Sadly, I have never played a Deus Ex game before this one. The only time I tried was when the first one was new and I was still in the “I-Can-Get-Shot-Fifty-Times-and-Still-Beat-Your-Ass-With-Bitch-Slaps” state of mind that games like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark had instilled in me. So, as any Deus Ex veterans will know, I got my ass handed to me pretty quickly. It was sad. Years later, when Metal Gear Solid 4 came out, I finally got around to playing those games, and I quickly realized, “Hey, stealth can be fun!”.
So, when Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released earlier this year, I decided I wanted to play it, now that my abilities as a gamer had vastly improved. And then I started to hear things like, “This is one of my favorite games.” and “Be careful. Everything you play afterwards will be shit by comparison”. And though I knew it couldn’t live up to that kind of hype, it did get me thinking that this game is more than likely pretty damn good. It took me a little while to get my hands on it, but when I did, I put it in my PS3 (my computer sucks, or else I probably would have used that) and dug in.
The first thing I noticed was that, though the graphics were not bad, compared to the rest of my PlayStation library, they were pretty sub-par. At least, in-game graphics. You see, Deus Ex: Human Revolution was developed by Eidos Montreal, but published by SquareEnix. Square also did the cutscenes, and as a result, the cutscenes look multitudes better than the rest of the game. The character models, specifically, look a bit off. The faces and lips really seem off, especially in conversations. But, I’ve known since I was a tot that good graphics do not a good game make.
The game opens with you as Adam Jensen, the Chief of Security at Sarif Industries. Or as I like to call him, Solid Cyborg Batman. He’s seen speaking to Dr. Megan Reed, his significant other and super scientist, about her research into the reduction of the human body’s natural rejection of cybernetic enhancements, called augmentations.
Long story short, the shit hits the industrial strength turbine hard, Megan and her whole team are kidnapped by terrorists, and Adam ends up with cybernetic arms, legs, and eyes.
That was enough to keep me interested. And though there are some slow and confusing parts, the story is where Deus Ex really outshines the competition. I will say that there are a couple parts that seem incredibly silly, but only if you haven’t played the first two games. When I rolled my eyes at these parts, my brother, an actual Deus Ex player, filled me in on a few plot points from the earlier games, and it wasn’t silly anymore. And though I feel the story took a little while to take off, when it did, it really took off. There were certainly a few “…Fuck!” and “…Damn…” moments. And at the end, there’s a huge decision that you need to make to determine which ending you get. When that happened, my first thought was, “You’re going to make me decide that?!”. It was at least a little mind-blowing.
Gameplay-wise, except for a few problems, Human Revolution is pretty damn good. The inventory system feels really aged and I spent more time than should be necessary just organizing my items. The map was a little less than useful. It’s not horrible, and I could usually figure out where to go, but it certainly had its problems. There aren’t very many sidequests, but when there are, you really need to look for them. Someone might tell you that some person needs a favor, and give you a vague description of where they might be, but they don’t mark it on your map. So, if you don’t know where 84th Street is, you need to wander around the whole map looking for one person to give you a sidequest. And you don’t want to pass those up. Sidequests are where you get a great deal of your experience. They also don’t mark shops on the map, which seems like a pretty large oversight.
The enemy AI, though very good for the most part, seems to have a few hiccups every now and again. Sometimes, an enemy will walk right past me, so close that I could lick him (not that I would), look right at me, and still not spot me. Other times, they’ll spot me in places where no living thing could spot me and suddenly every bad guy in the area and a few robots just swoop in and murder me.
The environments could have used a little variation, too. You are almost exclusively in a city or inside a building that looks just like the inside of every other building. The maps themselves are designed fine, but I’d have liked a little more variety.
The absolute biggest problem I had with the whole game though, may actually only be a problem because I was playing on a PS3. It’s the cover system. Oftentimes, it felt really clunky and Adam often decided to look over the cover without my telling him to, and as a result, an enemy would spot me and I’d die. There is also a way of turning corners while in cover, but the way you do it is simply too slow sometimes. And there’s no way of speeding it up. Now the problem could simply be my PS3 controller. On a keyboard, you press a button and Adam moves. On the PS3, you use a thumbstick, which is a bit more ambiguous in its direction. But, even if it is all because of my controller, the cover system is far from perfect.
The other absolute biggest problem I had was the first boss. The fight with him is, simply put, poorly designed. In order to fight him effectively (especially if you don’t want to use cloaking, like I did), you have to pretty much ignore every instinct that the game has been building in you from the beginning, because no matter how stealthy you are, he can just throw a shit ton of instant-kill grenades constantly and blow you up. It’s bullshit. But everything after that is much better.
But for its few shortcomings, Human Revolution’s gameplay has many more aspects that are far ahead of the curve.
Its Augmentation System gives you the freedom to play the game however you want. You can play the game several times and do things completely differently every time. Depending on how you spend your experience points, you’ll have to think your way through the game in radically different ways, giving it huge replay value.
I have to mention the story again, because fuck, the story is good! It brings up a lot of questions that are incredibly important in real life. It makes us think about what it really means to be human.
The dialogue is superb, and the way you go through conversations make it that much better. The characters’… well, character, is conveyed really well simply by how they speak and what they say. And when you’re going through a conversation, you can really feel the kind of influence that its having on both characters. I really felt like I was playing the role of Adam Jensen.
Speaking of conversations, the voice acting is, for the most part, pretty good as well. Sure, Adam kind of talks like Batman through the whole game, and though it seems silly at times, his voice acting is never outright bad.
The boss fights (with the exception of the first one) are intense and creative. The final boss fight is, sadly, incredibly easy, but still pretty cool.
It never treated me like a brain-dead butt like so many other games tend to do with their constant tutorials and stating of the obvious. Every tutorial, you can choose not to look at. I never felt like I was being talked down to.
The music, for the most part, is not bad, but not memorable. A couple tracks really stick out in my mind, though. The songs that were good were very much so. But I understand why the music was subdued. In any game where stealth and listening to enemies is so important, you don’t want the music distracting you. So, they saved all the really good music for boss fights and parts where stealth was slightly less important.
So I guess the big question is, does Deus Ex: Human Revolution live up to the hype. The answer is… no. But barely. I had a great time playing it, save for a few really frustrating parts. All-in-all, it’s the kind of experience that I really wish I could get from more games. It’s obvious that a lot of thought and effort went into every aspect of the game in order to make it more than just killing enemies to get to the next stage of the game.
Also, Adam’s sunglasses are really stupid.
Now, rating this is going to be tricky. If you’ve read any of my other posts involving video games, you will have noticed that I include Graphics in my ratings. But in a game like this one, where the graphics are very much not important, I question if I should even include that category. This is a game where the graphics do not add or subtract anything from the overall game. Sure, the character models look a little weird, but not so weird that I couldn’t ignore it (like Nier). If that’s enough to make you rate a game like this lower, then I’m not sure I understand you at all. So, I have decided to include the category, but not factor it into the final rating.
Gameplay: 9/10: Were it not for the few frustrating, little problems, this would have gotten a 10 easily.
Music: 8/10: It’s very situational. When it’s important, it’s great. When it’s not, it’s almost unnoticeable.
Story: 10/10: Easily the best story of anything I’ve reviewed thus far.