Deus Ex 3 (later to be subtitled “Human Revolution”) was what can best be described as a learning experience for me. I had just arrived in Montreal to work at another studio and while awaiting a visa was contacted regarding the mystery project at the recently announced Eidos Montreal. I honestly thought it was a Soul Reaver sequel, never dreaming I’d have the opportunity to work on a re-imagining of one of my favourite games of all time. I joined as the 5th or 6th DX3 team-member, (featuring in several of the credit roll photos, wearing an N7 T-shirt no less), and for a time all was great and exciting. A new city, new studio, new project, new team, new technology… they were all adding up to a lot of new, which anyone with any experience will tell you… that’s a lot of risk.
Over the proceeding year, beyond the expected growing pains of a newly formed team it was rapidly becoming apparent that it was impossible to see eye to eye with others on the leadership team when developing something as large and complex as an action-RPG, especially coming straight from successfully doing so on Mass Effect. I could say a lot worse, but will instead acquiesce to many of the disagreements falling on my shoulders as I took literal the Eidos mandate that we were to create games with modest team sizes and schedules, myself always looking for the most dynamic and efficient solution rather the grand ideas of my colleagues, wherein lay the conflict. Having now worked in Montreal for around 5 years I have a better understanding of the culture that many of my former team-mates had come from, and simply accept that they just didn’t know any other way. Their risky gambles ultimately paid off with the miraculous purchase of Eidos by Japanese publisher Square Enix granting an additional two years of development.
And what happened with those extra years? I honestly enjoyed much of the game. The level design is as tight as it comes. The feeling of “being” in a cyberpunk future is unmatched. The visuals swing between some of the worst character realisation ever to moments of real beauty, (so in that respect it is a very accurate homage to the original), and the audio landscape lends itself the credibility of its forebears, (again an homage for better or worse). Certainly by no means a game worthy of 4 years of development, I remain confident I made the right choice in leaving during pre-production to start the BioWare Montreal studio and with a few good friends instead helped ship what was to be one of 2010′s games of the year in Mass Effect 2.
In summary, much like the “choice and consequences” mantra of the game’s design, Deus Ex : HR ended up playing out exactly as a consequence of choices made early on in the development cycle – with Square Enix’s intervention providing a literal Deus Ex Machina to that project’s story.