Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Review)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal / Square-Enix)           Xbox360 / Playstation 3 / PC

Single Player, Action/Stealth/Shooter.

If there was ever a game Hollywood have a chance of making into an exceptional movie, it would be Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Deus Ex is a fusion of genres that works and works extremely well, it flawlessly combines aspects of first person shooters like “Battlefield 3” and third person action akin to “Gears of War” with a pinch of stealth action like “Metal Gear Solid” thrown in for good measure. The setting is incredibly realistic given the premise as it draws unmistakable inspiration from the classic Ridley Scott movie: Blade Runner (The developers acknowledge this with several nods to Scott’s work throughout the story). You can probably tell what the gist of the plot is from the cinematic trailer I have provided above but still I should give the game an introduction.

Deus Ex is set in the year 2027 in a future that does not seem far from reality. In this future technology has advanced to such a level that the human body has literally become the new exhibition, it is no longer cars or clean energy, it is probing how far the human body can be pushed towards perfection through implants and ‘augmentations’. It is an extremely controversial science that has seen resistance from reactionary groups around the world; political and militant. This prosthetic technology has now not only become affordable to all but is widely employed by military forces around the world as it has become a means of creating more lethal weapons out of soldiers themselves. Multinational companies have capitalized on the booming bio-tech industry and have grown to such an extent that they actually hold more sway over global politics than governments do. The game follows the story of Adam Jensen, an in-house security officer for one such company called “Sarif Industries”. On the eve of a ground-breaking discovery that the company was about to go public with cybernetic-enhanced mercenaries attack Sarif’s Detroit-based headquarters, killing almost everyone inside the building. Jensen does his best to fight back but is easily overpowered by the augmented attackers. Mortally wounded and on the verge of death Jensen is forced to undergo life-saving surgeries that replace large areas of his body with advanced prosthetic technology. Adam returns to Sarif and becomes involved in a global conspiracy in the search for those responsible for the attack. The events that unfold take him all over the world to locations such as Detriot, Montreal, Shanghai and others. The plot follows the themes of the rise of corporations in globalization, corporate espionage, terrorism, and the ethical impact of science.

Adam Jensen is a likeable protagonist (It’s really down to the player to decide though…), pictured recouperating after his life-saving surgery.

I’ll say this right off the bat; this game provides an absolutely staggering amount of free choice. Not only does the player control how the story ultimately pans out via events that require the player to make some pretty big decisions, but there are so many different ways to play the game entirely. On one play through the player could make Adam a good guy who goes out of his way to help others, incapacitates his targets rather than outright killing them, and one who makes the ‘morally correct’ choices (It all depends on what YOUR OWN morals are). On another play through one could make Adam a ruthless cybernetic killing machine that would put the T-1000 to shame, plays a life game of ‘tough love’, and who only looks out for #1. The plot in the game allows for such drastic choices to be made while still feeling like this is how the story might well evolve, much credit needs to be given to the writers of this game. I would heartily suggest players to play through the story more than once and try things differently to see how different things go.

At times Adam will be forced to make some extremely big choices; Here he is faced with a hostage situation. Does he kill the terrorist under ‘company orders’, ignoring the risks or does he attempt to get the terrorist to release his hostage?

I cannot emphasize enough that your choices in the plot affect the events that follow. In the case to the right; killing the terrorist leader might seem like the best idea but you will risk killing the hostage as well. It is not the only option, negotiating with him and letting him go in exchange for the hostage will actually reward the player later in the story. There is more than just plot-centric choices to make, thanks to his surgery Adam has access to some extremely impressive technology called “Augmentations” that need to be activated using ‘Praxis Points’ acquired through experience points. Experience points are earned in Deus Ex for actions taken, enemies incapacitated, enemies killed, and choices made. These augmentations greatly affect the style that Adam will use throughout the game. Will you opt for a full-on ‘Terminator’ load out that focuses on armor/weapon damage/recoil reduction/energy storage? Or will you go on a different path of  ‘Stealth’-based game play that focuses on optic camo/noise reduction/multi-takedown ability/movement speed? There are many many other branches to choose from but suffice to say, the amount of personalization on offer here is amazing.

You will not be able to upgrade everything in a single play through so focus on one style, then try another style on another go around.

This brings me to what I consider a slight problem with this development system, while you are never punished for making certain augmentation choices you certainly die a lot easier on the higher difficulty levels. This seems to make a stealth-development option more or less mandatory on harder modes as you are frequently outgunned at every turn unless you manage to get the drop on your enemies. There is something inherently awesome about engaging a cloaking device and sound suppressor, seeing a patrolling guard through a wall, punching through the wall and snapping his neck – you always feel like a badass no matter what augmentations you choose. On an easier difficulty setting you could probably run-and-gun the entire way and get away with it but it feels a lot less engaging, again it really is down to personal preference. On that same note it feels really satisfying to find ways around problems in-game, but it’s even better when the game actually rewards you for it. There is always another way around a problem – if you think something might be an alternative, it will probably work. Say you come to a what appears to be a bottleneck and enemies have the higher ground – You could have augmented your ability to lift heavy objects earlier.  This means you could move nearby crate to reveal a ventilation shaft you use to flank your enemies rather than taking them head on, it just feels great to beat the system at it’s own game.

Stealth is more or less essential on the harder difficulty settings. But it is still rewarding on any mode regardless. Here, Jensen takes cover while observing patrol routes of his targets.

The futuristic but still realistic looks of cities in the year 2027 are phenomenal, you can really see decades of progress producing this sort of society, remnants of the oil and motor industries lay scattered around, old factories are turned into sprawling office blocks to facilitate the new sciences. From Detroit to Shanghai the attention to detail just looks astonishing. These cities serve as “City HUBS” that offer the player numerous side-missions to compliment the main story, from taking down corrupt cops in Detroit, to uncovering corruption at the highest level in Montreal, to chasing down augmented criminals in Shanghai (real tribute to Blade Runner there). There are an astonishing number of nods in this story to Sci-Fi films such as RoboCop and Blade Runner amongst others (Detectives working for the Detroit PD called Deckard and Alex Murphy?). Shanghai’s city hub is just one massive love letter to anyone who liked Blade Runner, you’ll know exactly what I mean when you get there.

Jensen prepares to take aim with a futuristic sniper rifle whilst taking note of the robotic sentry accompanying the patrol. You need to think hard about opening fire at times, or you’ll meet a swift end. Just because you’re augmented does not mean you’re invincible.

Overall, this is an solid game that I had very few problems with. I did feel like the enemies were a tad bit too strong but when I think about it, even if you were augmented like Jensen you’d still stand little chance against 5-6 people armed with heavy weapons. A good number of deaths I had I felt like I should have done things differently and when I succeeded upon trying a different approach it felt great. The plot is phenomenal and provides multiple endings depending on what the player does, the graphics for the most part are great, the acting is great and helps the player feel as caught up in the conspiracy as much as Jensen is, and the fusion of genres into one and the success it results in is worthy of praise. The augmentation development system makes multiple playthroughs tempting and honestly worth your time. The lack of a multiplayer mode does hurt the package a bit but it’s not really needed here, as the mechanics involved in the game work better in their stand-alone titles (If you wanted FPS action, go to Battlefield 3), you’re here for the thought provoking story and for the creative game play experience.

I really wish that a competent film director like Christopher Nolan or Ridley Scott takes a look at this and says “You know what? These guys have really done their homework and we could probably make this work on the silver screen, who’s interested?”. It is a long shot I know but this game really deserves all the praise it gets. I suggest you at least rent this to see how it is, if you see it on special offer then just buy it instead. It is worthy of the £40.00 price tag that goes on most games these days but you need to know what you’re signing on for, which I hope I have conveyed here.

My rating: 9/10


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