A Bleak But Beautiful Revolution
-Reviewers Note: This review is concerning the PC version of the game. I have no experience, nor do I plan to have any, with the console versions.
The name Deus Ex conjures many titles and memories in the mind of gamers. One of those lofty titles is, "Best Game of All-Time". So when Deus Ex: Human Revolution was announced, it was hard for many people to feel that anything could be as good as its predecessor. While it was virtually impossible for any sequel to Deus Ex to come close to the greatness of that game, Human Revolution is truly something special, and while it is not the revolution that the original was, it is still a game that is absolutely worth playing.
You play as Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT operative turned Chief Of Security for Sarif Industries-a biotech firm that specializes in human augmentation. These augmentations can be as simple as a prosthetic arm (a crazy-awesome sci-fi prosthetic arm) to something as complex and intriguing as an augment that turns you invisible for a few seconds. You begin as a regular human, no augments or enhancements, when special-ops soldiers with the most advanced augmentations attack Sarif just before they plan on sending their best scientists to reveal the most crucial piece of augmentation technology known to man. You barely survive the attack, wake up six months later, and have a lot more metal and wires in you. To keep you alive, Sarif installed augmentations aplenty, without the consent of Adam Jensen. Being the Chief Of Security, you are thus forced to solve the mystery of the attack, all the while unraveling a global conspiracy and learning a bit more about yourself.
The story is set up perfectly by the setting and the world around you, and these factors are easily what makes this game worth playing. The setting is decisively cyberpunk, often drawing comparisons to Blade Runner or Robocop, but it steel feels horrifyingly realistic. Nothing in the game feels outlandish or arbitrary, it all feels like it could happen, it feels as though the future painted in the game could possibly happen. This is what truly sets this game apart, as it deals with complex moral issues considering human augmentation which some people may already have strong opinions on. The ethical issues create a magnificent framework for actually discovering more about these issues and the world surrounding them, through conversation in fairly long and interesting dialogue trees, reading about them on "e-books", or by hacking every single computer you see. For me, this is why I kept on playing, because I wanted to know more about this hauntingly realistic view of the future, and for many, this is why you will come to the game.
Of course, when you are not reading something or listening to a conspirator spill the beans on a global conspiracy, you are either exploring the hub cities of Detroit and Shanghai or infiltrating some sort of warehouse or complex. Both of these activities will include shooting dudes in the face, hacking everything possible, or sneaking your way through it all. This being a Deus Ex game, you always have options, whether it be through a vent (trust me, there are a lot of vents), sneaking around the guards patrolling an area,just plain shooting them, or any combination thereof. The last two options feel significantly under-cooked due to the game's oftentimes infuriating or just plain stupid AI. The cover-based shooting in the game is perfectly fine, but it is hamstrung by the poor AI that will blindly run towards you while you proceed to dump your bullets into them. On the other hand, the stealth is more rewarding, but can be just as frustrating. Often times, the enemy will spot you rolling from one piece of cover to the next and even though you did so extremely quickly, everyone in the room will simultaneously know exactly where you are, and then you have to deal with the artificial intelligence in a firefight instead. Of course, the other pillar of the Deus Ex experience is hacking, and while it does not feel as poor as the rest of the gameplay, it certainly doesn't stand out as anything extraordinary.
Because Deus Ex is labeled as an "Action-RPG", there has to be some RPG elements, and these are handled fairly well. Of course, I am a bit of a hardcore-RPG nerd, so I may not be as bothered by the "Tetris" that goes on in your inventory, but I found it to be a little bit more frustrating than it should be due to the lack of ammo in the world. I constantly found myself out of ammo or out of inventory space, even when I had my inventory space maxed out. The other RPG elements come in the form of "Praxis Points", which you gain from experience or from straight-up buying them at the local clinic. Praxis Points allow you to upgrade or unlock new enhancements for Adam Jensen. Some of these range from the mundane, such as increased inventory, to something far more exciting, such as the Icarus Landing System, which allows you to jump from any distance without taking damage, while also stunning any enemy in the near proximity on impact. I ended up having all the augmentations and enhancements unlocked that I really wanted, so don't fret over not having that last upgrade in the radar tree.
The presentation of Deus Ex also shines, due to its marvelous art style. The black and gold in the environment truly evokes progress as well as decline, and it helps create a backdrop for the similarly bleak story and setting. From the slums of Detroit to the bright and evocative lights of a futuristic club in Shanghai, the game always managed to impress me visually. Unfortunately, the voice acting is not as great. Some characters are great in their roles, but Adam Jensen sounds like a bad Christian Bale-Batman impersonator. Also, some of the less important roles have some lines of dialogue that make you question if they even bothered what inflection the actor using. Fortunately, the superb writing (both in conversation and in what you read) helps offset some of thebothersome dialogue.
If you like a good story or a good cyberpunk setting, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. If you like games in general, and none of the problems mentioned above bother you too much, then you will also have a great time. So, all-in-all, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game that you should probably play.
Four out of Five Stars