Not an embarassment
The name Deus Ex holds a lot of weight with the video game community. It was released in 2000 to critical acclaim. It’s well known for its numerous ways to tackle each situation in the game. The sequel Deus Ex Invisible War didn’t do so hot, so there were no further attempts at prolonging the series. Eleven years later Deus Ex: Human Revolution hit store shelves as a prequel to the original game. Human Revolution had a lot to live up to. While it didn’t necessarily hit the mark it certainly didn’t disgrace the Deus Ex name.
Human revolution takes place 25 years before the original game in the year 2027. The world is just as cyberpunk as it was before, but now everything is much more orange. Human augmentation is just coming into its own. People can opt to get robotic parts to enhance their bodies, but as you’d expect not everyone is cool with that.
You take control of Adam Jensen, an ex-cop who is now the head of security at Sarif Industries. Sarif is a bio-tech company who specializes in augmentation. The company has just made a huge breakthrough thanks to Adam’s ex-girlfriend Megan Reed. The night before the company is going to present the data they are attacked by terrorists. Adam is severely wounded and the scientists concerned with the breakthrough are either dead or missing. Adam is brought back from near death with state of the art augmentations. Adam is reborn as an awesome robot man and he must find out the truth behind the terrorist attack. You’ll have to explore the dark alleys and neon lit streets of Detroit and other locales to find the answers he seeks.
The World of Deus Ex is extremely interesting and you’ll get plenty of opportunity to explore it. It’s not immediately apparent, but there’s a whole lot going on. The world is built up in the story, but you can gain even more information by reading e-books, newspapers, doing side quests, and hacking computers. You’ll want to invest in hacking skills, because there’s plenty to be done with them. It allows you to get into computers to read emails, but it can also make combat easier by turning turrets and robots against their unwitting masters. If you’d prefer all of this information can be completely ignored, which falls in line with the choice that Deus Ex stands for.
Just as there is different ways to gather information about the world there are different ways to get to your destination. This is where the choice is shown off the most in Human Revolution, but if you look too closely at it the magic is lost. You can opt to go right to your destination, but the path can be diverged from. If you look around you’ll often find vents to crawl through, heavy objects to move, sewers to move through, doors to hack, or ladders to climb. This sounds good on paper, but not all of these options are given at once. Most of the time there will be two choices and they’re almost immediately obvious, which makes the alternate paths seem forced. It’s a nice touch though, because it’s reminiscent of the original game.
The problems with Human Revolution are mostly in the combat. Just like its predecessor, Human Revolution is a first person shooter laced with stealth mechanics. At first glance this seems fine, but in practice it doesn’t work as well as it could, or should. For a game that’s all about choice and different ways to tackle a certain situation the combat seems to penalize the player for specking in a certain manner. Human Revolution wants the player to be stealthy, and they make it abundantly clear.
Like most first person shooters with cover mechanics Human Revolution gives you better guns as you go that can be upgraded. However, on top of that you earn experience points for doing things in the game. When enough experience is gathered Jensen will be awarded with a piraxis point. These points can be spent to upgrade Jensen’s augmentations, or purchase new augmentations. These augmentations help in many ways. You can invest in hacking, combat, stealth, or exploration upgrades. No matter what you get it will help you in some way, but you’re best off going for the stealth upgrades if you want to live.
It’s easy to go into a scenario guns blazing, but you’ll get almost no experience. When you use nonlethal means to take down an enemy you’ll get over twice the experience. On top of that if you complete a mission without being seen you’ll gain a large amount of bonus experience. The game gives you a choice on how to approach combat, but you’re considerably more rewarded if you use stealth to your advantage. Shooting someone to death takes far more work than it’s worth. You’ll gain ten experience per kill, and an extra ten if you get a headshot. In order to kill enemies it’ll take a crazy amount of shots unless you get a headshot.
Alternatively you’ll get 50-60 experience points per stealth takedown and it’s much easier to do. You can snipe people with tranq darts for easy takedowns. Alternatively you can sneak up behind someone and do a stealth takedown. This will take down one of Jensen’s batteries, but they will quickly recharge. As an added bonus everyone in the immediate area won’t be trying to gun you down. This is good, because unlike his enemies Jensen will go down far too quickly. Even with maxed out armor Jensen will go down in a few shots. This goes against the whole feeling that you’re a super powered robot man. In a world where everyone is scared of where augmentation is going it doesn’t make sense for Jensen to be so weak. Near the end of the game I had almost every upgrade and Jensen felt far from a super soldier.
The worst part of the combat becomes clear in the boss fights. If you follow the games suggestions and spec towards stealth you’re basically screwed. The bosses in this game are insane. You’re trapped in a small room with a person who generally has a huge gun. The normal enemies seem like they can take bullets, but the bosses put that to shame. The best bet is to throw a grenade shoot them a bit, then run away. It’ll take a long time, but you’ll eventually be able take them down. This problem may have been created because the boss fights were done by a different studio than the rest of the game. Regardless of what happened these fights are terrifically hard for most people who will play this game.
If you add together everything that Deus Ex: Human Revolution has to offer the good outweighs the bad, but not by much. While the combat may not be the best thing about the game it’s certainly competent. Finding out about the world is more than enough reason to brave the sometimes frustrating and mediocre combat. There’s something about the universe of Deus Ex that compelled me to find out about everything. I hacked every computer and read every E-book I could find. That’s the mark of a well crafted world.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a lot to live up to. It does well almost in spite of itself. While it doesn’t exactly top its predecessor it doesn’t do it any great injustice either. Human Revolution could have been a horrific crash and burn for Square-Enix, but they ended up doing good by the name of Deus Ex. While I don’t think Human Revolution is one of the greatest games this generation it’s certainly a game that should be checked out.