Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

It’s not often that we get to review a game that’s the prequel to one of the most revered and loved games of all time. Deus Ex was originally created by Ion Storm, a studio which at the time had the biggest names in the gaming industry including John Romero and Warren Spector. It was at Ion Storm that the infamous Daikatana was created, a game which was a commercial and critical failure. However, out of its ashes was born Deus Ex, a game which was to go down in the annals of history as one of the medium’s most cherished titles. In an attempt to capitalise on Deus Ex’s success, Ion Storm developed a very console focused sequel. Deus Ex: Invisible War dumbed down the original game’s elements and left fans enraged. After its release in 2003 we never heard of the Deus Ex franchise until Patrick Melchior, the director of Eidos France revealed in 2007 that a new Deus Ex title was in development. With the weight of the fans on their shoulders, Eidos Montreal took the monumental task of developing this gargantuan project and taking Deus Ex into the next generation.

Set in a cyberpunk Detroit in 2027, you take the role of Adam Jensen, head of security at Sarif Industries. Sarif Industries is one of the biggest manufacturers of augmentations to the human body, which can enhance abilities such as strength, speed and of course build deadly weapons into the body itself. However all is not great with society at large, with many people opposed to augmentations and rebelling with the argument that augmentations make people less human. After an attack on Sarif headquarters, Adam Jensen sets out on finding out exactly who did it.

Use your wit to get out of sticky situations

Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s story is really something to behold. The intellectual social debate over the morality of human augmentations and the giant conspiracy theory that lies behind it make Deus Ex an absolute treat to play through. With the additions of the social elements of the game, where you’re able to swing the story depending on how you pick your dialogue choices, makes the game completely open ended and as such you’re in for a completely different experience dependant upon how you act and react to certain situations. The pacing remains consistent throughout the whole game and never tires you out. The multiple endings of the game prove for some very interesting discussion about the very nature of humanity itself. Eidos Montreal have outdone themselves in capturing and creating a very diverse narrative that twists and turns based upon the influence of the player.

There are several “pillars” of gameplay within Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Combat, Social, Stealth and Hacking. Each of these playstyles vastly change the way you play the game. Combat is pretty self explanatory, you go in all guns blazing and take out anyone and everything you see in your wake. I like to call combat the “boring” option in this game as it is a pretty standard first person shooter system, however whenever you take cover it switches to third person. This can be pretty jarring and takes a while getting used to, and even then the cover system feels like you’re controlling a puppet compared to the smoothness of Vanquish and Gears of War. I did not play an all out combat character in my play through, but I found myself running out of ammo quite quickly. So I had to resort to knocking out the guards and stealing their weapons, which for a stealth character does not happen that often if you’re sneaking through vents and walking past guards while attempting to not get their attention. Although it takes some getting used to and fiddling with, the cover system and shooting are very satisfying but the ammo problems really hampered the experience for me.

The social element in Deus Ex: Human Revolution does not actually come up that often (not in my playthrough, at least.) But when it does, it feels like a very nuanced and realistic system, as to get what you want the player will have to appease the person they’re talking to and charm their way out of that situation. Choices you make through these social conversations can tip the balance in your favour or the person could completely backpedal and ignore your arguments. This is a very diverse system that feels just about perfect, it’s not like other RPG’s like Mass Effect where you have all the time in the world to respond; the person you’re talking to will ask you to hurry up or they will go off on their own tangent. It’s a system that has no right or wrong option, you really have to fight your own battles with your own objectives in mind to truly understand what to pick whilst charming the other person to ultimately get what you want. I would have liked to see this used more in the game however, but it may have been down to the way that I played the game more so than anything.

Looks like Adam Jensen's in a bit of a pickle.

My personal experience with the game was done with this next “pillar”, stealth. Whilst infiltrating buildings you could choose to take the stealth route, not make any lethal kills and lurk in the shadows. Many big games attempt stealth and completely fail or leave with a shoddy product such as Uncharted 2 and Assassin’s Creed. With Deus Ex: Human Revolution I expected the same fate. However to my surprise, I found myself in “Metal Gear Solid” mode again. Sneaking past guards, crawling through vents and being as silent as possible. The stealth in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is on par with the likes of Metal Gear Solid 4, it’s very polished and well thought out. It is a testament to how the game designers thought through each level to a ridiculous amount of detail to achieve this many options with how to approach a level. Stealth is often coupled with this last “pillar” of gameplay, Hacking.

Hacking mini games are becoming more and more common with many games released today, most of them get tiring or boring by not really adding much in terms of reward. Hacking in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is of monumental importance, as you are able to enter rooms and you may find additional routes or even uncover passwords to get into other rooms or places. It’s done by the player having to capture “nodes”, these nodes lead up to a hub, and your objective is to get to the computer’s hub before it tracks you. Through the course of the game you’re able to pick up several viruses that help you capture the nodes. It’s a very enjoyable little mini game and since the game does not pause while doing this, if you’re not fast enough you may be caught by a guard. The risk/reward makes you think twice before attempting to hack and it makes for a very exhilarating mini game.

Augmentations can be done through the course of the game that enhance or enable abilities, for example you can make the combat augmentation Typhoon, which kills everyone within an 8 metre radius of you. Or even eye augmentations to see through walls and highlight enemies. Depending on how you play the game, a single augmentation can completely change the way you play. I coupled two augmentations together by using an eye augmentation to see that my enemy was separated from me by a single wall, which allowed me to then use my arm augmentation to punch through the wall and immediately kill him. To make these augmentations you have to spend Praxis points, which are earned through going to a LIMB clinic and purchasing them for a pretty penny or gaining experience points via completion of side quests and main objectives. The game rewards you more experience for thinking outside the box and exploration. For example in one mission I was rewarded for not alerting any guards and making next to no noise. Augmentations are a welcome addition to the wealth of gameplay paths you can take in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, changing the gameplay and spicing things up enough to keep it fresh throughout this fairly lengthy game.

Jensen's entire body is augmented.

One thing you may notice about Deus Ex: Human Revolution is it’s striking Cyber-Renaissance art style, the yellow tinge makes everything about the world in Deus Ex feel realistic and “grimy”. If I had to put my finger on the main inspirations for Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s art style it would beBlade Runner; both are thematically similar and both take place in a futuristic society. This art style makes up for Deus Ex’s relatively simple geometry and fairly ugly graphics by giving everything a highly stylised look. NPC’s in particular look terrible in certain places, bearing in mind that I played the PS3 version of the game, the PC version will look substantially better. Michael McCann takes the role of scoring the game, and to put it simply, it’s beautiful. The game comprises of many different themes and the heavy focus on techno fits the world perfectly.

All in all, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is truly unmissable. It’s a great example on how games should be made, focusing on engaging gameplay with a wide variety of possibilities. The game is not without its faults however, with the disparity of ammo and the frustrating cover system controls being the main offenders. The game is very well thought out with its monumental design work simply because of the many routes you’re able to take throughout the game. The game is replayable to a point where if you play it in a certain way or make certain decisions you will have a completely different experience. With its strong conspiracy storyline and intellectual debate over existentialism concerning human augmentations coupled with the engaging gameplay and a gargantuan amount of replay value, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is sure to become a modern classic. 

Deus Ex: Human Revolution hits stores on August 26th in the UK for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

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