Reviews// Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Posted 2 Sep 2011 16:25 by
After seven years of waiting for another entry into the Deus Ex series, you could forgive fans for being somewhat apprehensive about Human Revolution.

Anyone whoís paid any attention to the previews should have a good idea of how many big promises Eidos has been making, and now with the release of the game itís satisfying to see just how much they got right. Putting you into the shoes of grizzly ex-cop turned corporate enforcer and bionic super solider Adam Jenson, Deus Ex: Human Revolution weaves an intriguing and refreshingly unbiased tale of prejudice and the ethics of scientific advancement.

Perhaps I just play too many BioWare games but comparisons to Mass Effect 2 seem somewhat inevitable to me, even before the similar intro kicks in where you get to see a lot of pseudo-sciency stuff happening as your broken body is rebuilt Six Million Dollar Man style. Both are Action RPGs set in the future, with slick graphics and third-person, cover-based shooter gameplay as well as a heavy focus on dialogue choices and character driven storytelling.

But as good as Mass Effect 2 was, Human Revolution is possibly even more ambitious, incorporating more flexible RPG elements and a heavy focus on stealth to achieve an incredibly rich gaming experience.

Undoubtedly the strongest aspect of Human Revolution is its open-ended gameplay and how much it both encourages and rewards players to do things their own way. Also worth a note is the way the game encourages the gamer to utilise the different strategies offered up.

While there is always the option to just shoot your way through hostile situations, thereís also always the safer option of sneaking around the unknowing enemies instead, or even finding an alternate route that completely avoids that area.

The gameís Augmentation feature, which essentially lets you level up and customise your abilities by adding to bionic enhancements, offers plenty of room to increase your combat prowess, stealth-orientated abilities, hacking prowess and even your communication skills. Itís slow going at first though.

Without Augments your abilities tend to be a little lacking in all areas, and even once you start to rack up some levels, decisions have to be made about where to spend your points. Do you want to make yourself physically stronger? Want to jump more than twice your own height? Would you like a cloaking field? You can always opt for more mundane things like simply being able to walk and run silently, and while these may sound less impressive theyíll undoubtedly be skills that come in handy on an almost constant basis.

Deciding whether or not to heavily specialise in any given area is, like so much in the game, essentially down to player preference.

No matter how you decide to play youíll undoubtedly have to spend a substantial chunk of time taking part in the hacking mini-game, which is used to unlock almost every door and computer you come across.

Fortunately hacking is fairly easy to get to grips with and even fun at times despite its frustrating luck-dependency, though it can quickly become far more trouble than itís worth. You wonít get far unless you put enough points into upgrading your skills, further hampering the rate at which you can freely specialise in other areas. The amount of time youíll have to spend hacking will ensure it gets old fast, unless of course you decide to ignore all of the potential information and small rewards and instead get on with the meat of the game.

Combat is very dependant on stealth. Hit-and-run tactics and sensible use of cover are essential towards survival. Considering my first instinct was to charge into a fight and throw a crate at the first person I saw, this proved difficult to adapt to. But after a few attempts even I learned to take a few steps back and examine the situation before charging in.

Soon I was crawling through air vents and rolling around behind furniture like a natural. Unfortunately, however, I never actually came upon a situation where throwing a box at someone seemed like a valid tactical opening move. This was despite the promise of advanced augmentations allowing me to lift and throw around even bigger objects. While Iíve not yet experienced it, the idea of hurling a refrigerator across the room to take down an enemy is definitely something Iíll be looking forward to in later playthroughs.

Human Revolutionís morality system is a bit more subtle than most other attempts, and ends up being stronger as a result. While plenty of other games will give you the option of acting like an ass towards both your friends and enemies alike, few really offer any incentive to do so. In Deus Exís murky shades-of-grey world however, sometimes doing the right thing means stepping on some toes, and thereís rarely a solution to any problem that doesnít have negative repercussions for someone.
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