Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.

The year is 2027. You are Adam Jensen, a private security officer working for Sarif Industries, a leading biotechnology firm.  While making the final preparations for Dr. Megan Reed’s team to head to Washington D.C. for a discussion on a new breakthrough in technology, the facility is attacked by an unknown group of augmented soldiers. The entire science team is killed, the laboratory burned, and Adam mortally wounded.  David Sarif, CEO of Sarif Industries, makes the call to have Adam’s body rebuilt with the latest in state of the art augmentations.  Six months later, Adam returns to Sarif Industries to put together the pieces of the attacks that are taking place, and to find whoever’s responsible for killing Megan.  Adam not only seeks to avenge the death of this woman, whom he loved; but also to redeem himself from his past as an ex-Detroit SWAT member wrongly blamed for a massacre that occurred in Mexicantown a few years back.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is essentially a hodgepodge of different game elements, including first and third person shooters and RPG types, combined together and brought to a slow boil of story, choice, and gaming styles. The end result: play the game how you would like. You can choose to fight your way through in a hail of bullets, brutally destroying everyone and everything in your path, or use stealth, cunning and observation (much like the Metal Gear series) to carefully sneak your way through a mission, taking care not to alert the enemy to the intruder in their midst.

When moving about your environment, your view is in first person mode. However, when you change into cover, the camera pulls back to a third person viewpoint to allow for a better awareness of your surroundings.  By dynamically changing the view as needed, the game gives you the sense of personalization without the limitations of not being able to see beyond whatever you’re using as cover at the time being. In addition to an explorable environment, you can interact with some of the objects around you (such as boxes, and if you have the strength, dumpsters and vending machines) to move them out of the way or stack them higher to get to areas out of your reach.  This will be key to missions that require sneaking through ventilation shafts or seeking out higher ground above your enemies.  You can also use your Hacking abilities on terminals that are locked (in order to get critical information) or doors that need to be unlocked in order to progress through a given area.  This minigame is one part strategy and two parts speed and cunning as you work to hack different nodes in the network – kind of like a Domination-style game.  Once enough nodes have been captured, you can attack the terminal to gain access to information on the computer or unlock the aforementioned door.

Jensen has a variety of abilities available to help him, thanks to the installed augmentations in his cybernetic frame.  These skills and various unlocakable/upgradeable augmentations are bought by Praxis points (which are awarded to you as your character levels up).  There are two types of augmentations: active and passive.  The active augmentations are only activated when selected. For example, the ability to jump higher or enabling your optic camouflage.  Conversely, passive augmentations, when purchased, are available at all times or trigger automatically when needed.  An example of this would be the regenerative health system which kicks in when you’ve taken damage.  Once you get clear of the danger, it will automatically begin healing you.  If you’re short of Praxis points, you’ll be given the chance to purchase Praxis kits that allow you to unlock augmentations from L.I.M.B. clinics.

Like any game with sneaking elements, a solid control system is an absolute necessity as it will make or break the game.  Fortunately for us, Eidos has built in a control scheme that is drum tight.  I haven’t once been snagged on a corner or an invisible wall, or had to wrestle with the controller to get a good positioning behind cover or sneak through an area.  This is a good thing considering that if you are caught trying to sneak past the enemies (who are very adept at covering a room and making sneaking difficult), the game is absolutely unrelenting in punishing you for your indiscretion.  Unlike most shooters where you can absorb a massive amount of punishment and quickly overwhelm a group of enemies, this game’s AI will quickly call in the cavalry and spare nothing to put you down where you stand.  Even going in hot, you need to be careful as to how you proceed, lest you find yourself trapped in a corner with no ammunition and an angry mob of well armed thugs moving in to take you apart.

Conversation plays a role in DXHR as well.  While interacting with other characters in the game, you’ll be given the opportunity to choose from various responses that well garner different reactions.  Much like Mass Effect, your conversation decisions can play a role in future encounters or events, or can have a more immediate effect in the game.  For example, early on you’ll encounter a terrorist who has taken a person hostage. You can either choose to try to talk the terrorist down, convincing them to let the hostage go free or you can go to the other extreme by disregarding the hostage and trying to take out the terrorist. However, the hostage may not necessarily make it out of the situation alive if you do so.

The many paths you take will get you to the same goal; however, the consequences of your actions may have an effect on the overall endgame.  Eidos Montreal has done an exceptional job of making this game as immersive as possible by providing you with so much control over the story’s course.  Yet, Deus Ex: Human Revolution wouldn’t be nearly the masterpiece that it is without such fantastic story writing.  From the time you hit the start button, you’re immediately captivated by a story that is richly detailed and sets a grand stage of mystery, intrigue, and redemption. In this game, you’ll begin drawing lines in your mind, listing suspects, and forging bonds with allies as you put together the pieces that you find along the way.

A computer terminal here, some emails there, tabloids laying on a table, or news reports on the television. These items will begin to give you a glimpse into the bigger picture of the Deus Ex: Human Revolution world as you progress.  While it isn’t necessary to find all of these objects in order to understand the story (nor is there an achievement for finding these items), they do provide a lot of background to what’s going on around you.  You can find these news bits pretty much everywhere if you keep a keen eye open as you move along.  Every person you interact with will give tiny details of the turmoil that the world is going through.  Riots are breaking out, the police are powerless, something big is coming that will change the course of history.

Graphically, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is extraordinarily stunning! Eidos Montreal did an absolutely fantastic job of combining old with new to create the Cyber-Renaissance feel that they’ve been promoting since the original Deus Ex.  Old brick buildings in a broken down Detroit meet the modern-tech of 2027 to bring a clash of mortar and steel.  Offices and apartments are graced with similar facets featuring moldings and trims in the styles of the master masons on walls that hold digital displays and other technologies.  It has the look and feel of a near-future Detroit with the People Mover (Detroit’s elevated rail system) having been updated with a hanging trolley that runs regularly across the skyline.  Street signs marking the crossing of Jefferson and Grand River, and instructions on how to get to Greektown, Bricktown, and the Joe Louis Arena make it feel like home; whereas the neighborhoods have changed where Sarif Industries has taken over with clean, post-modern skyscrapers adorning the city’s skyline.  The amber hues drizzled across the characters and environments gives off a cyber-noire look befitting of the game. Everything is truly remarkable in its detail.

The flaws in Deus Ex: Human Revolution are far and few between, and for a while I had trouble distinguishing as to whether or not I was actually encountering a real problem or if it was just my clumsy bear paws on the controller.  The only real issue I could find was with the tutorial system.  Instead of teaching you things in real time, you have to stop in the middle of the game to view brief tutorial videos.  I find that this not only breaks up the flow of the game, but can be problematic for those of us who find it easier to have something point out the steps as we’re playing it in real time.  Aside from that however, there are absolutely no complaints about this game.

To put it simply, calling Deus Ex: Human Revolution a masterpiece would be an insult to its creators.  It transcends something far greater than that.  This game is a classic in every sense of the word and exceeds its predecessors in every way.  The alchemists at Eidos Montreal combined the elements of every great game of the last ten years, broke open ancient tomes and muttered words that spun the ingredients of gameplay, story-telling, and art and created a bedazzling magnum opus for us to enjoy.

And it was good.

This game receives a 4.75 / 5.0.

Our Rating
out of 5.0

About This Post

August 30, 2011 - 8:30 am