Deus Ex: Human Revolution

After a long wait, Deus Ex: Human Revolution arrived and despite the weight of expectation, it acquitted itself rather well. In games (and in life), I struggle to remember the bad bits after a year or ten. What I do remember about the last Deus Ex is entering areas filled with baddies and finding awesome ways to punish their pesky asses. Enormous insectoid robot? Pah, I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast – you eat pieces of shit for breakfast?! And so it went. Of course there was probably a ton of tiresome jank in Deus Ex and Invisible War that I’ve forgotten but if Human Revolution dares to put a foot wrong, it is pissing on its predecessors’ graves. Such is the lot of the nostalgia sequel. So I approached the latest instalment of this venerable member of video games’ royal family with trepidation but I leave happy.

Those artfully constructed areas with multiple, flexible solutions are back and sneaking through them is still satisfying enough to make it all worthwhile. It’s not new cause it is unmistakably Deus Ex but after this long, the stealth feels almost original. You creep into a room, peek out and watch everyone going about their business and plan how to get through, ideally unseen but certainly unshot since it does not take many to kill you. If you are lucky, your plan comes off perfectly and you are clearly awesome. If someone sees you, you have some exciting improvisation to do and most likely a delightful load screen to watch till you undie. They are good load screens…maybe if we make the screen really nice they won’t notice how lo…I particularly like the fonts, one’s all tapered corners meets boxy-calculator and ends up looking strong but sort of suave and the other’s all coy and normalish till bam, my A’s got no legs, it’s a triangle, that’s all you get – love it. BUT the loading times are murderous and when you end up somewhere you’re going to die a lot…segue

What is bad about Human Revolution is a bunch of the supporting acts. The boss fights were ruined by the load times for me, they were also pretty unimaginative and utterly unsuited to my stealth skills but even without those problems, in a game where you die fast, it is stupid to start your fight with the boss charging at you and before you’ve surveyed the scene so you will die numerous times and you will have to admire those fonts till you don’t li…I still like them, I do, the A is a triangle! I put the game onto easy and saved every time I shot the boss – doesn’t make you feel so awesome.

Your character comes off like an ex-angry nerd who has accrued enough general respect, to downgrade his nerd rage to a low-level chippyness. But since he is you, its a bit like bringing a regrettable friend to a party and then feeling obliged to follow them around wincing apologetically when they talk. Still to be fair to him, he does sound a lot better than every NPC in the game simply because he has not caught the insane repeater disease where you only say one thing but boy do you get your mileage out of it. What else? The structure of it all feels a bit off. The hubs don’t really come together like Mass Effect’s and there are fewer of them so you spend an hour or so in a mission and then your inter-mission ice-cream vendor is a mission to find. But really these are minor gripes that only grate towards the end.

The upgrades are well implemented and offer meaningful choices about how to improve your character. You often have a new toy to play with and the difficulty can increase noticeably so you always feel that your last battle was the hairiest. They can feel a bit binary when your path is blocked with a ‘heavy’ object or electrocuted but they are all useful. The hacking minigame is fantastic, simple to grasp but with enough depth to never get old. And finally the production values are very high, I think it looks and sounds great. But really it all comes back to the core gameplay which is as good as it ever was. If you like stealthing at all or want something a bit different or indeed have a penchant for a damn fine load screen, you should definitely play this. I hope this rekindles the Deus Ex franchise, its a winning formula with a rich legacy to draw on and those niggles won’t be hard to address in a sequel.

11,190 Comments

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11,190 Responses to Deus Ex: Human Revolution

  1. Zeke

    Just picked up a copy for my PC and started getting into it. Was a little bit disappointed with the graphics performance and the frame-rate wasn’t up to scratch on the graphics settings I’m used to. Had no probs running Crysis on max settings, but maybe some tweaking can fix this.

    The original DeusEx was a masterpiece. Mainly because it allowed you an unprecedented level of choice with your playstyle that other FPSs at the time just didn’t, perhaps with the exception of Thief and System Shock 2. I think I played DX through a total of three times, just to see what was possible. You could even complete it without killing anyone, it was tough, but doable. As for the tedious bossfights, in the first one you could dispatch Anna or Gunther with a killphrase, providing you could find it. I’m guessing that’s not the case here.

    I picked up Invisible War as well back in the day. But it was a steaming pile of turd by comparison. Not at all memorable, dumbed down mechanics, crappy UI for the console port, and levels the size of postage stamps.

    Looking forward to playing through Human Revolution, but right off the bat I don’t like the way the XP rewards clearly incentivise the stealthy option, whereas the first one rewarded progress, irrespective of how it was achieved. This one clearly wants you to play through it stealthily. Not the biggest deal since that’s what I would’ve done anyway. Anyway, I need to play it more before I pass judgement.

    Liking the reviews, keep them coming. Skyrim just came out but I reckon that’s too hefty a time commitment just now. Mass Effect 3 comes out early 2012 if I remember correctly.

    • Thanks for the comment Zeke, i think you will really enjoy it. I think the xp bonuses for stealth: ‘Smooth Operater’ and ‘Ghost’ are to balance points you would have got for killing all the guards and shooting all the cameras so that either strategy will yield the same xp if followed throughout a level – not sure how the amount of xp in each case compares tho, a ‘Ghost’ run may yield more. Its exciting trying to get those ‘Ghost’ awards!

      The reports coming in about Skyrim from mates at work are that it is awesome – so nice to see Elder Scrolls get the budget and dev time it needed to turn out a (more) polished product. And Mass Effect is Jan 2012 last time i checked – should be a comfort in those cold winter months ;)

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