Book review: The Art of Deus Ex Universe

The Art of Deus Ex Universe (Jonathan Jacques-Belletete and Martin Dubeau with Paul Davies. Titan books)

As a teenager, I loved sketching characters like Judge Dredd, Boba Fett and stormtroopers (not together in the  same scene, obviously). I particularly loved drawing Judge Dredd. I guess it was his hard-edge face with what seemed like a permanent scowl that was the attraction.

I always started with the helmet before I added in the respirator and the nose piece – and then it was pretty much just a solid chin with that scowl. Judge Dredd was such an interesting character to draw and it was only natural that my love of drawing pop culture characters (and studying art at high school)  would lead to me being intrigued by the design processes of video games.

I’m incredibly fascinated by how game makers start with a spark, an idea, and flesh it out into a full realised character as we see in a finished video game.

As someone who loves the design concepts and processes that go into video games, and a longtime fan of the Deus Ex series, The Art of Deus Ex is a fascinating 210-page book that delves deeply into the thought processes of the artists, designers and conceptual artists as to  how they settled on the final designs of characters and locations used in Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Deus Ex Human Revolution.

I bought the book from Amazon for about $NZ50 (including delivery) after playing through Deus Ex Mankind Divided, a game that had such a visually impressive art style that just had to have an art book that detailed the design process. I loved the game but I think I love the art book even more than the game.

The game opens with a section on Adam Jensen, the lead character in Mankind Divided and Human Revolution and a character that I actually liked despite many thinking he was a douchebag and it’s interesting that reaching the final visual look was a two-year process, says the book.

In it, Jacques-Belletete says Jensen had to represent “what it meant to have your body augmented way beyond its natural and biological capabilities”. The book shows how Jensen’s character evolved and changed over the design process, eventually settling on the cyberpunk look we see in the final game.

For gamers who want to see the process from ideas to finished project, a book like The Art of Deus Ex Universe is well worth the money. I just love seeing the sketches and concept art of the vision for what they want the game to look like. It’s fascinating seeing the transformations of characters from rough sketches to fleshed out as they look in-game.

The book covers everything from cybernetic implants and augmentations and characters like Frank Pritchard, Jaron Namir (from Human Revolution) and Elias Chikane to locations like Detroit, Prague, Sarif Industries and Hengsha. Fans of Human Revolution and Mankind Divided will be in heaven, as I was.

The Art of Deus Ex Universe is stunning from start to finish chokka block with highly detailled images – hopefully the images accompanying this post will do it justice – for gamers who love the process behind the games they play to pore over.

I’ve got several video game art books and I have to say that this one takes pride of place in my collection.

 

 

Deus Ex Mankind Divided new game play demo

I told myself I wasn’t going to watch anymore game play footage of Deus Ex Mankind Divided until the game’s out later this year,  but, really, I’m only kidding myself: I held off for about six hours then watched it this weekend.

This latest footage shows the city hub area set in Prague, starting in Adam Jensen’s apartment after a terrorist attack that has screwed his augmentations up. Jensen needs to get to Vaclav Koller, an underground augmentation specialist, so that he can have a look at them and help him get back into shape.

It looks the like the game is using the same or a similar engine to Deus Ex Human Revolution so I was a little underwhelmed graphically but it’s not out for two months so plenty of time to go until it’s released.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided is out on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 3 on August 23.

Gamescom gets a blast from Deus Ex Mankind Divided

For no other particular reason than to celebrate Gamescom 2015, BandaiNamco has released some rather spiffy hi-res images from its next game in the Deus Ex series, Mankind Divided – and they look bloody marvellous!

Click on each image to see if full size.

I’m not sure what the symbolism is with the upside down tree and the cube but there’s some grafitti on it that reads: “A wrench is a tool, not a human being”. I’m really not sure what that means but it’s clearly a reference to some sort of oppression, maybe?   Adam Jensen look more gaunt than usual. Perhaps the stress of what he’s been doing is finally getting to him and he’s not eating properly. Or getting enough sleep. Or drinking enough water. Or maybe he’s just thinner.

Anyway, the game is out on Xbox One, PC and PlayStation early next year sometime. In the meantime, drool oveDXMD_2015_08_05_GC_concept_028_1438762713r these. Don’t forget to wipe your chin when you’re done. DXMD_2015_08_05_GC_concept_029_1438762706 DXMD_2015_08_05_GC_screen_ONLINE_020_1438762644DXMD_2015_08_05_GC_screen_ONLINE_023_1438762648DXMD_2015_08_05_GC_screen_ONLINE_021_1438762645DXMD_2015_08_05_GC_screen_ONLINE_022_1438762647

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided trailer blast

It’s no secret that I’m hyped for SquareEnix’s Deus Ex Mankind Divided.

So, while trawling the net tonight, I came across two more Mankind Divided trailers: One showcasing the Dawn Engine that will be used in the game and the technology behind it, and the other which shows the work that went into the Mankind Divided announcement trailer (anyone else think that the dude speaking in the video has a hairstyle and beard that looks sort of like Adam Jensen’s?)

Both are impressive and have hyped me even further.

Enjoy.

My most anticipated games for E3 2015

Ten years ago this month, I went to my very first E3 gaming convention.

It was 2005, and I’d managed to convince my bosses at the metropolitan newspaper that I worked at in Christchurch, New Zealand, that  video games were a big thing and if the company was serious about keeping up with trends it needed to send me to E3, the huge three-day gaming show in Los Angeles.

It worked and after a few months of planning I jetted off to what would end up being a memorable experience, perhaps not so much for the games – I can’t actually remember much from that show – but for the memories:

  • Catching a taxi from the hotel I was staying at – The Standard in Hollywood (which was really quite average actually but one afternoon I saw actor Forrest  Whittaker milling about the lobby)  – with Alex Garden, the founder of Relic Entertainment. I didn’t realise it was him until he handed me his business card.
  • The incredibly sore feet after three days of running from hall to hall after realising that I should have left more time between appointments.
  • Seeing the game Stubbs the Zombie in action at a hotel near the LA Convention centre.
  • Chatting to Peter Molyneux and being swept away by his enthusiasm for the industry (it was to be the first of three interviews I did with him over the years).
  • Walking what seems like miles with James Burnett from Gameplanet in 2010 after we just decided to walk from Hollywood to somewhere. I can’t remember where we were going but a shop assistant was flabbergasted that we were contemplating walking rather than taking a taxi.

I ended up going to E3 two more times: In 2009, once again as correspondent for Fairfax NZ and The Press,  and in 2010 as part of the team for NZ gaming website Gameplanet, and each time I have fond memories of what happened and what I did probably more than the games.

Looking back on my trips to E3, part of me misses the noise, the buzz, the flash, but mostly I don’t. It’s a lot of hard work, especially if it’s just you, and frankly, a lot of the games on show are in a state that is quite different from the finished product. Besides, I’m too old to attend major gaming shows now.

This year, I don’t have a lot of anticipation for many games at E3 and I don’t know how really relevant it is any more, given that leaks are common place and one of this year’s major games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is already out.

Maybe I’m cynical, but I think that the gaming industry is in some sort of stagnation at the moment where re-masters are all the rage and the easy option for publishers.

That said, there are probably three games that I’m particularly keen to learn more about (and one that I hope will be announced). Here they are, in precise, particular order in terms of most anticipated.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Eidos)

What: Mankind Divided is the sequel (of sorts) to 2011’s DX Human Revolution, an action/stealth/RPG game set in a cyberpunk universe where human cybernetic implants and augmentations are all the rage. Set two years after Human Revolution, Mankind  Divided sees the return of gruff-voiced hero Adam Jensen.

Why: You’ve seen the latest trailer, right? Man, that captured my attention right away. How could you not be impressed by it? Deus  Ex Human Revolution is still one of my most loved games in the DX  series: I just love that cyberpunk setting, despite the game’s bosses being complete arseholes to defeat before they patched the game (it was later revealed that the boss battles were outsourced to another studio), and I loved that you could play it all guns blazing or creeping in the shadows, remaining unseen. I liked it so much I bought it on PC when it was on sale during a Steam sale. I have high hopes for this game.

Likelihood: It’s already been confirmed. We just need to see it in action

Mass Effect 4 (Bioware)

What: This game hasn’t been confirmed or officially announced (I don’t think) so this one is pure conjecture on my part, but [hopefully] Mass Effect 4 will be the sequel to one of the best series in the last  gaming generation, pitting the male/female Commander Shepard against a domination hungry race called the Reapers.

Why: I loved my time with Mass Effect 1 through to 3 [although, I must confess I didn’t actually have the stamina to finish ME1] and ME3 had some genuine contemplative moments where the fate of characters you’d interacted with for three games depended on your decisions. The ending [s] of Mass Effect 3 had gamers up in arms because it didn’t gel with decisions that they’d made but I didn’t have a problem with it. Rumours circulating the web indicate that ME4 will move away from the Shepard story arc, which will be welcome, but I really  hope ME4 tells us what happened to the Reapers.

Likelihood: Possibly but nothing has been confirmed. It would be nice, though.

[And one totally out of left field] A new Hitman game

What: The Hitman games are the ultimate for fans wanting to pretend they are an elite assassin. Featuring the bald-headed Agent 47, the Hitman games are well known  for giving gamers the ability to complete missions in a number of ways, using the environment to take out a target.

Why: I love Agent 47. He’s one of my most favourite game characters and while Hitman Absolution had flaws, I still played it  through to the end There are rumours that developer IO Interactive are planning a new Hitman game sometime this year [or announce one] so my anticipation levels are high for this one.

Likelihood: Nothing has been confirmed that it will be shown – yet – but IO Interactive have hinted that it’s working on a new game. I have high hopes.

While I was writing this I thought to myself “Oh, there will probably be more games as I watch the press conferences that I’m interested in” (I’m mildly interested in Fallout 4, but I didn’t like the previous games) but these are one that I’m really, really excited about and two that I hope happen.

Tell me what you’re most anticipated about from E3 this year.