Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review
Remember how cool it was to play Metal Gear Solid for the first time? Sneaking around as quietly as possible to almost ninja like precision, as you quietly take out random goon #1 as you press closer towards the objective. We're not talking about the boss fights here. OH! Don't forget to the hide that body!
Remember how much cooler it was in Splinter Cell, knowing you can make your way past hostiles to almost "hair standing on the back of your neck" moments, sweating the tense chance that the guard on patrol in front of your destination may turn around and see your figure in the shadows? But you didn't worry, a quick execution or KO move would render his training useless. OH! Don't forget to hide the body!
Eidos does remember.
The stealthy approach in DE:HR alone sends those fond memories of MGS and SC crawling back into my noggin as I creep up behind the poor sap in front of me. But instead of a simple little sleeper hold, I'm tapping him on the shoulder and KO'ing that mofo like I was Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse. The frat boy in me almost came out as I was treated to a different small cinematic, in which Adam Jensen essentially pulls a Jason Bourne on a stooge. Gleefully making a smug face as I looked down and swiftly turned his pockets out for random swag. It only gets better when you add the augmentation that allows you to take out two cronies at a time. Then you get into some serious Donnie Yen styled take downs.
I love stealth games. But I love stealth games even more when they give you an option. Choice is key in these scenarios. Allowing you to make it up as you go. Does this guy really deserve to die by your hand? Deus Ex lets me make that choice. To which often my answer was, "No. No he does not, I will let him live," and then I bash his nose into the back of his head. But the immersion and story drive you sometimes into a rage if you let it get into your head. Making you turn your disregard for life off as you kill everyone before you. You think the stealth take downs were awesome? Try driving your two elbow blades into the collar bone of a bad guy once.
So... what was the point of that little rant? I am simply creaming myself at the prospect and freedom I've been permitted. I love stealth, that is the third time I've said it now. Get the message?
Deus Ex opens right off the bat to a situation in which Sarif Industries, the company Adam Jensen works for, is attacked by a group of augmented baddies that kidnap his girlfriend and her research team. They were going to announce a discovery in Washington D.C., that could allow people to augment themselves without fear of being addicted to "Machine-painkillers" after the process is complete. Basically if you've ever played Shadowrun or Cyber-Punk table top games, you know what this means. Jensen, who is talking to the boss, is sent downstairs to literally find out what the hell is going on. The servers have been hacked, nothing seems to be working in Sarif's favor.
From here, the tutorials start to kick in. You've seen it once, you've seen em all. But as I played, inspiration seemed to have been pulled for a variety of games. Sure, you have the cover system as per usual, plucked from Rainbow Six (hold: LT). The ability to switch from cover to cover on a doorway, but also, the ability to combat roll to cover that is further away... ahhh, I see what you did there. Kind of plucked the bad idea from Splinter Cell: Conviction and actually made it a little more sensible.
Hacking seems a bit more, "pay attention or you'll f*** it up!" then usual. Which I am not disappointed about. Anyone that played Mass Effect 1 knows hacking can be so stupid it makes... well... stupid people feel smart. Files, worms, spam, and clearance. All of it is there. It makes you actually feel like a hacker as you process in your mind the time you could buy if you can manage to spam the security server. It's a novel thought, not a literal one. As it is essentially streamlined to be a fail or success system. But, it gets balance when you start adding augments to your hacking ability that could give you an edge. Until you get Nuke programs, which are basically the "tag your it" of hacking. Can't afford to spend those next three seconds hacking into this file? Nuke it! That'll learn it.
Combat is the meat of this game though. To which you are rewarded despite your preference. However, as I am partial to the stealth approach, I'm hard pressed to find any number of my friends that have actually gone into Expendable mode, and went gun crazy. The option is there, but its so passable it's almost not even fair. I guess you could say this game is meant to be played one of two ways. Stealth, or tactical. Tactical in the sense that a military mind would know to check corners before running blinding into rooms. Taking your time in this game pays off immensely, regardless of play type. There isn't a vast number of guns, but each gun deserves its own level of care and acknowledgement. I passed on the shotguns, plasma rifles, and a P.E.P.S. (which is essentially a non-lethal Blunderbuss, that shoots a shock burst). I dabbled with the Stun Gun, which was one shock cord away from reminding me of Syphon Filter's stun gun that let you set people of fire if you held the trigger (OH, THE HILARITY!). I stuck with the pistol, SMG, Tranq. Rifle and Assault Rifle as my core weapons. Skip the Sniper Rifle, it really doesn't do much since almost all the interaction will take place in small corridors. Distance really doesn't matter much here. Plus, by the time you're scoped in, you'll either be spotted, or the gun is so loud you'll be pinpointed in no time, forcing a retreat.
If Stealth fails though, and all the time spent going cover to cover is lost, fear not. The gun play is primed enough to give you a fighting chance. Even if you are a terrible shot, fear not again. The AI will gladly narrow the field for you, and run quite literally into the barrel of your gun, securing you're victory as the next wave move up to you.
The Augmentations are what make the rest of the game all the more enjoyable. From stealth cloaks, see through walls, extra strength, etc. etc. It's all there. There are some useless ones though. There is an augmentation that will allow you to determine whether or not you are in fact swaying someone in a dialogue conversation. WTF? You want to spend XP on THAT? Stop posting on Facebook and talk to someone! If you can determine whether what you are saying is stupid or not, you should be able to know if you are pissing someone off in this game. The Icarus landing system is by far the coolest. Picture Batman jumping off a rooftop onto the street, you'll get the idea.
With all the augmentations, I want to go on record saying that the power system for these augmentations, is simply terrible. You start out with three battery tags on the top left of your HUD. Assuming that these represented how much power I would have, I gathered that they would recharge on their own after a short rest if I spent them. This is how games have worked for a while now. It's not unfair. Work with what you have is the moto. Apparently, Eidos is paranoid of the idea of people spamming their powers to run through their game. Once you spend an entire battery of power, that battery will not recharge, only the first one will! Taking down an NPC, spends a battery, a battery that I will not get back, unless I eat a Snickers bar (not really Snickers, but you get the point). I s*** you not! If you have played this game, I hope you found is as frustrating as I did. Because it is probably the worst thing ever (until the next worst thing emerges). I understand why they did this. I just don't like it. I don't abuse and cheat my game. At least give me proper warning Eidos. Before I spend XP to get that Stealth cloak. You know, the cloak I cannot use if I burn my batteries out!
But anyway, the game's central focus on story is whether or not humanity is in fact losing its humanity. Are we progressing so far away from being human that we are essentially becoming machines? Where is John Connor when you need him? Right? Ah, it was a good joke. But the attention given to the question is the monkey on your back through out the game. As Jensen is not augmented at the start during the attacks, he is seemingly dead after the fray. Six months pass as he is he becomes Sarif Industries own Steve Austin... that's the Six Million Dollar Man, not Austin 3:16. He wakes up to find out he has now been pimped out with augments. Does he hate it? You get to make that choice! Although, despite whether he hates it or not, Jensen will always remind people that he never asked for it. So, the developer gets to keep at least a little piece of that character in their back pocket.
As he contemplates his own loss of his humanity however, Jensen is thrust into the underbelly of Detroit, in a search for answers. The atmosphere once you leave Sarif Industries building, is Bladerunner worthy. The setting is beautiful of you like Cyberpunk. If you don't, I really hope you're not a nature freak. Looking around you, the sights and sounds radiate "CITY!". If only the streets felt the same way. I mean that literally. What kind of city... has such small streets. I didn't notice any flying cars! So, what gives? Why are the streets so tiny! It struck me as odd. Here I am in downtown Detroit, and I can cross the street in four footsteps. But to get to other parts of town, I don't... ya know... walk down the side walk. I cut through alleys and sewer systems to get where I want. Odd choice, but, you get past it. The city feels more alive as you see the derelict buildings housing gang members. Sectioned off security systems allowing access into a building reserved for the high class. It feels like Cyberpunk, no matter how hokey. You are not limited to just Detroit though, as you scamper across the world to different locations, of other mega cities.
But when you talk about environment, visuals do play a part. The backgrounds and settings are all beautiful... and yellow. Really yellow. I hope you like yellow. At least its a break from the brown on grey most games dish out. But, if the yellow doesn't get to you, sometimes the games ability to look like it was designed for Playstation 2, will. Not all the time. The cinematics are gorgeous, not Final Fantasy gorgeous. Outside of those though, the game takes a step back in the looks department. Which, doesn't take away from the game at all. You really just leave wishing there was a tad bit more polish on the graphics.
Gameplay, is where it's at. And this game delivers on gameplay in the droves. Until you get to the boss fights. Which are mind bogglingly hard the first three times you WILL play them. I dare someone to try to convince me that they knew exactly what to do the very first time... and then I want to search their computer history for youtube video walkthroughs because I know they are full of crap. I did it, I'm ashamed I did too. But the boss fights are sometimes like the boss fights in Metal Gear Solid. You scratch your head, then once you beat it, you slap yourself. Those stupid AH HA! moment commericals, that's exactly what it feels like. Like a puzzle in God of War. You feel stupid when its done.
There is just not a lot that hinder this game. My review seems to be spread all over the place, and I realize this upon reading most of it thus far. But the bottom line is, you really cannot go wrong with this game at all. The writing doesn't score high because of the main plot. The main plot has a few curve balls here and there. But it's the fact that sub-plots, literally impact the story. If you do a side quest, chances are that WILL impact the main story. I will not give spoilers for those that haven't played yet. But for those that have, how did that upgrade work out for ya? *WINK*
Take this review for what it is though. I could have spent all the time in the world telling you what you've probably already read when it comes to the plot and story. I like focusing on what I liked personally. Maybe you share my love for stealth. Maybe you do not. I'll get better at writing these as the days go on I hope. Let me know if you liked what I had to say or not. Maybe I can touch on certain things a little more. But hey, I don't think I did terrible for my first game review. So, cheers.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution gets an 8.5 out of 10.