Published by – Square Enix
Number of Players – 1
Platform – Xbox 360, PS3, PC (Reviewed)
Release Date – August 23rd, 2011
Genre – Action RPG
ESRB – Mature
MSRP – $49.99-$59.99
Nostalgia is a funny thing, hearing there would be a new Deus Ex game initially turned my stomach, the attempt 8 years ago having arrived to a less than forgiving reception. If only 3 years after Deus Ex, the ideas formed were already veering so far from the initial core, what hope did we have after a decade? Luckily we can breathe a sigh of relief and praise Eidos Montreal in pulling off the seemingly impossible and creating a Deus Ex title more than worthy of the name. Choice is the heart of the game and your role as Adam Jensen perfectly embodies this. Early on this choice is stripped away from him and he is forced to live with the consequences, leaving him broken and withdrawn, in essence a semi-blank slate for you to mold to your will.
Returning 6 months after the game’s opening, you are thrust into a hostage situation that also acts as the games tutorial, and allows you use of your augments for the first time giving you a lot more options than the limited prologue. A pleasant surprise at the end of this area is that you don’t have to fight the leader of the terrorists at all, the situation can be dealt with through dialogue alone, but the combat choice is available if you’re not one for talking. This choice is further reflected in the augments Adam is able to purchase. Do you spec for a stealth class and spend your Praxis points on cloak and silent running allowing you to bypass encounters entirely, or do you choose to augment your damage taking ability and your strength and wade into the fray nonchalantly throwing barrels at your enemies? This choice would be naught if you were funneled through a series of corridors, but the level design is exemplary, allowing the spaces to feel real, but never at the detriment of exploration; with numerous vents and locked doors leading to credit chips, ammunition, a terminal full of emails to peruse providing subtle additions to the main narrative or simply some street art.
In one encounter, I slowly and carefully avoided a camera’s detection, followed a guard as he deactivated a laser grid and tiptoed behind him down a corridor, anxious that the one bar of energy I had remaining would not provide me enough cloak time to secure cover if he turned around. I finally progressed to the next set of cover I could feel safe behind, ventured through a nearby vent only to discover this acts as a route I hadn’t noticed back to my initial position. Rather than being annoyed that I’d wasted my time, I felt reassured that the developers were happy to include content many people may never see, a philosophy adapted throughout the course of the game. The narrative heart of Human Revolution is as the title suggests, a revolution, augments are allowing people to enhance their way of life, from advanced software for stock trading to preventing an otherwise fatal end. There is of course fierce opposition to this, many viewing it as desecrating humanity, while other see it as the only way forward, a human aided necessary step in evolution. There are some who are just scared, scared of how such reliance on augmentation could instead of freeing humanity instead enslave it to even tighter control by hidden parties. Stripped down to its core, this is a less convoluted and more personal story than the original Deus Ex, the game’s plot asking: should we be allowed to choose our own path even if it could lead to anarchy and chaos or should our ingenuity and creativity be stifled to ensure our way of life?
The environments are a gorgeous combination of stark utilitarian walls and a warm, colorful renaissance style. The most impressive aspect is that they all feel like real places from the executive high rise offices down to the sewers and slums. This makes the loss of some of the planned hubs such a shame, after spending so much time in Lower Hengsha, I would loved to have explored more of Upper Hengsha than the single tower provided. The visuals are offset by a fantastic score, reminiscent of both Tron Legacy and Mirror’s Edge that never feels overwhelming and obtrusive above the ambient noise of the environments.
Unfortunately, at the end of the non-hub missions lie the bosses and regardless of you being a combat focussed, pack mule with 5 weapons or a hacking based ghost specced to see enemies vision cones you are simply locked in a room with an enemy and forced to fight to the death, disrupting any concept of playing a completely non-lethal Jensen. The first boss fight is by far the most difficult as you are at your most unprepared. As it is literally a man with guns in a room it is also the least interesting. I didn’t have a lot of energy cells for the first fight and while I could occasionally cloak to avoid his gaze, I hadn’t specced for silent running so he would still throw grenades at my general location. It was hard to keep the rational thought that my choices lead to this whilst dying subsequent times. The later bosses are thankfully in more interesting environments and are also more manageable due to your advanced skill progression; the second allowing advantageous environmental destruction and requiring a keen eye reminding me strongly of a good Metal Gear Sold boss fight
Placing these bosses amongst the game world would have allowed the player to deal with them on their own terms, either placing mine traps to lure them into or avoiding them completely or even hacking a turret to take them down
* For a fun way to take down the third boss, hack a turret and carry it with you
Ultimately, the positives far outweigh the negative of the boss fights and by dipping back into the days of its predecessor, Human Revolution reminds us that choice is one of our greatest gifts and just because a game is viewed from the first person perspective it doesn’t mean it has to be a straight shooter.
GAMEPLAY: 5 / STORY: 4 / GRAPHICS: 5 / SOUND: 5 / OVERALL: 5