Deus Ex's intricate mechanics are expertly framed by its story
The original Deus Ex is still to this very day considered to be one of the finest action/rpg's of all time and with good reason -- it successfully told a poignant, well-realized story, merged stealth and combat mechanics and showered the player with a ton of choices, which added a ton of depth and variety to the proceedings. It's been a long time coming but the next-gen offering in the Deus Ex series --dubbed Human Revolution-- is finally here and it's without question one of the most ambitious games you'll be able to play this year and it doesn't rely on its prestigious pedigree to entertain and engross the player; making it a cyberpunk-fueled experience anyone should check out.
It's 2027 and cyborg-like augmentations is pushing the boundaries of the human race. Some activists believe that this technological advancement is alienating society and that it must be stopped, while others think it's a great innovation that's helping people with physical limitations and that it's crucial in the evolution of science. You play as security specialist Adam Jensen -- head of security for the multi-national, augment enriched organization dubbed Sarif industries. One seemingly normal day, the Sarif building is assaulted by a group of augmented mercenaries who kill almost every employee, steal Sarif's research and puts a bullet a through your head. You're resurrected by way of augmentations and it's now your job to find out the cause of the attack and who's responsible. The story and characters in the game is excellent, and the intense color palate and all of the underlying themes conspire to make the world of Deus Ex feel wholly alive. This is a game that will resonate with you on multiple levels and suck you in, something few games can accomplish.
Human Revolution's gameplay is divided into three separate mechanics; combat, social and stealth. The latter is arguably the strongest component in the game and being sneaky is largely how the game is meant to be played. However, this is a game about choices and the variety of upgrades and abilities, hidden paths and ways to tackle each situation should convince those who say otherwise. When you're not busy sneaking around or talking to NPC's, Human Revolution plays a lot like a cover-based shooter. The shooting feels solid and there are tons of weapons in the game; some are lethal whereas others are of the tranquilizer or stun gun affair. As you play the game, you'll earn experience which in turn leads to you leveling up and earning a praxis point, which you can spend on a multitude of different augmentations or upgrades. If you prefer playing the game stealthy, you can give yourself invisibility and smart vision abilities while those who are breed on First-person shooters can give themselves more health and reduced recoil on weapons. But the choices don't stop there as the level design is cluttered with alternate routes and ways to dispatch foes. You can even choose if you want to incapacitate enemies, or outright kill them when you pull off a takedown. These look slick and are satisfying to pull off, even when the animations tend to get a little glitchy from time to time.
Human Revolution features a solid structure where missions are punctuated by short visits to hub areas where you're free to pursue side quests or visit the local merchants. Less successful on the other hand are the boss fights -- these encounters feel tedious and misplaced, as players who are either ill-equipped or have spent their points in the stealth upgrade trees will find them needlessly hard and annoying. There aren't a whole lot of them but they still feel noticeably weak since they don't provide any play styles other than straight up gunplay. There are also a variety of technical issues, such as a few visual glitches and the artificial-intelligence --especially during firefights-- is less than adequate. Sound design on the other hand is outstanding and it really helps you subject yourself to the atmosphere, and the voice-acting during dialogues is most definitely solid.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a long, imminently replayable and atmospheric experience and one that's full of marvelous intricacies. It plays well and offers a ton of latitude in how you approach its challenges and while technical annoyances will occasionally pull you out of the experience, this is still one action/rpg hybrid that you should be playing and an experience, you won't soon forget.