Blending some of the best elements of popular first and third person games of the last half decade, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an enjoyable choose-your-own adventure title.
In the not too distant future, human augmentations will become commonplace, essentially turning people into cyborgs with special abilities. You play as Jensen, the head of security for the leading augmentation company, Sarif Industries. When the building gets attacked by anti-augmentation protestors, Jensen becomes critically wounded and is augmented against his will to stay alive. The game then revolves around finding out what really happened and who is terrorizing Sarif Industries.
Perhaps the most highlighted feature with any Deus Ex game are the options available to the player, Human Revolution being no exception. Played from a first person perspective, Human Revolution mixes stealth of Metal Gear Solid, a Gears of War style cover system, the leveling up of any RPG, the grid-based inventory system of Diablo, the environment and overall feel of Fallout 3, and the outline glowing perspective of Halo: ODST. These are all elements that have been blended together quite nicely into this one package.
The first part of the game is a great example of how the player can interact with the sandbox style gameplay. If you choose, you can charge guns blazing and attack enemies straight on. Or you can go the stealth route by sneaking your way to the front door. Or you can get a little creative by stacking a couple boxes on top of each other to reach the hidden vent shaft on the roof. The freedom to play how you want is quite staggering but very welcomed.
Besides choosing the path of travel, the player will also need to determine how to spend precious upgrading points which further emphasizes the freedom of gameplay. If you are planning on using more brute force, you will probably want to upgrade your armor, the amount of stuff you can carry and how quickly health and energy can regenerate. Alternatively, if you are more of the patient stealth player, you might want to spend experience points to increase your hacking abilities to give access to new pathways. The point is, Human Revolution can play like an entirely new game with each play through. And unlike, say the Fable series, the choose-your-own adventure extends much beyond whether you are good or evil; the environment, dialog trees, and even your inventory determine how the game will play. This is by far the biggest bullet point for Deus Ex and the entire sandbox gameplay element is highly engaging. Oh, and the hacking mini game isn’t that bad, albeit a little random.
Even though the game offers infinite ways to customize the experience, the player will never feel overly intimidated with gameplay choices. However, know that Human Revolution might initially take you by surprise with its difficulty factor. Starting on the middle difficult, I got my ass handed to me by the first two enemies you encounter. This happened twice before I turned it down to the easiest setting. But once I figured out just how the game worked, I became very confident in my Deus Ex abilities. This also works hand-in-hand with the gameplay plotline as the player becomes more and more like a super hero with each unlocked upgrade.
As engaging as the game is, it isn’t without flaws. By the last fourth of the game, combat and hacking will become a breeze. Jensen himself is basically a bad version of Neo from the Matrix and sometimes his trench coat just magically disappears. The game doesn’t have many loading screens, but when you see one, including waiting for the initial Press Start screen might take a while to load…and I use the term “might” because sometimes the game loads quickly, but other times there can be a solid 30-60 second load time; there is really no consistency with how the game loads.
The game, in a way, contradicts itself. On one hand, the player is basically given the freedom to play however desired. But on the other, the player can be extremely limited on inventory space. This means that if you are going to decide to play the game using stealth, you won’t have enough space for that shotgun or sniper rifle in your inventory. You will not have enough inventory space for both the stealth and run-and-gun style of gameplay; you will need to select one or the other, then tweak your upgrades and inventory around that. Of course the game needs balancing, but more times than not, you will wish there was just a little more space to hold that machine pistol when you need it. Another example of this is when I encountered the first boss; I only had my tranquilizing pistol and rifle. This forced me to get creative (and lucky) with the random grenades I found on the perimeter of the stage.
Another quest will have Jensen break into someone’s apartment to look for clues on a case. Making things difficult, the apartment has been covered in mines. Some players might try and tread carefully. Or if you built up your strength augmentation, you can pick up the refrigerator and chuck it into the mine field, clearing a path to your destination. It is this outside the box thinking like this that keeps Deus Ex players coming back for more. Too bad the refrigerator didn’t receive any visual scarring.
Each environment has been created with care and detail. Both interior and exterior environments are littered with logos of random businesses and NPCs that really create the feeling that you are a part of a living world. I do wish, however, that the environment was a little more interactive. Sure you can move a crate or barrel, or pick up a fire extinguisher off the wall, but everything else is static and non-interactive and doesn’t even budge when you run into it. If I am walking on talk covered with beakers and computer monitors, shouldn’t those fall over when I walk over them?
The soundtrack has some pretty haunting melodies and the voice acting, for the most part, is spot on. Side missions are optional distractions from the main quest and are usually little more than fetch quests but they offer the player additional chances to gain experience points which in turn can be used to upgrade your augments.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an entertaining game that encourages the player to be creative. If you take a step back and analyze it, Deus Ex isn’t much unlike any other game as it boils down to starting at Point A and getting to Point B. The journey between these two points, however, is what makes the game so captivating, engaging and customizable.
Better Than: any Splinter Cell game
Also Try: the previous Deus Ex titles
Wait For It: Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
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