Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Platform: PS3, PC, & Xbox 360
It’s been 10 years since Warren Spector and Ion Storm gave us Deus Ex. Many consider it one of the most defining RPG/FPS games to ever be released. It mixed in FPS with RPG elements, gave players multiple hidden paths in large levels, had a captivating narrative rich with conspiracy, encouraged player choice, and reminds us of the days of awkwardly horrible voice-acting. Invisible Wars dropped the ball when it was shown to be dumbed down to fit a more ‘casual’ crowd and is known as one of the first PC titles to do this. It seemed that Edios Montreal were going to tarnish the series when the first few trailers they released of Human Revolution were action packed and didn’t seem to be anywhere near being a Deus Ex game, but for once it seemed piracy actually helped a game with the leaked beta showing everyone that this is indeed a worthy game to walk shoulder to shoulder with the first game. Without getting much into the story, you play as Adam Jensen, an ex-
copSWAT who just got the job chief of security at Sarif Industries (and a pretty sweet office too). Your complimentary love interest, Megan, is about to reveal something massive to the world in the field of human augmentations when the laboratory is attacked by an elite squad of augmented soldiers who kill everyone who looks at them funny and that’s when Jensen regrets getting his face augmented into a permanent stink-eye look. Now it’s 6-months later and you’ve got some shiny new robot parts and you’re now trying to track down the guys who shot the lab up to thank them for giving you the chance to get some awesome arm-blades. That’s pretty much how it all starts out.
The first Deus Ex title encouraged player choice so much it even allowed you to let the bosses live if you wanted to. Each level had at least 5 different ways of achieving the goal and even to this day I’m still learning about things I never encountered when I played. Human Revolution stresses this as well, but also tones it down in some cases too. The most obvious point to address is that you have to kill the bosses. I suppose from a story standpoint it makes sense for Adam to want to kill these guys, but when the game is built around you choosing how you play, it’s kind of a slap in the face when you’re suddenly forced to sit down and do what the game wants you to do. I was told ahead of time about this and decided to test it out myself; in the first boss fight I poured my tranq rifle ammo into the face of the boss and he eventually went down. Now here I am thinking “HA! That was just a simple fake rumor. I just tranquilized him perfectly fine” but then to my *slight* annoyance the boss’ face was cover in blood, his armor torn to shreds as if I had used a high-caliber gun, and then Adam stabs him to finish the job. It’s not that big of a deal when you’re given much more freedom everywhere else, but it really would’ve been nice to be able to bypass the bosses instead of being forced to kill them. I suppose it *does* make sense from a story standpoint since from the moment you receive your augs Jensen wants nothing more than to get payback against those guys and it would seem odd for him to suddenly change his mind.
People usually make the mistake of calling the Hells Kitchen, Paris, and Shanghai stages in DX hub worlds. If anything Shanghai is the only one and just barely meets the definition. Human Revolution has two hubs, Detroit & Shanghai, with Montreal being a smaller area. Detroit is definitely bigger than any of the ‘hubs’ in DX, but the new Shanghai stage holds the crown. It probably took me around two hours to fully explore all of Shanghai. I just couldn’t help looking around each corner to find hidden areas, apartments to loot, or simply bask is the detailed environment. People who explore the stages will be rewarded with some interesting side-quests. Some have argued that the game doesn’t offer as many paths to completing a quest as the first game, but I found no issue with seeing different paths I could’ve taken. I hate to use this expression, but if I had a dollar for every hidden vent or path I saw that I missed out on, I wouldn’t be complaining about paying for my college books.
Human Revolution has decided to modernize it’s gameplay by including a cover system that drops you into third-person when you use it. Some people have voiced that they think it’s a little cheap being able to see around/over the cover since it’s in third-person, but I think Eidos Montreal balanced this pretty well. The AI aren’t the idiots they were in DX where you could be shoving a crowbar up their ass and they wouldn’t react to it. This time they WILL see you if you poke your head out of cover and they will most definitely shoot that curious head. Unlike the first game where you’d be lucky for you guns to hit anything further than 5 feet from you the guns here feel really great. You can get killed pretty quick and the health regen takes close to a minute to restore completely, but with some armor augments you’ll be ready to go toe-to-toe with some of the heavier guys. Most guns can be upgraded and the info screen is pretty helpful in telling you exactly which upgrades you can use on which gun. So far the shotgun and the crossbow are my favorite weapons. The shotgun because the sound it makes is glorious, and the crossbow because it’s a fucking crossbow that can pin people to walls. Also, if you’re playing a lethal run do yourself a favor and get the revolver with the explosive upgrade. You’ll thank me later.
If you remembered from the first DX game, you gained experience points for doing various tasks which then went into upgrading your skills while upgrading your augs came in the form of augment upgrade canisters. This time around you’ll gain XP but it’ll fill up a bar and when it becomes full you’ll gain a Praxis point. The skills page has been completely removed and instead has been mixed in with the augs on the same page. For example; the hacking skill can now be found under the hacking augment. Praxis points are used to upgrade your augs with each one costing just one to upgrade, but if you haven’t unlocked a set of augs yet it’ll cost you two points to open up that section. You’ll also be able to purchase or find Praxis kits around the levels for a free point.
Probably one of my biggest complaints with the original Deus Ex is that it was possible for a player to miss out on many of the augments if they didn’t build their lockpicking/hacking skills high enough or just didn’t explore. I had no problem collecting them all, but I didn’t feel that people should miss out on them if they didn’t feel like exploring since the biggest point of the game was choosing how to play using your augments. This time around all your augments are available to you right at the start, a few just need to be unlocked with Praxis points though. It’s mostly just the entire right side of the augment page that has the major augments such as the cloak, increased armor, speed upgrades, etc. Those that are grayed out will need two Praxis points to unlock (as stated above) and will start you out at the first level in that augment tree. You’ll also find other augments such as improving your hacking skills, being able to move large objects, sprint/jump silently, see through walls, and more. While playing this with a friend we found our favorite augment was the increased strength. We became close friends with Smelly the dumpster who accompanied us all over Detroit and helped us fight crime. We were quite upset when we had to leave him to go to Shanghai, but that’s when we met his cousin Expired Foods the vending machine. Crime in Shanhai better be ready to shut up now.
The graphics in Human Revolution aren’t exactly the hottest thing around, but it’s art-style is definitely one of the hottest things of the entire year. The animation on some NPC’s can be a little jarring at times when they begin to jerk their head around frantically while speaking or continuously looking over your shoulder, but other than the animation during the speech segments it’s all fine. Eidos Montreal really captured the atmosphere of a cyberpunk world and it just makes me wish for another game quick so I can explore more of it. The soundtrack is easily one of the best of the year and it even has a few remixes of old favorites from the first game.
The Final Word
Deus Ex: Human Revolution probably isn’t going to be as (pardon the pun) revolutionary to players of the first game, but it’s just as good if not better in many ways. Anyone who couldn’t get into the first because of the graphics or dated gameplay will find one of the best RPG experiences you can find this year, and probably for a while. So far AUGust is starting the final quarter of the year in style.
– MonsterVine Rating: 5 out of 5 – Excellent