Game review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
In 2000, Deus Ex was released for the PC and was generally hailed as being rather fab; PC Gamer even named it as "Best Game of all time" in their top 100 PC games list.
Despite the plethora of accolades, it hasn't become a massive franchise with regular episodes. In fact the only other entry in the series was 2003's Deus Ex: Invisible War. This then, its third outing, is obviously its first appearance on the current gen machines. So how does this latest instalment fair in the space year 2011?
Adam Jensen works for one of the most powerful companies on the planet in 2027 – Sarif Industries. He looks after security for the company's CEO David Sarif. When the company comes under attack however, Jensen is badly injured, forcing him to undergo an extreme form of surgery to save his life that involves various augmentations. Although still human, his body is now equipped with amazing technology, allowing him to do things that the average man in the street could never dream of.
Using his new powers, Jensen sets out to discover who it was that was behind the attacks as wells find out what happened to his ex girlfriend Dr Megan Reed.
In truth, this summary doesn't do the game's sprawling storyline justice, particularly as the player can decide in many ways the direction the story is going. This is achieved in sections of the game where Jensen has the opportunity to interview key characters. Depending on how he wants to approach the character, by being sympathetic say, or cold and removed, will have a bearing on the character's answers and therefore multiple endings can be achieved. This is a RPG-lite element to the game, reminiscent of that found in the Mass Effect series.
It's a nice touch to the game, but unfortunately there are one too many other elements, that can also be found in other games, that waters down any originality the game might have.
One of the major gripes is the cover system, mainly because it's not terribly effective. You can return fire, but it's never as accurate as facing up to your enemy. It also doesn't help that you change from first person to third person view, just activate your cover options. This tends to be jarring more than anything else, changing perspective back and forth, making it feel very cumbersome.
Then there's the weaponry at your disposal. There's quite a lot on offer, but rather annoyingly, you can only carry so many weapons at any given time. At one point you come across a rocket launcher, which would have been quite useful for one of the mech baddies on the level. But if you're already carrying your full range of weapons, good luck with trying to drop enough of them to pick up the launcher. We tried, and failed. On top of that, it's also quite a gamble picking your weapons because finding ammo for the ones you happen to be currently carrying is a bit of a lottery. Again, facing a large enemy contingency with one bullet left in the chamber is no fun, and no, suicide isn't an option.
There's a lot of sneaking around to be had too, if you like that sought of thing. It works well if you're Sam Fisher, but here it just slows the whole pace of the game down to a snail crawl. And although you're quietly encouraged to take the stealth option, you can use take-downs on opponents, but rather bizarrely, you are limited to how many times you can do this. This usually ends up with you being in a position where it would be dead handy for some close-up-and-personal take-down action, only to find you've run out of that option to do so.
As well as the slowly, slowly, catchy the evil monkey elements, you can also hack into computer systems to aid your quest. But again, this has been done elsewhere with far better results.
And just when you've got used to saving every thirty seconds, the game throws up an ill-fitting boss battle.
There's also a truly epic upgrading system that although comprehensive in your ability to tweak your augmented abilities, is just too much faff for words. And often you'll find that the area that you've concentrated all your upgrading efforts on, just won't help you at the exact point where you most need it.
The overall impression of the game is that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a digital all-you-can-eat buffet of a game; although the spread on offer is initially impressive, after a while you soon realise that nibbling here and there on below par elements can leave you largely feeling unsatisfied and underwhelmed. It's clearly trying to be all things to all gamers. The only real surprise is that they left out a music rhythm section. But perhaps they are saving that for a special edition or some future DLC.
It's a shame really, as there really was a great game here screaming to be let out. With a little bit more focus and less pandering to different elements across many genres, the future could have looked very bright indeed for the exploits of Adam Jensen. Maybe there's a chance they'll address some of these issues for a game to be released before we all die.
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