The first time, I attempted a gambit of telling him I would let him go, thinking that he'd leave the hostage behind. Yeah, not so much. The second time, I tried a different tack, but there were several layers of conversation to get through in order to get him to leave the hostage. I was pleasantly surprised by how tense it all was. It may have just been a conversation, but it felt as treacherous and risky as any gun-soaked boss fight I'd ever played. I'm not sure if the mechanic will hold up over the course of the entire game - that will depend largely on how often it gets used - but it was an engaging departure from what we've come to expect in recent years.
Hacking and social interactions will play important roles in Human Revolution, but given how little they factor into the first few hours of the game, we didn't see that much of them. The hacking, in particular, sounds like it holds a lot of promise, though the simplified version we got to try was little more than a tutorial. Your attempt to hack something, be it email, a database, or a gun turret, is represented by a series of interconnected icons on the screen. You enter through an IO port, and must activate data nodes by selecting them with your cursor to form a path from the port to your end destination. Every time you activate a node, you run the risk of the main computer detecting you and trying to kick you out. If you're detected, you have a few seconds to find an alternate path to your goal before all hell breaks loose and the guys with the guns come a-running. According to the tutorial that introduces you to hacking, higher-levels computers will come with a risk/reward aspect; should you choose to stray from the path to your destination, you might discover passwords, money, or experience points. Of course, the longer you fiddle around, the more chance you have of getting caught. We didn't see that aspect of the game, but it sounds like it could add some depth to the mini-game.
Some aspects of the game are still quite rough. Blind firing from cover was completely useless, balance on the whole was way off, and some of the visuals (particularly Meg's hair) looked like they were ported from the original Deus Ex, but those are all aspects that can be smoothed out long before the game is released.
After our time with the demo was over, everyone at the event gathered around to compare notes - what we had tried, what'd we'd found, what had worked, what hadn't, what quests we'd unearthed, and what secrets we thought we knew. We'd played the same pieces of the game over and over and over again, and if we'd been given the chance, we'd have happily kept on playing. Even though we got to spend all day playing the demo, we really only saw hints of everything Human Revolution has to offer. If the game lives up to the promise of its first few hours, we might need a whole new choir to sing its praises.