Deus Ex: Human Revolution
I haven’t had much luck with pre-orders of late; a steady stream of over-priced, over-hyped disappointments to be exact. So putting my money down early for Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a gamble for me, would Square Enix be able to restore my confidence in full priced gaming, or would it join ‘Brink’ and be traded in for store credit?
Set 25 years before the original Deus Ex, we find ourselves to be the eyes and ears of Adam Jensen, the head of security for Sarif Industries in 2027. A leading researcher and manufacturer of human augmentations, Sarif Industries is on the brink of a technological breakthrough when attacked by unknown, highly trained operatives. After suffering tremendous injuries, that almost cost him his life in the raid, Adam is rebuilt by his employer’s technology, integrating everything from augmented sprinting abilities, to enhanced vision that allows him to see through walls. In a nutshell, Jensen becomes a bad ass.
While hunting down his enemies, Jensen unravels a plot thick with lies, conspiracy and subject matter that is so believable, it becomes unsettling. The violent protests from pro-human groups against the progressionist companies and governments, is a situation built upon by fantastic writing from the themes of today that manage to craft an image of a dark future not a far cry from our own.
Fortunately, the disturbing themes laced into the writing are reflected with immersive, dark environments and a stunningly atmospheric soundtrack. Utilising upon the tried and tested ‘free-roaming’ mechanic, Deus Ex created some truly jaw dropping concepts for its cities. Detroit, a vast, sprawling canvas of wealth and aspiration for the private sector to exploit, is a distant fantasy from the grim reality of today. And China’s Heng Sha Island, so densely populated it has a second city built on top of it. Including a professional, respected upper section, and a lower city stinking of debauchery, within a labyrinth of dirty streets. The concept and design are inspiring.
The main selling point that Deus Ex: Human Revolution has been feeding us up unto the release of the game last Friday, however, is choice. The choice to go about completing mission objectives how you please, the choice to craft your character’s abilities – by upgrading additional augmentations earned from XP points – to match you play style, to the choice of some dialog options when the game allows it. It’s no lie there are certainly many ways to play this game. When I first saw a video explaining how, ‘You can play aggressively’, ‘You can play stealthy’, or ‘You can play both’, I must admit – I was underwhelmed. Yeah great, there’s a ventilation shaft you can use instead of the front door, I had that option in MGS, so what? But it’s the shear wealth of options that Deus Ex has at its disposal that brings a new experience to the table. Some paths are only open to you should you possess the correct augmentation, such as having extra strength to lift vending machines to reveal a door, a high hacking skill to deactivate alarms, or a cloaking upgrade to pass through lasers undetected. This in turn creates a system of marvellous trial and error: if you mess up a conversation or task, there is no ‘Game Over’ screen, you must adapt and figure out a new way to solve the problem. Solutions can be found in the unlikeliest of places, from eavesdropping on general chatter outside a club regarding the rumour of a back entrance, to dropped PDAs revealing the recently changed door code.
I personally chose a ‘silent but deadly’ approach, investing heavily in stealth upgrades and speed enhancements, but I have to mention it did prove a major disadvantage later on. When a game pushes choice upon you in such a variety of ways, and rewards you for each action you take, removing that choice suddenly and without warning can cause major frustration and exaggerates a title’s linear nature more than it may deserve. Human Revolution suffers from this in its boss fights. If you have read any other reviews for the game, you’ve most likely seen this point brought up and hung out to dry. And in all fairness, the fights aren’t bad, they’re nothing new, but they can only be played in one way.
It’s the beginning of the game and I’ve just upgraded my augments to now allow me to walk silently past guards, good times. I come to the first boss however, and I’m massacred. Every battle takes place in a large open space, with varying obstacles between you and your foe, and in no respect are you rewarded for playing the way you have adopted up until your engagement. My pimped out silenced pistol and sniper rifle, my silent footsteps, or my super jump ability – useless against a dude with a massive gun, who throws 3 grenades at once if you stand still too long. I learnt from my mistakes, and I learnt hard, to keep a a variety of weapons that I’d never use, and upgrade my armour that I never needed, just for the couple of boss fights in the game. Even though I never fired a shot in the missions, I wasted my inventory space, and more importantly augment upgrades on lazy design for boss battles. This said, the fights a few and far between, and as mentioned, the flaws may be exasperated by the faultless gameplay that encompass them. A minor criticism I know, but a problem caused by Deus Ex itself. Setting itself apart from the crowd by providing the player with options throughout, only to strip them away at pivotal, climatic moments.
There are hours and hours of gameplay time to be engrossed into Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and after recently completing my first play through, the only thing that stopped me from firing up the second is having to write this review (damn you TC!). Now, I may bite my tongue on this point after completing the game multiple times, but, at least from first impressions, I felt the story itself was extremely linear. Yes the number of ways you could complete objectives need more than a couple of hands to be counted on, but I never felt that my actions strongly affected how the story panned out. For instance, I would be briefed ‘you have to complete X, you can do it this way, or this way, or this way …’, but no matter what action I took, or what I’d done previously, objective X never changed. This reminded me a lot of Crysis 2’s open-ended nature. Missions were free to complete as you wished, but no matter how many times you played them, it panned out in almost exactly the same way.
So, the big question, was it worth the money? Yes. I’ve been waiting for a game like this since Mass Effect 2; I fell in love with the world, the writing and most of all my character. This is not Call of Duty, every time you play it a whole new experience will emerge. You may say to your friend ‘do you remember the bit where you blast through the wall and dropped down the elevator shaft?’ only for them to have no idea what you’re talking about. Each experience is individual to the player, but universally incredible to all. The specific aspects of Deus Ex are not best in show: character models are not of high quality, but do the job; the script at times seems forced, especially the Asian accents; the FPS mechanics are far from cutting edge, but as a package, you will be hard pressed to find a better deal than Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Every intricate detail of choice, of concept, culminates into an exquisite title that has single-handedly renewed my faith in the gaming retail market. A true must have.★★★★★★★★★★★
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