Game Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
ESRB Rating: M
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the third game in the Deus Ex series, and is a prequel to the previous titles. A futuristic cyberpunk setting awaits as you take on the role of Adam Jensen, a special security officer for Sarif Industries. And just what IS Sarif Industries? The easy explanation is that they are a company that is working on human augmentation: the ability to provide enhancements to humans. Obviously, not everyone thinks that human augmentation is a good thing, and the story takes off pretty quickly around this theme. I will not be providing any story spoilers in this review, but I can tell you that the story will take you to several locales around the world. The story is not too convoluted, and playing the first two games is not required to be able to comprehend everything that is going on.
The game itself is best described as an Action RPG, but there’s more to it that I will get to in a moment. I guess the lazy comparison would be to liken this game to Mass Effect 2, but I really feel that there is considerably more character customization options available to you in this game. These customizations will create vastly different playthroughs, as certain areas of the world will be inaccessible to you without certain boosts. Fortunately, there are several ways to tackle a problem, so if you skip on boosting your hacking skills, there’s probably a wall you can punch through, or an air duct you can climb through. Of course, there’s always the brute-force method of blasting your way through the areas as well. There’s nothing stopping you from treating this as a run-and-gun if you want; cover is plentiful, health auto-regenerates, and ammo and guns can be found everywhere (especially on the dead bodies you create).
Of course, you could play this a different way. The game will allow (and encourages) stealth, if you prefer a more Splinter Cell approach. This is where Action RPG morphs into Stealth Action RPG. You can clear almost every mission without engaging any enemies, and there are non-lethal ways to take care of those guards that just won’t clear out of where you need to be. Security cameras, turrets and robots will aid the guards in trying to detect you, so you will need to use all of your surroundings to escape through a level unseen. Again, this is where your boosts can come in handy, as alternate paths available through these customizations will often allow you to bypass difficult areas. There is a certain thrill involved when you can skirt around an area loaded with guards, unseen.
There is an impressive dialogue system in play as well. Certain points during some conversations involve convincing someone to see your side of things. There will be some conversation paths that will allow you to respond different ways to try to change your opponent’s way of thinking. While this is impressive on its own, if you customize your character to be able to read people better, you will be given information that will help you decide which path to take the conversation down (it won’t highlight the right answer, but it will give you clues of what they will respond best to). These conversations will often go through several “rounds,” and you may feel that you’re losing them at times with how the conversation is going, but if you pay attention, you will be able to get your way. These conversation elements were always fun, and I found it to be a great way to handle this concept.
It’s easy to rattle off things I really liked in this game. The story is great, and I really liked the impact that some of the conversations had on the game. The general choices you make in conversations are pretty basic Good/Evil options, but I enjoyed watching how your character explained the choice you selected. The voice acting on the main characters is excellent, and while I found the lead character’s voice a little too Christian-Bale-As-Batman at first, it grew on me quick, and fit Adam Jensen’s personality perfectly. You’re given quite a bit of liberty on how to handle situations, and this is probably the game’s greatest strength: it works as a shooter, as a stealth game, and as an Action RPG. Being able to complete missions in so many ways is a liberating breath of fresh air in the game-on-rails era we find ourselves in lately. You’re given bonuses for exploring the areas you are in, so you’ll often find yourself going to spots on the map you might normally skip just to see what else can be found. On a more basic level, the music is good, the sounds are excellent, and the graphics are mostly good (exception noted below). In fact, some scenes (often in elevator rides) are breathtaking, when you are able to take a moment to appreciate the scenery. The tutorials are also good, clearly explaining how to play the game, in a simple way. Finally, when loading a saved game from the start menu, you will see quick snippets of the story up to the point you’re at. This is a great way to get caught up on the plot for when you take a break from the game, and I don’t know why more games don’t do this.
A few gaffes stop this game from being a completely immersive experience. The character animations in conversations are a little choppy, and don’t always seem to be in sync with what the characters are saying. In fact, the graphics overall during conversations, for whatever reason, just didn’t seem as crisp as the rest of the game. The voice acting for non-main characters ranges from mediocre to laughable. The guards are fairly smart when running their routes, but the AI gets very dumb when actively pursuing you (running into walls, not going up stairs). If you want to hit all the sidequests, you will be doing a TON of backtracking, and with no fast travel option around the city, it really starts to grate on you. Some other minor gripes: finding merchants to sell your goods to is an exercise in futility – you will be managing your inventory (which is, in and of itself an awkward interface) often. Also, don’t try jumping to the ground from any higher than a story, since broken ankles apparently mean death, until you get properly customized.
vttym’s take: I won’t beat around the bush here, I really liked this game. The action is well paced, the story is intriguing and unique, and the customizations offered are fantastic. Just about every customization is well implemented, and will impact how you play. Boss battles provide a decent challenge, particularly if you’re used to slowly stealthing your way through levels. Throw in getting rewarded for exploring the game fully via EXP and items, and you have a game that plays at whatever pace you want, and plays well. For better or worse, the game is long; if you want to see everything (and aren’t running and gunning), be ready to spend 25-30 hours to get through it. Deus Ex: Human Revolution hits on everything I like in an Action RPG, and for that, I highly recommend it to anyone.
+ Great character customization
+ Multiple ways to complete a mission cater to your preferred playstyle
+ Persuasive conversation parts are well executed
- Lots of backtracking, no fast travel
- Completionists may find the game a little long
Final Score: 9/10