We’re fans of the Deus Ex franchise and Eidos Montreal’s latest development caught our eye from day one. How would it fufill the expectations and substantial hysteria that has embraced gamers, and just how would it appease the fans of the past?
Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s opening starts as players are marched through the Sariff HQ. Thanks to a number of cut-scenes, you can expect to feel a little frustrated, or even claustrophobic, as movement is locked to within the orbit of Adam Jensen’s body. You vision though is expanded somewhat, as you study and soak up the stunning aesthetics that simply ooze from the walls surrounding you. After the obligatory introductions, greetings and splices of information from colleagues and workers alike, Jensen finds himself at the heart of an attack on the building. Before he knows it, he faces certain death, but is ultimately saved by the controversial technological augmentation to the human body. The advancements in the field and the change to the human body have fuelled the attack on Sariff HQ, but soon Adam Jensen discovers that motives run a lot deeper than originally thought.
Human Revolution, from the start, ploughs right through a host of controversial themes. It aims to not only get the player thinking, but to immerse them deeper than any other game that has come before. Morality, corruption, human augmentation and tinkering with genetics are all heavy hitters on a moral compass, yet, Human Revolution delivers them impeccably as they are woven into a mosaic of belief, struggle, lies and false intentions. Paced by the excellent narrative, all of the above are enforced via NPC chatter, PDA devices and computers. Noticeably though, some of the voice acting isn’t great which diluates portions of the script, but in general, all characters provide a stong performance and you generally feel connected to them and concerned with the world.
While the controls can feel slightly laboured sometimes, the gameplay mechanics in general are strong. General movements can be extended into a covering system which led to an overwhelming approach of stealth on our behalf. That said, if you wish, you can blast your way to success. Through a variety of weapons at your disposal; players can really become the characters, or Hitman, they want to be. Players can also augment Adam himself with various perks and upgrades that can grant new ablilites, while also optionally extending others. All augmentations are powered by “Praxis points” which can be accumulated via XP earned or by finding secret stashes – which may contain single praxis points. In a world of transhumanism where the body can be upgraded to various forms, and those that embrace technology excel, where do you draw the line?
Upgrading is key to survival in Human Revolution. Some upgrades can grant a stealth based skin, making you temporarily invisible, while others can increase the items you can carry and strength in general. Adam can be augmented in various ways through the use of these Praxis Points, but crucially, the upgrading system simply amplifies the type of player that’s playing the game. Players that enjoy a stealth approach can augment their cloaking device numerous times over which extends the length in which you can use it, but they can also augement their bionic legs, for example, which enable quieter movements around the world. Augmentations work instantly and, in some cases, can change the outcome of a mission entirely – so thinking ahead is key to survival. Adding a slightly strategic element to the augmentations, Adam is restricted to an energy gauge of sorts; if the gauge is empty, the augmentations won’t work. This requires players to consume food like energy bars to keep on top of things.
Exploration was always a strong aspect of the franchise and Human Revolution is no exception. While the game, through design is a little linear, the world itself feels open, breathing and real; players really feel that they are part of something big – much bigger than themselves. There are countless NPCs scattered across the various locations to engage with (some say more than others), terminals to hack, sewers to explore, side-missions to attempt. as well as secret upgrades, weapons and Praxis points to be found. All of these trinkets and nuggets of information add to a bustling world as well as extending your playthrough. Worthy of a mention is the inclusion of an interesting mission tag feature which allows players to essentially “activate” and “deactivate” mission markers from their HUD. By including this simple design, Eidos has allowed gamers to focus on one mission at a time instead of facing a screen polluted with icons; which helps to add to the intensity of a job and the concentration on a single objective. Exploration is a key element to each and every mission, with each objective including several ways to engage it, manipulate it and ultimately reach the goal, but players are encouraged to find their own way and ultimately, to resolve issues through their own means.
Gunplay is always an important factor and again, things are solid here. Guns appear weighty through outstanding designs by the team at Eidos Montreal. Weapons like the general pistol and rifle are reliable, while heavy hitters like the sniper rifle and the heavy machine gun hiss power, feel aggresive and require a steady aim. Customisations for weapons come in the form of ammo capacity upgrades, silencers and much more. While these upgrades can be found scattered around the world; they are paced in such a manor to encourage thought and considering for specifically which weapon you wish to upgrade. Some weapons can take several upgrades of a certain kind, while others require restrictive upgrades to customise them accordingly.
While the game grants players freedom to approach missions the way they see fit, boss battles are not only a frustrating ordeal, but a linear one. Spending your time lurking in the shadows and creeping to your goal can become obsolete once you meet one of the several high ranking enemies which require a bombardment of attacks; so collecting weapon add-ons and upgrades throughout the game will make the process easier. There’s also some noticeably long loading times which, while venturing between areas, becomes a real pain.
Hacking, and the culture of hacking, is an element of Deus Ex that’s not hidden, dumbed down or even disguised. Hacking terminals takes the form of a mini-game that requires you to capture nodes. You can fortify points which slows down attempts to trace you while deploying a virus will slow the computer down to a crawl; this addictive and robust mini-game could exist as a single entity outside the game itself. In fact, we found it so enjoyable that even with usernames and passwords at hand – we hacked instead.
Through its use of audio, Deus Ex: Human Revolution should be commended. It has the power to soothe you and allow your mind to venture deep into the world, but in the same breath, reduce you to a nervous wreck. The stunning soundtrack, thanks to Michael McCann, results in gamers being treated to a heart-pumping ride which proves to be one of the most recognisable compositions in contemporary gaming. Coupling the music with the exceptional audio design means we, arguably, felt more immersed in Human Revolution than any Deus Ex to date.
While Human Revolution might contain some school boy errors, it excells in almost every fashion.Very few games have moved us like this has, very few games have made us feels so immersed, and very few games are saturated with the kind of high-quality aesthetics some games merely dream of. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a stunning return to form and one of the most encapsulating titles of the last decade.
TGL Score 9/10
Format: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Release Date: Out Now