Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Square-Enix; Developer: Eidos Montreal; Players: 1; Released: August 23, 2011; ESRB: Mature; Official Site
Eleven years after the original game came out, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is ironically set 11 years before the original. With a different publisher, Square-Enix, that undoubtedly has more Japanese roots and is more reknown for their static, yet emotion driven stories, it was definitely an awkward combination with Deus Ex’s open-ended world that constantly changed with the player’s actions. Thankfully, the Japanese publisher’s signature gameplay and storytelling hasn’t interfered with the western philosophy of design and left gamers with everything they could expect of a sequel.
Everything in the surrounding does a great job of immersing the player into the futuristic world of Detroit, which seems to be the hotbed for the issue of human augmentation. Everyone is a part of the discussion somehow. Items such as eBooks and emails constantly give updates regarding previous missions and the war on augmentation. Overall, protagonist Adam Jensen’s missions feel more relevant unlike in other open-world games where pedestrians walk around blissfully unaware of the world-changing missions the protagonist embarks upon. Many of the NPCs working at Serif industries even comment on the player’s performance, making snide remarks about the Adam’s increasing body count or complimenting him on a job done well.
During persuasion segments, the game uses realistic facial cues to convey a character’s emotions and allow players to make the proper decision based on that. Everything from body gestures to slight eye movements are enough to inform players of the right tactic to take. Like L.A. Noire before it, Human Revolution’s renditions of human emotions are almost downright creepy, yet a sight to behold, and only further immerse players into the 2027 version of Detroit. Outside of these persuasion segments and pre-rendered cutscenes, though, it seems as though every character suffers from OCD, constantly twitching their hands and turning their hands in every other direction.
Most impressively, Human Revolution offers a myriad of ways to play through the game. In baddie-riddled levels, players’ options are pretty much split between a stealth strategy and scattering the floor with bodies. Despite this possible oversimplification, Adam’s slew of possible augmentations gives way to a variety of play styles. The best part about these is that there are no real tech trees or prerequisites to speak of; players are free to start building up Adam in any way they see fit. Unlike other RPGs that provide simple stat upgrades and encourage balanced skill building, Human Revolution’s augmentations all perform vastly different functions. None of them really conflict with each other, but it will take players both creativity and strategy to find the right combinations of augmentations to fit the bill, whether it be some battery upgrades along with cloaking for effective sneaking or some augmentations for better armor and aim.
Despite the game allowing players to shoot down every enemy, impatient players will learn that such a strategy leads to a quick downfall. Without any augmentations, Adam can only last a couple of seconds in bullet fire or die from one well placed grenade; the constant threat of a swift death makes for some of the most adrenaline-pumping gun fights and sneaking that players will ever experience. At times though, the game’s AI can be a bit lacking. Some segments find the AI swarming over players, giving them less and less breathing room until cornered; at other times, they may be content firing aimlessly in Adam’s direction despite him not having popped up for a good minute. To boot, the game’s ridiculously long load times will quickly detract most from attempting difficult boss fights more than a couple of times. Also, these very same boss battles don’t seem too well thought out. After losing to Barret countless times, I found that he bombed himself to death from grenades after I had only shot him five times, which was a bittersweet victory considering how hard I had tried before.
Human Revolution does many things right. Its world that reacts to the player’s decisions in subtle manners, persuasion scenes that show emotions uncannily resembling those of live human beings, and augmentations that allow almost any strategy to work are featured in few games, much less all together at the same time. However, the shortcomings that the game does have hold it back from being perfect. Nonetheless, these aspects do little to take away from an otherwise masterpiece of a game and gamers looking for the most complete, immersive experience should not let this one pass them by.