Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s first trailer set the stage that not many have been able to grasp. It showed this weird visualization of a male being grafted with feathered wings, which somehow seemed to be happening in a time long-forgotten. It was a powerful enough statement; this was potentially a game about the aspirations and arrogance of mankind. Within moments of Human Revolution’s opening dialogue, you discover just how appropriate that scene from the debut trailer actually is.
Set in the year 2027, players take control of Adam Jensen, an ex-S.W.A.T. member and the head of security for Sarif Industries, a big time corporation that specializes in Augmentations. These Augmentations range from artificial limbs to neural implants that can help a person fly a plane better. With Augmentations, scientists believe they can fully tap into mankind’s true potential.
This is how Adam’s one-time love Megan Reed is brought into the picture. It seems she has discovered a way to open up potential in human DNA that could change the world. Of course, things go completely wrong, as Adam is forced to watch an attack on his colleagues. To top it all off, he is injured so intensely he must undergo body augmentation himself.
The setting of the game, Detroit, coupled with the augmentation of the main character, will have many players drawing parallels to Robocop . (There’s even a part in the game where you will overhear a couple of NPCs referencing the movie.) However, similarities between the movie and game splinter after the forced augmentation bit, as we’re forced to question the mentality of big corporations wanting to play God—for a price. There are also some Blade Runner elements thrown in for good measure. Unapologetically, Deus Ex: Human Revolution embraces the pop culture of the sci-fi adventure and runs with it.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution fully embraces the ideology behind its overarching storyline. Too often in RPGs, it feels like the main thrust of the narrative can be lost in the side missions or, in some cases, even the major missions. But in Human Revolution, It never feels like you are going to miss out on an important story angle if you don’t do a side mission. If anything, you have a small reward for peeling back the many layers hidden in these optional tasks.
For example, very early in the game you are asked to help a friend get out of “drug trafficking.” In most cases, players would just automatically assume the person they were going after is a low-down slimy shark, but as it turns out, there is so much more there for observant players to discover. The repercussions from the way you choose to handle this one simple thing are much like the consequences of your actions in Mass Effect 2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution borrows this concept and makes it feel similar, yet still its own.
Human Revolution picks and chooses elements from games that work, and then makes them work just for this game. The Augmentations screen, for example, allows you to level up your character. However, the way this is done and the amount of freedom you have make leveling feel fresh and appreciative. Praxis points allow you to purchase new augmentations for Adam, and you earn these points through achieving a certain set of XP or by finding Praxis kits throughout the course of the game. There are a few augmentations that scream “Max Me Out!” but even those don’t feel as if they are force-fed to you. It is all about the choices you want to make and how you like to play.
You can play Deus Ex as a stealth machine or as an expert in combat. When I say “expert in combat,” I mean you need to know when to take the right shot; you can’t just expunge you cache of ammo like a blithering idiot. In fact, if you choose to go the more direct approach, I would highly recommend two strategies—take cover and never shoot unless you know it will take down your enemy.
The stealth option, on the other hand, will undoubtedly bring to mind gaming’s two great stealth masters: Solid Snake and Sam Fischer. Adam Jensen fits right in among the industry greats. It’s just so invigorating to walk into a room and see five to eight guards, and then back out to find another route to prevent confrontation or loss of life. In fact, this element is brought over into the “open-world-hub” of each city you will travel to. The “alternate route” is nothing new in gaming, but Human Revolution grasps this concept and doesn’t let it go.
Too often with games like this, you’ll find yourself in complete awe over the cinematics, but with the in-game graphics you are left with a bland (albeit well-done) tone that nearly ruins the game experience. Human Revolution never truly falters in this area. There are a few NPC characters that were mistreated (or were intentionally made to look hideous), but despite the odd blemish and occasional frame rate drop, you’ll find yourself in complete graphical euphoric bliss.
Unfortunately, this brings me to the faults, the biggest being the third-person/first-person timeshare. Admittedly, when I first saw in-game footage of Human Revolution, I was beyond excited for the third-person action game I thought I saw. I was admittedly a little disenchanted when I realized it was a first-person game with third-person elements (like the cover and takedown systems.) The takedown system is just a quick visual stimulant that shows off how much of a badass Adam Jensen is, but just like the cover system, the pullout from first-person to the third is a bit jarring. Not to the point of breaking the game, but it’s definitely enough to make players take notice.
The only other flaw is more comical than anything else. Too often, when talking to a female NPC, it sounds like a male voice imitating a woman. This can be funny at times, but it detracts from the occasional “real” voiceover work. This is not to say the voice acting falls short of entertaining, because the main vocal cast really comes through in the story elements. However, many times the NPCs sub-characters deliver their lines as hyperactive versions of Ben Stein.
On the opposite side of this, the score to Human Revolution ranks among some of the best in recent times. It reminds me a lot of Daft Punk’s score for Tron: Legacy . (Say what you will about the movie, but the music from that film is emotionally resonating, even when some of the actors are horribly not.) In Human Revolution, the music conducts itself as a character without expectation of recognition.
At its core, this is a game that is reliant on the player. Without your influence, the game doesn’t have a direction. However, it also doesn’t give the illusion that it needs you to help it finish the story. Much like great sci-fi fantasy, Deus Ex: Human Revolution never allows you to feel like you have total control or that you know everything going on in the overarching story. In this case though, it also doesn’t allow you to feel as if you are an outsider looking in. This is as much your own human revolution as it is Adam Jensen’s.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.8 Graphics
Sharp, slick, and beyond expectations. 4.3 Control
There’s a learning curve to get used to the jerk in and out of first-person perspective, but the controls deliver a solid experience. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Another excellent sample of how the voice acting and musicality of a video game should be. 4.5 Play Value
Vast and enjoyable; this world is a pleasure to be in. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best