It’s hard for games to live up to up to their own media hype. In fact, media over-exposure may be one of video games’ largest industry-wide issues. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, not only needed to live up to the hype swirling around it, but it also needed to live up to the expectations from 11-year-long fans of the original Deus Ex.
Whether or not it delivered on a case-by-case basis can never be quantified, and there will always be angry fans that will rise up and claim sequels aren’t as good as the originals. But we can review the game as a standalone experience. And in that regard, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one of our favorite games of the year. It scratched all the right itches for a stealth, action, adventure, shooter-rpg. And quite frankly, it is the game that Square needed to release to win back many of its recently lost fans.
In the year 2027 (25 years before the events of Deus Ex) humanity is on the brink of a technological breakthrough. Biomechanical engineering can not only replace lost limbs, but potentially it can push humanity to a new physical level of existence. With that type of power in the hands of a select few, morality heavily comes into play and people question the ethics of playing god.
You play as Adam Jensen, former SWAT commander, and current head of security for Sarif Industries, one of the corporations behind the push in biomech technologies. It’s your job to track down and bring to justice the culprits behind a recent attack on Sarif headquarters that allegedly killed your girlfriend and turned you into a futuristic Frankenstein monster.
The nonlinear story in Human Revolution will leave you guessing. The story will appear to wrap up, then a new twist to the plot will emerge and sending you to another corner of the planet. And your interactions with other characters in the story aren’t simply divided into “good answer” and “evil answer.” Your reactions spread through the moral spectrum and have real repercussions in the world around you. They aren’t as drastic as The Witcher 2, but they’re more advanced than the Mass Effect system of branching dialogue. And the voice acting can’t be beat.
In terms of gameplay, you’re given objectives and it’s up to you to see fit how you’d like to accomplish them. You can sneak, hack, shoot, smooth talk, or punch your way through any situation… or choose a mixture of all the above. Completing objectives large and small grant the player experience points which can be used to upgrade Jensen’s augmented abilities, making him stronger, able to hold more items, making him a better hacker, granting him temporary invisibility, or the ability to jump from any height without the fear of harm. Because of this completely open experience system, no two gamers will play through Deus Ex the same way.
The stealth system is wonderful and Deus Ex proves to be one of the best stealth-based games this generation. It gives the player a chance to play a non-lethal version of the game: knocking out or tranquilizing enemies, instead of piercing hearts and blowing out brains. It’s a nice touch and it adds to the challenge because incapacitated enemies can be shaken awake by their allies.
The shooting experience is average and uses a standard cover system. The choice in guns may be disappointing to some. And oddly, for a chief of security of one of the worlds most powerful corporations, you still need to scavenge for guns and ammo and barter with black market resellers. The game pops slightly awkwardly from first to third person perspective when ducking behind cover. Initially, it is jarring, but it’s something the player will quickly grow accustomed to.
Hacking, sadly, is disappointing and it plays a major role in the game whether or not you chose to be a hacker. The mini-game boils down to using quick reflexes and mouse skills to invade enemy nodes on a game map. There are temporary power-ups that can be used to increase your hacking success rates, but all in all, it was still tedious in an otherwise enjoyable experience.
Graphically, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is all over the place. The interface is pristine and easily navigable. The layout and the décor of the cityscapes are jawdropping. The amount of care put into every logo in the game and every piece of merchandise found on a merchant’s shelves, shows the love and care that was put into the design of the game. There are some truly talented graphic designers at Eidos Montreal. Much like a sepiatone wash makes movies and games feel old and dated, the yellow wash in this game makes everything appropriately feel futuristic.
On the other hand, while it is clear that a ton of time was put into creating fantastic gameplay and wonderful design, it seems as though someone forgot to pack in a few pixels. The low resolution textures are almost laughable compared to other games of its calibur. Here’s hoping that the modding community will remedy that in the near future.
Deus Ex‘s biggest offense across all platforms, is the ridiculous load times. Even on the PC on a machine that is above and beyond the recommended hardware requirements, we were experiencing load times of 25 seconds or longer. Quite frankly, that type of load time is unacceptable. A patch for all platforms is necessary.
But in the end, we can’t argue that it is one of the most addictive and satisfying games of the year. With multiple playthrough styles and routes, and a plethora of power-ups and different scenarios to experience, we are ready to play this one again, and then again.
It goes without saying, that we feel Deus Ex: Human Revolution is worth buying. It is the game we were hoping it to be, and more importantly, it is the type of game the industry needed in a market that is growing stagnant. If you have a choice of platforms, we recommend PC above all because of the much-needed and appreciated quicksave function. Beyond that, we recommend the 360 for the slightly faster load times than the PS3.
But when it all boils down, it doesn’t matter which platform you get it on. It’s a fantastic game regardless.
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Name: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Developed by: Eidos Montreal
Published by: Square Enix
Release date: August 23, 2011
EG Score: 4 out of 5 / “Worth Buying”