Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is finally upon us. If you're a purist who will be looking at Deus Ex with a very skeptical eye, you'll find that the game has definitely lived up to its incredible amount of hype.
In a quite dystopian future, a Globodyne-like company named Serif Industries is hard at work trying to unlock the full human potential. It's this society, people replace their existing limbs or organs with enhanced robotic ones called augmentations. However, not everyone sees these "upgrades" in the same light as Serif does, and they stand firm by acting against the human evolution. You step into the role of Adam Jensen, head of security for Serif Industries that mildly looks like Neo from the Matrix--he even has the same manner of speech. On top of it all, Jensen's love interest, Megan Reed, was in the process of making a huge scientific breakthrough when the "purists" made an attack on the building, taking out your beloved and nearly killing you in the process. Jensen wakes up six months later to find himself armed with Augmented body parts that make him a force to be reckoned with, as he tries to figure out the real motives behind these attacks.
The big deal about Human Revolution is the fact that it touts itself to let you play how you want. Do you want to go the Metal Gear Solid route and sneak your way into facilities without alerting the guards, or go Call of Duty and unleash a hail of bullets? Unfortunately for fans of the latter, the game lends itself to be played using stealth, and the biggest reason is the AI. It seems to react (or not react if you don't get caught) more naturally to you when you try sneaking in, rather than when you're running and gunning your way in. Even something as trivial as a door will confuse them and will leave them just aiming at it, rather than opening it and trying to take you out. On the flipside, the stealth gameplay feels so fleshed out, that I don't understand why the game doesn't opt to use it when fighting bosses. Even MGS let you use a tranquilizer gun to deal with bosses, but here you're forced to rely on pure gunpower.
A cover system which is usually not prevalent in First Person Shooters is not only available in DX:HR, it's almost a requirement. A quick hold of the Left Trigger will make Jensen hug a near object or wall that you can move along. It's a necessary tool both in stealth and gunplay. When sneaking, it allows you to move unseen and generally as long as you have the trigger held down, you can rest assured enemies won't detect you. In gunplay it's an effective way to ensure Jensen's survival from a hail of bullets, but it also enables you to move from cover to cover quickly to get better vantage points.
Making choices on how to tackle your enemies isn't the only thing Deus Ex presents players with. Facilities usually have multiple ways of getting in, whether it's from a roof ventilation shaft or a side door. Locked rooms can either be hacked into or codes can be found to gain access without the alerting suspicion. Even side-quests can be tackled in various ways. Do you try to win back the favor of an old friend who holds you in disdain to gain access to the police station, or do you say f*ck it and climb your way in through the sewers enter through the police station's underground prison. It's these underlying choices that make Human Revolution a joy to play through, not only the first time, but again, if only to figure out yet another way you can accomplish the same goal.
During key plot segments where you have to engage in plot-changing conversations, the game handles much like Mass Effect. You're given the option to answer in varying degrees, whether you want to be more defensive or compassionate. In turn, you convince key characters to either help your cause or do the opposite. Picking the right answer is generally easy, as each decision comes with what Jensen is about to say, written out before you actually have to pick it. These segments provide a sense of urgency. For example, the very first crucial encounter has you convincing a terrorist to let go of a hostage he's holding, or he'll blow her brains out. The beauty is that the outcome isn't right or wrong and will have you continuing the story regardless. It's refreshing to see a game stray from decisions that are just black and white, and instead lets you delve into shades of grey when it comes to morality.
As you progress through the game, you get rewarded with XP for not only completing quests and taking out enemies, but being creative about it. Finding a vent shaft and using an alternate route to infiltrate the building will dish out some bonus XP, as well as taking out enemies in different ways. As you level, you get awarded Praxis Points, which are used to further enhance your augments; some of these are bad ass. For instance, some will let you see enemies through walls, gain temporary invisibility, or make you a top notch hacker. Weapons can also be further customized with increased ammo sizes or laser sights.
You'll find it hard not to get completely immersed into the world. Walking around a future Detroit--one of the game's city hubs--will no doubt stir up some memories of watching Robocop (it even has a reference to Alex Murphy). If there is one thing that I was mostly disappointed in, aesthetic wise, was the game's prevalent use of orange and yellow hues. Here we have a game that looks downright breathtaking at times, except the detail gets lost in a yellowy-orange overlay. In addition, all the main characters have stunning facial details, and it's almost night and day when compared to the rest of the NPC's who never seem to be lip-synched correctly. I understand that some sort of sacrifices must be made, but when it's such a big difference, it should be mentioned.
With its immense replay value, fleshed out storyline, interesting characters, multiple endings, and tons of choices, Deus Ex: Human Revolution more than lives up to the hype. Fans of the original game and the mediocre sequel will find an intriguing adventure that they'll want to play through multiple times.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]