Review

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review (Xbox360)

I'm not one to complete games often. This revelation may come as a shock to some of you given what I do for a living, but we're not going to get into a discussion of that particular work-ethic right now. The point is, it takes a special kind of game to inspire me to see it through to the end, and an especially special kind of game to make me want to stay up until 3am just so I can see the ending. Deus Ex: Human Revolution made me stay up until 4am.

The original Deus Ex is widely considered to be an iconic franchise – its scope, ideas, vision... it was ahead of its time without actually being ahead of its time, and gaming conventions first seen in the first game have reverberated within the games industry ever since. Seems like a tough act to follow, especially after how divisive Invisible War was, but Human Revolution has not only managed to be a game that's worthy of the name, but a worthy game. Period.

Detroit, such a fine city...

For those of you who haven't been following this title religiously ever since it was announced, a brief overview – you play Adam Jensen, an employee of prominent augmentation firm Sarif Industries, and ex-boyfriend to Sarif's leading augmentation expert, Megan Reed. Following a disastrous terrorist attack on the company, you find yourself forced to undergo augmentation just to stay alive, and are left with much anger, questions and a thirst for justice. Or maybe that's just me. The game is quick to throw you on a path that will lead to the single greatest revolution in human history, with lots of shooting and stabbing along the way.

As you would expect, 'choice' permeates the game. From basic things like whether to do this side-quest or not, to conversation options, to what augmentations you want to improve. Eidos have talked about the 'pillars' of gameplay in the past, and whilst it's not as clean cut as that (this game is kind of geared to a certain style of gameplay), there's plenty of flexibility. Choice even permeates elements like what weapons to take with you, as even with a fully expanded inventory you can only carry so many weapons and so much ammo. My personal favourite was a pistol and basic assault rifle combo, customized with silencers so I could maintain the stealth, but there's a wide variety of weapons from rocket launchers, to laser guns, crossbows to stun guns, along with differing grenade and mine types.

Something tells me I'm not going to be able to stealth this one

What's surprising is how well the game handles the atmosphere and set-up of the various world locations, despite the fact that you can visit Detroit, Shanghai, etc... they are really relatively small snippets of these locations, but they all have a great depth to them, with many levels and areas to explore. Just a note of warning, it's only really Detroit and Shanghai that are cities you 'visit', other places like Montreal see you only visiting one building before you leave, and expect to re-visit places. To be honest though, by the time you get to that point things are so interesting you don't really care.

The pace of combat frequently shifts, and patience is not only a virtue, but a must. Unless you want to try and blaze your way through a level (not really recommended unless you can keep your ammo levels well supplied), waiting, watching, and attacking from behind is the order of the day. In the beginning stun weapons are probably your best bet for a stealthy take down (unless you do an actual take down using your strength augmentation – which is also cool). There are some sections that force you to go all gun-ho, but usually you can suss these out ahead of time, and prepare accordingly. Sometimes you may not have the right skill-set or augmentation to get by unnoticed, so you will have to fight your way through.

But it's not all about the fighting – being a story driven experience, Human Revolution has a very in-depth and robust dialogue system – your choices here have meaning, and there are even segments where you have to use your brain and your intuition (unless you have a certain augmentation), to try and persuade someone to your point of view. Hacking is also a prominent feature in this game – more prominent than you really think. Even just from a lore perspective, there's hundreds of terminals you can hack or find passwords too to get an extra glimpse into the world. Developing your hacking skills also helps with the stealth elements of the game, and generally exists to make your life easier.

I don't even want to know where that went

Playing through Human Revolution, it was hard to find anything truly wrong with it. In terms of technical polish, it was one of the most polished release-builds I'd seen in a while, with few-to-none glaring technical hiccups. The only time where I felt genuine disappointment was in the last area of the game. I won't go into specifics, but unless you've been one of those people who've been trying to blast their way through the game, this last section can be very jarring. Almost uncomfortable. Still, the actual 'ending' ending, apart from a rather strange boss fight, does really hit home what the game is all about. Personally, I felt the ending could have been a bit better and more conclusive in some respects, but the game does set things up so that the choice you have to make at the end really makes you stop and think.

Coming from a background of having not played the original Deus Ex (so sue me), I can't comment from a fans perspective. Being a prequel, there are hints and subtle nods as to what's to come in the first game – although if I was a long-term fan, I'd probably want more – but this seems a fairly self-contained experience. Make no mistake though, franchise fan or not, this is a good game – challenging, addictive, immersive... provided you like stealth-based action – there hasn't been an action/RPG this good in a long while.

Top Game Moment: Getting the 'Ghost' bonus – which you get for getting through an area without raising the alarm or being spotted (if you kill someone immediately after they see you, it's still preserved), is always satisfying. Especially with a well thought out plan.

Game advertisements by <a href="http://www.game-advertising-online.com" target="_blank">Game Advertising Online</a> require iframes.

Videos

Comments

By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Aug 24, 2011
herodotus
Seems to be the consensus with most that this is a game that lives up to it's predecssor (not including the critically panned "Invisible Wars"). I played the first, but was dreadful at it - stealth just ain't my thang. I'd like to give this a go, though and see if age and wisdom have improved my patience.
Besides that, a great review again, Joe. Made for good reading (now go play the original:D).
By alowesio (SI Newbie) on Aug 25, 2011
alowesio
I don't understand the Invisible Wars hate, it's the only one I played and I loved it
By alowesio (SI Newbie) on Aug 25, 2011
alowesio
This one looks awesome though
By porkie (SI Newbie) on Aug 28, 2011
porkie
Looks neat, I might try this one.