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Review: Deus Ex Human Revolution

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution is not a game you simply play. It is a game you make love to.

This is no casual "hookup" either, like one you might find in the
forgotten game section of your local department store. This is the kind of game that keeps you busy for an entire weekend, perhaps stopping briefly to order some take out...

Then it's back to business.

A game like Deus Ex: HR must have your full attention and the diligent administrations of a gamer tenacious enough to want to experience all it has to offer. And boyfriend, it is most definitely worth that kind of time.

Make the jump for the full review


Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a powerhouse of a game. One that will make you think outside of the box, challenge your reflexes and fill you with gaming wonder all at the same time.

It is also extremely accessible, which is quite marvelous considering how much it throws at you within a very short amount of time. Within the first 30 minutes I had played a first person shooter, a stealth game and a point and click adventure. And then it morphed into a customizable RPG.

You would think all of these factors would be cumbersome to an already ambitious title but those at Eidos Montreal have managed to include all the fun from this collection of genres and very little of the frustration. Simple controls make the shooting, stealth and exploration a breeze. Within minutes, thanks to the integrated tutorials I had all the information I needed for success and was free to fall into the folds of this epic spy story.

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You take the role of Adam Jensen an ex SWAT that has been hired as head of security for Sarif Industries a top fortune 500 company. Sarif is a leader in the innovation of human prostheses.

In this society prosthetic augmentation is commonplace and companies like Sarif are vying for market saturation. Because of the problems associated with the human body and its natural defenses, those with prosthetic augmentations are required to take a drug known as Neuropozyne to prevent the body from rejecting the prosthesis. The result is a world dependant on large corporations to provide a substance necessary for survival, a remarkable parallel to the warring pharmaceutical companies of our own time. This dependency is the catalyst for the major moral crisis facing Jensen's reality, posing the question: "Where do we draw the line between human and machine"

As you discover more about the nature of augments (with Jensen) and their affect on the human body you will be asked to make choices which directly affect your game play experience and the fate of the human race.

Within the first hour of the game Jensen gets fatally wounded and is forced to under go this augmentation surgery to save his life. In the process he is enhanced with the most high tech tricks Sarif has to offer. It is these augmentations that tie in the action elements with a simple skill tree: the core mechanic of Deus Ex: HR.

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Once you regain control of Jensen you can access the augmentation menu and tweak his abilities with something called Praxis points. You gain Praxis points in several ways: finding and using Praxis kits which can be found by completing mission objectives and exploring. You can visit one of the "always open" augmentation (L.I.M.B) clinics and finally by gaining experience. For every 5000 experience points you earn you get one Praxis point. Praxas kits are great for an instant boost to your abilities but it is by gaining experience by using those abilities that showcases the meat of Deus Ex which is its exceptional level design.

The levels are showcased as hideouts, police stations, apartments and military bases all connected to a sprawling HUB world (which I will discuss in a minute). Any building has at least 5 different ways you can get in. Each HUB world has winding passageways. You can infiltrate the world in many different ways. It all depends on how you tweak your augmentations.

Do you want to hack the back door of the nightclub? Boost your hacking skills to crack the code. Maybe you want to fast-talk the bouncer into letting you pass? Invest in the social augments and release pheromones to get him to see things your way. Perhaps you will climb the roof and to find a weak wall and use your beefed up arm augmentation to punch through and drop into a vent leading into the heart of the club. It is by spending the time to explore that will help you to discover what augments best fit your style.

Some augments are passive like hacking clearance and are always active. Some like the invisibility cloak and dual takedowns require a battery type energy gauge that can be extended with augmentation. Only the first cell will recharge naturally the rest must be refilled by consuming power bars or protein powders. Despite its initial frustration, gauge management ultimately creates a balance by forcing you to think of new pathways to compete objective rather than allowing you to muscle your way through.

As I quickly discovered, muscling you way through often times led to the load screen especially in the early levels when Jensen has very little to work with. I found the first few missions much simpler by choosing a non-lethal approach. Using my stun gun to knock out enemies and dragging their bodies out of sight. As you gain access to more augments there is more room for aggression. For example, the machine and shotgun for become much more useful with recoil reduction.

There are other weapons of course. Revolvers, rifles and grenade launchers are all easily found and are completely upgradeable with silencers, ammo caches and lasers. Most weapons, ammo and upgrade kits can be found if you take the time to look but you can also buy them from local merchants. These are mostly illegal operations so you have to be on the lookout for them in the more secluded areas of the HUB worlds.

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The Hub worlds are central locations that have an always active mission objective that will further the story and several optional side missions that you can complete for experience and some back story.

Some of the side missions are predictable: "go and kill so and so" but some are more sensitive in nature, requiring you to talk to people rather than killing or anesthetizing them. One mission to help an old woman remember her past was so touching that I nearly forgot the madness happening in the world outside her door and even teared up a bit.

For those not interested in back story or weeping ladies I still recommend taking the time to talk to everybody and complete these side missions because the information you uncover is not all "filler fluff". If you take the time to look you can get some invaluable Intel that can save your ass (especially in one boss fight).

The story and side missions offer waypoints on the HUD that quite literally equate to "X-marks the spot". You can essentially just navigate Jensen towards the mark and completely ignore the world around you provided there are no hostiles in your way. This is an interesting design choice that I can only conclude is to keep you from looking closely at your surroundings. The world and its people are quite unattractive. Primitive texture mapping gives this game the feel of a late PS2 title and some of the NPCs were so poorly animated they made me feel like I was talking to one of Jim Hensen's Muppets.

A game like Deus Ex: HR demands a visual quality that can validate the scope of its other achievements. The Spartan graphics make the game feel cheap and at times can make the story seem silly and sophomoric. However, the other elements work so well, you will hardly notice after a while.

For all that Deus Ex: HR does right I have some other gripes as well.

The shooter elements are dummy proof and most weapons operate by simply pointing and shooting but the cross hairs are too slow to track a quickly moving target, which can lead to disorientation and frustration. A quick turn option would have made the action a lot more enjoyable.

Also, the AI is limited. Once you flesh out most of the augments, fighting enemies becomes almost comical. After triggering an alarm, most wander about aimlessly, forgetting they saw you jump behind a box mere moments before. It devolves into a game of waiting for their "alert" status to cool down before moving onward to ambush them. In one mission I knocked out a bartender in front of 50 witnesses and hid behind the bar. The bouncers clearly saw me hide there but still could not seem to find me! I hopped out from under the bar and they didn't even remember my earlier infraction! The bartender remained behind that bar, unconscious for the rest of the game. I guess every one had had enough to drink.

Gaymers, anything I have said about this game does little to do it justice. It must be played to be seen. The simplicity of the controls make the ambitious blend of game play mechanics easy to pick up for gamers of all levels and the story supports the core mechanics of the Augment menu with a narrative strength rarely seen in today's games.

If you're looking for a game to spend some quality time then Deus Ex: HR is for you. Take your time exploring his solid composition and many, many secrets. You will be thoroughly rewarded with a gaming experience you will not soon forget.


5 Comments

BJD said:

I hate RPGs, but I loved Deus Ex:HR.
Subtle, emotional game play and a great conspiracy storyline delivered so well, but at the end of the day; what a voice!
I have rarely heard such a sultry, honey voiced character that made me want to do side missions just to hear more of it...
True; the mechanics could, at times, be frustrating; with the hacking options a tad hit and miss, not to mention how frustrating it is when you discover not buying an upgrade 14 hours ago means you can't easily survive the next enemy, but all of that is forgiven when you realise what a incredibly satisfying game this is. Bring on the DLC.

Shin Gallon said:

I pre-ordered it on Steam on a whim (and for some free TF2 swag) and because I kinda wanted it, but it wasn't high on my "to buy" list. I'd planned on waiting until it went on sale or something. Then I played it...

Best $45 I've spent on a game in years, hands down. I love it, even with the minor flaws (I'm looking at you, forced boss fights).

ShagsterP said:

Wow. I wholeheartedly disagree with this review. While it's entertaining to play from a standpoint of game mechanics, the overall game became less and less interesting over time until it finally reached a conclusion where I didn't care for any of the choices available and had lost practically all emotional investment or connection to the bare bones plot.

Lack of character development and good writing in general, and a non-interactive plot where the main character is five steps behind anything going on for the entirety of the game did not make for something altogether satisfying and memorable to me.

But it sure was fun decking hobos.

Ryan said:

Personally, I loved the game. I'm not one for shooters, but this one was surprisingly fun.

Also, I'm not usually one to nit-pick about editing, but...

Praxis, not Praxas. (You even had the picture in the article for this one. Yikes.)
Neuropozyne, not Neuropozne.

Limeade said:

I'll agree with ShagsterP. I found the narrative rather uninspiring after all the build up. There was talk of philosophy and transhumanism morality and exploring what it means to be human... but in-game? There's only shades of that, but nothing delved deeper. Potential that isn't realized, imo.

Social interrogation 'battles' are very wonky, too. Having the social aug is pretty much an 'I Win' button. There is something interesting that could be done with the system, with its sometimes dynamic dialogue #lines change from time to time upon reloads and such#, but ultimately it leaves something to be desired.

While DE3 is great with representing people of color in its NPC ranks, the women characters are rather poor representations. Zhao's whole 'Men always underestimate women!' villainess hoodwinkery is something out of 80's comics. Then there's Tish the Trash Lady and that horrid voice acting for her...

In the end, the decisions you make throughout the game seemed to matter little. You're presented with a few choices #like Fable's choose your ending# and that's it. Doesn't say what happened to specific characters you helped or didn't help, how you changed things, nada. Just basic monologue.

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Recent Comments

Limeade on Review: Deus Ex Human Revolution : I'll agree with ShagsterP. I found the narrative rather uninspiring after all the build up. There was talk of philosophy...

Ryan on Review: Deus Ex Human Revolution : Personally, I loved the game. I'm not one for shooters, but this one was surprisingly fun. Also, I'm not usually...

ShagsterP on Review: Deus Ex Human Revolution : Wow. I wholeheartedly disagree with this review. While it's entertaining to play from a standpoint of game mechanics, the overall...

Shin Gallon on Review: Deus Ex Human Revolution : I pre-ordered it on Steam on a whim (and for some free TF2 swag) and because I kinda wanted it,...

BJD on Review: Deus Ex Human Revolution : I hate RPGs, but I loved Deus Ex:HR. Subtle, emotional game play and a great conspiracy storyline delivered so well,...

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