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Clip Analysis: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”

Clip Analysis: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” (photo)

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Video game teasers tend to stick to a certain formula: dazzle the viewer with awesome graphics, show off some of the games’ abilities and maybe dribble a little story out to tantalize would-be players. But every so often, one piece of video-centric marketing will float above the rest or sink to join the sludge.

In Clip Analysis, I’ll be looking at trailers, teasers and just about any game-related video in an effort to call out what works and what doesn’t in terms of communicating a particular game’s coolness.

This time, I’ll be taking a look at the trailer for “Deus Ex – Human Revolution.”

For the bulk of video games’ first two decades as popular entertainment, the heroes you controlled were, in the main, square-jawed and sure-footed. You never had the chance to think about how Mario felt about all that jumping or being told over and over again that his princess was in another castle. Of course, as the technology used to deliver gaming experiences improved, the personas you controlled and met got more expressive, as did the worlds you played in. Characters got to smirking and grousing but they still generally saved the day in morally upstanding and strictly proscribed ways.

Designed by Warren Spector and Harvey Smith, the 2000 title “Deus Ex” changed all of that. Controlling UN anti-terrorist agent JC Denton, players uncovered a vast and centuries-old conspiracy. In the 2052 of “Deus Ex,” a global health crisis causes riots when only the elites have access to a vaccine. The player’s conversations and decisions at key points would affect the way your story unfolded. The third-person action also integrated RPG elements to let players craft a playstyle that could be stealthy or more weapons-focused, while providing a multiplicity of routes to meet an objective. In the decade since it came out, fans and critics have elevated “Deus Ex” to a hallowed status for the flexibility it allowed and its dystopian futureshock vision. A sequel-“Deus Ex: Invisible War” came out in 2003 but didn’t earn as a similar spot in gamers’ hearts as the first game.

Now, ten years after resetting expectations about video game experiences, the series returns to PCs and consoles with a prequel to show how the world became the fractious mess that JC Denton inherited.

  • “Deus Ex” is a series known for multi-path progression and moral ambiguity. Unfortunately, for the directors of this video, those attributes are really hard to put across in a non-interactive way. There are hints, though. The angst in main character Adam Jensen’s voice as he opines about the current state of the world suggests that he may go to extremes
  • “Human Revolution” appears to suffer from the Technologically Advanced Prequel Problem, where the milieus in earlier chapters look more high-tech than the one that are chronologically further along in the canon. (“Halo: Reach” suffered a bit from this, too, with its swappable Armor Abilities that never show up in Master Chief’s adventures.) Still, the Blade Runner-style aesthetic on display in the trailer does make you want to jump right into the playground the game promises to you.
  • GIGW Alert! (That’s Guilt-Inducing Ghost Wife, for those of you who haven’t read Alison Willmore’s trope-defining piece of excellence.) Adam joins the countless ranks of protagonists who’ve suffered the Heart-Breaking Loss of a Loved One as a catalyst on the heroic journey. Now it’s a safe bet that this HBLLO will be the reason that Adam comes to an existential crossroads. Hopefully, the gameplay will make the most of this well-worn
  • The new thematic wrinkle “DE:HR” adds is the blurring between man and machine. Adam’s experienced a near-death and a cyborg resurrection. JC Denton had augmented abilities, too, but those came from nanomachines that still let him look human. Adam’s enemies seem similarly cybernetic but more robotic than he does. An educated guess says that Adam’s struggle to hold on to his humanity will inform the moral greyness of the game.

“Deus Ex: Human Revolution” comes out from Square Enix next year.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.