Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a cyber-punk inspired game set in 2027, which timeline wise is 25 years prior to the setting of the original Deus Ex. Mankind is taking its first steps into augmenting the Human body and well, not everyone is happy about that kind of tinkering as you could imagine. We see that major corporations have extended their influences beyond the reach of global governments. This is where you, the player enter as Adam Jensen, chief security officer of one such company called Sarif Industries.
If I was going to describe Deus Ex: Human Revolution in a sentence I’d probably go for: Assassin’s Creed on steroids.
Where better to start than with what is possibly the main talking point of Deus Ex: Human Revolution? We start the story as one Adam Jensen – a completely normal human being. That is until the tutorial section of the game gets under way. Good ol’ Sarif Industries gets attacked by some group of well armed folk with bad intents on their minds. The Chief Security Officer is severely injured in trying to do his duties, so much so that the only way to save his life is to implant mechanical augmentations.
As you gain experience, you’ll occasionally level up, giving you a ‘Praxis Kit’ which is a point to spend on one your augmentations. The augmentations themselves come in several flavours that promote playing Deus Ex in different ways. There are augmentations that will improve your combat ability, particularly with firearms. Those that enhance your stealth capabilities, such as cloaking. You can acquire augmentations that will improve your ability to hack into systems, as well as those that are geared towards exploration.
While it’s generally advised that you pick one or two styles and run with it, you are by no means saddled down by your choices. You can buy and upgrade any augmentation available to you, just so long as you have the required amount of praxis points to spend. In general, I think the augmentation system is pretty damn cool, however I feel it lacks a bit in the combat department. I’ll explain a bit further on.
As I mentioned in augmentations, the gameplay can be broken up into four key elements; combat, stealth, hacking and exploration. But, if you pick up Deus Ex: Human Revolution solely looking to sample combat as an augmented super hero, then I suggest you look away now (please don’t!). As I played the game, I definitely felt like it favoured the other three aspects more so – to the extent that you get rewarded more experience by playing stealthy (getting through a whole area undetected), performing non-lethal take downs and so forth. Which is not to say this a bad thing. Not at all. It does the other three aspects, extremely well.
Exploration augmentations will help you find new routes which will help you bypass enemies. For example, you can buy an arm upgrade which lets you punch through weak spots in walls. Naturally that might be a bit noisy, it does give you alternative routes. Another example would be augmenting one’s legs to be able to jump higher. And so on.
Of the four aspects, I liked hacking the most. Attempting to hack terminals, security faces and the like brings up a mini game where you have to capture various nodes, until they capture a special one that gives them access to the system. Each node has a security rating, that will determine the chance the system will notice your intrusion when you capture that node. If the system notices you, it will attempt to trace the node you entered the system with and shut you out. API nodes can assist you in your hacking attempts, by serving several functions (such as soft, which lowers the level of surrounding nodes), as well as data stores. Data stores contain credits, experience and other bonuses that you acquire should you capture them and successfully hack the system.
In addition to various augmentations that improve your ability to hack, you can acquire items than can be used during a hack attempt, such as nukes or worms. A lot of the lower level terminals are fairly easy to hack but the game does throw in its fair share of challenging ones. If you spend enough praxis points on the hacking augmentations you’ll even be able to remove some of the more (at least in my opinion anyway) frustrating opponents out of the game in turrets and (more so) robots.
Stealth is all about moving quietly and out of sight (Ok, captain obvious!). You can augment this aspect by buying/upgrading cloaking augments (as mentioned earlier), augments that reduce the noise you make and so forth. Given the right set up and an ample amount of patience, it’s entirely possible to go through the majority of the areas where you need to be sneaking, unseen. Stealth isn’t really my kettle of fish as I only have a limited amount of patience (I only managed one area in the game where I got the ‘ghost’ XP bonus). AI has the occasional “what the f**k” moments and seemingly discover you when they shouldn’t have, though.
In terms of combat, I liked the majority of the guns and overpowering spec ops soldiers was cool. But as I’ve already said before, Deus Ex: Human Revolution doesn’t hide the fact it’s more orientated to the other three aspects of gameplay. You can augment your gun capabilities reasonably well enough and get the ability to take down two opponents in melee in certain circumstances but that’s all. It’s not really a problem for the majority of the game if I’m honest, until you encounter the boss fights.
Which is probably one of my biggest gripes about the game, really. Boss fights feel disjointed in the experience. You’ll be up against fellow augments most of the time, which makes things worse. They can put you down as easily as you would a security guard or some other regular un-augmented Joe. Which is a tad bit frustrating to say the least. Finally, you have an energy bar. Using certain abilities (cloaking, take downs for example) will drain some of that energy, which will in turn only regenerate so far (There are augments to improve this). It does well to balance the usage of your better abilities. Scattered throughout the game world though are consumables that will give you a much-needed energy boost, though.
A few more notable mentions are the cover and camera systems. For the majority of the game you’ll be playing from a first person view. But sliding into cover and performing melee take downs sees the camera shift to a third person view seamlessly.
For me, perhaps the best part of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, is the story. And the characters. Hell, all that fluff. The story itself was intriguing and well put together – it is enough reason to play Deus Ex on its own. Many of the characters I encountered seemed believable and well scripted. David Sarif certainly felt like my boss whenever I exchanged words with him, for example. Although you only interact with Dr Megan Reed briefly, she came across the ex-girlfriend from a relationship that while ended, did so in a relatively amicable manner. Throughout the game you’ll visit Detroit, Shanghai, Montreal and Singapore – most of which are open-ended areas that you can explore and get a feel for the world of Deus Ex.
Although I’m sure some might disagree particularly with the United States, the crux of it is I felt apart of the world. I felt like, given how things are now and where we are heading, it’s entirely possible this could be a reality (give or take some things). This is never easy to pull off and it’s a credit to the writers and artists that they have.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a solid outing as a game and visually, it doesn’t disappoint. Aside from the other detracting points I’ve already mentioned, I’m not sure the game has enough re-playability to the average gamer to warrant going for a second play through. There are certainly some different options to take, different ways to complete quests (or not at all) and even different endings. Though the later can be negated by saving just before the end and choosing the one you want.
If you’re looking for a game with a well-written story then Deus Ex: Human Revolution won’t disappoint. If you’re a fan of games with a focus on stealth then this might just be the one for you on that premise alone (minus boss fights).