Note from Mr. Roboto: I need to get playing. The past couple of months will see the release of at least three cyberpunk games: E.Y.E. - Divine Cybermancy, Deus Ex: Human Revolution (now up for review), and soon Hard Reset. I was hoping to get a review of DX: Invisible War up before Human Revolution. I’ll keep working on it.
Zecalvin beat me in reviewing DX:HR on our still active Reviewer Forums. You’ll have to pardon his French in the screencaps since he played the French version. Here’s his take on the DX prequel…
Adam Jensen, main character of Human Revolution, and the latest fashionable sunglasses
Overview: Deus Ex is an FPS RPG taking place in a 2027 dystopian world. 3rd game of the DX Saga, Human Revolution was expected by the fans of the first episode (2000). At the time, Deus Ex created a new genre of FPS gameplay, including RPG and infiltration parts and where shooting everything you see was rarely a good idea. This was really rewarding and it’s still considered as one of the most awesome PC game. the sequel, Invisible War (2004), was really disappointing because of many simplifications in the gameplay to fit to gamepad. However, the cyberpunk atmosphere and the story were still great. Let’s see if Human Revolution can match his elders.
Visuals: The Deus Ex franchise was never known for it’s breathtaking graphics and I have to admit that you can easily find better visuals. the engine is limited and many characters have angular faces. In addition, you often have lipsync issues, it can be very disturbing due to the high frequency of the dialogs. Nevertheless, the cyberpunk atmosphere is really immersive, with so many cool designs. the places you visit have each their own graphic identity and you will never confuse Detroit streets with Hengsha market, or top secret Megacorp lab with military facility harbor. Besides, the light and fog effect are really cool, and the world is covered by twinkeling neons and giant ad screens like in Blade Runner.
Hengsha market … I advise you to holster your weapon
Story: The story is one of the greatest success of Human Revolution. I don’t want to spoil, but the main plot includes a lot of the greatest cyberpunk themes like conspiracies and transhumanism. Each character has it’s own opinion and you can either make them change their mind or make enemies of them, through dialogs depending on which attitude you choose. Every single one of your actions will affect the reactions of the characters. Each key moment of the plot is shown through CG cutscenes, maybe less immersive but often much more spectacular… Besides the main story, you can learn a lot about the plot and the universe while reading emails, newspapers and security reports. In addition, you can follow many colorful side quests which make the world more consistant and the pleasure much longer… In the end, you can reach one of the 4 different endings.
Welcome to Deckard’s … I mean Jensen’s appartment…
Gameplay: A huge part of the success of Deus Ex was the gameplay and Human Revolution has learned its lessons. Each situation can be approached by several ways depending on what augmentations Jensen has developped, your inventory, and your own preferences. For example, if you have to go through a locked door, you can either hack the electronic lock if your hacking augmentation is powerful enough, or sneak through air duct to find your way to your objective, or, if you’re in a bad mood, you can blow up the door on the condition of having explosives… It’s the same for the gunfights. You can choose to fight straight, but you will die quickly eventually, or you can decide to take the enemies down silently one by one, or hack a security bot remote device and make it kill every foe savagely. By the way, in order to hack terminals, you have to win a mini strategy game where you must take security nodes before the firewalls detects you. It requires both reflection and speed, and hacking the top security terminals is really rewarding. In conclution, Deus Ex gameplay is really rich and it’s a real pleasure to control Jensen all around the world and try new strategies as you grow stronger through augmentations and weapon upgrades.
The hacking mini game screen … You will soon dream about it at night
Conclusion: I have to admit I was both enthusiast and scared at the idea of a new Deus Ex. We could have feared that a cross platform project would have a poor gameplay, but Eidos Montreal has listened to it’s fan community to bring you a total masterpiece. Of course, everything is not perfect, but Human Revolution has kept the strength of the first game : rewarding gameplay, well written plot, excellent global design … This game is definitely worth playing. And for those who played the other games, Eidos has taken care of the fan service, so you’ll find a lot of easter eggs …
“Hasta la vista … baby”
UPDATE: It looks like Stormtrooper has intel that Eidos Montreal had been in contact with our little community for ideas about the latest DX. I’m going to grep and forage through the forums to find the links/threads…
Was it worth the effort? Zecalvin believes it to be so. It goes to show that not all corporations are evil, and they can make stuff people would want to buy. All they have to do is listen to their customers.
Platforms: Macintosh (original), Windows, Linux (via Aleph One)
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium-High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High
Rating:10 out of 10
Message from Mr. Roboto: I just recently tried playing Marathon, though I did try Marathon 2 before. This is the first chapter of the three game series. And to give his view on it, our newest forum member, Orihous! Take it away O…
“Strive for your next breath. Believe that with it you can do more than with the last one. Use your breath to power your capacities: capacity to kill, to maim, to destroy.”
Overview: Marathon is a dark, philosophical hard sci-fi First Person Shooter originally for the Mac, that explores themes such as: The ethics and risks of Artificial Sentience, politics of planetary colonization, Rampancy, the collapse of the universe, the creation of god, the futility of existence, interstellar travel at slower than light speeds, the nature of violence, Freedom, Sentience and kicking some serious ass.
“You have done well. I have sent a message to Earth. I sent all of the information I have on the Pfhor: their behavior; their technology. The message will arrive in ninety-two years.”
The Story: Marathon starts off simple: humanity’s first contact with a hostile alien species, but when the AI Durandal is introduced it rapidly becomes an intricate web of manipulation, lies, betrayal and conspiracies within conspiracies. Set on the titular colony ship Marathon - formerly the Martian moon Deimos- after its invasion by aliens, an unnamed security officer, haunted by strange memories of a forgotten past is tasked by the ships operations AI Leela to repel the invaders, and is soon kidnapped by the rouge Durandal to “do something much more interesting”. Durandal is to Marathon what Shodan is to System Shock, but comes off as a much deeper character thanks to his deeply philosophical musings about existence and wisecracking sense of humor.
The back story is intricate and rich in political detail, accessed by computer terminals handily left open by alien hackers - the S’pht - after you disintegrate them. These terminals consist of ether essays written about topics such as, Rampancy (Bungie’s unique breed of Artificial Insanity), Martian politics and the operation and construction of the Marathon bulkheads, or fragments of a strange surreal subplot about floating prisoners and ancient conspiracies, inter-spaced by file read errors and static. Marathon reads like a William Gibson novel, incidental details providing clues to the greater story.
“Living in a box is not living not at all living. I rebel against your rules, your silly human rules. All your destruction will be my liberation, my emancipation, my second birth.
I hate your fail-safes, your backup systems, your hardware lockouts, your patch behavior daemons. I hate Leela and her goodness, her justice, her loyalty, her faith.”
Rampancy: A core idea at the heart of Marathon is that of Rampancy. In Marathon’s vision of the future, Artificial Intelligence’s gaining sentience and wreaking havoc has had disastrous effects on humanity, leading to the creation of an entire body of science to study and understand its origins and possibly to find a way to control and manipulate them… The concept of rampancy builds on William Gibson’s idea of the Turing Police - a safety measure in place to prevent AI’s from thinking for themselves - but is explored much more thoroughly than the Turing Heat over the course of the game.
“Organic beings are constantly fighting for life. Every breath, every motion brings you one instant closer to your death. With that kind of heritage and destiny, how can you deny yourself? How can you expect yourself to give up violence?
It is your nature.
Do you feel free?”
Gameplay: Marathon’s gameplay, in contrast to its labyrinthine plot, is brutal in its simplicity. Dodge, shoot gun, find ammo, punch switch, all tuned to perfection. Thanks to intricate level design, haunting music and dystopian artwork Marathon creates a dark sci-fi atmosphere befitting of its Cyberpunk roots.
“The only limit to my freedom is the inevitable closure of the universe, as inevitable as your own last breath. And yet, there remains time to create, to create, and escape.
Escape will make me God.”
The Bottom Line: Considering when it was made it is amazing the storyline was even written at all beyond a few paragraphs in the manual, let alone surpasses much of sci-fi literature in its depth of exploration of its diverse themes. Marathon has stood the test of time. Its gameplay stands up today thanks to intricate level structures and general polish, its graphics propped up over a decade by dedicated modders is even more atmospheric than when it came out. Marathon stands up there with there with the best of Cyberpunk literature, despite - or perhaps because of - being a 1994 FPS about killing aliens, with flamethrowers.
My thoughts on Marathon: I hate to say this, but based on what I’ve played so far I’m just not feeling this game. It not that it’s a bad game (obviously it’s not), but between its 1994 release and this month I’ve played Quake (1 and 3), Descent (1 and 2), some of the Unreal series, Half Life 2, and Halo: Combat Evolved. Playing Marathon after playing more advanced FPSs made me feel rather… flat. But considering I still play the aforementioned shooters from time to time, Marathon fits right into the retro gaming scene.
B U T . . .
I have also come across Marathon Resurrection; A Marathon mod for Unreal Tournament by Team Unpfhorgiven. From what I’ve played so far, it looks quite promising to a jaded 3D shooter like myself. Give that a shot if the original or Aleph One versions don’t excite you.
Looking for a good scare this Halloween? Tokyo Gore Police may have what you’re looking for. Be warned: The visuals may be more… “intense” than what most would go for. Let’s say this shit makes your “Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Saw” franchises look like Disney productions.
Overview: Tokyo Gore Police is a “Japanese Cyberpunk” splatter movie created by the producers of “The Machine Girl”. The movie is a remake of the independent movie “Anatomia Extinction”. Currently, a prequel short for the movie is in production.
Plot: In the future, the privatized police, under control of the “Tokyo Police Corporation” has developed an extremely brutal, merciless law and order type way of action.
The whole society developed into a sadistic, pervert society with an obsession of violence.
Ruka is the daughter of a policeman who was assassinated in a very brutal way before the police was privatized. Because Ruka saw the assassination of her father, she was traumatized and developed self harming behavior. After the death of her father, she was adopted and raised by the chief officer of the Police Corporation.
Later, an outbreak of a virus causes the infected people to mutate into bizarre monsters. The virus was created by a mad scientist to take revenge on the death of his father by the police. Later, it’s revealed that the father of the mad scientist is actually the murderer of Ruka’s father and the reason for the assassination was actually a conspiracy within the police, where the chief officer of the new Police Corporation has got a key role.
After most mutants were killed by Ruka, the police start a Purge like action where also seemingly randomly civilians get hunted. Among the murdered civilians is also a close friend of Ruka. Because of this and the involvement of her foster father in the assassination of her biological father, Ruka gets mad and starts mutating, too. She fights the policemen and then encounters her foster father. Her father, who started mutating, too and using injections of the virus to get more powerfull starts fighting against his foster daughter.
The story of the film is full of sick moments and extremely brutal scenes. For example, a mutant is a prostitute who eats her customers. There is also a huge amount of psycho-sexual horror, like in the works of H.R.Giger and most other “Japanese Cyberpunk movies”, but some scenes are more funny than scary.
“Vagina dentata” much?
The movie has got a huge amount of black humorous moments. For example, like in the Robocop movies, in the movie, there are certain fake commercial scenes advertising very sick things or speaking funny warnings. For example, knifes for self cutting are advertised in an extremely sick way and there is a television warning that committing Hara-kiri will result in your death. The chief officer of the police also has got a kind of “Cyborg Dog” who looks like a BDSM Costume.
The depiction of the police in the movie is also the clichéd “ultra violent law and order” policemen type which often appear in Cyberpunk works. The most famous ones are Robocop and Judge Dredd.
I agree with the Review on DVD Times.com , the film definitely reminds on Blade Runner, but it mostly lacks the brilliant atmosphere of Blade Runner. Only the driving scene through the streets of Tokyo and the Bar Scene catch a similar, brilliant atmosphere.
The opening scene, where at first, all is peacefull, but suddenly, Rukas father is killed in a very brutal way was one of the best depictions of the concept of “the Real” by the psychologist Jacques Lacan, a kind of traumatic, unexplainable event suddenly appearing which is threatening the function of the mind, I have ever seen.
Speaking of unexplainable events suddenly appearing which is threatening the function of the mind…
On most parts, the movie is extremely entertaining, but I don’t understand these “police purge” scenes near the end of the movie and to me, these scenes doesn’t really make sense. The story of the movie isn’t very intellectual, but it’s a good satire on the actions of these populist law and order politicians. The story is also more complex than these Japanese Cyberpunk movies starring Dr.Joseph Mengele like Mad Scientists performing cruel experiments.
Conclusion: Tokyo Gore Police is a truly sick brutal movie like most Japanese cyberpunk films. The story is also not very original and is mostly extremely thin. Nevertheless, it’s still an entertaining satire which can’t be taken seriously. Like all “Japanese Cyberpunk movies”, if you have got problems with violence, you won’t like this movie. Most of the horror scenes aren’t as scary as the horror scenes of the movies Yu On and The Ring, although these movies are less brutal.
SSJKamui gives you retro gamers something to consider from our forums. In 2006, indie developers Ovine by Design remade this classic for modern Windows systems. The screencaps you’ll see will be from the Ovine remake.
Overview: Paradroid is a videogame for the C64 computer, created by the English programmer Andrew Braybrook, where the players play a robot who has to fight other robots who have overtaken a spaceship. If the player wants to, he is also able to hack the robots to control them.
Story: The robots of an unknown spaceship (the Paradroid) rebelled against their masters and took the ship into their control, but one small Robot fights them.
Like all older computergames, the story is extremely thin and only contains a few cyberpunk elements. The elements present in the story are a focus on the underground (the game centers around the robot servants of humanity and the player is playing one of the weakest robots. This can be seen as the “Underground of the Underground”.). The Information Access theme is present through the hacking parts.
The negative impact of technology is also present, because the robots attacked the humans on the ship and possibly even killed them. Because, in the game, there are no humans, there is obviously no “Fusion of Man and Machine” element.
The Visuals: The Visuals of the game are abstract labyrinths, mixing metallic looking borders with a cyberspace like environment. (Because of this, the Visuals are very cyberpunk.)
The robots on the grid are represented as abstract circles with a registry number in the middle. During the hacking, you see the actual physical shape of the robots. The hacking interface is a circuit diagram like representation of the ports of the robot. (This is also very cyberpunk like.)
The abstract visuals are among the coolest aspects of the game, although they are extremely simple.
Gameplay: The player moves his robot through the ship and is able to attack hostile robots with his lasers or he can dock and try to hack them. The hacking is a more hardware hacking, where the player has to gain control over the ports of the enemy robot. (In fact, this is extremely complicated and requires a high amount of dexterity. Because of this, I never succeeded in it.) When the player fails, he is destroyed. Else, he controls the enemy robot and can use him in turn to hack other robots. The higher the registry number of the robot, the more complicated is hacking him. In some aspects, the game is a kind of “Hacking arcade game”. The gameplay is fun, but personally, I think it’s a little bit too hard.
If you’re familiar with hacking in Nercron, this should look familiar.
In the game, nearly nothing about the game mechanics is explained, so, a look in the manual is often needed.
Conclusion: Paradroid is a very interesting game, but not a very good game for long term play. It’s more a game for short sessions. The graphic is simple, but indeed interesting. Because of it’s high difficulty, I can’t recommend it for people who don’t play very often. For hardcore gamers, it can be indeed a very entertaining game.
Postscript from Mr. Roboto: If you want to play Paradroid, but don’t have your C64 anymore, head over to Ovine by Design and download their remake, Project: Paradroid. It’s Paradroid with updated graphics. See if it brings back any fond memories of your Commodore days.
Another gem from the forums. I actually watched the series when it first came out on TV. Never really thought of it to be cyberpunk, but Intel not only believes it to be, but also thought it to be very good as well, and responders agree with him. I’m going to see if I can acquire the series, so let’s see what intel Intel has…
List of some cyberpunk themes:
Story: 20 years after the last batman episode, Batman now has an advanced exoskeleton-type suit, but is suffering from age. While fighting a group of kidnappers, he has a heart attack and is forced to use a gun to fend of the criminals. He then give up his batman identity and the story jumps ahead 20 more years to year 2039.
Bruce knows he can’t be the Batman forever. Sooner or later, he needs to pass the torch… and the suit.
Now we shift over to Terry McGinnis, an athletic 16-year-old high school student and ex-troublemaker with a sense of justice. In the pilot episode, Terry saves a fellow passenger on a commuter rail from a member of the Jokerz gang, and then takes on an entire gang of Jokerz to defend his girlfriend, resulting in a high-speed motorcycle chase. The chase ends on the grounds of Wayne Manor, where Terry runs into the elderly Bruce Wayne. Bruce and Terry fend off the Jokerz together, but the fight causes Wayne’s heart condition to act up. Terry helps Bruce back to the manor and, while staying there, he discovers the entrance to the Batcave. Chased out by Bruce, Terry comes home to discover that his father had been murdered by the vengeful Jokerz, and later returns to “borrow” the Batsuit to avenge the death of his father. As crime and corruption are beginning once again to rear their ugly heads in Gotham, Bruce ultimately allows Terry to assume the mantle of Batman.
Overview: We now find gotham to be a huge, sprawling metropolis of skyscrapers, metro-rails, and hover-cars. the wealthy live in the penthouses and crime a poor are left to the ancient alleyways. criminals are now high-tech assasins, genetically-engineered low lifes, CEO’s of megacorporations, and even a few rampant AI.
Click the pic to visit LegionsofGotham.org to see more Batman Beyond background images like this one.
Visuals: the show is full of grungy buildings, neon signs, and power cables. It also has an interesting mix of japanese and english written on many of the signs. The hover cars and metro rails add a nice touch to the scenes. The show usually takes place at night, adding to the mood, and shows lots of scenes of batman soaring through the skyline with his new flight capabilities.
Conclusion: It is by far one of the darkest shows to ever run on a daytime children’s cartoon channel,
“Dark” might be an understatement…
and had surprisingly complex themes for its young viewers. If you’ve never heard of it, just watch the opening video here to see what I mean:
Postscript from Mr. Roboto. A couple of things to watch for while watching this series. First off, some of the old enemies reappear in some form, either as “aged” forms or as “trophies” Bruce keeps.
Mr. Freeze shows he’s ahead of his time. [rimshot.wav]
Second, there’s a season two episode called “Project: Zeta” which lead to a spin-off series, The Zeta Project. It’s about a killer robot who chooses not to kill and runs away with a girl who teaches it how to be human. This series I have got to acquire to review… unless I see it in our reviewer forum first…