I pity Invisible War. The original Deus Ex was elevated, fairly, to such heights that future attempts would inevitably fall short. So I, like many, took the disappointment and bowed out of the franchise.
But how is it that this game resurrects anything? It's just more expensive mediocrity. It isn't even a triumph of style or technology, like LA Noire, far and away the most overrated overpriced bore of this year. Deus Ex continues the deeply fucking disconcerting trend of developers slapping together a variety of popular gameplay styles in an attempt to appeal to everyone. Hybrid gameplay was something Deus Ex popularized, but in today's era hybridity is concerned less with what is functional and unique and more with how one can cram Gears of War with Mass Effect with LA Noire. When this is done as a marketing move and not out of the game's best interest, the result is always the same.
Really- what can you say about gameplay this derivative and unrefined? The shooting is functional but totally dull. It's cover based, but without much reason- the Cromagnon AI almost never engage in any behavior that could be called "tactical", and rarely make a concerted effort to force you out of your position, preferring to fire unceasingly into metal crates and toss non-lethal grenades. Ammunition is scarce, and enemies generally drop it in ludicrous quantities, 3 or 4 bullets at time. A lot of attention has gone to the game's stealth dimension. I don't quite understand. The enemies are not intelligent enough to offer a fair, reasonable challenge. Their patrols are lazily designed- identical soldiers making 90 degree turns on a catwalk in exact 5 second intervals. Ultimately, the movement, cover, and stealth mechanics are in no way remarkably good or bad. They aren't fluid, and will sometimes get you killed, but they'll get you through the game.
With Deus Ex comes a big emphasis on different paths in gameplay. I grant you, Human Revolution offers different paths. Some challenges are more thoughtfully conceived than others. But for much of the game, you're given the same basic handful of strategies. There's not enough variance in how you approach a task. There's always more than one way, but the difference between crawling through yet another vent to avoid yet another tedious gunfight and hacking a terminal is really not that exciting.
Human Revolution's attempt at offering a Free World With Exciting Consequences is totally defeated by design that ranges from lazy to appallingly lazy. One hour in I was faced with the realization that, No, the game's developers had simply not included any character animations besides Sitting Against a Wall Smoking and Checking Generic Datapad. The cities in Human Revolution are nothing but unnecessary wastes of repetition. The NPCs spout the same four greetings, often in racially mismatched voices- at very best, they drop painfully contrived hints in conversation with one another, like "Did you hear about that one vent by the basketball court? I hear it leads directly to the CEO of Token Cyberpunk Megacorporation's office, but that's just a rumor!"
Did I mention that the game is hog ugly? Its shiny gold palette aside, the characters are hideous and make Tommy Vercetti seem emotive. Our lead, Adam Jensen, a masturbatory hard-edged sci-fi noir amalgam complete with phony-sleek name, occasionally pulls off a cool takedown but otherwise looks like a pencil jabbed into a cheese wedge with orangutan arms taped to the sides. I don't know what else to say. The game looks terrible, embarrassing, even.
Are we supposed to feel satisfied about this? This is a passable product pasted to a once great franchise. It's a model "C/C+" game- devoid of real innovation or creativity or meticulous design. It isn't much of a world, and beyond that, it isn't much of a game.