Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review
It’s been over ten years since the original Deus Ex was released, delivering a new benchmark in action/RPG gaming. With a giant world, versatile combat, and a truly unique atmosphere, Deus Ex delivered on all of its lofty promises and then some. Fans have finally received another entry into the Deus Ex franchise with the prequel, Deus Ex Human Revolution.
But can lightning strike twice?
With the tremendous critical success of Deus Ex, it’s hard not to expect great things from Human Revolution. And I’m happy to report that Eidos Montreal delivers. Set in a futuristic Detroit, players control Sarif’s chief of Security Adam Jensen. Sarif is a pioneering corporation in the field of human augmentation, offering cybernetic enhancements (both life saving and cosmetic). Need a new leg? They can do that. Want to increase your brainpower? Have a neural hub installed.
Growing unrest among the populous over whether human augmentation should be allowed and a shattered global economy that has given power to corporations and city-states, set the backdrop for Human Revolution. In the first stage, a team of mercenaries who break into Sarif Industries mutilates Adam and the only way to save his life is by overhauling his body entirely with augmentations. Adam returns to work at Sarif afterwards to track down the mercenaries and resolve personal affairs that resulted from the attack.
There’s your setup in a nutshell, but the rest of the story is largely in the hands of the player. Dialog trees (like those found in Mass Effect) allow you to shape Adam’s outlook on characters and the world. You can be bitter, enthusiastic, or indifferent and NPCs will react accordingly. However, customization doesn’t stop there.
The augmentation system allows players to customize Adam to their particular play style. I’m a huge Metal Gear fan, so I took a stealth approach to augmenting. I went with upgrades like vision cones on my radar, silent footsteps, hacking, and the ability to see through walls. However, if you’re more of the guns a blazin’ type you can combine upgrades like the ability to see through walls with the strength to punch through walls (which makes for a hilariously kick ass Kool-Aid man attack).
As a hacker, I could unlock doors and access computers by playing a cool hacking mini-game. With this skill I could take over enemy cameras, turrets, and robots. But say you weren’t a hacker, you could still pull off such feats by killing or incapacitating guards and checking their pocket secretaries for access keys and passcodes. Regardless of your preferred playstyle, Human Revolution has multiple ways to achieve the same goal. All of which feel challenging and rewarding.
Speaking of rewards, almost every action in Deus Ex rewards players with experience points. Discovering a hidden path, attacking, hacking, even conversation choices all reward players with XP. Collecting enough XP nets players Praxis Points, which you cash in for upgrades. I would hack doors into random people’s apartments just for XP, only to find a safe behind a picture (which I also hacked into) for more XP. You’re constantly rewarded and it encourages you to constantly explore.
As for gameplay, Human Revolution offers a solid mix of first and third person action. Heads up run and gun control like your typical FPS, and a dynamic cover system allows swaps you to third person to better play your cover. The cover system plays akin to Gears of War, you can blind fire over/around barriers, hug walls around corners, or jump to other close cover. Both view aspects are top notch and greatly compliment the game’s augmentation abilities.
If you’ve made it to this point in my review, allow me to jump the gap from journalist to full on nerd. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is just plain sexy. The setting is a mash up of sci-fi masterpieces (Blade Runner, The Matrix, Cowboy Bebop…even Robo-Cop) yet maintains an originality all its own. Everything from the dim colors set against orange lighting, to the sleek noir of the augmentations creates a living, breathing world begging to be explored. It can be played almost infinitely different on each play through and feel consistently rewarding.
Another notch in Deus’ Ex’s belt is that it allows players to “outsmart” the game. Stacking boxes just the right way, or landing on the tiniest of a ledge’s pixels make you feel like you have found some super secret path that only you were clever enough to discover. Such “cheating” through areas helped me find a rocket launcher early in the game. Upon closer inspection however I realized there were a dozen other routes that could netted said explosive device. It rekindles those feelings of success one gets from accessing an area early (think heavy exploring in old Metroid and Castlevania titles) and staying ahead of the game. A little hard to explain, but I felt cool as f#ck the whole time.
In short, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a true gamer’s game. It can be played however you want and you’ll feel bad ass all the way though. It has a slick story, solid graphics, and style to spare. Diverse enemies include augmented humans, robots, and intense boss fights. And for all of these situations there is a gun meant for doing the job (oh yeah, all of your guns can be pimped out too).
Steadily challenging yet infinitely rewarding, it’s easily one of the showpiece titles of 2011. A true feat on FPS, RPG, and action/adventure fronts, Human Revolution kicks ass. Despite the onslaught of blockbuster titles this fall, I plan on helping Adam Jensen solve globe spanning crime (as sexily as possible) for quite some time.
F#ck you Kool-Aid man.
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