Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC, OnLive
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Price: $59.99 – Buy Now!
The Deus Ex franchise began back at the turn of the millennia. It dealt with a world fallen into chaos as human augmentation and disease sweeps the world. This game then spawned a follow up sequel titled Deus Ex: Invisible War, but none of that matters in Deus Ex: Human Revolution because this title is a prequel to the original game.
DE:HR takes place near where human augmentation has just become accepted and companies are struggling to avoid crossing the line between human and machine, while the normal non-augmented humans begin to come into conflict with one another over whether augmentation interferes with the natural order of humanity. With dark conspiracies moving in the shadows and corrupt and evil organizations move forward with their own ambitions and a game that blurs the line between RPG and shooter, how does Deus Ex: Human Revolution perform?
In Deus Ex: Human Revolution players will take the role as Adam Jensen. Adam is an ex-SWAT team member who now is under the hire of a biotech company named Sarif Industries as the head of security. Sarif is the frontline in human augmentation, special biotech implants and replacement body parts that provide the user with enhanced perception, superhuman abilities and a better quality of life. A team lead by Megan Reed, Adam’s ex-girlfriend has discovered a major breakthrough in human augmentation and is preparing to leave to present this information at Washington D.C.
That is until the building is suddenly and viciously attacked by a force of augmented soldiers that systematically eliminate everyone in the labs as well as destroying every ounce of the team’s research. During the attack Adam was injured and beaten so badly that his body was completely beyond repair, though with the implementation of the company’s finest augmentations his shattered limbs and devastated body were repaired anew. He has received so many augments that he has become something more than human, rivaling that of a super soldier, but he still retains who he is. Six months after the attack occurred, Sarif Indsutries sets him to track down the soldiers behind the attack as well as the corporation that was funding them.
This search will take Adam from Destroit to the other side of the world to Shanghai’s Heng Sha. These two cities form a central hub for the stories to take place in as well as all of the side quests that you can trigger as you venture through the streets and meet different people. The side-quests are not required to finish the game but there is a plethora of information that can be revealed about the world through most of them, or at least bonuses which will make the rest of the story easier. Plus the side-quests aren’t always your standard go here kill this guy, type missions. They are well varied and can be very enjoyable, so much so that you could easily spend a couple of hours on side missions without returning to the main plotline.
The story that unfolds in Human Revolution is the biggest highlight of the game. As you investigate various traces of evidence more information is revealed. Even though Adam Jensen is the head of security, his proper title should be Private Investigator because the story unfolds similar to that of a detective story as each piece of the mystery falls into place only to reveal more shadows to cloud the truth.
As this game is the prequel to the first title, the story begins right around where human augmentation and ethical questions abound. The fact that a new technology is on the rise, creating people with abilities far above that of normal humans is being spun into one that creates fear in the normal citizenry. There unfortunately isn’t a lot of ways to swing the story one way or another in this regard, but you do have the ability to make many different decisions and choices throughout the title which affect the situation close to you.
In a world of cybernetics and computers, obviously knowledge means power and information is abundant in the world of Human Revolution, so much so that, if you wish to, you can spend hours reading through tons of emails on hacked computers or on “pocket secretaries” picked up from enemies or laying around. The information isn’t necessary by any regards, so players can choose to simply ignore the information. However for those who enjoy learning as much as they can about the situation and the world that they are playing in, then this is a must as most of the information you read will either clear up some unspoken mysteries in the plot or simply provide more explanation about the environment that the game takes place in.
Those looking for a beautiful looking game should look no farther than Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The two main hub levels are very well detailed, so much so that every little piece of the environment has been designed. Players will be hard pressed to find an area in any level where the game hasn’t received extensive detailing. Players can climb to the top of a roof and find pieces of garbage from a Hobo living there or venture into an apartment and learn about the owner’s lifestyle simply from looking around or accessing their files.
The emphasis on detail is exceptional when you consider the amount of detail and design that had to go into making multiple hidden paths and secret areas that can be explored at a whim. There are a number of citizens walking the streets and can serve absolutely zero purpose but help provide the feeling that you are traveling through a living part of the city (or you can kill/stun them for any given reason).
The character designs are wonderful to look at and you can quickly tell who has been augmented in some way or who is entirely human through their limbs and Jensen himself is a perfect example of this. Certain story related characters will be exceptionally well designed and the augments are realistic looking and entirely believable as well.
There is also a method of eliminating enemies called Takedowns/Executions. These takedowns will knock out an enemy while an execution will kill them and both animations are varied and visceral. However I experienced a number of clipping issues after a takedown was performed, with enemies falling through the floor or becoming stuck in the level geometry somehow. Also, takedowns/executions can fail to line up properly if the ground isn’t level and it will seem like Jensen is punching or stabbing air at times.
The voice work for Deus Ex: Human Revolution is splendid. All the characters are well voiced and relatively believable. There is a lot of dialogue in Human Revolution so it is great to see that the voice actors perform their jobs flawlessly, albeit in the case of Adam Jensen’s voice being a bit gravelly and one character whose voice could be considered racist by some.
Similar to the voicework, the game’s sound effects are very impressive, walls shatter believably and guns sound as realistic as one would believe. The background music and environmental noises can suck the player into the world and leave them wondering where hours of their time have went as they can’t help pull themselves away from the title.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game that transcends your standard limitations of genre. We’ve seen FPS titles with RPG elements mixed in, but nothing quite as significant as in DE:HR. There is a multitude of ways that you can play through the game, and all of the ways are applicable. Many games in the past have said that they provide multiple ways to complete a challenge, but few actually implement this gameplay design as DE:HR does.
To begin with, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is, at its core, a first person game where players will either be using lethal weaponry to kill opponents or weapons that can temporarily knock enemies unconscious through either tranquilization or other non-lethal methods. There is no punishment for taking one route or another; however the game does seem to favor those who are non-lethal in their approach as they often receive nearly double the experience points for a stun instead of a kill and some characters in the game will make remarks of your humanity or of your brutality.
The lethal and non-lethal methods are only the tip of your gameplay options however. Adam Jensen is a man that has received numerous augments to his body, all of which can be used to enhance and assist you in your gameplay method. You are unable to use most augments immediately, as they have to be unlocked through leveling up and receiving a “Praxis Kit” or finding one/purchasing one in the environment.
The Augments play a heavy role and can be unlocked however you wish, meaning that if you prefer a more frontal approach with guns, maybe you would prefer skin augmentation to receive less damage from enemies. Would you rather sneak around an enemy instead? Perhaps unlocking the cloaking augment is more to your style. All augments can be purchased and you are not limited to what you wish to choose, meaning that you can play whatever style you want or even mix and match. Plus there are a number of other augmentations which can make your life much easier, such as being able to fall any distance without dying, seeing through walls and even jumping nearly ten feet in the air.
While some augments and gameplay mechanics aren’t entirely necessary to gameplay, without upgrading the hacking augment most players will find themselves stuck and locked out of most areas and information. While some computers and doors have passcodes that can be discovered through items known as “Pocket Secretaries,” nearly all of them will require a hacking skill to enter.
Hacking is a skill that will place the player inside of a small puzzle mini-game where they must capture computer nodes and reach the final circular green node to complete the hack. This isn’t without risk nor easy however, as every attempt to capture a node can result in the computer tracing your hack, and if the timer runs out you will fail in the attempt and possibly even set off an alarm. On the Xbox 360 version of the game, I found it occasionally difficult to switch to the next node quickly as the highlight remained stuck on a previously hacked node. This is a slight annoyance and can be a hackers downfall as you only have a few seconds to complete a hack once caught.
Now although this isn’t a limitation to the plot, as plot required doors/computers are usually at Level 1 which is the default level, without a higher hacking level players will be unable to explore many side-rooms or learn extra information about the game’s intricate and impressive plot. Plus, there are a number of security measures which can be turned off or against your enemies through hacking as well, which makes hacking a must have skill regardless of your playstyle.
Besides hacking computers, smashing walls and killing/stunning/avoiding enemies, Deus Ex: Human Revolution contains plenty of talking as well. A unique piece gameplay mechanic in the game is something known as a “Social Boss Fight.” These are parts of the game where you must choose the correct responses to the person you are talking to, trying to sway them to your way of thinking or to get them to tell you something you must know.
These Social Boss Fights are a very interesting implementation. There are small conversations elsewhere in the game where the right or wrong response will simply be a smack on the wrist, or not even that. That isn’t the case with these boss fights however; they can be completely game changing, with success and failure playing heavily into what happens in the story or how you will progress making them yet another way to change your playstyle.
On the other hand, there are also normal boss battles which you will be forced to fight occasionally. Now while in the rest of the game you could be entirely stealth based, knocking enemies out with close-up takedowns, hacking terminals and sneaking through air ducts. But when you are faced with a boss battle you are left completely wise open, as you will have to resort to using your lethal weapons to kill this opponent. Thankfully there are always spare lethal weapons or explosives littering the battlefield, but those who focus on stealth and hacking only will find themselves facing an unwelcome challenge which slightly hinders the free choice that is presented in the rest of the title.
Despite this small limitation, Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s multiple augments and multiple styles of playthrough and accessibility means that you will be guaranteed at least more than one playthrough of the title. Replayability is a hard thing to come by in today’s world of gaming, especially pertaining to FPS styled titles, but Human Revolution’s multiple choices and customization provide not only multiple ways to tackle tasks, but also an incentive to approach the world a different way each time. Be a stealth hacker, a wall smashing, ground pounding, gun wielding soldier or a humane agent avoiding death wherever possible, or any mixture of these. The choice is yours in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a title that has everything a gamer could ask for. There are few games that deliver the complete package similar to Human Revolution, as not only does it have an intriguing story full of plot twists, enjoyable action, amazing graphics but it also contains many different ways to play the game and plenty of content that begs to be explored and seen more than once. Deus Ex: Human Revolution may have a few small flaws but these do nothing to truly hinder the enjoyment that this game will bring to players. Deus Ex: Human Revolution not only lives up to the legacy that was the original title back in 2000 but surpasses it.
I give Deus Ex: Human Revolution
A retail copy of the title was provided by Square Enix for reviewing purposes.