Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Ten years after the original Deus Ex was released, Human Revolution hits the shelves and with it comes a new developer, Eidos Montreal, taking the series to a new level and trying to make it their own.
You play as Adam Jensen in the year 2027, the game basically starts with you getting killed and blown to pieces. Fortunately the company Jensen works for deals in human augmentation and they rebuild him with all sorts of robotic limbs and enhancements.
You work for Sarif who were hours away from announcing a new augmentation program that would allow every average Joe out there to get robo-arms or snazzy shades. As the announcement drew closer, Sarif HQ were attacked by purists who believe that humans should be human and not cyborgs. Consequently, it was in defending Sarif HQ that Jensen got shot in the head.
The first couple of levels are tutorials more than anything. Before you get killed you’ll be shown the basics of moving and shooting with handy little pop-ups. After you’re killed and re-built you’ll be shown how to use your fancy new augmentations as well as the basics of hacking and stealth. It’s not long before the tutorials are done and you’re left on your own to tackle the city in whichever way you choose.
The cities act as hubs, here you’ll stumble across quests, visit shops, talk to people and basically do whatever you like. Want to spend three hours throwing bins at people? No problem, you go right ahead. Just don’t do what I did and throw one at a Policeman, that’s when things get messy.
The cities are so full of things to do that I’d be surprised if anyone – outside the development teams – sees everything that can be seen. The sheer amount of detail is astonishing and I can’t imagine what it would be like to spend hours designing and building an item only for it to be stuck down an alley that 90% of players would never see.
Some players will just want to blast through the single player and play it the same as they would play a game like, say, Call of Duty. Sure, you can do that if you want but you can also play it in a completely different way. You could go through the whole game without killing anyone – apart from the bosses. The game encourages you to play stealthy, there’s a whole host of sneaky routes to take and places to hide.
In some areas I thought it would be impossible to sneak past and it wasn’t until I’d killed everyone that I found a secret route, which would have allowed me to sneak past everyone. The game also rewards you for stealth, you’ll receive more experience if you finish a level without being seen. You’ll also get more experience if you crawl up behind someone and knock them out rather than shoot them in the head from a distance.
Fans of Metal Gear with feel right at home with the stealth mechanic, whilst you can’t go prone or hide in a box, there’s still a lot of similarity. For example, make too much noise and a guard will come and investigate, if you’re spotted then a whole team of guards will close on your position and won’t leave until you manage to hide or kill them all. If you do get stuck in a gunfight then make sure you keep your head down as it doesn’t take long to die and if you decide to shoot your way through every level then you will die, a lot.
The missions themselves are quite varied. The main missions are marked by a big gold cross, side quests are marked with a blue X. You get side quests from talking to people around the city, some will approach you, others will need to be approached. You can always reject to do these if your focussing on something else. The side quests can vary from investigating a murder to finding information on people. Again, you can approach these in any way you see fit as long as you get it done, the only way to fail is too die. Fortunately, the game auto-saves a lot and you also have the option to save anywhere you want so dying isn’t too much of a big issue, more of a inconvenience.
One mechanic you’ll be using a lot throughout the game is hacking. Hacking allows you to open doors, unlock computers, turn off security systems and so on. I personally found the hacking a bit too complicated but the main aim is to ‘capture’ the sphere shaped node before you’re tracked. The objects you hack have different levels to them, in order to hack them you have to have your augmentations at the same level. For example, if you’re trying to hack a level 3 computer then your hacking augmentation also has to be at level 3 or higher.
All of your augmentations can be upgraded using items called Praxis Points, these can be gained from completing missions or by purchasing them from Limb Clinics. Some augmentations need two Praxis Points to upgrade or unlock but the majority only need one. Upgrades include being able to lift heavier objects, move silently, see through walls and many, many more. You’ll need plenty of experience points to get enough Praxis Points to upgrade everything.
Experience points can be gained through pretty much everything you do. Find a secret path, get some experience. Read a e-book, get some experience. So it really encourages you to explore everything and check every nook and cranny. As I said before, you’ll also get more experience if you sneak through the levels rather than shoot your way through.
You’ll also gain experience for completing secondary objectives which can range from finding an object to rescuing a hostage. You won’t fail for not completing these objectives but they’ll give a nice experience boost. Some secondary objectives will involve you talking to people and giving the correct responses to convince them to do your bidding, whether that is letting you into a room or releasing a hostage.
Deus Ex has a chat system built in where you can decide what Jensen says in conversations, you can be rude, polite or aggressive, for most of the time it doesn’t really matter which option you choose but some objectives rely on you picking the correct one. This is also the same mechanic that will allow you to accept or reject missions, get more information and so on.
Deux Ex is a game that you can play however you want to, there’s no linear paths or bottle necks, there’s endless ways to complete missions and it’s this that makes Deus Ex such a fantastic game. It looks great, sure, the facial animations aren’t that great but it’s something that can be easily overlooked in the grand scheme of things. It’s very rare to have a game where you have so much freedom, it’s a breath of fresh air in a sea of linear titles where every player follows exactly the same path.
If you’re sitting on the fence about buying this then go buy it now, you won’t be disappointed. It’s surely to be one of the best games of 2011.