Let me start out by saying that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a really good game. A sci-fi actioner set in a fully realised world which tackles current and relevant issues, while remaining totally accessible throughout. I might even class it as one of my favourite titles of the year. I might, only there’s one thing hampering my overall enjoyment of the game - Adam Jensen is a boring pinhead. Quite literally.
Deus Ex definitely looks the part. It’s an intriguing world full of shimmering surfaces, increasingly eerie shadows and constantly scary tech. Then in the middle of it all stands our protagonist, Adam Jensen. It’s like someone hocked a loogie in the middle of a classic Monet, and as the game continues to progress and improve, Jensen is still stuck there dribbling down the canvas, permanently damaging it.
When you break it down, Jensen is just a victim of poor character design. He’s essentially an amalgamation of Solid Snake, Jack Bauer, and Neo, giving birth to a horrible Frankenstein of a character. Add to the fact he’s constantly donning head-mounted sunglasses, and you’ve got a little of Duke Nukem in there too. Sunglasses at Night would fit right into the soundtrack.
At one point during my play through of the game, someone asked if it was Clint Eastwood’s voice they were hearing. I found this to be quite an insult to the legendary actor/director, as it's clearly Solid Snake’s voice that is being ripped off. Jensen has a voice quite similar to Snake’s. It’s gruff and coarse, like he’s forever smoking special cigarettes with cloaking augmentations. The Snake like elements not only come in the form of Jensen’s voice, but the general way in which he carries himself. When he throws out one-liners and quips his affliction never changes, like some sort of horrible alt-comic cyborg. A trait Snake himself has always possessed. Add to this his stealth wardrobe and you’re getting awfully close to an Asylum level of imitation.
At one point during the game an old cop buddy of Jensen’s approaches him with a possible side-mission. Once you complete it and head back to the guy, he thanks Jensen and says that they should hit up a bar some time. Really? This heavily augmented killing machine with the voice of a sex offender is going to grab a beer and watch the game with his Nervous Nelly of a friend? Call me crazy, but I can’t quite envision the likes of Jensen chilling in a futuristic bar, chatting about celebrity poontang as he chugs on a Bud. It’s these quieter moments when they try and inject some personality and depth in to the character that he comes across looking the most stupid. It’s when the Jack Bauer in him hits me. I half expect him to be travelling in the chopper with Malik when he suddenly breaks down, sobbing gently in to the camera, overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of it all. Trying to present Jensen as both inscrutable and vulnerable just doesn’t work; it defeats the very purpose of his intimidating presence.
So where does Neo come in to play? Simple really, in the out-dated costume design. Apparently people still associate long jackets and leather pants with the future. Okay, so I’ll admit it’s a technique that kind of works. It even looks pretty badass in the pre-rendered short they released during the game’s promotional campaign. However, in game it is so very, very distracting. This is due in part to the fact that Jensen’s jacket simply doesn’t fit him. Remember when you attended prom and you had to rent out a tux? Of course you waited until the last minute so all the popular sizes were gone, and you were left with an outfit that didn’t quite hang properly. Well, for whatever reason Jensen kept a hold of his prom tux, and people refuse to tell him that he needs to let go of his high school years. The shoulder pads in this thing are massive, giving Jensen the impression of someone who has had a shrink ray used on their head, in hope that it will make them stealthier, as they couldn’t quite splurge for the cloaking augmentation.
Add to this that he has one of the most lackluster names in sci-fi and you have one very dull hero on your hands. To be honest, I think the moment I entered his apartment and found out his hobby was advanced clock building is when it all came to a head. Are you Adam Jensen of Mister Geppetto?