The RPG/FPS game Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel to the original Deus Ex originally released in 2000. This long awaited continuation of the series is published by Square Enix for the PC/PS3/360 and developed by Eidos Montreal (with Nixxes Software helping on the PC platform).
Human Revolution has been hailed by other critics as a return to form for the games industry. A modern mainstream game that still manages to remain classical. Let’s take a closer look and see what we find.
The main character, Adam Jensen, is head of security at a powerful biotech firm, Sarif Industries. Everything goes wrong of course and you find yourself caught between your mysterious company, criminal organizations, police corruption, and various streetwise gangs. After that, be sure to throw in some simmering tension between ‘pure’ humans and ‘augmented’ humans.
Nice and toasty.
The story doesn’t skimp on the intrigue and while you may think you’ve figured something out, there are a few twists that can throw you for a loop.
One important part of the story is your own part in it, your decisions that can change the way the game ends for you. I found that I was very pessimistic about everyone’s character and I found myself trusting no one. This was apparent in how Jensen carried himself onscreen. He was quite cold and every bad situation only gave him more reason to be distrustful.
Human Revolution features a dialogue system that allows Jensen to choose from options that may be gruff and overt or more cunning. The success rates for these choices depend on the character you’re trying to wrangle information from. It’s a pretty basic system that doesn’t do anything revolutionary, though it does play into Deus Ex’s ‘play how you want’ model.
One quality result from this system is the return of long form dialogue sequences where each decision usually leads into another set of decisions.
I found the story to not be overly preachy or pretentious. I expected a convoluted set of details not unlike the Metal Gear Solid games where conspiracy reigned supreme. Instead I was met with plot points that were easier to swallow without sacrificing the sense of mystery that the game naturally holds.
Jensen’s character design is solid enough that he’s not just a silent hero that we take control of. He’s malleable (both by his experiences and the player) but still had a sense of direction. In short, he’s decent and I’m glad he isn’t just a strong silent type.
Art and Sound
The first thing I thought when I booted up the game and walked around the Sarif Industries lobby was, “Man, this place looks like Shinra Headquarters.” Human Revolution features a stylistic mix between the high-tech orgasm that is the Metal Gear Solid series (especially MGS4) and the pseudo-steampunk city of Midgar in Final Fantasy 7.
The streets are dirty. Definitely not a place I would want to sit down and pet a kitten. That’s contrasted heavily by the super clean interiors of the LIMB clinics and various research facilities and military compounds that you infiltrate (or raucously charge into) throughout the game.
The environments are very edgy and the clothing follows suit. The police team you meet at the beginning of the game have their faces completely covered in what looks to be carbon plastic.
Past the art design, people have been praising the graphical fidelity of the game but I don’t see anything super impressive. For reference, I am playing this on a high end PC with all the graphical settings maxed out. I’m not amazed; it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that this game came out two years ago.
Human Revolution sounds really good. Takedowns are visceral and explosive. The characters mostly have an individual voice, though you will run into duplicates. Adam Jensen’s voice actor, Elias Toufexis, did a great job in sounding gruff and cold (again, exactly how I played).
Mechanically, Human Revolution feels like a cousin of Metal Gear Solid. I know I keep making this comparison but it sticks so well. I’d compare it to Splinter Cell too but I’m not quite as experienced with that franchise. They both have large variances in their gameplay but when it comes to the basics, they both work the same thread.
Human Revolution gives you the option of playing through the game as lethally or humanely as possible (like Metal Gear). I went through a lot of the game as gently as I could before I finally snapped when the game really pushed me to the limits of my patience.
Deus Ex really gives you the feeling that the outcome of the game is totally dependent on your decisions. The different ways to approach a mission are really quite staggering.
Will you explore the sewers and come across a backdoor entrance or do you want to use some social engineering to get your way. Perhaps you want to stealth past the guards or come in guns blazing. Perhaps even come across a vent and hack computer terminals in order to turn the facility’s robot defenses against the guards.
One real treat about the game is that it does not hold your hand. You can miss a lot in this game. It’s very replay-worthy in that respect. I’ve stumbled across side-quests just because I’m OCD about talking to every NPC I see. It’s very refreshing to come across a game like this, a game that very much rewards exploration and experimentation (and OCD).
One problem I have with the game is that it really wants to be experienced a certain way. The game feels very much biased towards stealth/hacker gameplay with lots of goodies for people who go that route. If you want to play this as a more action-oriented game then you’ll simply miss out on loads of experience and fun mechanics.
This is juxtaposed by the boss fights that are simply murder when not playing as an assault commando. There are ways around some of the bosses but when I was forced to toe-to-toe a juggernaut as a measly hacker, I was outgunned and ineffective. On the other hand, this can be seen as my brutal reward for choosing my augmentations like I did.
Augmentations are fun to mix and match with varying degrees of effectiveness and usefulness for each tree. Some people may want to consult a guide before they spend their Praxis points. That or you can play through the game without spending them until you really need to hack that level 3 door or punch through that brittle wall that’s probably hiding a cache of weapons and cash.
It’s really hard to complain about the gameplay in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It’s quite good and scratched that stealth-action itch that I didn’t know I had.
Human Revolution is an easy game to grade. Eidos Montreal very carefully maintained the integrity of the franchise with this great game. A lot of reviewers may complain about load times but, frankly, a patch has already been released to deal with that and it’s completely eliminated any problems I had with that. Other than that there are no major flaws for anyone but the harshest of critics.
Anyone even remotely interested in this game will enjoy it.