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

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1 Part RPG, 3 Parts stealth/action game

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a RPG that takes all the fun out of role-playing games. Still, it's a fun game and if you're a fan of action games with a bit more realism, you'll have fun with DX:HR.

What do I mean by "taking all the fun out of RPGs"? While this game does have an interesting dialogue manipulation system that pops up rather infrequently, side quests and (moderately) large maps that you can roam around in, that's about as far as it goes in the RPG genre. There's very little you can do to change the game storyline. Your options in playing a certain personality type are limited to A: Raspy-voiced tough guy or B: Raspy-voiced tough guy who's a real asshole. The side quests are interesting and the story behind some of them are interesting, but most feel thrown in to try to get you to explore the whole map rather than make you feel immersed in the world. And the maps themselves, while visually stunning, feel VERY limited and their maze-like layout will leave you frustrated since you have to run back and forth across them over and over and over again, assuming you like to do side-quests. By the second location, I'd given up on most of the side quests and decided to play DX:HR as just an action/stealth game, which is where it really excels.

Even that feels weirdly limited. Your "augmentation" talent tree (another RPG element that gets dumbed down for the action crowd) will allow you to do cool things like punch through walls, jump higher, take more damage, run farther/quieter/longer. But you have a limited amount of times you can do these things. It seems a little silly to me that if I wanted to run through a warehouse stealthily killing off guys, I'd have to eat a bunch of energy bars. But if I wanted to just run and gun, all I'd need is a lot of ammunition. Maybe I'm getting a little nitpicky here, but it felt like the elements of RPGs that they left into DX:HR were completely unnecessary (very limited inventory space).

But when it comes time time to get dirty and rip apart some hooligans, the game gets really fun. I preferred a stealth character, which meant it probably took me about twice as long to get through some maps, but it was well worth it. Breaking into the police HQ and stealing information without being seen was especially enjoyable.

The most important element of an RPG, story, is well done in this Deus Ex prequel. Art design is fantastic, so augmented characters, civilians and the environment all look as though they belong in this gritty future world. But immersion is severely lacking. The streets are empty of vehicles (except the occasional parked one), people basically stay in one place and while you can hear conversations when you walk by them, they're so obviously scripted and repeated that I found myself not even caring and trying to run through areas to get to the next quest point most of the time.

So is DX:HR worth a buy? It depends. If you're looking for a fun, immersive RPG, then no. But if you're looking to play a realistic action or stealth game (with a few RPG elements thrown in), then it's worth a buy.

2 Comments
Posted by AssInAss

I don't quite understand how "there's very little you can do to change the game storyline" means it's taking out the fun in an RPG. Let's not forget there are about 7-8 big decisions you make during either main missions or side-quests that have later memorable consequences. You can sometimes talk your way out of a whole possible combat area. Plus, after nearly each mission, NPCs comment on the way you achieved the goal and how the world has changed (returning to Detroit).

RPGs where you can significantly change the storyline are few and far between, so to expect this from all RPGs is a bit hyperbolic. What other RPGs this year aside from Witcher 2, allow you to make drastic changes to the storyline?

I'll disagree on the hubs feeling "VERY limited" because there are multiple ways to get past obstacles thanks to the augmentations. You'll always have someone else get to ab objective through a different way, like stacking dumpsters to get past a fence, or to run across from one rooftop to another with a 'jump high' + 'sprint faster' aug. The open-ended level design is something you won't find in many games, not even sandbox games.

Most of the side-quests were interesting to me because they made me immersed in the politics and workings of this world. How Neuropozyne addiction causes normal people to become junkies, or how in Shanghai a student gets into extortion problems because she used augs to get better at exams since her family background was never into education.

Posted by Jakobi

I wasn't expecting this to be a sandbox game, but I was hoping it would be a little more open. The maps felt very limited because i seemed like 80% of the doors you run into you can't open and the alleyways and buildings are closed off so much that in order to figure out where you're supposed to go, you have to continually look at the map. Yeah, there weren't any invisible walls like some games, but there might as well have been since the cities felt so closed off. And while you can run across rooftops and sneak through the sewers, in my opinion even those areas seem cramped and limited.

I agree that the side quests do have some very interesting stories behind them, but because of the map design and how slow/boring traveling through them was, I skipped a lot more than I would have liked. At least the option of fast travel would have been nice. To sum it up, I felt like I was being herded. The game, despite the side quests, felt very linear. And a good RPG doesn't do that (or at least they hide it better).

Other reviews for Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC)

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    As an avid gamer during the 90s, I was more than excited upon the release of Eidos' epic game Deus Ex in 2000. Having lived through and loved the highs of Quake and Half Life, I was excited for the notion of a more cerebral FPS. I fully believe that the original Deus Ex delivered on all of its promises, and was an amazing showcase of what first person games should be like.Unfortunately, my excitement for its sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, was less than palpable after having played through it. I...

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