Deus Ex: Human Revolution review
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It might not be revolutionary, but what it offers is...
Deus Ex changed the face of gaming. Released all the way back in 2000, it redefined the medium , successfully bringing together elements from RPG, shooter and action genres, and won numerous awards including ‘Best PC game of all time’.
Its follow up, Deus Ex: Invisible War wasn’t as successful, leaving fans of the original bitterly disappointed. Then there was nothing for almost a decade, the Deus Ex franchise gathered dust, despite some of the new millennias best games using gameplay elements that Deus Ex had pioneered. Now, over 10 years after the release of Deus Ex, the franchise is back with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a prequel of sorts to the original. Set in 2027, 25 years before the events of Deus Ex, Human Revolution places you in the role of Adam Jensen, ex-cop turned security specialist at Biotechnology corporation Sarif Industries and, slowly but surely, uncovers the story behind a global conspiracy.
The nature of Jensen’s story depends entirely on player choice. Do you play as a ruthless bastard, killing anyone who stands in their way? Are you a stealth specialist, killing only those who need to be killed? Which side quests do you take? What decisions do you make at key plot points? The Deus Ex: Human Revolution story can be very different depending on the actions of the individual player. In this way, and many others, Human Revolution doesn’t revolutionise the mechanics of the original, but merely brings them - almost perfectly - into the modern age.
As excellent as the original was, Deus Ex wasn’t the best looking game...even for its time. But as you’d expect for such a highly anticipated title from Square Enix, Human Revolution looks fantastic. Whether you’re walking through Detroit, or sampling downtown Shanghai, every location just feels right, both aesthetically and atmospherically. The not too distant future architecture, combined with the look of in-game characters really helps the player get immersed in what’s a great looking world. Human Revolution’s art style is perfect for the futuristic world it portrays, with distinctive colours demonstrating that its world, while similar to ours, is also very different, and one in which upgrading the human body with biotic augmentations is increasing in popularity.
Interestingly, the artistic style of Deux Ex: Human Revolution perfectly complements the narrative of the entire game. While you could just follow the story and events through cut scenes and dialogue with other characters, you’d be missing out on a lot of what Human Revolution has to offer. Take time to listen to dialogue between NPCs in the street and you’ll discover new ways to enter buildings, where to find items, developments in the plot, or maybe just information about their day-to-day lives. There are thousands of pages of information to be found and read throughout the game on e-book (think fancy iPads) and computers throughout the world which, while not essential, offer an interesting insight into the world. Kudos must go to Square Enix and Eidos for putting so much effort into little bits of narrative throughout the game.
As mentioned above, Deus Ex: Human Revolution offers a world based on various conspiracy theories, real world events and facts which, when considered, construct a believable world. In 2027, it isn’t countries which hold the power, but corporations. Think that sounds farfetched? Then consider the fact that Apple now has more cash reserves than the United States government. Deus Ex offers a chilling look at the potential power of corporations in a very cleverly put together story.
Enough about the story, what about the gameplay? As previously mentioned, you can play the game however you want. You could kill anyone you come across, or you could look upon Deus Ex: Human Revolution as a stealth game. The truth is, regardless of how you choose to play Human Revolution, it plays brilliantly.
No matter how you play, cover is of the upmost importance, and whether using it to sneak by guards, or as something to hide behind in a gunfight, the mechanic works excellently. Simply hold the cover button in place and Jenson will hug walls, crates or anything else nearby in the environment to provide cover. Coincidentally, cover is essential for Jensen to use, given his relatively low health and minimalist damage resistance; sure, a single, face-to-face fire fight with a single enemy can kill you. Perhaps it’s because of this that health regeneration has been added to the game. It’s a feature that was almost unheard of when Deus Ex was released in 2000, yet has become a staple of FPS in recent years. While it takes a little something away from the challenge of the game, it’s understandable why the developers chose to implement this relatively modern feature.
And while Human Revolution is predominantly played from a first person perspective, the automatic snap to a third person view when using cover only benefits the gameplay. Indeed, the option to blind fire from a third person perspective, but then peek above cover in the first person view is seamless, and really helps the game to flow. For a game which could be played so differently, by so many different people, it’s certainly impressive as to how functional the controls are. If anything, when compared to the original games, the controls allow players more of an opportunity to play a stealth based game.
Indeed, the augmentations of Human Revolution – that is the upgrades available to Jensen – often point the player towards a stealth based game over one for full on combat. The abilities, to cloak or walk silently, certainly help the stealth based player. A whole ‘tree’ of hacking based abilities, ones which allow you do hack computers for information, or doorways for entry through a node capture based mini-game, once again suggest that in Deus Ex, stealth is the option that’s encouraged through gameplay. Nonetheless, there are also a variety of combat based abilities should the player choose that path, and it’s one that’s certainly worth paying attention to.
There’s even one area of the game that can be completely ignored by the player, if not chosen as an upgrade. The social enhancement augmentation not only allows you the ability to influence NPCs, but also helps you determine if they’re telling the truth and how you should deal with them. These mini-interrogations in which personality data is assessed for you on screen, play like a simplified version of the L.A. Noire integration system. If used correctly, they can often provide the player with extra information, items and plot points they may have not discovered.
These upgrades, no matter what sort they are, are gained through ‘Praxis Points’, which are obtained in true RPG fashion through gaining experience. Experience is gained through a variety of different actions; there’s the bundle of points obtained for completing mission objectives - be they in main objectives, side objectives or side missions. Of course, many side missions won’t be found without some exploration of the Deus Ex world, offering another incentive not to rush through the game as quickly as possible.
Indeed, Deus Ex: Human Revolution even offers extra experience points for just exploring the world. You might do this for the experience points, you might do it in order to find alternative ways to complete missions, or you could do it just through sheer love of exploration. The fact is, whatever you choose to do, and however you choose to play, Deus Ex: Human Revolution will reward you for what you do. That said, when it comes to combat, the game once again seems to encourage the player in the direct of non lethal, stealth based take downs, with more points awarded for knocking out enemies rather than killing them. Of course, no matter which way enemies are taken down, their bodies need to be hidden to avoid detection.
However, despite the encouragement offered in experienced points, it’s not possible to finish Deus Ex: Human Revolution without killing anyone, as like the original game, it features boss battles. No matter which way you choose to play the game, it’s likely these boss battles will be frustrating...they were for me. The opponents use typical, boss battle tactics - performing the same powerful moves over...and over...again. Get too close to one and, no matter which way they’re facing, they’ll automatically pick you up and take away half your health. In one boss battle you’re even disadvantaged for making a certain choice earlier on in the game. The boss battles, in addition to providing a somewhat frustrating process of learning through mistakes, seem somewhat out of place in Human Revolution. That said, they do provide good conclusions at the end of certain parts of the story, so I suppose their inclusion is relevant.
And it’s the story of Deus Ex: Human Revolution that’ll keep players returning to the game for multiple playthroughs. It’s a story with so many twists and turns - all of which change depending on decisions made by the player throughout the game. What side missions do you take? Indeed, which way do you play missions? All guns blazing or stealthily? As with life, the choices you make effect your own experience, and this is a credit to both the game and its creators.Each of these play a part in a plot that branches out in numerous ways and offers multiple endings which perfectionists (or achievement hunters) will be eager to see.
After all the years of waiting, Deus Ex: Human Revolution doesn’t disappoint. Much like its predecessor, the original Deus Ex, it combines RPG, shooter and adventure elements perfectly, and this time adds proper stealth gameplay too. While it may not be the revolutionary experience Deus Ex was, Human Revolution still offers an excellent gameplay experience. The way it plays is entirely up to you, and with a plot that twists and turns throughout, in a world that isn’t too different to ours, it’s something you’ll want to just keep playing.
Indeed, in an era where first person games are mainly based on short campaigns, it’s refreshing to find Human Revolution lasts at least 25 hours, and that’s without exploring side quests, or picking up and reading ebooks. The amazing thing about Deus Ex: Human Revolution is that, around its story and amazingly well realised world, there is just so variety within, making it easy to recommend to all - regardless of gameplay preferences.
Like stealth? Or shooters? Or RPGs? Or adventure games? It doesn’t matter which, Deus Ex: Human Revolution seamless blends them all.
It’s so very different to any major title on the market right now; it’s a refreshing look back to how games used to play, but of course, with massively improved graphics. And while let down slightly by the dubious inclusion of boss battles, this doesn’t take much away from the game as a whole. Ultimately, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an extremely well put together game, and one that every gamer should play.
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