Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Prepare for augmentation

August 30, 2011

Hailed as one of the greatest games of all time by many, the original Deus Ex was a truly groundbreaking title that helped establish that choice matters in games. Eleven years and one underwhelming sequel later, we have Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a prequel to the original title that hopes to bring back the Deus Ex name in a big way.

Set 25 years before the events of the original, Human Revolution follows Adam Jensen, a security officer working for a corporation that specializes in augmentations. After a horrific attack on the company, Jensen is nearly killed but brought back to life thanks to some augmentation implants, making him just a little more than human. Jensen is out to discover who led the attack and what the ultimate purpose was behind it, leading to many interesting twists and turns along the way.

As you continue on in the story, you will encounter conversations with characters that involve making certain choices, which could lead to you gaining information or further pushing those characters away. These choices actually matter, as the characters will behave differently towards you depending on how you approach different conversations and missions. It’s refreshing to see a game in which these choices, no matter how big or small, actually matter and have an impact on the rest of a player’s gameplay experience.

The story is one of the strongest aspects of this game. It’s well-written and full of fleshed-out characters and plenty of shocking revelations. You will soon find yourself lost in this fully-realized and detailed world, exploring every nook and cranny you can find. There are two major cities to explore, each with plenty of secrets to find and plenty of different ways to explore them. And it’s all presented magnificently, with a unique look that lends itself well to this universe.

The voice acting can be spotty at times, with most of the minor roles ranging from forgettable to painful, but the main cast does its job well. The synth-heavy score, on the other hand, is very similar to the first game’s soundtrack and fits the atmosphere of the game perfectly.

One major thing this series has always done better than most other games is the level of choice involved in how you approach situations. Of course, you can go in guns blazing or rely on stealth, but there are so many paths, alternate paths, and secret passageways that you might find yourself replaying sections of the game just to find out what you might have missed.

It’s not Deus Ex unless the augmentations were mentioned. As you perform certain actions and explore, you will earn XP; earn a certain amount of XP and you’ll gain Piraxis points that allow you to upgrade augments you already have or buy new augments that let you gain new abilities. As you continue to add augments to Jensen, you might find that new paths are open to you, allowing for even more possibilities.

How you decide to approach situations could make things easier or harder for you depending on your playstyle. It’s hard to deny that this game prefers players who rely on stealth, as enemies can swarm and kill you pretty quickly. You can probably muscle your way through the game, but it might require even more patience than most players are willing to put forth. The gunplay is handled excellently either way. It’s not as fast or frantic as your average first person shooter, but it allows you to use strategy, even in action-heavy situations.

Stealth is handled perfectly as well. You can rely on lethal or non-lethal attacks to dispose of your opponents, or you simply could sneak around them, avoiding enemy contact altogether. You never feel like you might be stuck as there is always a good way to handle every situation. There were many times when I found myself out of ammo, but there was always a hidden vent or passage to crawl through to make my escape.

Another major aspect of the gameplay is hacking, which is handled rather well. Most games that involve hacking don’t do it well, either making it too easy or just not fun. Deus Ex manages to strike a balance between the two with a hacking mini-game that is rather enjoyable. You are presented with different nodes to hack as you try to take over the system, with each node giving you a probability of the anti-hacking software to be alerted. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s handled surprisingly well.

The biggest issue with Human Revolution is the enemy AI. It’s pretty poor, as the enemies are either dumb as a brick, never able to find you even if you are in an obvious spot, or almost too smart, pinpointing your exact location without even being close to where you are. There isn’t enough of a balance between the two and you will never feel like you’re getting a fair challenge.

Despite its shortcomings, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a long and entirely satisfying gaming experience and a worthy prequel to the original title. If you’re itching for an RPG/Shooter hybrid with a strong story and a gorgeous world to explore, this is just the game for you.

Pros: Excellent, well-written story with fully realized characters; fantastic gameplay variety; augmentations add an extra layer of depth; your choices actually matter in the long run

Cons: Poor enemy A.I.; some spotty voice acting

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.