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Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

review-deus-ex-human-revolution

Title: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Genre: Transhumanist Cyberpunk Science Fiction, First-Person Shooter

Release Date: 8/23/2011

Systems: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, Steam Digital Dist.

A cyberpunk thriller of incredible depth and smoother execution, Human Revolution is the saving grace of the Deus Ex brand.

Having problems with the game? Read How to Fix Deus Ex: Human Revolution Crash, Lagging, Freezing

Do you remember the sequel to Deus Ex? It wasn’t Human Revolution, no. Then you don’t remember? Fantastic, keep it that way, the good name of the Deus Ex series will be shinier that way. Even if you do, and I’m sorry if so, but Human Revolution atones for all of that. Broken hearts and jaded gamers need not look to the bottle anymore… erm.

First off, let me describe this game in terms of games it parallels in elements. It’s like Rainbow Six: Vegas, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Mass Effect, a little bit of Crysis 2, and ultimately, it redefines what a Deus Ex game is. If you didn’t get that, lemme go into more detail.

Firstly, in terms of graphics, this game takes the graphics of all the above games and shames Vegas, slaps Mass Effect, and stands just over MGS4 and Crysis 2. The graphics of this game are sick. Beautiful, high-poly models and high-res textures dominate the screen, and particle effects and lighting make the most important special effects hit home. Have you seen how spectacular the environments look in the middle of a firefight? It’s a wonder to behold and might make you want to get into firefights more often. More on why you shouldn’t besides dying, later. But if you do decide to go firefights, you will probably enjoy the arsenal you’ll be getting over the course of the game. Everything plays substantially. Firing the machine pistol feels like firing a gun with rapid fire and small projectiles. Firing the combat rifle feels like a reasonably precise assault rifle with 5.56 or 6.8mm rounds. The shotgun though… ooh. That is a meaty gun right there, and the short ranges at which you’ll be using it will have enemies flying back with the force and probably a couple twisted giggles coming from your mouth. Add to this the ease with which you’ll fly back and forth between cover and advancement with the FPS/3rd person cover shooter system pioneered by Rainbow Six: Vegas and a close combat system that allows you to use augmented power strikes to turn one button on your control scheme into a limited stealth-kill/frontal WIN button. Combat is truly a taut, riveting experience in Human Revolution.

What you should really be looking out for here are the animations though. These are hands down some of the most beautifully animated sequences I’ve seen in a game. As you see guards patrolling around and inspecting the environment, you will see them turning and pivoting on feet and keeping their heads on swivels in efforts to locate your character. If and when they do, they shift stances, drop into firing positions, find cover and take their shots. It’s all blended together beautifully. The way they look when they do this reminds me of how guards behaved in MGS4 with its own emphasis on stealth and environmental effects playing a role in their behavior. Adding to this is how bodies are animated in combat, especially close combat, especially when the player gets their hands on enemies in close combat:

I think that should really say it all, but a couple of things that this might not show in great enough detail: the gratuitous amounts of spittle flying from every enemy hit in the face like that (and I mean every enemy) and the fact that once the enemy is knocked to the floor like that, their bodies are properly ragdolled in the air. When their feet or arms collide with a surface in the course of their travels to unconsciousness, the limbs behave as if propped onto that surface– perhaps staying securely on there, perhaps dropping to the floor later. It’s an issue I’ve seen in more than a couple of games, and I was genuinely impressed to have seen that issue paid attention to in DX:HR.

That brings me to the AI– with how it reacts to the environment. Few other games have guards reacting as smartly as those in DX:HR, and those are Splinter Cell: Conviction and MGS4. MGS introduced the concept of guards reacting to an intruder’s last known position, Conviction really ran with it, and it shows up here in all its refined glory. Crysis really went with the concept of allowing you the freedom to tackle the game as a balls-out shooter or as a taut stealth-actioner by creating environments with open spaces wide enough for multiple avenues of action. It’s all here in DX:HR. This is especially important considering the Deus Ex series’ reputation as an FPS-RPG, that multiple abilities would have to factor into what a level’s design should be like. You throw a wrench in the form of an augmentation ability though and the AI reacts to it on the fly. Guards can be bowled over by flying copying machines, spooked by security cameras being shot from seemingly nowhere, alerted by the form of an unconscious/dead comrade and they will all react accordingly. Guards will be knocked on the floor, get up and engage again while comrades flank you. They will investigate mysterious disturbances like security cameras exploding by moving to the area of the disturbance in alert mode while buddies watch their backs (if there are enough buddies available). They will come upon unconscious guards, wake them up and hit the alarm or just hit the alarm if they discover the guy’s dead. It all works and it’s all critical to the construction of a believable environment and even more critical to the badass credentials of one Adam Jensen.

In DX:HR, there is no ability wasted, no avenue too hard or truly inaccessible (no avenue that’s important, anyways), merely ones that you might feel are too hard/inaccessible with the way you built your current version of Adam Jensen. You can go back, build Jensen a different way and see how your game would have went then. What ultimately results is a game where you have many options open to you, to play as a cybernetic assassin, slipping in and out of the shadows to leave bodies in your wake; you can be the Ahnold of Terminator lore, sporting an arsenal of weapons that clear out bases full of enemies, you can ply the middle ground as a tactical operative of Sam Fisher’s vein, or you can opt to avoid all those entirely and simply be a ghost, slipping in and out of sight to touch no one and only a select few will be the wiser… at least before you have to kill them in a boss battle. Adding to this is the weapon customization options that the game brings in, allowing you to upgrade different weapons with recoil dampers, silencers, cooling systems, extended clips, what have you. In this, you can craft weapons to suit your playing style inasmuch as you can craft Jensen’s augmentations to suit your playing style.

One thing that I should bring to your attention is the dialogue system. It’s somewhat like Mass Effect‘s, but with critical differences. There is no morality system. What this means however, is that your responses in a sense actually mean something rather than simply resulting in the same outcome but with a decidedly different response to your kindness/douchery. You can pick different responses and depending on what sort of person you’re talking to, you’ll get some different reactions that will definitely result in different outcomes and can make or break negotiations. A later upgrade you can purchase allows you to analyze the psychological state of the NPC you’re talking to, what sort of personality traits that last line of theirs just exhibited and whether or not they view you favorably in the conversation. I should particularly note that in these taut negotiation segments, the animations make a marked shift in quality from the canned Mass Effect-style talking head animations where their speech doesn’t quite line up with their canned body language to what seem like scripted and fully motion-capture acted sequences that really bring home the meaning, both overt and subtle, of the words the NPC is speaking to you. Unfortunately, not every dialogue sequence in the game is like this, only a select few have this wonderful option. If Eidos Montreal were to make a sequel, I would say the first thing they need to do is to make more negotiation sequences. Playing this game has ironically made it dawn on me why some people love L.A. Noire so much.

In the end, this is a game that executes everything smoothly and stylishly, with all options available and all options worth trying, with characters beautifully rendered and animated. Meaty guns, thrilling stealth and combat, well-acted and involved dialogue and negotiation sequences make this a title you really cannot miss, even if you weren’t counting the great story and soundtrack. Are there a couple problems? Mostly technical ones; load times can be long, so play carefully if you don’t want to be stuck behind a loading screen, graphics can stutter and lag which, as I understand, can be fixed with a little tweaking (not everyone has these problems… :P). Do note though that at the time of this writing, the game has been out for only three days or so; Eidos Montreal is undoubtedly working on a patch for these issues. But these are merely technical issues; they hardly impact the story, the atmosphere, or the slick delivery.

Pick this one up. Join the Human Revolution.

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1 Comment

  1. Comments  How to Fix Deus Ex: Human Revolution Crash, Lagging, Freezing | Geek Montage   |  Friday, 26 August 2011 at 2:08 AM

    […] You can read our Deus Ex Human Revolution Review […]

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