Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review


Having a plethora of interesting choices both in and out of combat is what separates RPGs from other genres, and Human Revolution has choices in spades. Minor quibbles aside, Eidos Montréal's efforts have managed to bring the Deus Ex franchise into the modern era, and without sacrificing all the things fans loved about the original games.

Deus Ex Human Revolution was released this weekend and after four years of waiting I got some serious playing time in as well. So what’s it like? Is it worth the wait and more importantly the money?

Well if you want the short answer “Yes, it is. On both counts.” If you want the long answer well you’re just gonna have to read the review.

The Good, the Bad and the Raspy

Deus Ex Human Revolution starts 25 years before the first Deus Ex game. Detroit City is a cyberpunk landscape filled with big TV’s, prostitution and corrupt police. Not to mention Augmentations which are cybernetic modifications with a lot of contention. For every person for them there’s another person vehemently against them, who view Augments as unnatural and an affront to god.

The game starts with you Adam Jenson, the Head of Security at a company called Sarif Industries. You’re only briefly escorted around the building before terrorists attack the company. This quickly sees you clearing the corridors of some very naughty people via the traditional shoot them till they’re dead method. It’s at this part that you learn the basic controls. At the end of this brief tutorial you’re thrown through a very thick plate-glass window by an Augmented nutter, thus ending your life.

Well OK, not quite ending your life. Due to the benefits of augmentation and what must be a generous Health Insurance policy from Sarif Industries, you are patched up ‘Million Dollar Man’ style, and off you pop to unravel how Sarif was broken into and why. This acts as the second part of the tutorial, giving you further instructions on using your augmentations and the more stealthy less-upfront play method.

Ah prostitution, key to any cyberpunk cityscape.

Right, that’s the plot-line out of the way. On to the game-play itself.

Visually, the game is a first-person shooter, although in actuality there’s probably two distinct methods of playing the game. There’s the ‘run around and blow every mother away’ approach, and there’s the more stealthy, silent way. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the former as quite frankly it plays out like many other FPS games. I’ve been playing the latter method myself.

The stealthy method is probably a little trickier. Levels are completed by sneaking around through vents and generally staying hidden and not raising alarms. This is achieved by crouching and by holding right mouse button. You’ll hug nearby scenery, and from there you can crawl along them and even roll to the next piece of cover.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to take out patrols, just by pressing or holding Q when unseen. Pressing Q knocks them out, holding Q will kill them. Knocking them out is probably the best option as it’s silent. Killing enemies by Q is not and often alerts attention. It’s also important to hide the bodies once they’re out cold. I’ve reloaded my game too many times to count because I was seen, or a body was spotted. (I didn’t have to but I was going for a particular mission objective of not being seen by anyone.)

Another important aspect of the game, no matter what your play-style, is hacking. Littered throughout the game are various consoles, some of which are desktop computers which hold important emails (as well as a fair bit of corporate and personal spam). Other consoles control cameras, turrets or robots. You are given some limited hacking ability with your initial augs, but this will only allow you to hack the lowest level consoles. Often passwords are littered around for some of the consoles, but not all of them, so my advice is to grab some Hacking augs — especially if you are doing the silent stealthy way.

Hacking’s a lot easier than it looks, at least in theory

When you hack a system you are presented with a screen showing a selection of different nodes. To successfully hack a system, you will need to take control of the main system nodes. The nodes are attached together like a spider diagram, and when you take over a node more nodes are accessible. If at any time you’re detected they system rushes to deactivate your node in the same way. Sounds easy, but at higher levels you are dealing with some pretty high detection percentages.

Now on to the Augmentations themselves, the lynchpin of character improvement. The augmentations (augs) are ways that Adam increases in skill or effectiveness. There are leg augs which allow you to run quicker, arm augs that help you to pick up heavier objects or punch through walls, cranial augs that can help you increase your hacking ability, by either providing you access to higher security hacking, or by decreasing hacking detection. There’s more, but I’m not going through the whole list.

There is one aug though that requires a bit of explanation, and that’s the Social Enhancement aug. This augmentation will come into play through various conversations in the game. As you converse one of three indicators will flash: Alpha, Beta or Omega. These indicate the character type you are dealing with. As the conversation draws to a close you will be allowed to release a type of pheromone which you can use to persuade your conversant. In order to choose the right pheromone you need to count up the number of Alpha, Beta and Omega bars you’ve seen flash through the conversation and then choose the correct approach based on that. You can find our full guide on the Social Enhancer Aug here.

The graphics are nice, and not mentioning the detailed ‘Blader Runner’ styled cyberpunk cityscape would be darn near criminal, but the facial modelling is not exactly mould-breaking and often during conversations NPC’s will perform these weird jerky movements over and over ad-nauseam. The interface is crisp but the animated options menus are just that little bit late in responding. Of course, you never die from these things, as this is around saving/loading games, changing setting etc. It’s still annoying.

It’s certainly beautiful, in a yellow, foggy, health risky kinda way

The sound is also what you would expect with some fairly atmospheric electronic music, but Adam Jenson appears to have taken elocution lessons from Christian Bale’s Dark Knight. Well, probably the other way round I suppose, as they were making this first. Adam Jensen’s voice is raspy to the point of ridiculous.

So to wrap all that up in a tidy augmented package, Deus Ex Human Revolution is a good game. The game-play is expansive and as the game is littered with plot-line forks in which your character can travel. You can’t argue over the playability either. The graphics are in the most part nice to look at, and having multiple options of completing levels is faithful to the original games. However, for a game that’s been in development for four years, there are far too many little quirks. Loading screens can take what seems like an age to load; the animations are a bit flat and an actual instruction manual in the game box wouldn’t hurt. Also someone made the decision to remove lock-picks and multi-tools from this rendition, presumably to aid the console versions.

I’m certainly glad I bought it, but there’s a part of me that thinks they could have done that little bit better.

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Jim Franklin
Jim Franklin

Jim Franklin is a freelance writer, living in Derby UK with his wife and his player 3. When time allows he likes nothing more than losing himself in a multi-hour gaming session. He likes most games and will play anything but prefers MMO's, and sandbox RPG's.

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