De(us Ex)ja Vu

By: Paul Millen

Published: June 5, 2010 Posted in: PC Gaming Nonsense

Wow, what an amazing trailer that new new Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution trailer is!  It’s so good I almost don’t care what the game’s like, so long as they eventually do some kind of CG movie spin-off.  As much as I enjoyed it, however, I couldn’t help but feel that I’ve seen a lot of it before somewhere.  So, into my DVD collection I delved to try and work out what Deus Ex three reminds me of.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Autopsy

Ok, so this is more allegorical than nabbing others’ aesthetics, and very smart it is too.  It alludes to Rembrandt’s 17th century painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicholaes Tulp, invoking the dawn of medical science, a scary time when limbs were sawn off at the drop of a baldric.  Adam’s dream suggests that man of 2027 is embarking on a similar level of medicinal discovery but with fewer ruffs and probably more cybernetics.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - Rembrandt Autopsy

Then things go a bit Blade Runner.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Blinds

Adam sitting with his post-op fag and booze, adorned with blind-split sunlight, his shiny new cyber arms contrasting with the baroque couch, invokes Ridley Scott’s cinematographic stylings and Blade Runner’s cyberpunk interiors.   The trailer’s ochre lighting is just classic Blade Runner – regard:

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - Blade apartment blinds

Deckard’s Apartment.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - Blade Tyrell blinds

The window tinting sweeping down like a blind in the Tyrell’s office.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Eye

Look, here it goes again – the eye reflecting the city scape is one of Blade Runner’s most memorable images.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - blade eye

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Midgar city 2

Speaking of cityscapes, there’s a good few in the trailer and they’re pretty unique.  Too clean for Blade Runner, too dirty for something like Ghost in the Shell.  You know what?  That two-tier structure reminds me of Midgar.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - Midgar

Yes, Midgar – the iconic city of Square’s favoured child, Final Fantasy VII.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE City

More city.  Reminiscent of Akira in my mind – check out the spotlights.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - akira city

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Invisibutt

Now, you can’t really go in the direction of thermoptic camouflage and women’s bottoms without talking about Ghost in the Shell.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - GITS Majorbutt

Thermoptic camo is Ghost in the Shell, it’s a huge part of its world.  It’s not simply this aesthetic either, Deus Ex 3 seems to be thrusting in that thematic area as  well with talk of ghosts, proxy soldiers and pondering the nature of human existence in the face of dehumanising technological advancement.  What it means to be human when your body’s cybernetic is totally Ghost in the Shell’s territory.  It’ll be interesting to see if DE3 can add anything new to this debate.  To be honest, judging by the quality of the writing in the trailer, I am not hopeful that they’ll be able to say anything better than the highly sophisticated musings of Oshii’s tremendous anime and Kamiyama’s superb reboot series Stand Alone Complex.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - GITS Thermoptic

GITS’s Major Kusanagi – weirdly sexualised and asexual.  Usually naked (thermoptic camo doesn’t work with clothes in GITS) and with a urm, very feminine physique, we see her assembled at the film’s opening so we know she has no privates.  Also, she’s in charge and utterly kicks ass.  Hopefully DE3 can put that ass wiggling in a similarly sophisticated context.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Gunarm

That’s not a gun arm.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - Innocence gunarm

THIS is a gun arm (Batou from GITS2: Innocence)

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Riot

Rioting.  Yeah, well that’s just Akira isn’t it?  Dystopian future + Rioting + ultraviolent police = Akira.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - akira riot cops

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - akira riot

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Reporter

There’s a reporter reporting the riot on a screen within the riot in Akira too.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - akira newsreader

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Landing

In the future, it’s all about heliplane things.  They are pretty cool, I must admit.  Heliplane in DE3 above.  And GITS and GITS 2 below.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - GITS Craft

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - innocence landing

(this heliplane is my favourite)

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Sarif

The Sarif building outside which the riot is happening in the DE3 trailer is architecturally reminiscent of this building in GITS2: Innocence (ish anyway):

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - Innocence Sarif

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE room w globe

It wouldn’t be the future without an old-style globe with a cool hologram instead of wood or whatever.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - Innocence globe

This one’s from GITS2: Innocence.  Obvious symbolism for the shrinking world as caused by technology, megalomania, control etc.  Yawn.  Come on, how about something more original?  Like a Newton’s Cradle made of bullets or a crazed, cybernetic travel agent?

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Glass fall

Well, this is just from Watchmen.  Does no one fall out of a window head first?


Ok, this is bugging me now.  Let me elaborate on the above glibness.  The falling through the window bit, to me, evokes the Comedian’s death in Watchmen.  There’s probably nothing meaningful behind this but, especially in terms of the recent Zack Snyder movie, it evokes the scene pretty heavily, with the body positioning and the slo-mo.  You’d think they’d want to make their falling-through-window bit unique, y’know?

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - Murphey

You can stop trying to find it, this isn’t actually in the trailer – it’s from Robocop!  There’s Murphy on the ground about to begin his transformative process by being shot the hell up by street thugs.  This seems to be what happened to Adam right?  If Paul Verhoeven isn’t involved with DE3, I shall be slightly disappointed.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Medbot

Now, medibots.  This medibot appears to be in DE3 and GITS 2.  Go it!

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - innocence medibot

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Headgun

I’m sure this ‘making someone shoot himself in the head by hacking his brain’  is in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to search through 25 hours of tv show to find it.  Reminds me of F.E.A.R too, actually.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Handcrush

Head crushing spider hand, premièred in Ghost in the Shell.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - GITS Headcrush

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE land

Matrix style landing-from-a-great-height.  As used in the Matrix.  Also, GITS (Major Kusanagi really is awesome):

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - GITS Major Landing

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - DE Wallsmash

Punching through a wall, eh?  Try HEADBUTTING through a wall – like wot Roy Batty does in Blade Runner.

Deus Ex 3 Trailer - batty headwall

“You better get it up, or I’m gonna have to kill ya!” – yes, he actually says this.

Don’t get me wrong – all this isn’t to suggest that DE3 has thieved a load of material from the other daddies of cyberpunk, near-futuristic sci-fi, it’s almost inevitable.  But it is interesting to note how closely it decides to brush past them – there’s no way anyone working on this trailer won’t have already watched Akira, Ghost In The Shell and Blade Runner to death so any similarities have to be conscious decisions.  I just hope that they manage to form a distinct aesthetic of their own within the game and at least try to make it something as clever and special as the original.   Hope the writing’s better too.  It can’t just be me that thinks it’s fucking awful in the trailer?

Paul Millen