Deus Ex: Human Revolution review

By Xav de Matos, Aug 23, 2011 2:30pm PDT

In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, corporations seek to accelerate the natural evolution of the species with mechanical augmentations to help propel humanity into a new era.

When mortal wounds force augments on him, the game's central character, Adam Jensen, gets caught in the middle of a class warfare between natural and augmented humans, as well as the greed of corporations. Though he awakens more powerful than he has ever been, in the face of a greater conspiracy he is little more than a pawn.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game based on choices, but unlike other games that offer this option, the impact of each decision generally focuses on the immediate situation rather than the bigger picture. It becomes abundantly clear early on that Adam Jensen is only a pawn in a greater conspiracy. The choices made throughout the experience strive to help push Jensen closer to the truth.

The world in Human Revolution is in turmoil, with augmentations at the center of a debate on the nature of transhumanism and radical extremism. The decisions you make do not change this world issue, nor are objectives you face meant to impact this debate. Jensen's drive is personal. He is dedicated to learning the truth behind the attack that forced his augmentation and the loss of a loved one. It's a detailed and enthralling tale.

One of my favorite elements of the game was the social interaction battles with characters. I was given the chance to convince others to provide me with information or abandon their current objectives. While these interactions were great, they didn't present much of a challenge versus the silver-tongued Adam Jensen.

Conversations do give players a chance to be brash or compassionate, but these decisions are only linked to how much information you can extract. Though there is a thread of morality throughout the experience, the game doesn't track decisions with this in mind. How you gain the information isn't important, completing your objective is the essential piece.

Some of the voice acting for these dialogues is outstanding. The odd exception is the game's main character. Jensen himself sounds as though he is perpetually seeking a lozenge. There's a lack of emotion from him that stands out more and more as the game progresses.

Choice extends to customization as well, where players can focus their attention on unlocking a variety of augmentations. What is disappointing is that, by the end of the game, there may not be a lot of variation between my Adam Jensen and yours. Combat itself is a blend of first-person advancement and third-person tactics, and planning is necessary. Though Jensen is augmented, he is still human, and I never found rushing into a situation would benefit my objectives.

There are a number of boss battles in Human Revolution, and frankly I didn't enjoy any of them. There's very little in the way of tactics involved during these encounters as the enemies rush toward you. These battles are completely devoid of choice, only ending with each boss in a pool of his or her own blood regardless of your play style. It's so disjointed that it feels like each encounter was designed by a completely different team.

The game's AI stands out as another weak point throughout the game. Enemies typically investigate for a few moments before returning to a pre-planned route. In one situation I was told I'd have to wait for a "slow elevator" to make its way down to me and a squad of enemies would attack from both entry points as soon as I called the lift. In preparation, I stacked boxes and a disabled turret in front of both doors, sending the AI into a frenzy as it couldn't understand why it was unable to make its way to me.

Adam Jensen's journey and the global conflict of the human augmentation debate meet in the end, giving the player one last decision to make. Rather than constantly juggle the fate of humanity as in other games, the single, massive decision offered in Human Revolution has more weight added to it. I spent so much time worrying about Jensen and his issues, that when everything collided and I had to decide what happened next, it gave me a moment of pause.

A lot of expectations have been thrown at first-time developer Eidos Montreal. The studio set out to design a game worthy of the Deus Ex moniker and, in my eyes, succeeded. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an exceptional title that you should choose to explore.


[This Deus Ex: Human Revolution review is based on a final PC version, provided by publisher Square Enix. The PC version of the game is developed by Nixxes. Specs for the PC used can be found here.]

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