joemarsden's Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC) review

We never asked for this, but I wish we had sooner.

In the year 2000, a little game called Deus Ex was released. Though a little under the radar at first, as of 2009 it had sold more than one million copies. It flew to the top of many 'top PC games' lists, and still does to this day, thanks to its revolutionary designs in player choice alongside many a different narrative path. The games cyberpunk theme, as well as its cross-genre first-person shooter and RPG gameplay elements, are part of what gave the game universal acclaim both from critics and the industry, making Deus Ex one for the history books. Sadly, the sequel Invisible War that hit shelves wasn't good enough in comparison to the first game. Though commercially successful, the game had been labelled the game as being 'dumbed down' from its predecessor.

Introduce Human Revolution, a prequel to the original game developed by Eidos Montreal. You play as protagonist Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT officer turned security chief who suffers a particular bad fall, impalement, and gunshot wound as well as a load of glass in his body after an attack on Sarif Industries. His workplace ablaze in the aftermath, Sarif Industries does what they do best and saves Adams life by making him undergo surgery that fuses his body with mechanical augmentations. They still need a security chief, after all. It isn't long before you're roped into a search for those responsible for the attack. Of course, it wouldn't be Deus Ex without everything being complicated by a conspiracy, plenty of globe-trotting, and the search for the next ventilation shaft to climb through.

If you're someone who loves to dig in deep to a games fiction, then let me put it straight and say that you'll love Human Revolution for that alone. With plenty of side quests, computers to hack, and e-books to read, Human Revolution almost has a library of fiction built in for you to either revel in or ignore. A particularly good example of this would be that later in the game, you get the opportunity to learn more about the protagonists origins through means of a side quest. However, talk your way through a sticky conversation with a certain someone much earlier in the game, and you'll have actually learned all of that as your reward should you choose to read it. That's another thing- though it isn't quite L.A. Noire, if you take the time (and put one upgrade point into a certain path), you'll be able to read into characters personality traits mid-conversation. Once you've got what type of person they are, you can press them for more information and be rewarded handsomely by some more dialogue should you make the right choices. Human Revolution is a thinking mans game, but only if you want it to be.

However, access to a lot of this information is limited to how you choose to play the game, and therefore, what points you choose to spend in the ever-evolving augmentations of Mr. Jensen. Every computer or terminal has a security level attached to it, and if you don't know the access code or login to get in there by conventional means, you're going to have to hack it. If you haven't upgraded your hacking skill to match the security level of the computer you want to hack, though, you're not getting inside. So far, I haven't met a player that has skimped out on putting Praxis points (the upgrade currency in the game) into hacking and into something more combat orientated, but I'm sure that player exists. Personally, I went down the stealth-hacker route, so I never had a problem accessing anything I passed by meaning that the majority of what Human Revolution had to offer has already been seen by my eyes. Don't think that doesn't mean I won't be up for playing it again, though. About an hour after I'd finished my first playthrough, I'd already started another.

Speaking of my stealth-hacker gameplay style, part of what makes the Deus Ex series such a joy to play is the amount of freedom you have in terms of how you approach each of your objectives. There'll be a heavily guarded front door for you to blast your way through, as well as a ventilation shaft or two, in addition to a sewer access point. There may even be a fence you can climb over, provided you have the ability to stack heavy objects or jump high to reach it. All of these routes are perfectly valid, and in my one and a half playthroughs, I can say with certainty that going back and approaching every situation differently is a very rewarding experience. An early mission requires Adam to reach a morgue in the local police station, but of course, it's off limits. On my first attempt, I strolled in through the front door and talked my way in thanks to an old friend of Jensen's at the front desk. On the second attempt, I picked up a heavy skip with my upgraded heavy weight arms and placed it in front of a fence so that I could climb over and reach the ventilation shaft on the roof. This turned the simple walk and talk approach which gave me almost full access to the entire station into an infiltration mission. Being spotted sneaking around a police station in which pretty much everybody is armed isn't the best, so it definitely took me a lot longer. But you know what? Definitely more enjoyable than the first, though just as successful in the end.

The choice doesn't just end there, though. Most of the augmentations that you spend your praxis points to unlock also have trees connected to them. This can be simple applications like an increase in your inventory space, or being able to sprint longer; but like the hacking security levels, there are also other talents you can invest in. Though I wasn't a fan myself as I approved of all out stealth as opposed to distractions (smoke and mirrors, and all that jazz), you can learn to hack enemy turrets and robots. This doesn't use the usual hacking mini-game, though. All you need is access to the security console they're attached to, and you can either disable said turrets and robots, or turn them against your enemies. I imagine this is more something for the 'go loud' kind of Jensen, but again- options. You can also get yourself augmented with an active camouflage system. Though this didn't hold much appeal for me at first, I later learned that it can be used so that you can simply walk through laser grids that would usually set off an alarm if you were to trip them. Now there's a 'pro tip' for you.

I've heard a lot of complaints about the shooting and the AI, and I'm sure they're not unfounded, but I don't really see it as a major drawback. The shooting is competent enough to get the job done, though not as tight as you might expect from something like Call of Duty. Then again, this is Deus Ex, a first person RPG. I'll let it slide. The AI? I honestly didn't see much that'd set it apart from any other AI I've seen lately. Your opponents aren't dumb enough, in most situations, to let you just sit behind cover. You will get flanked, if at all possible and though it may not be particularly effective, one too many guys flanking you will probably hold your attention enough for someone else to take you out. My advice? Have a plan to kill everyone you meet. The Sniper from Team Fortress 2 will teach you that any day.

However, this game isn't without its genuine faults. Human Revolution makes excessive, and often unnecessary use, of pre-rendered cutscenes. I say unnecessary use because they aren't even used exclusively to present certain parts of the story to the player. The first time you enter a LIMB clinic, places that I like to call augmentation pharmacies, you get a completely redundant cutscene of Adam stepping inside after the doors open. Great. This might not be so terrible if they weren't low in quality, but I'm getting the feeling these exist purely because the console versions (mainly the Xbox 360 version) required the game to be a certain size thanks to space restrictions on discs and such. Don't worry though- this game had a study who were specifically tasked with adapting the game to its father platform, so the PC version is definitely not lacking in any other way. It even supports DirectX 11 features like tessellation to make the game that much prettier. Oh, and the voice acting? Less than what you might expect, with Adam Jensen (Elias Toufexis) sounding plain ridiculous at times. Though there's plenty of dialogue for everyone, it's got more misses than hits.

The only other drawback that exists is the extremely odd inclusive of boss fights. Boss fights, in my action RPG? It's more likely than you think. Of course, these could have worked...provided they weren't so simple and shallow. Playing through Human Revolution with about fifteen other people on my Steam friends list doing exactly the same thing, I got many a message about how irritating or impregnable the boss fights were. Until they found some dumb, quick and easy solution, of course. These boss fights are all the same, pretty much- you shoot at them while they do the typical boss 'thing' of repeating the same actions over and over. The experience I had was even better than that, though; I didn't even have chance to let them go through that cycle most of the time. Once you learn that shooting them in the head with a fully automatic weapon stumbles them with every bullet, they can't do a damn thing to stop you and they just take it. Boss fight over, done. I'm sure these fights are indeed a pain in the ass, if all you carry is a stun gun, a tranquillizer rifle, and maybe a 10mm pistol...but with an assault rifle? They're just dumb, and don't really add anything to the experience. It's not like Jensen has had any major interaction with any of these characters before, with one in particular not saying a damn word.

Luckily, the Deus Ex universe that encompasses all that is sensational about the game, and what little there is that is unpleasant? Marvellous. The story, with its very infrequent moments of being a little flat, gives you the conspiracy that every Deus Ex fan could have asked for. The aesthetic of the universe is brilliantly realised, with a mix of renaissance and Neo Tokyo, with some typical sci-fi trappings in there. With plenty of replayability, Human Revolution will definitely be a game I'll have well over the current two playthroughs I have under my belt soon enough. Unless you're really going to have an issue with the problems this game has, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is well worth everyones time.

We never asked for this. But we got it, and I love it.

Posted by Nemesis2K

Great review, keep it up

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