26th August 2011 - Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel/ reboot of the popular PC game from 1999. Also, it is the premiere project of the studio, Eidos Montreal, and has the publishing stamp of Square Enix on it. Combine all of these elements, plus the fact that the series has had very unflattering feedback whenever it migrated from a PC to a Console, and this new installment into the Cyberpunk Conspiracy Thriller RPG has every excuse to be met with both disappointment from the hardcore fans, along with total apathy to those who have never heard of it before. Well, to ironically be straight-forward on a game that has more twists and turns than a two hour montage of various 3rd Act twists, I'm here to say that Deus Ex delivers on every level.
The year is 2027, and a “Cyber Renaissance” has commenced. Advanced prosthetics, neural implants, all of this technology is not only viable, but has turned into an arms race between various companies. Worldwide, this causes as diverse a reaction as you can imagine. Military application, people rebelling saying it's against nature, etc. All of it comes down to one simple, but complex, question: “what does it mean to be human if you can replace what makes one human with machine?” But that is the set up and context of the game, let's move on to the plot.
You play as Adam Jensen, a newly appointed Head of Security at one of the biggest companies specializing in human Augmentation, Sarif Industries. He is charged with overseeing a major presentation when an armed soldiers break into the place, kill everyone and everything, and leave him as a broken pile of bones and meat. In a quick bout of surgery, followed by six months of recovery, Adam is alive, but half of his body is now machine. Determined to discover the truth behind the attack that almost killed him, Adam will travel around the world and face great challenges in order to bring justice. If that sounds a bit generic, that is because it is literally all I can tell you without spoiling anything, and I'm not saying that because they are watching me right now....
Gameplay is a great mix of action RPG, aptly so because the first Deus Ex practically wrote the book on it back in the day. As you progress through the game you are able to get various enhancements and augmentations that can lead to a wide variety of playstyles, turning one playthrough of the game into a first person tactical shooter, and another into a mostly third-person stealth platformer. You can equip Adam with diamond hard skin, stablize his aim with a weapon, shoot first, then ask questions later. Or you can equip Adam with advanced hacking abilities and sabotage enemy defenses. Or you can give him a cloaking device and a silenced pistol. The variety is great because it manages to hit the sweet spot between diverse and simple, but deep and resourceful. To compliment this diversity, the level design is brilliant. No matter how you build Adam's skills, there will always be a solution or a way to complete your objectives. I tested this integrity when I gave my version of Adam the most indirect fighter I could. No direct Augmentation to help him shoot better, and no armor so he could only take maybe four shots before dying. I managed to complete the game without feeling like I was missing out on the action of the gunfights, because there was excitement in sneaking around and not being seen, knowing that a single slip up would mean death..
That is essentially the core of what makes Human Revolution work. The level design is solid, the storytelling methods of using the environment and conservative use of cutscenes is all great and consistent, but on top of that, everything you do feels fun and engaging; whether it's convincing a terrorist to stand down using a Social Interaction Enhancement you just got, or hacking a computer so you can get the killswitch for a giant robot.
On the subject of the Role-Playing of Human Revolution, it is still completely solid. There is no binary morality system like in Fable or Mass Effect or KotOR, rather it has a diversity of options for how you envision the character. The dialogue options feel a lot more like Heavy Rain or Dragon Age in this respect. This also extends to the methods you use in the main game. Whether or not you kill people or simply knock them out using riot gas, stun guns or tranquilizer darts. In short, where most RPGs can feel a bit too cerebral and mathematically oriented, Deus Ex does a greater mix on personal performance and preference, which makes it all the better.
If there is a bit of a glare in the gameplay it has to be in the Boss fights. I said that despite how you create your character you can still beat the game and find a solution to every challenge, and I will stick by that statement. However, boss fights against super soldiers are forced on you and generally encourage direct confrontation. It's annoying but thankfully these moments are very rare and still allow for other creative methods of dealing with it. Also, it must be said that the controls will take some adjustment. Even now I still mess up the buttons for taking cover and iron-sight aiming. But once they work, they work consistently.
In terms of graphical fidelity, Deus Ex is impressive but not exactly in the same ballpark as CryTek or Naughty Dog if you catch my drift. The models are spot on, the textures are gorgeous, and the framerate is absolutely consistent. In terms of aesthetic and atmosphere, Deus Ex has it in spades. It manages to both make a cyberpunk future setting not only plausible, but maintain its human center. It doesn't make you forget that under all of the plastic and wires, there is still a human soul inside, which makes for some truly profound moments
The score of Deus Ex, presented by Michael McCann, further reinforces the earlier mentioned aesthetics with a powerful use of synthesized orchestral swells and haunting vocals. The guns feel and sound proper in terms of weight and kickback, and Elias Toufexis' performance as Adam Jensen is spot on.
Deus Ex Human Revolution is definitely going to be getting a mention at the end of the year, and it deserves every bit of praise that it will inevitably get. The single-player campaign is at least ten to fifteen hours, give or take a few more hours depending on how exploration or Sidequest happy you are. Fans of Deus Ex will find a lot to like in Human Revolution, and new players will find a lot to love. If you are a major fan of deep, thought-provoking yet intense games, Human Revolution is for you.
Grab your trenchcoat and your sunglasses, there is a conspiracy out there and you have to stop it. This game is pure Game of the Year material, and you can take that to the bank. If you had any interest in this game, go out and get it now, and call in your sick days while you're at it.
AAG SCORE: 9/10
+ Great storytelling
+ Engaging gameplay
+ Beautiful atmosphere and aesthetic
+ Compelling musical score
+ Complex yet simple role-playing choices
- Archaic Boss Fights
- Questionable Control Scheme
Reviewed and Written By Tyler Chancey