Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Resource Management and Tactical Decisions

 Praxis, Batteries, and Candy Bars

Hello again everyone. I'm still working on my backlog, and as things would have it the game I'm playing now has given me some things to think about in terms of resource management. While you might expect an RTS or an RPG, the game in question is actually Deus Ex: Human Revolution. While DE:HR certainly has RPG elements, I would hesitate to classify it as such. To me it strikes more of a tactical action game with a decent amount of RPG elements thrown in, but not bogging down the experience.

Now, one of the things that immediately struck me is that although there is a levelling system of sorts in this game through all the different augmentations that you can get, there's nothing stopping you from investing in the systems or attributes that you want to from the very beginning. If you want to dump all your points into getting the longest stealth per battery possible, then you'll probably have it by the time you're halfway done meddling in Detroit for the first time, practically the beginning of the game.

The Praxis system, or rather its open-ended nature, really has done a lot to impress me. It's actually made a lot of choices difficult, but in a good and ultimately satisfying way. People that want to heavily specialize can do so, while those that want to take a more balanced approach are also free to. Nothing is absolutely necessary to get, as proven by people who do challenge runs where they purchase no augs at all. I feel that even though it really is level grinding in a way that it takes away a lot of the monotony and drudgery of it. The fact that you're free to choose what you believe will accommodate your style is a nice and I believe necessary touch these days that more games should implement should they choose to employ an RPG style system of upgrades.

One thing that I noticed people often getting down on in regards to the game is the battery system. Some of the augmentations run on a limited power supply, represented by the batteries. Drain on these can be anything from mild when you activate augs to run silently or move heavy objects, to massive when you turn on your full-body cloaking device. Among the things you can buy are more batteries and a quicker charge time. However, a lot of people were seemingly turned off by the fact that if a battery is fully drained, then it cannot be recharged automatically, instead you need to take an item that restores battery power to varying levels. These items do take up inventory space, so people that bought a lot of batteries and a quicker charge were mad that they couldn't seem to benefit from it as much as they'd hoped.

Now, I can see where the complains stem from, but I don't agree with them. See, the battery power is a limited resource that needs to be managed. As long as your patient you'll always have one cell to play with, since you always regenerate the first one if none others. However, if you have the full five cells then sure, you can run around invisible for up to thirty five seconds if you have all the stealth upgrades. The thing about that is that it's also absolutely excessive. There should be no need to be completely invisible for that long. At most you need a couple of seconds to avoid detection or get into a crucial position. If all your power regenerated all of the time, then all the challenge would be completely ruined.

If you want to plan something big, it becomes a true moment of triumph when it all goes according to plan. That's something that you wouldn't get if you could just spam all the best abilities all the time. Just as an example, take-downs whether lethal or non-lethal take one full energy cell to accomplish. The thing is that doing them gives you bonuses, and there's nothing saying that you can't just stun or shoot people anyways. They force you to choose between getting more experience and instantly dispatching enemies, and actually just shooting them. That's something that I can get behind, because when I still manage to brutally harm people (I'm going for a no kill run), it makes me feel like a boss.

And now, an amusing video:


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