Review by SolidFantasy
"Your move Creep!"
In the year 2000 (God I feel old and I'm only 22) Deus Ex was released for PC. As someone who played that game for the first time the week before Human Revolution was released I now fully understand why that game is hailed as the greatest PC game of all time, and arguably the greatest First Person Shooter/RPG of all time. The game has held up extremely well and along with games like Metal Gear Solid clearly paved the way for many innovations in story-telling and game-play. Fast forward 10 years and we learn Square-Enix is publishing Deus Ex: Human Revolution to be developed by Eidos Montreal. The game is a prequel by 25 years so no prior knowledge of Deus Ex is required to fully experience Human Revolution outside of a few Easter Eggs in the game. Probably the biggest question on everyone's mind though is; was reviving the Deus Ex franchise a good move and is the story a worthy addition. I can without a doubt say yes, and that Deus Ex fan or not, Human Revolution is one of the must own games of 2011.
Story: The year is 2025 and technology advancements are growing rapidly. We have the power to augment (technological modifications that allow the user to use superhuman abilities) the body but not without anti-rejection drugs. In comes Megan Reed (your girlfriend) whose team has now made a breakthrough discovery in that now we don't need these drugs and can now augment the body freely. The day her and her team are going to make the announcement a group of augmented mercenaries invade Sarif Industries and in the midst of causing absolute chaos kill Megan Reed and her team. During this attack Adam Jensen (Ex-SWAT . Head of Security, you) rush through the facility trying to save Megan only to get mutilated by the leader of this mercenary group who looks like UFC fighter Chuck Liddell. Left for dead Sarif Industries has a lightbulb go off. Adam is basically rebuilt with cyborg body parts during a pretty graphic opening credits scene. Basically, Sarif Industries turns you into Robocop
Aside from pondering what these mercenaries were after or who they work or, there are plenty of other topics at hand. The world is split on augmentation. There are terrorist groups standing up for pure humanity while others see augmentation as a way of turning whatever we want to be into a reality. Essentially we now have the power to take the fire from the Gods and reach the true potential of humanity. At what cost though? Can people even be considered human after going through augmentation? If you can't tell the story to this game is outstanding and just another reason why stories in games should be taken more seriously. It is written very sharply with exceptional dialogue. Just like the original Deus Ex there isn't really a good or bad path. There are 4 endings and the line between labeling one as morally right or wrong is very grey. There is no black and white here or throughout the entire game. Every choice comes down to the players own personal beliefs as a human being. This is one of the major areas where the original Deus Ex excelled above and beyond at and while the end game choices in Human Revolution aren't as thrilling as the ones found in Deus Ex, I can't fault it because this a prequel. Regardless, the choices in Human Revolution are still miles better than anything in something like Fallout.
Character-wise Human Revolution is pretty good too. There are a plethora of major characters that all have their own interesting views on all these technological advancements. You play as Adam Jensen who again never asked for any of this. He had no say obviously, Sarif just rebuilt him. Adam is actually against augmentation and punches out his mirror because at-first he can't stand the sight of himself. So you essentially have a protagonist struggling to accept his new body or actually adapt to it and do what the player perceive as right. Then you have a bunch of millionaires like David Sarif, Hugh Darrow, and William Taggart whom I don't want to go into too much but they also have their own agendas and political views. And yes, David Sarif is your boss and you will get into heated debates with him and all of these major players. There's a club owner in Hengsha named Tong Si Hung who ties into the original Deus Ex in a neat little surprise that I won't spoil. Eliza Cassan, the world's biggest news reporter is even a big character. The Illuminati is involved and much more. Some characters who feel completely pointless though are Faridah Malik and Frank Pritchard. Malik basically is your escort via helicopter which is fine but throughout the game it feels like they try and flesh her out but you never really end up caring about her. At least she didn't become random pointless love interest #5,284,72 though. Another pointless character like this is Frank Pritchard who is basically your partner via communications. First off he literally looks like Jansen from Lost Odyssey if he just from 2 pictures side by side, stepped from that game into Deus Ex with no explanation whatsoever. He has the most irritating voice on Earth and offers absolutely nothing to the story other than being a poor man's Otacon. The bosses are also terrible. During the opening invasion when they're tearing s*** up you get a sense of excitement and can't wait to fight them. I was expecting actual characters with backstories and everything similar to the infamous bosses in the Metal Gear Solid games. Instead I got pointless characters that if anything simply breaks the flow of the game. The final boss however is very creative and awesome. Overall from a character standpoint the story is again incredible though with plot twists that would make even Hideo Kojima foam at the mouth. The only real negative here is that whoever voiced Adam Jensen went to the school of Keanu Reeves acting. He pretty much has one voice and it's dull and monotone jus like this. People just died? That sucks, guess I'll avenge them. Basically this actor showed as much as emotional range as Nicholas Cage in his collecting a paycheck mode. Thankfully this doesn't drag the story down too much and everyone else aside from minor side-characters is great.
Most importantly the story here is outstanding and something people will be talking about. What's scary is that some of the games themes are actually already relevant and being discussed in society. Could this game be a riveting tale of events to come? We'll find out but in the meantime, I strongly encourage discussion of the themes in this game. There are tons of interesting debates to be had in this age on what technology is/can do to mankind if we go overboard with it, but not many pieces of media do it as riveting as Deus Ex.
Game-play: Bare with me here as I have absolutely no idea where to start. The game is primarily in first person but switches to third person when taking cover. If you don't know Deus Ex is primarily a stealth oriented game and as a huge Metal Gear Solid fan I must flat-out say it; THIS is how MGS4 should have played and should be a freaking template for developing games that put an emphasis on stealth. L1 enters cover which is where you can pull off tons of finesse moves. You can use X to roll or move around cover spots. The camera is perfect and can be rotated if you need to. You can either shoot from cover or move in for a Takedown. Pressing Circle does a non-lethal takedown while holding Circle does a brutal kill with your Cyborg blades. You can travel through vents, hide bodies, and even hack computers and doors. Hacking Security Hubs will sometimes allow you to disable security cameras, turrets, and robots or if you have the ability, allow you to turn them against your enemies. Actually hacking isn't too complex but rather fun. A screen will appear with a grid of circular nodes. Each node has a protection level. Your goal is to guide your way from the blue starting node to the green node. You can only advance one node at a time and only if they're directly connected so planning a path is probably a good idea. Each node has a detection level percentage and if you are detected you have a very limited time to finish the hack before an alarm goes off. There are plenty of special nodes that store data such as money or items. Two of the most effective items for hacking are Nukes and Stop viruses. Nukes allow you reach a node undetected while Stop allows you to temporarily disengage the security for 5 seconds if you are detected. I understand this all sounds like quite a mouthful at the moment but when you play the game you'll truly see how simple yet complex it all really is. Of course you don't have to get your hands dirty at all if you find a Pocket Secretary on a guard or a desk. Some of them are useless but some contain codes right on them meaning there is some reward to the risk of taking guards out. If stealth isn't your thing you can always go guns blazing but keep in mind ammo is extremely scarce and you die very fast even on normal. You also have to put up with massive recoil until you augment your aim.
As with most RPG's you start off with rather craptastic abilities. Here is what separates Deus Ex from most Western RPG's though. This game has almost 70 upgrades and most of them are actually useful. Upgrading your character requires a game-plan. Pumping points into random things won't help. You need to decide if you want to be stealthy or a power-house and roughly stick with one. Near the last third of the game you can start branching out and mostly will do because experience might as well grow on trees once you get a good ways into the game. This game has some very neat abilities by the way such as the Icarus Landing System which allows you to fall from any height in style without taking damage, a cloak that temporarily grants you invisibility, a move that allows you to perform double Take-downs, various silencing augments, and so much more. You can upgrade some of these abilities even further such as your hacking skills, the length you can be cloaked, your aiming stability and more. If that wasn't enough you can even customize and upgrade your guns. First of all your inventory screen is exactly like the original Deus Ex which is awesome. You have a grid of squares and each item takes up a certain amount of squares. Of course you can upgrade the size of your inventory too. Moving on though there are your basic rifles, handguns, shotguns, etc but also stun guns, crossbows, tranquilizer guns and even plasma rifles. You can upgrade various weapons with silencers, laser-targeters, explosive rounds, and various other attachments in addition to basic damage upgrades, reload upgrades, capacity upgrades, and more. Customization in this game is insane and will have you doing multiple play-throughs.
When you're not sneaking around you will be in one of the game's two city hubs. One is a Blade Runner esque envisioning of Detroit while the other is a section of China resembling Midgar from Final Fantasy 7 of all places. These free-roam hubs are loaded with locales to explore and side-quests to do and are a joy to wander around when you're not lost. I don't know if it is the mission marker was leading me on a wild goose chase or if the city hubs are actually a little confusing to navigate, or if I'm just stupid but I got lost occasionally. You can find E-Books located throughout the game that further flesh out the time period and are usually very interesting reads unlike Dragon Age 2 where you learn about the most pointless stuff. There are merchants that you can buy and sell weapons from. LIMB Clinics allow you to buy Praxis Kits. Usually when you earn enough experience you get a Praxis point to pump into one of your augments. For the steep price of 5,000 Credits you can outright buy a Praxis point but these kits are of limited stock just like everything else that can be purchased. You can also buy Protein bars (I forget what they're actually called) but there's 3 different kinds. They all refill a varying amount of your Energy Cells. You start off with two but can buy up to five by buying new slots with Praxis points. These energy cells are essentially your magic meter. All of your upgrades drain some whether you're cloaking yourself or using the strength enhancements to hurl refrigerators at people. It all costs some of your energy but when you run out the first cell will always recharge. Protein or f***** candy bars, whatever they are called are the only way to replenish the other four cells. Here is where my second gripe of the game comes into play. A takedown should not use up an entire cell. I am shocked it actually does. Not even Old Snake needed a breather after snapping a neck so why does Adam? I have heard the supporters say Well the combat would be broken if you could melee whenever you want to which I respond; I guess every other game in existence has broken game-play. If I'm doing a Takedown, program anyone that sees it to shoot me to kingdom come during the animation, not sit there with their thumb up their ass waiting in line for a Takedown like it's a ride at Six Flags Great America. Aside from that the AI is incredible. They know they outnumber you and play to that advantage. If random doors open they go check out the situation which in turn makes noise a possible stealth method for the player. Are a group of guys blocking a door? Activate roid-rage and throw a fridge or box somewhere. Use sound as a diversion and get creative. Their field of vision is realistic and believable; they will sound alarms or call in reinforcements. The AI is terrific and makes sneaking that much more rewarding.
Level design is probably the other major area where the original Deus Ex shined and became a benchmark. Sadly other than Crysis not many games have followed suit. In Deus Ex there were a plethora of approaches to missions, branching paths, and more due to all the different ways the game could be played. I am ecstatic to announce that this is the case again in Human Revolution. I have been talking to people who have the game, watching DarkSydePhil's play-through on YouTube, and combining all of this with my own experience and to summarize, you can go about the mission objectives in numerous ways. One mission had me stealing something from the Morgue of a Police Station. Now obviously this against the law, but how do you sneak around a damn Police Station. Well if you upgraded your Social Enhancer (an amazing and highly useful augmentation) you can use it to read the Receptionist's psychological profile and see his behavior patterns and if he is an Alpha, Beta, or Omega. The persuasion system is all about telling people what they want to hear. So you can either convince this guy to give you all access to the station or blackmail him forcing him to grant you access. The social skills and dialogue options in this game are the best I have ever seen and some of the persuasion battles are extremely intense. Getting back to the Police Station though, if you fail it's either go in guns blazing or look for an entrance via the sewers and go from there. The game-play is highly intense and flows perfectly except the boss battles. They are already terrible characters and now they are terrible fights. First off the first 3 are coded like ass and will either get stuck in place or kill themselves. Secondly they're just bullet sponges and there's nothing really unique about the battles. The final boss is very well done though.
Overall, this game is outstanding and you will want to play it twice whether you want to attempt a new character build or see a new ending or take different approaches to your objectives. The story goes hand in hand with the great game-play and it all flows and comes together nicely. There's also a huge twist that damn near reinvents the game-play at the end and it's perfectly executed. Every future stealth oriented game needs to use this as a template.
Graphics/Sound: Everything from the orange-ish Tron style visuals to the Blade Runner esque Detroit to the Midgar feel Hengsha gives off to the entire Cyberpunk feel is hammered home and wonderfully executed. The game is extremely atmospheric and the world is crafted with a lot of care. It really just sucks you in from the moment you are allowed to go explore Detroit. Graphically it's all pretty good except for the occasional low texture here and there. The frame-rate is very stable and there's no pop-in. The draw distance is pretty great too. My only real issue is that there are some clipping hiccups when dragging bodies. As a whole dragging a body looks silly because you can't see your hands or anything. On the sound side WOW! We may have a winner already for best OST of 2011 because the techno Daft Punk reminiscent themes and the pulse-pounding orchestral scores are breath-taking. Thank you Eidos for including the OST in the Limited Edition because this is some top-tier award deserving music. The sound effects such as the bone-crunching Takedown attacks, glass shattering, and weapon sounds are all pretty good as well. Loading times are fine but there is a 3GB install if you are curious. Eidos did a fantastic job in this department though
Re-Playability: Deus Ex: Human Revolution is around 30-40 hours long if you're doing side-quests and things of that nature. As stated there are a ridiculous amount of reasons to replay this game from new character builds to approaching missions differently, to 4 endings, to some challenging trophies such as not setting off any alarms or killing anyone in the game. This game content-wise is easily worth $60.
Rewarding stealth game-play
Widely open-ended level design
Characters with depth
Tons of abilities
Hacking is simple yet complex
Pretty good pacing
Crazy MGS-like twists
Never really feels repetitive
Inventory (no 2 weapon only crap)
Beautiful Tron/Blade Runner visuals
No black and white good/bad choices, terrific morally grey ending choices
Controls great (3rd person Cover is awesome)
A lot to explore
Technically runs fine
Tons of re-playability
Some characters (mostly bosses) add nothing= - .2
Takedowns use an energy cell= -.2
Boss battles are buggy and not fun= -.2
Adam Jensen sounds like Keanu Reeves= -.4
Occasional weak texture and clipping when dragging bodies= -.1
Verdict: Eidos Montreal has successfully remade Deus Ex relevant again and has also crafted one of the must own titles of 2011- 8.9/10
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/02/11
Game Release: Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Augmented Edition) (US, 08/23/11)
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