A Surprising Success
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 was completely ready to write off the Deus Ex franchise as a whole, believing the developers would never quite live up to the glory of the original game.
Fast forward several years to the release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I had no expectations for this game, and quite honestly was expecting nothing but disappointment from it. I actually put off playing it, despite reading that it actually received from fairly favorable reviews. I wasn't ready to get over the disappointment that was Invisible War just quite yet.
An eventual Steam sale sold me the game at 75% off, and I decided I'd go into it with no expectations - I would allow whatever the game was to live as its own entity.
I booted up the game, and was hooked from the very beginning. The universe was very Deus Ex, very dark and very gritty. It was everything I appreciated about the story of the original game; but much prettier.
I will refrain from getting into every single detail of the game, especially as I'm so late with this review and I'd simply be going over the same things that multiple people have already said; but I'd just like to say: This game is quite striking. The visual style is unique, and makes for an engaging experience through-and-through. The use of Gold & Black may be a bit much for some, but I enjoyed the contrast quite thoroughly and now associate the palette with the experience I had with this game.
The story, as previously alluded to, is astounding. The writing is clever and intriguing, without being didactic or dumb. There are some very dark moments with sidequests, as well as some fairly shocking ones during the critical path. It kept me wanting to continue it for all 30 hours I played of it.
Why did I play 30 hours? Because I wanted to be as stealthy as possible, which meant reloading saves a lot of times just to try and do the 'perfect run' every time. Eventually, I did it - and the experience was entirely satisfying. That is one of the greatest hooks about the Deus Ex series that this game executes nearly perfectly - the fact that you can approach any situation from a number of different ways. Perhaps you want to upgrade your jumping ability and take the high route? Or perhaps that room full of gas won't be a problem once your rebreather can filter the air for you. Or maybe you want to sneak past all those guards while being cloaked? Or perhaps you just want to mow them all down in a bloodbath. The choice is completely up to you, and every path feels totally valid.
Your decisions make a big impact on the story you experience as well. I went through the starting few missions several times just to see what would happen if I handled things in several different ways. Needless to say, every time I was left believing that the way I'd just played it was completely viable and I could continue the game with the universe acknowledging what I'd done as though it was the way it was meant to be. By this, I mean that all the NPCs will address your actions directly, reacting to it with unique personalities. This is something I've missed a lot from recent games, and Eidos does an exceptional job at making it all seem believable.
With all of this being said, Human Revolution does have its fair share of problems. There are graphical issues, AI issues and some scripting issues I encountered; but overall, it doesn't ruin the experience in any way. Even though I was a stealth/hacker speced character, it wasn't to my detriment when I reached boss battles - it was easy enough to sneak away into corners and use the environment to my advantage. Not to say the flaws are features; but the flaws are easily overlooked considering how astounding the atmosphere and narrative the rest of the game has.
I heartily recommend Deus Ex: Human Revolution to any fan of the original Deus Ex fan, as well as anyone who enjoys a healthy RPG/shooter/stealth type game. The experience I had was surprisingly pleasant and I'm completely willing to go through the entire game again as a completely different class just to see how it will affect things differently.
Definitely give this game a shot.