Deus Ex: Human Revolution review

Posted: August 31, 2011 by ryanlecocq in Reviews

Unlike this clumsy metaphor, this game actually aims high and soars.

I feel a little guilty saying it when a game makes another game I liked in the past totally obsolete.  No I’m not talking about the original Deus Ex.  While HR is a great game, it’s very different from it’s progenitor.  In fact what it really feels like is the game I imagined Metal Gear Solid 4 would be.  I’m not saying MGS4 wasn’t great.  It was.  Deus Ex: Human Revolution though, is the real deal when it comes to futuristic tactical combat with open ended gameplay.  Every other game this generation that tried to give you this genre on modern hardware has pretty much been just like the last generation with better graphics.  Finally we see the realization of the fantasies we all had when we imagined next-gen Metal Gear and Splinter Cell games.

That’s not to say that this is necessarily a stealth game.  If you want, you can be a terminator and use brute force to hammer your way through the game.  Unlike MGS and Splinter Cell, all methods are combat effective.  You will never run up against an arbitrary game mechanic that stops you from playing how you want to.  All other merits aside, I think that’s what really makes this game; you can do whatever you want and the game doesn’t throw up a wall, get confused or completely fall apart.  When other games try to say “fight your war, your way” they mean you can try, but hiding behind cover and sniping people is all that works.  In this game, there is no wrong strategy.  Some of the NPCs may complain when you kill certain other NPCs and police will definitely react to you killing civilians, but there is no overbearing system that won’t allow you to throw soda machines at people or put C4 in the police station.

Building on that is the game’s “morality” system or lack thereof.  While you do make decisions that affect the story and it is pretty convincing (with one major disappointment I’ll bring up later), there is no ‘wrong’ choice.  You can walk up and murder anyone and the game will continue.  There are a couple of NPCs who you will only encounter in select areas where you can’t draw a weapon, but everyone else can be killed at any point in the story.  So if an NPC really bothers you, you can decide for yourself how justice should  be served, even if they could give you a quest or information.  I’m not saying go out and kill everyone just for kicks, but it’s an unexpected amount of maturity on the developer’s part to give you the choice.

As I mentioned in my preview, the augment system is amazing.  It really goes above and beyond any similar system in games like Bioshock to make your gameplay defined by your character growth.  Not only your abilities, but your interface and your game view change based on your augmentations.  If you buy all of the fancy imaging and stealth mods, your screen will be a constant display of information, like “Terminator-vision.”  If you stick to being a bruiser, you will see just what’s in front of your character like any other action game.  If you invest in environment exploration mods you spend a lot of time jumping around rooftops and alleyways like Ezio where a hacker would just hack the door.  Two playthroughs of this game could look like two entirely different games just based on how you grow your character.  The best part is all of the intermixed gameplay styles work flawlessly.

The presentation another high point.  Although the game is not graphically stunning (though no slouch), the visual design definitely is.  Every single part of this game screams cyberpunk.  The music is a delightfully tense collection of techno-industrial that perfectly compliments the action.  The voices of the characters are almost all very well played.  As far as what you see and hear at all times, Deus Ex perfectly hits the target.

In relation to the other Deus Ex games, HR is a perfect prequel.  It creates a realistic world that leads organically to the events in Deus Ex.  It’s very cool to see the era when the ‘old’ augs in Deus Ex came from.  I remember seeing Gunther in the first game and thinking “damn, must suck to have all that metal when I can do the same with microscopic robots.”  If you choose one of the endings it will actually hint at the birth of the Dentons.

The only real negative I can point out in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is actually it’s ending.  I won’t spoil it with any details, but the problem is that exactly like Fallout 3, this game ends with a “pick one of three pre-rendered slideshows.”  That’s right, all of those decisions you made don’t matter for crap in the end because you get one of three boring montages with narrated monologue.  I was thinking to myself “WTF Square, did CG suddenly get too expensive in the last 5 minutes of the game?”  The most frustrating part is that just like the aforementioned Fallout 3, the game strings you along for hours on the belief that you are shaping your own story with all these choices you make.  Then, after it’s all over and you’ve kicked everything’s ass, you get some grainy slideshow that does nothing to tie up the plot and instead features some morality prose that’s pretty weak.  Especially since the loose ends that needed tying up by the end of this game were substantial, especially if you saved everyone and did every quest.  Boo Eidos Montreal.

Overall Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an amazing game.  None of the gameplay design is original, but every part functions better than in the game it was borrowed from and it creates a game that is a Jack of All Trades, master of all.  The people who made about 20 other games over the last few years must be pissed that Eidos Montreal just came along and made them all look like amateurs in one fell swoop.

 

9/10

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