Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review (PC)
Posted by Jim Cook, Aug 22, 2011 12:04
Non-Spoiler Review: One of Human Revolution’s best features is its plot, and this review will avoid spoilers for it but must discuss some basic points. To give readers a precise expectation of what to expect, overall story themes and tones will be discussed but specific events will not. When events are cited, they will be very mundane and obvious for a game set in a relatively modern society, or extremely early in the game, hypothetical, or kept as vague as possible. Nothing beyond the first hour or so (in a game that can easily last around thirty hours) will be significantly spoiled.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution has huge expectations to live up to. There are people who play the original to this day, still fascinated by its plot and the amount of freedom the player is given (both in terms of normal play, and speed-runs or sequence-breaking). It is rightly hailed as a classic, and any game bearing its name will have to impress a very tough audience. Thankfully, this installment in the series does well by taking the basic formula of the original and providing a new story with current and high production values. If you were hoping for the same core game mechanics alongside a strong prequel plot, great graphics, and notably improved voice acting, then you’re in luck; that’s exactly what Human Revolution offers.
Set about twenty-five years before the original Deus Ex, Human Revolution shows us a society that has just recently gained widespread use of cybernetic enhancements, or ’augmentations’ to the human body. Players take on the role of Adam Jensen, a former SWAT officer who is now the security head for Sarif Industries as they lead the charge in researching increasingly complex augmentations. Certain parties would rather see Sarif fail however, and after a deadly assault on their corporate headquarters you are left to pick up the pieces. The player will guide Adam in finding out who did this and what their motives were, though there is far more going on than investigating this single incident. By the time you’re done, you will have likely followed several other plot threads, some of which are on-topic while others serve as fascinating social commentary, all of it adding up to a very long yet satisfying story.
Human Revolution is mostly played as a first-person shooter. While investigating the assault and other incidents, Adam will often have to either sneak around enemies or find some other way to deal with them. Shooting them is an obvious solution, and Adam carries just enough firepower to get away with this so long as he’s smart about it; there will be no wild shooting sprees or ’Rambo’ tactics, and shoot-outs instead call for good trigger discipline, ammo management, and dividing your enemies into smaller groups that you can take on without being overwhelmed since you will otherwise die from ’just’ a few bullets. This was true in the original as well, though Human Revolution updates the formula somewhat by adding a modern cover system and other similar ideas that weren’t very common back in 2001 but are expected in today’s games.
If I don’t sound particularly enthused by the shooting mechanics, that’s because they’re not what Deus Ex is really about in the first place. The series has always been more about giving the player great freedom in how they solve any given situation, and Human Revolution stays true to that ideal. Sure, you can shoot your way through most of the game and there will be a few spots where it is basically mandatory, but the real fun lies in finding more creative solutions. You might be tasked with infiltrating a complex and find yourself stuck at a security gate requiring a code (which you may or may not have), then haul a few dumpsters over to make your own ’ladder’ over the fence or get onto the roof via neighboring buildings and enter that way. Or perhaps you will need to defuse a bomb that combines chemicals. Knowing its disarming code or hacking its electronics are the expected ways of solving it, but Human Revolution will gladly accept a single, carefully placed shot to one of the chemical reservoirs as a means to drain it and render the bomb useless.
Adam’s various augmentations expand upon this idea, giving you new options. You only get a finite amount of augmentation upgrades, so you have to pick between several categories. Some simply improve his combat performance (accuracy, damage resistance, etc.) or senses, while others can briefly turn him invisible, let him punch through weak walls, move heavy objects, jump higher, and so on. Some of these effects are rather subtle, like making Adam better at hacking electronics so as to find important emails sent by the people you’re investigating, controlling automated security systems so they think of you as an ally, and so on. On the other hand, others let you have fun by skipping otherwise difficult terrain or just feeling awesome; there is a certain dark joy to be had in assassinating someone by using your augmented arm to pick up a nearby refrigerator, use it to block their gun shots, then throw it at them with crushing force.
Rating: 5.0, votes: 3