Review by DarkSymbiote

"Edios' magnum opus"

About 11 years ago a game was developed by Ion Storm, headed by Warren Spector, that blend different gameplay genres mixed with one of the best conspiracy stories and a brilliantly engineered soundtrack. That game was Deus Ex. But alas, despite all its magnificence and praise from critics, its sales were much less than deserved. Three years later they produced a sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War. Unfortunately the sequel made many questionable changes. Gone were the open levels, neatly designed locations and engaging plot, and were replaced with constricted corridors, cities that look like metros and a tale that becomes mildly interesting by the end of the journey resulting in the franchise's quiet hibernation.

In 2011, the series returns in the form of a prequel with a surprising new art design. With Eidos Montreal taking the helm, can Human Revolution be a worthy successor to the original masterpiece or is it meant to be forgotten like Alex D.?

Story

I never asked for this.

As a prequel, it's set 25 years prior to the original when humankind is on the verge of advancing the potential of bodily (both outer and inner) enhancements in order to break free of their limitations, hence the subtitle. You are Adam Jensen, a former SWAT member who has been recently hired as the head of security by Sarif Industries, one of the world's leaders in human augmentations. The night when Adam is to discuss security preparations with his boss regarding a speech that was to be given by Megan Reed, Adam's ex-girlfriend and Sarif's lead scientist, who has found a breakthrough in her research to have people augment freely without the need for anti-rejection drugs, they are attacked by a terrorist group who kills most of the top scientists, including Megan, and puts bullet in Adam's head. But he miraculously survives. Now outfitted with flesh piercing arms along with a host of other gizmos fitting for a super cyborg, he sets off to find clues leading to his attackers.

It's a conspiracy again and fans wouldn't have it any other way. The story gets more interesting as you progress but it still does not match the original's intrigue and intricacy. But even so the game revives the same style of tale-telling that made Deus Ex so enjoyable. The game does not spoon feed you and is not afraid to let you contemplate on your own. The biggest problem it has is the endings. Unlike the original, Human Revolution's multiple endings very little effort on your part and feel heavily outdated.

Design and Gameplay

Oh, and by the way, Jensen? I know you have gone through a lot of physical changes as of late, but you didn't become a woman. Stay out of the ladies restroom.

As with the original you are given multiple routes to reach your destination (usually at least three). Although the developers clearly had stealth in mind (to fit the conspiracy theme), you are allowed to use frontal assault if you wish. Whether you feel like getting up-close to stab hostiles or dropping from above to get the surprise, the decision is left up to you and to help you with your play style you're given a diverse set of augmentations. Cloak, high jump, silent run, and tons of others are at you beck and call if you have enough XP. Also, this is the ONLY game that has a true persuasion system. It's more than just "click the blue text" and actually requires some character study in company with the appropriate response even though an augmentation is in place for those who might feel a tad overwhelmed. Thankfully, it doesn't work on everyone. And then there is hacking. Basically it's based on real life hacking, that is, you have to capture particular points and then protect them, but much more simplified. It's probably the best hacking mini-game out there.

The level design is basic at first but gets a lot more complex and intricate as you go on. The city hubs are more open again but the poorly designed map could have been better. Weapon selection consists of mainly the basics but there are one or two standouts. Enemies have been given care in the diversity department and this illuminates when facing them off in gunfights. Unfortunately, their movement patterns during stealth segments need much work. Often, when a squad knows an intruder is present but can't locate them, they will refuse to check behind obvious desks and at other times not even follow Adam up ladders.

A highlight are the side missions. They are elaborately crafted and aren't like in other games where you go somewhere -> kill something -> come back -> finish. These have a short story of their own and I can safely say they are done better than in most RPGs. It also helps that the interiors and exteriors look so well crafted and moody. Special mention goes to the Sarif Industries headquarter, the Detroit Police Department and China. Seasonable characters populate the locations adding ambience and density.

Something that is troubling is the movement of most NPCs in dialogue. They perform the same action too many times. Male characters constantly raise their right hand as if they want to slap you silly and female characters keep moving their fists near their chest. It becomes annoying if you tend to notice small details more clearly than others.

Let's not forget about the boss fights. They just don't fit in. Good concepts for all of them are in place but their direction and delivery is heavily flawed.

Visuals

My vision is augmented.

It may not be pushing pixels and polygons but the creative art direction in Human Revolution is phenomenal and follows a unique yellow/orange-beehive theme, taking inspiration from the Blade Runner movie. You have never seen anything like this before. But that doesn't mean each and everything is like that. There's a good use of different colours and the architecture is gorgeous and unlike what other futuristic games depict. In fact, 2027 feels a lot more advanced than 2052. The cool art helps it do that.

Audio

All right. We're alone. If you have proof of a conspiracy, let's hear it.

The music has a techno-conspiracy feel to it. The main theme fits Adam and humanity's struggle perfectly. Some of the better tracks may be bypassed completely if you prefer stealth which is a pity considering they often get your heart racing for the current shootout.

Thankfully the voice acing and direction has been greatly improved tremendously so no more "in da fresh!" moments. Regrettably, Adam's voice is stale and monotone for the most part but he still conveys more emotion than Mr. Denton ever did.

Pros:
- Impressive art design
- True persuasion mechanic
- Cool hacking mini-game

Cons:
- Endings are disappointing
- Boss battles are poor compared to the rest of the game
- Some special abilities are too limited

Final verdict

It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a more than worthy prequel to one of the best games of all time. Unlike most developers, Eidos wasn't afraid to take risks and it paid off in folds. A rare gem and a testament to how artistic the medium can be.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/16/11, Updated 08/13/12

Game Release: Deus Ex: Human Revolution (US, 08/23/11)


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