Review – Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Go go gadget spleen!
Some were uncontrollably excited, some were dreading it, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution is finally here to mark the end of the Summer games draught. The original Deus Ex is still considered a classic now and did a lot of things games still struggle with today but its sequel is universally despised as being a trimmed down shell for consoles which lost a lot of the charm and depth of the first game. Human Revolution is also created with consoles in mind (I’m playing it on an Xbox 360) but have they managed to get the balance right?
The element that sets the Deus Ex series apart from other first person shooters is augments, enhancements applied to the human body to increase its potential. Human Revolution is a prequel to the original game so augmentations haven’t reached the technological peak they had, limbs and organs are literally replaced with mechanical parts. That doesn’t stop them being useful however, with abilities that enhance your vision, strength, speed, as well as less physical attributes. All abilities can be upgraded and unlocked RPG style using Praxis points which are either bought or earned through completing objectives and exploring.
Calling Deus Ex a first person shooter isn’t really giving it credit. In fact the shooting is one of the weaker elements of the game. Choice in how to tackle objectives with an RPG system running underneath is what the Deus Ex games are all about. Will you sneak through the vent to get into the next area? Hack the security camera to quietly walk through? Or use an explosive to blow a hole in the weakened wall? I’m a stealth man through and through, non-lethal if I can help it and Deus Ex caters for me perfectly. Shortly into the game I was a master hacker, able to take down two people at once, whilst invisible. For my second playthrough I intend to punch through walls, throw around fridges and jump nine feet in the air. By the end of the game, if you do the majority of side quests you can have a good spread of abilities. Deus Ex isn’t stingy with the ability points.
So the options are there, but does the game suffer in any other areas? Not really. I know we’re comparing it to a game which is over a decade old now but it’s streamlined and brought things up to date which needed to be whilst keeping the atmosphere and political undertones of the original. There are bugs and glitches, some affecting side quests, but you can have multiple saves and the game itself keeps two auto-saves so it shouldn’t be game breaking. I was hit by a couple myself and it didn’t stop me playing.
Graphically the game is very good. It probably won’t be winning any awards as the graphics are quite minimal and clean but the neon lit future presented here is very easy on the eye, even if the character faces aren’t so good and the lip syncing is lacking. Oddly there are moments where the game drops into FMV, but these don’t actually look as good as the in game graphics, so why that decision was made I’m not sure, but it’s a minor blip. Sound-wise the game is also very strong. The majority of voice work is top notch and the music is just as good as it was in the original which was excellent.
Don’t come into this game thinking about a traditional action RPG FPS like Fallout 3 or something similar. I have no idea why I did having played the original Deus Ex but hey I imagine most would do they same when they see a game with unlockable abilities, customisable weapons, ability progression and a myriad of ways to complete the objectives and just play the game in general.
The pacing is entirely up to how you choose to play from the augments you purchase, stealth is an option, action too but what the game does best is in the variety of ways you are allowed to complete your objectives.
All these augments and abilities are excellent but with ever draining energy reserves you never feel overly God-like (no pun intended), but at the same time if one spends a long time completing all side quests, earning XP and pimping out your abilities it would have been nicer to feel plenty more badass.
The atmosphere is set beautifully with the well-scripted and meaningful dialogue, the music (very Tron-esque) and just the extra back story scattered liberally around the world from TVs, newspapers and the usual datapads that again people very carelessly leave lying around.
Deus Ex Human Revolution is an excellent game that will give many hours to the completionist and also the guy who prefers to vary up their play styles and trying things differently.
It’s not Fallout 3, the areas aren’t as expansive (nor are they trying to be) but every area is well-designed and thought-out, every experience is meaningful and every takedown a joy to see.
Secondary Score: 9/10
I don’t wish to mention too much of the story as that is what will keep you going but I’ll whet your appetite. You play as Adam Jenson, the Head of Security for Sarif Industries who are one of the lead researchers of cybernetic augmentations. Adam is also ex-SWAT so when the shit hits the fan he can handle himself even without his upgrades, which is lucky because you’re a ‘natural’ at the start of the game, augmentless.
Obviously you do end up with augments and although that happens very early in the game I won’t go into it. The story continues at quite a slow pace initially, especially if you partake in all the side quests, and although there are choices to be made you always head in a straight line as far as the main story is concerned. Later in the game when you leave the hub worlds and the side quests go out of the window the game does start to loosen its grip on you but you’ll be so invested by that point that you won’t stop playing.
Another minor gripe is the boss battles. As I mentioned earlier I played this stealthily, killing no one, so I was surprised when a boss battle turned up and I had no choice but to take him head on. I couldn’t stealth my way around the arena tricking him into traps or sneaking up behind him, tagging him and disappearing before he knew what hit him, I had to face him. Obviously I hadn’t upgraded myself with combat in mind so I was at a distinct disadvantage. It’s the same for the other boss battles, but luckily there are only three of its kind in the whole game, the final boss not being a one on one battle like the others. It doesn’t ruin the experience by any means but for a game centred so much around choice it’s a shame that it doesn’t apply to the bosses.
There was a moment about half way through Deus Ex: Human Revolution where I thought to myself, “I don’t think I’d mind if this game never ended” which is a rarity in this day and age. The feeling didn’t last as the final sections did drag on a little but the first three quarters of the game has set a high benchmark for the games which follow in the Christmas rush. Not perfect thanks to the niggles mentioned, but an excellent game nonetheless.