Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Official Review
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
North American Release Date: 8/23/2011
European Release Date: 8/26/2011
Trophies: Yes, 1 | 3 | 4 | 42
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the first game in the Deus Ex canon and serves as a jumping off point for the concepts explored in the following 2 games. It takes place in a semi-dystopian 2027 at the dawn of Human Augmentation when the boundary between organic and inorganic are just starting to crumble and approaching the point just 2 decades later in the original Deus Ex where they are truly non-existent. You play as Adam Jensen, a security professional at an augmentation firm, Sarif Industries, who is forced into augmentation after a tragic accident. When you return, you will set out to unfold the mystery as to what the point of the attack was, what exactly happened, and to seek revenge. As typical of a Deus Ex story, you end up finding out that Adam is little more than a cog in a very complex puzzle.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a FPS/RPG hybrid at its core, and is a return to form of what many consider the jumping off point for these games: the original Deus Ex. Now, that hybridization comes with various levels. Fallout 3, for example, is an RPG with an FPS interface, whereas a game like Borderlands is an FPS with some RPG concepts injected into it. Deus Ex falls into the latter category.
Stealth aspects of this game are very well done
Your accuracy is determined by you and you alone and there aren’t stats that affect things like HP and critical hit chance. You have multiple RPG elements such as an inventory, gaining new abilities or augmentations through experience points (XP), upgradeable weapons, and a common power bar for special moves. This all plays into what Eidos calls the “pillars” of gameplay: Combat, Exploration, Hacking, and Stealth. At its heart Deus Ex is a linear FPS that follows a flow similar to Half-Life, with encounters being spread out between periods of exploration and puzzle solving. Where Deus Ex is truly unique is that every problem has multiple paths through it and the game responds to how you want to play it.
If you want to go all stealth and sneak through the game finding vents and back doors through every area, the game allows it and provides you augmentations like cloaking and silent sprinting. If you are more of a run-and-gunner and prefer to mow down your enemies through superior firepower and technology, the game allows it and provides augmentations like dermal armor and recoil elimination. Or maybe you want to go in a different direction, hacking into enemy systems and turning their turrets and sentries against them while you sneak in during the chaos. Plenty of hacking augmentations make that viable. Perhaps you want to con a security card or some information out of a knowledgeable member. The game offers a unique social battle system and an augment to make it significantly easier. The best part is that you never have to commit to one path. Any situation can be bent to fit Adam's strengths as you have built him.
Of course combat is very fun as well.
There are some changes from previous titles, as well as other titles in this “hybrid” genre. Deus Ex does use a “semi-regenerating” health model. Adam Jensen has a total of 200 HP, and he will always regenerate, once you have been out of combat, to 100 HP if he dips below that point. This keeps the pacing very fluid and focused. Deus Ex also employs a cover-based system similar to many third person shooters, which assists greatly in both stealth and combat.
The gameplay has some small issues, such as its irritating to actually enter discovered codes rather than having the game auto-enter them, and it can be frustrating early on in the game when you set off alarms based on noise, but ultimately these are very minor complaints that aren’t worth voicing.
Deus Ex is a phenomenal example of an evolution of the FPS/RPG hybrid genre, and a game that truly excels in every facet. It is built in such a way that it caters to how the player wants to play it, and it blends in seamlessly.
Human Revolution’s story is a very different beast when compared to the typical story in a video-game today. The story centers around Adam Jensen, a security professional at Sarif Industries, a leading company in Human Augmentation. At the start of the game you are preparing to take your ex-girlfriend, Megan Reed, and the primary researcher at Sarif to DC to speak about her research and potential legislation against it. Before Adam can leave with Megan the lab is the victim of a very odd terrorist attack, and Adam is practically killed in the fight. Adam’s only option for survival is to be augmented.
Months later Adam returns to work the night Sarif is hit with a second terrorist attack. His boss, David Sarif, sends him off to stop it, and one small discovery during that attack will result in a mystery unfolding that will take Adam around the globe as he seeks to put all the pieces together, uncover what happened to his ex-girlfriends, and get revenge on the mercenaries who did this to him. Of course, he will soon discover that he is a bigger part in this mystery, and that he is a piece of a puzzle involving human evolution and power dynamics on a global scale.
Takedowns are brutal
On the surface the story for Human Revolution is deceptively complex. Adam is a half-man, half-machine that is sent on tasks on behalf of Sarif Industries in order to discover why they were the target of the two terrorist attacks in the first game. Ultimately though Deus Ex isn’t really about Adam, its not a character story like inFamous 2 or Valkyria Chronicles and the original premise is quickly lost by the breadth and depth of the ‘rabbit hole’ Adam uncovers during the first mission, and that’s what its about: the mystery Adam is uncovering. There is not an abundance of traditional character development, but there is some on side-quests and such.
Now, typically this is where I’d chastise a game, after all no good story can be told without quality characters, and quality characters come about through character development. The thing is though Deus Ex brings about something that is very unique, and that’s in the 2 flavors of what I will call “non-traditional character development.” Eidos really constructed the story of this game well, first, which is common in many mystery stories is character development doesn’t come through the events of the story physically changing the perceptions of the characters in their environment, but rather the events of the story revealing new information to the player that develops the outlook on the universe. Discovering, for example, how some of these mysterious figures control the scenes at Sarif Industries and the struggle David Sarif is constantly playing between what he wants and what he is forced to do. That was 'always present' in the universe, but when the player discovers this it changes how the player perceives past events and evaluates the current state of the universe.
The second is the manner in which the player controls the interaction with characters, what Eidos calls their "Social Pillar of Gameplay." There are several players on the stage of Deus Ex and throughout the game different events you are in control will make major additions or subtractions to the face of the story. This level of control and choice is unprecedented in console gaming, and it makes the experience truly unique. A conversation you have with a character in the first level can change a conversation or piece of information you get later in the game, or whether that character is involved in the remainder of the story. Much in the same way the gameplay is designed to allow significant customization, the story is as well, and while there are ultimately only 4 endings... The paths you can take through the story and the amount of information you can uncover is where the fun truly comes into play.
Its on this platform side quests are built too, which is absolutely brilliant on Edios Montreal's part. Unlike many games in this vein, Deus Ex never gets 'lost' in its own side content. The side quests are designed to give you alternative avenues to accomplish objectives or build on the story by providing additional information or character development. For the vast majority of the side content, it feels very much integrated into your main quest.
Enemies and combat situations vary from mundane to intense, as does your tactical advantage
Human Revolution’s story is very similar to previous Deus Ex titles in tone, the depiction of the future in the Deus Ex universe is one of extremes. The ‘haves’ are constantly gaining ground on the ‘have-nots’ through technology as the line between organic and in-organic begins to blur. Human Revolution is at the tip of this sword by taking place just as the augmentations that are so common-place in later games are being introduced. It represents the height of this tension as the ‘haves’ are not only incredibly visible due to their augmentations, but also when they have the largest gap as the ‘have-nots’ are campaigning to outlaw/regulate augmentations, oftentimes by taking matters into their own hands.
It makes this specific story significantly more impactful because such a large portion of the world is un-augmented and we see a more apparent cost that comes with Augmentation. When we are exposed to the entire breadth of the world of Deus Ex, from the pristine and sterile environments in Tai Yong, Panchea, and Sarif Labs to the gritty underbelly of Detroit and Lower Hengsha, this political fight is further pushed home. True empathy is garnered as you slowly begin to realize the mixed reactions the entire world has and the uneasy tension in which it all exists.
When I said this game is very unique in regards to its story that statement is not to be taken lightly. There is a lot going on in Human Revolution’s plot, issues that play a critical role all the way through the next two games chronologically, and issues that make the player question exactly where technology will go and how we define ourselves as humans. Its in this vein that the story is so impressive, you can’t help but become emotionally invested as you are inexorably the victim of discrimination and find out, in a very Orwellian sense, just how much the technology in Deus Ex runs the world. Something needs to be said about this game that is more than a great story, but the type of story that may change the face of gaming. It’s a story that treats the player as more than an action junkie, a story that deals with complex issues, a story that treats you like an intelligent adult.
To me graphics isn’t just about creating a game with good technical specs, its not just about framerates and polycounts. Graphics are the means by which a gamer interprets the environment. A great graphical experience is about creating a signature and immersive environment that is both believable and visually compelling. For years I have given praise to games like Final Fantasy XIII, Valkyria Chronicles, and Uncharted for meeting those critical qualities, and for years I have made no secret that my, very controversial, personal benchmark is the original Dead Space.
Deus Ex not only is in the same categories as the others by hitting all the key notes necessary for what I consider truly great graphics, but it is the first game in almost 3 years to knock Dead Space off its podium.
The view of the future is very much inspired by Ghost in the Shell or Blade Runner
Now, Deus Ex isn’t perfect from a “numbers” standpoint. The cutscenes have some small issues in lighting and color, it creates a very sharp (and dated) contrast between the cutscenes and in-game, and I think it should be mentioned here that all that beautiful CGI SquareEnix did for the trailers is not present in this game.
At the end of the day though, much like I have stood up for Dead Space, it is just miniscule blemishes on an overall masterpiece of graphical design. Deus Ex manages to create something that very few games do: It creates a view of the world that forces its own emotional connection; it sucks you in and acts as the foundation that highlights all components of the story, and that’s what truly elevates it. The environment in Deus Ex is heavily based off of imagery from staple sci-fi titles like Blade Runner, the Matrix, and Ghost in the Shell. Its very gritty, dark, and portrays what Eidos calls the “cyber renaissance.”
Playing through you truly get the feeling that technology permeates everything, and progress is pounding along whether you like it or not, and this is where the story and environment highlight eachother so well. The inundation of technology truly seems overwhelming in the environment and the distance between the haves and have-nots is brutally apparent as you transition from level to level, area to area, slaps in the face such as the transition between the lower city in Shang-Hai and Tai Yong Medical convey this with such visual beauty. Adam is merely trudging along on the front-lines protecting the interests of Sarif Industries as he seeks revenge so that a multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation can keep afloat in the face of technology's brutal advance.
The scope of the future as envisioned by Eidos is incredible
It makes what happens to Adam all that more intense as you naturally begin to feel like humanity is a “final frontier” for technological advancement, a frontier collapsing by the minute and leaving large chunks of society in the dust. Whats more is every little thing in the game has these subtle highlights done in a manner that never takes you out of the environment. Even completely sci-fi things like “threat seeking bullets” seem believable in their implementation, and the attention to detail that keeps everything in the environment engaging.
Of course with a phenomenally designed environment comes a solid soundtrack. Many tracks from previous games make their appearance as well, the voice acting is very well done, and the sound-effects hit all the right notes.
Deus Ex is a long game, and the plat will (and should) take multiple playthroughs. It’s not recommended for the weekend plat hunter; both Pacifist and Foxiest of the Hound take more than their fair share of patience and skill. Hard is no cakewalk either. Other than that the list is full of the types of trophies you would expect in a game like this, completing both side quests and main quests, there is one trophy focused on collectibles, and there are some scattered trophies relating to tasks you can compete. That being said Deus Ex is a fun plat, a plat worth having in your mantle.
Deus Ex is incredibly unique, and games like this don't come by every day. Its a game that is designed to truly be about how you want to approach all the situations in the game. This isn't Fallout 3 with its karma system... Whats more is the story takes the player seriously. It deals with topics and issues that will have the player emotionally invested in the situation the world is going through and the mystery plot has a wealth of information. The game may not be perfect, but...
At the end of the day Deus Ex: Human Revolution should be on your shelf. That statement comes without qualifications. Its truly a masterpiece that transcends not only the genre but this generation of gaming. Its the type of game that will still be relevant and influencing the face of gaming a decade from now, and thats why it got the score it did.
- Eidos' approach to gameplay is without equal. Human Revolution can be played how you want to play it, and the fact that you aren't ever cornered into one solution or one path makes this the type of game that will appeal to anybody.
- This is an area where this game really shines. Its rare to see this level of customization in a story, while still keeping a sense that a focused story is there. This is the type of game that will truly make you think.
- Despite some mis-steps in the cutscenes, the sheer magnitude of this game and the absolutely magnificent attention to the technical design is a sight to behold. This game has usurped Dead Space as my new benchmark.
Overall: 10/10 Epic