Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

I was expecting good things when I booted up this game. Less because of Square/Enix, whose track record of late has been abysmal, and more because of the history of Deus Ex, a year 2000 PC release that garnered numerous awards. Having played the predecessor both on the PC and later the PS2, my anticipation level for Human Revolution was high.

Deus Ex was a game-changing RPG, where numerous gameplay mechanics were incorporated to excellent effect. Role playing, FPS and the ability to progress through various scenarios in a number of different ways was refreshing and new. The story, a stupefying brew of adult themes, politics and conspiracy was a sharp contrast to other products at the time. Games like Deus Ex and its spiritual predecessor System Shock would set the bar for games like Half Life and Bioshock.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution offers rich interactive environments and rewards stealth tactics.

I was willing to ignore my misgivings of Squenix products just to get back into Deus Ex’s world again. The trailers weren’t hurting either. The cut scenes showed a future Earth that looked like a cross between Blade Runner and Coruscant, with a little Final Fantasy VII thrown in for flavor. Hoping for a great console experience, I allowed my PS3 to caressingly remove the BluRay from my hand and introduce me to Adam Jensen.

The attention to detail in the very first scene alleviated any doubts. DE: Human Revolution starts in the office of Adam’s ex-girlfriend, Dr. Megan Reed. As the scripted conversation began, I perused the room with a practiced eye, looking for items to interact with. While they were not in short supply, I was more enamored of the care that had gone into rendering Dr. Reed’s work quarters. Medical books, magazines, personal items and photos, E-readers, E-newspapers, computer work stations and more immediately brought me up to speed on the tech of the day, as well as my relationship with Dr. Reed. The experience continued as I followed Dr. Reed through the laboratory and testing areas of Sarif Industries, where Adam is employed as a Security Specialist. It is during this brief jaunt that the player becomes acquainted with the level of cybernetics and robotics science has been able to attain by the year 2027. Interesting and informative scenarios occur on all sides as you proceed through the pristine corridors, lending an aura of realism to the proceedings.

It is within this immersive experience that Human Revolution really shines. The game world is littered with little touches of everyday futuristic life, providing an anchor to the gritty dystopian landscape. Apartments feature working appliances. NPC’s go about their own lives, conversing with each other, and responding to your actions. Televisions blare unsettling newscasts of a world tipping precariously close to anarchy. Airships whiz about overhead. Computers are replete with spam and inter office rumor mongering. The world feels lived in, and you are living in it.

All of the care put into the visual elements would be worthless, however, if they weren’t serving an equally engrossing story. DE: Human Revolution boasts an intelligently scripted and evenhanded commentary on class distinctions, prejudice, corporate intrigue, the intricate dynamics of scientific advancement and a healthy dose of conspiracy theorism. I appreciated the attempts to show multiple sides to the more complex issues raised by the narrative in a credible and realistic (given the setting) manner. This added to the gravitas of an already compelling chronicle, enhancing the emotional heft of future occurrences. I felt that there was actually something at stake here; something worth uncovering.

This is still a game, though, and games were meant to be played. Human Revolution is more than serviceable in this regard as well. That is both a compliment and a bit of a knock. As a shooter; the game is average. As an RPG; well, let’s just say it’s not Skyrim. Much has been made of the ability to choose different pathways and methods to get through an area, as well as the ability to converse with NPC’s in such a way as to affect outcomes in the game. Those mechanics do, indeed, exist here. I just never felt that they were of much consequence. For instance: if I screw up while interrogating a guy, I’d like it to have a significant impact, perhaps to the point of ending any chance of following a particular path. To my knowledge, this never occurred. Sure, there were times when I was able to glean more information from someone, which led to a cache of weapons or credits or a password of some sort. However, those items were all accessible through other methods as well.

Hacking computers, safes and security panels, searching disabled combatants and prodigious use of augmentations made certain I missed nothing of consequence, and precious little of anything else. And while DE: Human Revolution appears to want to be played in any fashion, it really only rewards stealth tactics. Most in-game combat related experience points and Playstation trophies are stealth-related. In fact, one trophy is named “Foxiest of the Hounds,” an homage to the grandaddy of stealth games; Metal Gear. For the best experience, I would recommend that the game be played in this manner.

However, there is fun to be had for anyone looking to run and gun, as I am currently on my second run-through and flat-out popping grapes left and right. There are some pretty brutal death animations and some fun scenarios where you can hack security systems to decimate guards while you go about your business. It’s not Killzone 3, but it’s competent, as I said before.

In the end, Deus Ex: Human Revolution succeeds as a sum total of its parts. It combines an intelligent, adult storyline with decent voice acting, a fully realized game world offering numerous methods with which to conquer it and a realistic look at the future of human/robotic hybridization. It rewards patience and thoughtfulness, while not punishing those who wish to play Terminator. It’s one of the few recent games that I am actually looking forward to playing through again, utilizing a different method of attack. I recommend it to anyone on the fence.

Score: 8/10