Game Review - 'Deus Ex: Human Revolution'
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
"It's not the end of the world... but, you can see it from here."
The original Deus Ex really was a remarkable achievement. A blend of first-person action with RPG sensibilities that managed to combine the best of both. It gave the player the freedom to choose how to take on the variety of challenges, and the freedom to tailor their character to their preferred style of play. It had its issues, of course, that it remains high up on many gamers list of games to recommend to another person, even today. After the somewhat disappointing sequel failed to live up to the standards set by the original, it comes as a relief to be able to sincerely state that this game is as good, and possibly even better.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution casts you in the role of Adam Jensen, former cop and current chief of security at Sarif Industries, who finds himself 'volunteered' for cybernetic augmentation after suffering serious injuries in the line of duty. Upon returning to active duty, Jensen is immediately thrown back into the action as he attempts to uncover the truth of who was responsible for the attack that left him near death, and why. From there, a complex tale of conspiracy and greed begins to unfold before you.
To do so, you will be making heavy use of a variety of augmentations, tailored to suit specific circumstances and styles of play. From augmentations that increase speed and stealth, including a built in cloaking system to let you evade detection entirely for a short time, to strength-based augmentations that allow you to pick up, and even throw, absurdly large objects. And, also, a variety of hacking based augmentations that allow you make use of the surprisingly enjoyable hacking mini game as you push through any security systems put in place. Each augmentation can be unlocked by the use of 'Praxis Points' earned by accumulating enough experience points.
Game-play takes place from a first-person perspective, for the most part, and can be played as a first-person shooter, if you so choose. Though, the game itself would seem to have a clear bias toward the stealth aspects of the experience – with the rewards you receive for remaining undetected clearly outstripping anything you earn through direct violence. For me, this is a significant plus – when compared to the standard body-count of most games, playing through this one for a few hours, only to realise you haven't had to kill a single person is an oddly satisfying experience. This also means, though, that you will likely become quickly familiar with the third-person perspective taken whenever you crouch behind an object. The stealth elements of the game-play feel smooth and responsive, though – crouching behind the nearest cover takes little more than holding down the left trigger button, while moving to the edge of cover can bring up to option to give a quick tap of a button to send you scrambling for the next nearest cover, or holding the button to allow you slip around the corner to take cover on the other side.
Even if you choose to take a more direct, and violent, approach to the situation, though, you will still need to make frequent use of the cover system – especially on the highest difficulty level, where it only take a few shots to bring you down.
If you need to take down an enemy quietly, though, there are a variety of ways to do so. Silent weapons, either lethal or nonlethal, are certainly an option – though, for sheer style, you will want to go for the Takedown moves. Here, too, you have a choice between lethal and nonlethal. A quick tap of a button will have you knocking an opponent out cold, while holding the button will bring out the retractable blades built into Jensen's cybernetic arms, leading to a brutal, though silent, death. Either way, though, you will be treated to an impressive display of stylish violence.
The conversation system is another much appreciated addition to the game. While, most often, conversations will boil down to the standards of asking questions and gathering information, on occasion you will be presented with what can only be adequately described as a 'social battle'. In these pivotal conversations, you will be required to pay close attention to the situation at hand – studying the behaviour of the person you are speaking to, and considering each of the available options, in order to determine the right thing to say. These conversations can be incredible tense encounters, too – arguably even more so than the actual combat. An early one, for example, will see you attempting to convince a terrorist to let his hostage go, while he has a gun to her head and she is clearly terrified. It shouldn't need to be said, but the consequences of failure here are tragic, and something that the game is quite happy to make you live with. Succeed, though, and you'll feel like a big damn hero.
The need to make choices, and live with the consequences, was an aspect of the game much touted by the developers. And, it seems that they have managed to create a game that lives up to their own hype. Many of the decisions you will be required to make will have consequences later in the game – whether expected or unexpected, positive or negative, the game does a remarkable job of making you feel like you're an important part in driving the action forward.
There are problems, however – though, for the most part, it feels like nitpicking. The switch from first person to third person can be jarring on occasion – in certain particularly tense circumstances, where you find yourself needing to take a shot at an approaching enemy, or needing to make a quite escape, the transition can leave you facing the wrong direction. Also, and this might be purely nitpicking on my part, I have some issues with the level design itself. Mostly, with the air vents. This isn't the first game to riddle levels with a random assortment of perfectly sized air ducts, that just happen to lead you exactly where you need to go, and it probably wont be the last, either – though, it is something that I have always been mildly bothered by. The appeal of stealth-based game-play to me is in the actual stealth – slipping past the enemy undetected. The existence of a random collection of illogically placed tunnels, there for no other reason than to give you a way to slip past without risk, just detracts from that for me. Another thing worth noting is the AI, which is often something of a let down in stealth-based games – which is, regrettably, also true here. Hostile enemies are a genuine threat, and often a sign that a 'game over' is imminent, if you're playing on the highest difficulty – or, at least, it often is for me. Enemies that are simply alerted to you presence, though, seem to make only a token effort to track you down, before giving up and returning to their duties. This is a criticism that can, and has, been leveled at the AI in just about every stealth-based game ever designed – and, who knows, maybe it's a case of 'be careful what you wish for', anyway. Maybe AI that accurately mimics the behaviour of an alert soldier investigating that strange noise would make the game almost unplayable for many of us. Still, though, I'd personally like to see a little more.
Overall, though, none of these minor complaints can detract from a highly enjoyable game that genuinely lives up to the standards set by its predecessor.
© 2011 Dallas Matier
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