Review by HerrDoktorr

"Deus Ex: Human Revolution"

So, finally, 11 years after the original Deus Ex, after the lackluster Deus Ex: Invincible War, and after 3 years since the first announcement, Deus Ex: Human Revolution has come out. I will not say that it was not an risky move to resurrect the title – Deus Ex is a one-of-a-kind game – it is great, it keeps its place as one of the best games ever, even after all this time, it is a game that I can still replay and be surprised, the question that needs to be asked is, can a sequel to such an game be truly made, an sequel that does the original justice?

Human Revolutions answer to that question is yes and no.

Yes, because it does capture many of the things that were good about DX, it still has that DX-feeling to it... but at the same time no, HR gets painfully close to capturing all that was good, but then misses the mark on a few occasions, misses the mark by easy mistakes, mistakes that could have been corrected with such an ease it is outright sad. And those few minor things keep nagging to me while playing, why wasn't this done differently?

Lets move to the details then however.

Art and graphics:

I'm no great big expert on technical side of graphics, but I can tell that they are not as good as they could be, yet I can not complain too much about them, the art is outright beautiful, the art style accomplishes what it should, it creates atmosphere, it tells people things and draws them into the game. The art in itself has this comic-book-vibe, which I like, it reminds me quite a bit of Kevin O'Neills work on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Game-play:

Of course, the game-play, the most important part, especially in a sequel to Deus Ex, where you could do almost anything, where you could solve things in a number of ways, from hacking, lock-picking, stealth to all-guns-blazing-approaches, and you could build your character to be more suitable to certain approaches. How well, then, does HR-fare in the game-play?

To say the least, it is solid, the game-play works, it is smooth, shooting has the right feeling to it, sneaking around is nice. Hacking is done via a mini game, you can solve problems in different ways. Still, it is not without problems, the experience-rewards are rather unbalanced, you get experience from hacking, but not from inputting the right key-code. You get more experience from non-lethal take-downs than from lethal. I am personally rather torn about the 3rd-person cover-mechanic, the transition is smooth, and I have to say, I barely even noticed it.. but it does make sneaking around perhaps a bit too easy, to say the least.

The exclusion of certain items also, I think, hiders the game-play to an extent, if I have not build my character to be a “John Rambo the 2nd”-that approach just isn't very viable, while there is way too much praxis and you can make your Jensen basically be a master of all skills, it reduces the replay value and difficulty. Less praxis, more items that allow certain approaches in different situations would make the game far more flexible.

And there were those boss-fights, the boss-fights that everyone whines about, they were not very hard in my opinion, but what they did, was break the natural flow of game-play, yet again, the spirit of Deus Ex is in different approaches, and the boss-fights didn't truly allow those and when they did, the approaches felt even more limited than in any other part.

Then, there was one great game-play-aspect introduced in Human Revolution, the social battles, these were great. Absolutely fantastic, a bit too easy, yet again, and if you spent some praxis, they got even easier.

Augmentations & energy in general were a bit of a weak point, some augments were rather useless, some very useful, and some gave way too much for far too little investment. The energy-system also is rather weak, more energy isn't very worthwhile investment, 2 bars with fastest reload-speed is enough to use most, if not all augments, very effectively.

And all in all, the game-play lacks the certain feeling of freedom the original had, which is its greatest shortcoming.

Story, writing and storytelling:

Well, here, the game has yet again, few places where it shines and quite a few where it falls short.
In general, the story was good, the storytelling decent, not all of the story was told through the main
narrative, but the emails and environments and discussions between enemies that you could eavesdrop were used too, and this is good. The writing is solid, some characters weren't used up to their full potential and were not fleshed out enough. I have to appreciate certain parts of the writing though, the emails, David Sarif, Bill Taggart, Frank Pritchard, the sciency-stuff, some parts of the story were very good and I did like that the game never went completely nuts with the conspiracy-aspect.

Then, if we yet again look back at the original Deus Ex and see what exactly was Human Revolution missing in terms of story, writing and storytelling. And it is painfully obvious, there was nothing like the philosophical discussion with Morpheus in Human Revolution, there was no “Killing Anna Navarre on Lebedevs plane”-moment. There was, to put it in words, something missing. The underlying theme is more about vengeance and the story is more personal, but perhaps there was a bit of wasted potential all things considered.

Also, the cut-scenes like they were out of place, like they didn't fit in the game, of course, they do have their place in storytelling and in video games, and on occasion they work, but did they truly work in Human Revolution or in Deus Ex? No. They were the greatest weakness, when Jensen started behaving in a way that wasn't fitting to how I played him, the game failed, and this happened a lot during the game, almost in all cut-scenes, sometimes railroading is a must in story driven game, but are forced cut-scenes in the spirit of DX? Especially when the game emphasizes different approaches, and then suddenly, there is yet again, only one approach, while it keeps the story flowing, the original DX-managed quite well without them. Even if the game must railroad me into certain conclusion, let me play that part, and let me get to that certain point by different approach.

Level-design:

The level design was good, where it should have been excellent, the areas lacked a certain vastness, the “hacker”, “stealth” and “Guns Blazing”-paths all felt a bit too defined, the game seemed to tell that “You go here if you want to play like this.” But by no means were the levels bad, they just could be improved upon greatly, increasing the amount of different routes, make them less defined and increase the amount of objects you can interact with, exactly why were certain boxes or certain vending-machines movable and some were not?

But still, there were levels, like Hengsha Docks, and Lower Hengsha in general, after which I can believe that Eidos Montreal is truly capable of creating those extremely good levels, now, every level needs to attain at least Hengsha Docks quality, and surpass it on occasion.

Conclusion:

In the end, there is a question, is Deus Ex: Human Revolution a good game? And the answer is Yes, by all the modern standards of gaming, HR is an very good game, deserving much praise and at least an 8 or 9 out of 10.

But then, we also have to remember that it is a Deus Ex-game, and it bears the burden of that, is Human Revolution a good Deus Ex-game? Again, yes and no. It does get close, too close, but it is hindered by those few things where it missed the mark. In the end, I would give it a 6 or 7 as DX-game, so I think 7.5 is rather fitting score.

Was Human Revolution good for the franchise? I don't think we can answer that yet, it is by any means a good game, but the possible sequel will truly show if Eidos Montreal can get even those few remaining things “right.”


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/02/11

Game Release: Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Augmented Edition) (EU, 08/26/11)


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