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CrashT

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Registered: 08/19/08
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Reply with quote  #1 
A lot of folks have been looking for a place to discuss the new Deus Ex, and this seemed like the place. I can already imagine people replaying this several years from now, so I think it qualifies as Vintage. Was going to put this in the Deus Ex section of the board but wasn't sure, Moderators feel free to move it if you wish.

So I'm really enjoying the game so far, but the boss fights are so out of place they are making me more frustrated and angry than they would in any other game; and I don't like boss fights at the best of times.

Anyway... Continued thoughts?

Tag spoilers if possible, I think you can create them as White Text on a White Background to make them invisible until highlighted. Testing, 1, 2, 3, 4


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Justin Keverne
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vfig

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Reply with quote  #2 
As you pointed out on Twitter, the great failing of the boss fights--the second one even more than the first--is that they are an enforced encounter that can only be solved through combat means. This is even more glaring as the designers have talked at length as how the game is based on four equal "pillars" of combat, stealth, hacking, and social solutions to problems. Obviously not every problem need allow all four of these solutions, but for a problem on the critical path to disallow all but combat is a slap in the face to the players who favour the other three approaches.

The two boss fights I've seen so far are made even worse because of the arena design. There is precious little cover in the first, and no useful cover in the second. The arenas are very small, all on a single level, and highly connected, so there are also very few tactical options for movement or positioning. I cannot think of anything positive to say about the boss fights so far, to be honest.

But boss fights aside, this game is superb. Things I knew going in that I would hate--the cover system, the shifts to third person, the regenerating health--have actually won me over. The conversation "battles" are the best I've seen in any game. And the Hengsha hub is wonderful.
CrashT

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Reply with quote  #3 
The regenerating health in particular surprised me, it takes almost exactly the right time to regenerate to be tense without making the game easy. It's closer to the shield recharge in Halo than the near instant recover in Call of Duty.

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ChrisDunkley

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Reply with quote  #4 
In regards to the second boss fight:

Spoilers ofcourse!

It could have been ok, but the issues with it are compounded in a couple of ways. I actually think they could balance it out to be acceptable if not great.

Firstly I hate that the fight starts with her charging you down. No time to get out of the way, no time to choose a weapon. No time to learn her core moves. If you run away immediately you can get outside the blast radius but on the first go you're likely to get hit and lose half your life before the fight has even begun. So it comes down to trial and error before the player is even playing. Totally unfair and just plain bad in terms of design. Thank god it atleast saves so you don't have to go through the cutscene every time.

Secondly Eliza Kassan is obviously supposed to be giving you hints but in the default sound mix she's very hard to hear. And it's difficult to stay alive long enough to get to the useful hints. After I beat the boss (on easy) I had a look at a play guide someone wrote. Apparently if you dodge her attacks a couple of times she runs out of ammo and has to find more in the containers on the walls. Which is cool. It  may be a tactic to just run away forever. But the player would never know that was even an option because it's so difficult to live long enough.

Thirdly I think it's just plain unbalanced. Her charge attack is too powerful. After she does that she's supposed to go into "recharge" mode but if you chase her down and shoot her she will usually win a straight gun fight even though you've opened fire on her with an assault rifle. It should have been balanced so that she didn't retaliate so viciously and the player could get an upper hand in those moments. 

Also I wish the electricity effect was localised to the areas around the power panels when you blow them up. Failing that I wish there were more obvious safe zones so you could stand somewhere and not get electrocuted. I also wish the game was better at telling you what the source of the electrocution is in the first place.
Obviously safe zones weren't included so that players who took specific skills get some kind of reward for choosing that skill (which seems to have been mostly useless until this point) but this goes back to my fundamental rule for designing "skills": they should be additive. The player should go from "safe" to "dominating"... at least in games which aren't about the threat of being unsafe.

Bioshock is a great example of that kind of design. At a basic level the player can deal with whatever the game throws at them. But intelligent players will become unstoppable killing machines. I just want to be an unstoppable killing machine Deus Ex!
vfig

Registered: 08/28/11
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Reply with quote  #5 
Still regarding the second boss fight:

The way the fight starts: the fight against Barrett has that problem too. You have to be very quick to cover or cloak in order not to get a face full of machine gun.

I did hear the hint about the cooler things, without which I would probably not have been able to win the battle (at least the first time). I'd used all my EMP grenades--to no effect as far as I could tell, since Federova (do you ever hear her name in the game?) moves so quickly I think she was out of the blast radius already. I didn't know about the containers on the walls at all, either. CrashT mentioned to me that there was also a heavy rifle in the arena, but I also didn't find that. Note that I'm playing without highlighting, which may be relevant.

Although the electricity effect isn't localised, I thought the safe zones were clear enough: the raised floor plates that are above the water level (though they look metal, so it's not necessarily logical that they're safe zones). I didn't have the EMP-protection augmentation, so making sure I wasn't going to zap myself was rather important. My tactic--once Eliza had mentioned the power panels--was to stand in a safe zone, wait until Federova rushed me, and shoot the panel. I then unloaded my heavy rifle into her as well as I could while she was zapped, then cloaked and ran around to the other side of the arena so she would lose sight of me. It ended up being easy enough--I didn't die once, though I came close--but not very interesting.

ChrisDunkley

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Reply with quote  #6 
I was wondering what people thought of the intro?

I thought it was quite good but could so easily have been interactive instead of taking control away from the player. Maybe it's for the best that they don't give you control but I would have liked to wander around the office.

The big highlight is the credits sequence. Personally the credits sequence is one of my favourite bits of the game so far. So stylish and dramatic. The music is great.

I'm a bit disappointed by how little of the game seems to match up with the trailers so far. The trailers depicted Jensen as..... I dunno... introspective. Feeling a bit weird about being a robot. There was also the big Icarus metaphor for the use of augmentations. But the actual game kind of brushes over this stuff. Maybe it addresses it later on but where's the scene where a doctor says "hey we put blades in your arms" and Jensen gets a chance to try them out for the first time. I feel like the devs miss a chance to deliver a cool first reveal moment by simply waiting until you use them in the game to reveal they even exist. We don't really see any moments where Jensen realises he's a freak now. By the time we catch up with him "six months later" he seems totally cool with it all.
CrashT

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Reply with quote  #7 
Regarding second boss fight:

Those metal plates are actually safe zones? They looked like they should be since they didn't ovbiously have coolant on them, yet I got zapped everytime I tried to shot the wall panels no matter where I stood.

I've got a Strategy Guide, which I never intended to use until after I'd played the game once, and I managed to get through this fight on easy without reading it but I went back after to have a look. Basically for that and the previous fight the game basically assumes you took the Typhoon Aug because spamming that will kill both Barrett and Federova very quickly.

Otherwise once she runs out of energy (After three of her charge attacks) she runs away to recharge and if you shoot her in the back with your most powerful weapon she'll take damage, but you have to do it multiple times which means avoiding her charge attack and SMG attack multiple times.

Part of the problem with the "six months later" is the Comic and novel are mean to fill in part of that period, so they do the whole, "getting used to my augmentations" bit in them I assume.

I take it everybody else instantly recognised Bob Page in the intro? Also has anybody else worked out who some of the other voices were? (At least one of them is certainly Hugh Darrow, his voice is disguised but his accent breaks through briefly.)

My girlfriend's parents are both Genetics Professors and she was very impressed with the design and layout of the Sarif Lab, in that it actually looked like a real Laboratory not a typical Sci-Fi version of one.

The credits sequence might have impressed me more if I didn't keep thinking of Mass Effect 2.

Been enjoying the mentions of various members of the "old guard" as it were, Everrett, DuClare etc.

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ChrisDunkley

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Reply with quote  #8 
I got zapped on the metal panels as well. I assumed they were safe, but they weren't for me... atleast I don't think so.

The fact that they rely on the comic and novel for that six months is silly. It's ok that they don't include that stuff, the game still works. But I think it's a missed opportunity. To save that stuff for a peripheral story is a waste.

Yes I recognised Bob Page. 

In regards to the credits sequence I think it's closer to Robocop than ME2. The game even takes place in Detroit.

I've enjoyed the mentions of the old characters. Joseph Manderley was the first one I noticed. Also noticed some old music from DX1 playing on speakers in the game, which is a bit weird. I think they've designed some of the sound effects to be similar too. Specifically I noticed this with the bots.
vfig

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Reply with quote  #9 
The novel doesn't fill in the missing period--it doesn't include Adam Jensen at all. It's backstory leading up to the intro attack, from the POV of the attackers mostly. It ends shortly after that attack (although the attack itself occurs behind the scenes in the book).

Speaking of Robocop, you can overhear a conversation about it at one point: two guys in the police station are talking about an old 80s movie set in Detroit, where a cop is almost killed and brought back as a cyborg; if you go in and talk to them afterwards, one of them says, "Hey, I think we were just talking about you."

Re the boss fight: It's possible I had the anti-EMP aug by that point, but I'm pretty sure I only unlocked it afterwards.

Jensen shares some of his jumping grunts with JC Denton.

Edit: also, I believe the sentry bots have the same sound as the ones in DX.
CrashT

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Reply with quote  #10 
I've asked to have a new section opened up for this game specifically, as I think there's others who'd like to discuss it and using the highlighting for spoiler taging is time consuming.

I managed to finished it last night and I've got plenty to say, most of it positive though I've a fair few minor issues too. The most obvious one for me is that, maybe it's just my mentality, but it felt like there was no downside to Ghosting (Other than time maybe), and doling so meant a lot of Augmentations, Weapon Upgrades and other items were not very useful.

I suppose that might be my fault though for trying to get the "Foxiest Of The Hounds" achievement, even though I didn't manage it at the end either. I never used to care about achievements but I've found myself looking to them more in the last year or so, often only so I can see if a particular play style is possible at all. Still I managed to play it without killing anybody, how rare is that for a big budget action title?

The plot was a bit of a mixed bag, I like how the conspiracy angle was played but sometimes the character motivations got lost. The bosses were especially strange in that regard, it felt like they wanted to make them notable ala Metal Gear Solid, but if you never read the quest text you'd probably never even know any of their names.


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ChrisDunkley

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Reply with quote  #11 
I imagine I wont finish it for a while yet since my schedule for the next week or two is ridiculous.


vfig

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Reply with quote  #12 
Thinking about DXHR’s boss characters—you have no interaction with any of them before the fights. You see them in the intro level, briefly, and in the cutscene that ends it. That’s a poor foundation for a story which is about tracking them down. I wasn’t personally involved. I had more reasons for anger towards David Sarif than Barrett, Federova, or Namir.
CrashT

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Reply with quote  #13 
The cutscenes and boss fights felt like they were designed around a different Jensen than other parts of the game, that's not that uncommon but often the Jensen in the cutscenes wasn't didn't share the same personality from one to another. He's naive in one, aggressive in the next... Then at the end the voice over videos are written as if he's been much more reserved than you could have played him as. He talks about not abusing his power yet you could have murdered everybody.

The characterisation was a bit all over the place, I liked the subtle way they characterised some of the side characters like Pritchard and Malik, but Jensen's relationship to Dr Reed is only vaguely hinted at, there's little information regarding why they are no longer together. Sarif was surprisingly well written in that I was never entirely sure I trusted him but never felt he was outright lying to me either. Some of the other antagonists were more nauanced than I would have expected as well, but then you have the bosses that as you said barely appear until the battle. I wonder if they tried to push some of that characterisation into emails and guard conversations (I overheard a couple talking about Barrett) only for most of it to go unnoticed?

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EmmJay

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Reply with quote  #14 
I'm assuming the voice over in the outro depends on you being a Pacifist or not. Since you wrote that you were, that makes sense (I can't validate, because I went Pacifist aswell).

Also, I'd like to chime in on some other topics. I've discussed some of them with vfig before:

* HERE BE SPOILERS*

First up, great game. Incredible. According to Steam, I spent over 11 hours a day for the last 5 days with the game. Good thing I applied for leave beforehand. And normally I'd scream GOTY at the top of my lungs, but there's Batman, Skyrim and AssRevel still to come. And Blizzard might get in on the fun, too.

Back to DXHR. There are a few things to nitpick, especially in direct comparison to DX1, which I replayed earlier this year.

The story of DXHR is all over the place. Granted, the main plot points are decently worked out, yet all of the surroundings are a bit jumbled. There is a lot of mention of the Illuminati, and we see Bob Page and all, but it feels a bit shallow, especially compared to DX1. Don't know if this is due to mental overload in my gaming marathon or that the story of DX1 got better over the years and over multiple playthroughs or if DX1 was just a bit more successful in conveying the motivations of different agents and parties. What's Dr. Reed's deal, for example? There seems to be a thread dangling in the air as to how Adam and her resolve their issues.

The antagonists aren't as fleshed out as they needed to be. I read the book and all the comics, but without the book, those characters are just the "Bull", the "Mantis" and the "Snake".

There is quite a bit of fanservice in the e-mail conversations. I liked that, but it detracted a bit from the points and conspiracy theories they needed/wanted to convey. And it was a bit thick at times. We have Menderley, both DuClare women, Everett, Bob Page and DeBeers, all of them on the playing field this early.

My biggest complaint, however, concerns the gameplay; more to the point the XP system. There is a dominant strategy, namely ghosting while hacking every panel (regardless of obtaining passcodes) and taking down every opponent. Thus every other playstyle feels less then optimal, each headshot means missing out on 30XP. Every time you enter the code you found, you're missing out on the XP you would've gained from hacking. And that is a bad idea.

DX1 was about giving you the freedom to choose your own playstyle and then make the world react to you, not the game mechanics. DXHR is basically making a similar mistake to the one BioShock did.
CrashT

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Reply with quote  #15 
I thought that about the VO, but I checked on YouTube and they are all the same, of course everybody else could have played the same way but I doubt it somehow.

I found the plot of DX:HR much easier to follow, and I liked that several people refered to the Illuminati as simple one name amongst many, Taggart even going so far as to say it was just a name they used to lure "rich investors". The actual plot is fairly straightforward: Page et al want to force a recall of the neuro chips so they can use the new ones to control the actions of augmented people, Sarif has the technology they need so they kidnap Dr Reed. Picus, under the control of Everett spins the news to encourage the recall, as does Beth DuClare at the WHO. I didn't find the references to the others beyond Manderley. But it's all to serve the same thing, convince the populace to willing install a control chip in their own head. Darrow who created the technology to make Augmentations possible in the first place, is having second thoughts so when they are about to initiate their plan he balks and instead sends a message to all the chips to make them send their owners insane and hopefully cause people to turn their back of technology and so be harder to control by the Illuminati or whatever they call themselves today.

What I really liked about some of those emails, was the messages between various employees who are joking about the conspiracy theories others have about where they work, or about the weird "art" in the foyer.

The big difference between DX:HR and DX when it comes to XP is that the former gives you XP for the method in which you achieve your goals, the latter only gave you XP for actually achieving a goal, or reaching an particularly difficult to find location. It would fit better to have you get XP for access the computer, regardless of if you hacked it or found a code.

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vfig

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Reply with quote  #16 
I did not play a pacifist at all. For example, I killed all the Derelict Row Ballers (which the game actually made mention of in the return to the Detroit hub much later). Yet I still got the ending speech by Adam about how he could have let his augs make him less than human, yet he held back. So no, I don't think those react to playstyle at all.

The plot is not too hard to untangle, but it is not very well told—too many figures are casually discarded from relevance in the plot. I mentioned the bosses above, but take also Bob Page: he’s the very first person you see in the game, clearly a shadowy figure behind the scenes. And yet apart from a couple of inconsequential emails he does not figure at all until the post-credits sequence.

I don’t have a problem with cameos from DX characters in emails—it’s reasonable that they’d be at least peripherally involved in events. Bringing Manderley into them early as a FEMA employee was well done, because even in DX he was just a bureaucrat.

But I don’t think the plot holds together well. Back when I played the leak (which ended as you left the FEMA facility after the Barrett boss fight), I started thinking about where the plot would go, based on the evidence I’d seen up to that point, and I reached the following conclusions:
  • All augs at present require the patient to take Neuropozyne indefinitely.
  • Versalife (Bob Page’s company) is the sole manufacturer of Neuropozyne (this is mentioned in some emails, I believe)
  • Consequence:, though Tai Yong and Sarif manufacture the augs, you end up dependent on Versalife if you get augmented
  • Result: Bob Page already has control over all augmented people
When the intro video said, “a few weeks of discomfort and the public will be primed for our recall,” I assumed this would be a recall of Neuropozyne, which would undoubtedly cause mass civil unrest as the augmented seek to obtain it from the limited stockpiles still available.

Into this scenario, Megan Reed’s research into Patient X becomes exceedingly valuable: she has discovered a gene that precludes the need for Neuropozyne, so with this knowledge Sarif now has the ability to compete directly with Versalife. And Page, finding out about this, obviously needs to make sure this tech is not available to anyone but him, hence the attack on Sarif and the kidnapping.

I didn’t know where this would lead, but I thought it slotted in nicely to the DX history as well, in that Page, having experienced firsthand the power resulting from exclusive control of vital drugs, and realising the disadvantage of that power only extending to the augmented, begins to form ideas for the manufactured nanovirus of DX which would allow him to control the entire population (but the nanotech is still a couple of decades away).

Anyway, that was how I expected it to turn out, and obviously it didn't. I don’t understand the plot as it is: if Page was able to trigger debilitating glitches for all augs at will, why does he particularly need anything more? Why the biochip recall and replacement? And what was the significance, in the end, of Reed’s research into non-rejection? The replacement biochip appears to be entirely unrelated, rendering the attack on Sarif apparently meaningless.

And the ending of the game is just bewildering. The Panchaea project is a wonderful setting for all manner of conspiracies—but would rather pointedly exclude any kind of worldwide transmitter. The Hyron project made no sense at all in the context of what had come before (particularly with AI as advanced as Eliza appeared to be). And God, Eliza’s tedious exposition of each choice before you decided what button to press, and then again afterwards—that was dreadful.

Well, that’s enough for now about the story. I disagree with both of you about the XP, but for practical reasons: regardless of the playstyle you take, you will get sufficient XP to unlock enough augs. Because if you go for the stealth+hacking+exploring maximal path, you basically get enough to unlock every possible aug, which is definitely more than necessary. I don’t think combat-only players will be hampered by getting a little less. Anyway, I’ll be testing that theory later as I play a combat character who’ll never ghost, will set off every alarm, avoid all hacking where possible, never smooth-talk his way through a situation, and so on. I’ll see how that goes.

CrashT

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Reply with quote  #17 
I'm left with the impression that a number of elements of the plot were keep obscure so they could created a sequel. (What do you even call a sequel to a prequel that still isn't the original?) Page wanting Reed's research makes sense from the standpoint of removing the competition, and I got the impression from some of the comments her team made that it was their breakthroughs that enabled Page to cause the neuro chips to go bad to begin with but all he could do was make them break, there was no way to directly interface with them beyond that.

The issue with Page is there's still a lot of what he was up to that doesn't make a great deal of sense even having played Deus Ex. I'm still not entirely sure what purpose the Grey Death served beyond creating a emergency they could exploit, which is exactly what he's doing here. Also was the entire purpose of the Denton project to perfect the technology Page would need to merge with the AI construct? In which case the Hyron project makes a degree of sense as a precursor to that, it was powerful enough to regulate all of Panchaea's control requirements but would need the power of Nano technology to go beyond that. *Shrugs* It's all a bit weird if you ask me.


I never thought of it like that but if you are Ghosting then you really need the Augs more than somebody who isn't. Because of the boss fights even stealth characters need to take some Combat Augs so they need Stealth Augs and Combat Augs whereas the Combat player only really needs the latter


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Justin Keverne
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EmmJay

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Reply with quote  #18 
I can only remember two instances of sequels to a prequel getting wedged between the existing iterations. Star Wars and Metroid. And if anyone could figure out the Zelda timeline, maybe they've done it there, too. "Tweenquel" is very hard to say and hurts my brain, so no idea.

You might be right that a combat character has a bit more freedom with Augs and can omit some, yet foregoing XP is a bit of a slippery slope. You don't get hacking, so no XP there, so it's harder to acquire more XP, and so on. The problem for me, personally, is that I have a strong aversion against playing a strategy that I know is inferior. I tried starting a second playthrough (on hard this time) with violence, yet I couldn't even finish the Manufactoring Plant before I realized that I'll have significantly less XP that way. I feel somewhat trapped by my own aversion to play less then optimally. Only giving away XP for achieving stuff instead of the way you're doing it would've been the better solution.

On the other hand, I'd very much welcome a sequel, a slow ramp-up in the efforts of the major players we've come to know.

One last thing: Adam is obviously genetically modified somehow. By whom? Why? Did Megan know in advance? Did she fall in love despite that or because of that or was it just a big coindicence? Great potential for a star crossed lovers story there.

PS: Jonas has some thoughts right up my alley on his blog: http://rooc.offtopicproductions.com/blog/2011/08/31/deus-ex-human-revolution/

CrashT

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Reply with quote  #19 
I have the strategy guide and it has background sections on all the characters, I had hoped more of that would be covered in the game itself but either it's hidden away in email or simply not present. Regardless, in the strategy guide they explain that Megan Reed used a sample of Adam's genetic material, without his knowledge, for a prior experiment and it was only afterward that she realised there was something special about it. Her subsequent guilt about using it without his knowledge was part of the reason they eventually seperated. Jensen himself was clearly he product of some previous Versalife funded experiments at the White Helix Labs but that's only touched on briefly.

The XP imbalance never bothered me, but then I've never understood or enjoyed the mentality of optimising your play style. It feels so utterly alien to why I play games in the first place. Taking the route of not being detected but still hacking into every computer is not particularly easy, especially as you can frequently get spotted while hacking, so I can see why they felt it deserving of a bigger XP bonus that just killing people. It's also difficult to really complain about a big budget action game that ecourages you, however indirectly, to not kill everything you can.

Though I agree with some of his points it feels like Jonas is complaining because a certain, potentially very niche, playstyle creates an imbalance within the systems of the game. Deus Ex was better at avoiding the discovery of that kind of dominant strategy, but I've started to wonder recently if such a strategy is actually such a bad thing. Particularly in a game like this where the dominant strategy is one a lot of people will find frustrating and gravitate away from naturally. It's hard to see the the non-lethal, no alarms approach as one the majority of player will be willing to take.

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