claustrophobic nature of the levels, good luck using a sniper rifle in HR…I really regretted carrying that damn thing with me the entire game when I only had maybe 3-4 legitimate opportunities to use it. So in my opinion, open space - when used wisely - is far more useful than you give it credit for - it can change a player's entire approach to a situation. Replaying DE still amazes me in terms of how many options are available and different paths that I haven't yet explored; HR just doesn't measure up in this regard in large part due to the lack of space - there's just too many "office" type levels that feel too restrictive in how you can approach them.

HR is far more non-linear than any "modern" fps/rpg hybrid, but compared to the original, it just doesn't capture that same feeling of player freedom. The vast levels were brilliantly used for more than just "empty open space" or to give a mere illusion of non-linearity; it opened up different approaches for the player and allowed for more experimentation and meaningful exploration. If HR had more "Omega Ranch" levels and less "generic office sky-scraper building #24" I would have been left with a much more glowing assessment of the game, as the core gameplay mechanics and atmosphere are wonderful; overall, HR is a very enjoyable, well-made game.
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