Deus Ex: Human Revolution review

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is now available on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Shacknews details its experiences and the choices made during for the review of the PC version of the prequel to 2000's Deus Ex.

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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.]

From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 23, 2011 2:30 PM

    Xav de Matos posted a new article, Deus Ex: Human Revolution review.

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution is now available on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Shacknews details its experiences and the choices made during for the review of the PC version of the prequel to 2000's Deus Ex.

    • reply
      August 23, 2011 2:33 PM

      "the review of the PC version"

      THE WAY IT SHOULD BE! YAY!

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        August 23, 2011 2:39 PM

        I'm glad to do it, although our reviews focus on the experience. If the gameplay experience is bad for a technical reason, we mention it. Otherwise, we don't really delve into that. If you have specific PC-centric questions about the game, feel free to hit me up and I'll do my best to answer!

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          August 23, 2011 2:43 PM

          I purchased the PC version and I'm quite happy with the extra care Eidos Montreal took to the PC community. I think that should be highlighted so other developers might follow suit.

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            August 23, 2011 2:44 PM

            Eidos Montreal did a great job guiding Nixxes, which is the team that actually developed the PC version of the game.

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              August 23, 2011 2:46 PM

              Well, then my hats off to them! It feels like an actual PC game. Much more like the original than the first second one.

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          August 23, 2011 2:54 PM

          Sure. Does the game like SLI?

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        August 23, 2011 2:46 PM

        Not to sound like a sellout, but how well does this game work with the Xbox 360 controller on PC? Am I better off playing Mouse and Keyboard?

        I got my 360 controller to work with my PC and I'm looking for reasons to use it.

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          August 23, 2011 2:50 PM

          I had a bit about control in this, but we cut it as it didn't flow. Here's the graph from my original draft:


          "Playing with a mouse and keyboard was my preference, as it aided in some sticky situations. Human Revolution's hacking mini-game, which is reminiscent of the game Uplink, for example is much easier without a pad. Nixxes, the team behind the PC version, did an outstanding job with the PC controls. Combat is of course precise with a mouse and keyboard, but it's surprising how well Nixxes was able to adapt Human Revolution's steath gameplay to the control scheme."

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            August 23, 2011 3:32 PM

            Sweet, thanks!

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            August 23, 2011 3:39 PM

            So you like the controls. What's your reply to those who are currently reporting mouse lag and acceleration?

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              August 23, 2011 3:42 PM

              I think something weird's going on for some people. I don't have any lag or acceleration issues... I'm running the game at 100+ fps though, vsync off, triple buffering on, everything maxed using FXAA High.

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                August 24, 2011 8:05 AM

                Triple buffering has no effect with vsync off.

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                  August 24, 2011 9:31 AM

                  That's not true at all. Triple buffering creates an additional buffer for the graphics card to use while the buffer flip is going on, and is free to run as fast as possible, even though some rendered frames may be dropped (assuming you still only want to flip at a safe time). This as an effect reduces input lag since the program can tick at its maximum speed. Vsync forces the maximum fps to be no greater than a factor of your monitor's refresh, so it will sit in a wait loop for a significant amount of time before flipping frames, causing input lag.

                  The downside to triple buffering is that it requires more VRAM, but since pretty much every graphics card has that in abundance these days, it's not much a problem.

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              August 23, 2011 3:48 PM

              I didn't encounter any issues, to be completely honest.

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                August 23, 2011 4:09 PM

                Does that mean you're not sensitive to it, or are you and you positively confirm there was none? :)

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                  August 23, 2011 4:12 PM

                  I didn't say any of that.

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                    August 23, 2011 4:19 PM

                    Huh? What I mean is, if someone doesn't sense a problem, it could be because he's Fred Garvin and thinks a 60hz CRT is perfectly comfortable. If this is the case, one can't know what information the impression conveys.

                    Or he might be SpaecKow and is sure to know if there's anything wrong, being experienced and sensitive enough to tell. In this case a negative carries much more information.

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                      August 23, 2011 4:25 PM

                      Xav I think he's trying to figure out what rating you hit on the spergometer.

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                      August 23, 2011 4:28 PM

                      I can only speak to my experience. I didn't notice anything. I can't speak to it being me not being "sensitive enough." It didn't hinder my experience.

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                      August 25, 2011 8:32 PM

                      In all fairness CRTs often have better picture quality (though not a 60Hz CRT...mine does 125Hz at the resolutions I tend to use on it).

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                August 23, 2011 5:29 PM

                you filthy piece of shit console gamer, how dare you review deus ex

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          August 23, 2011 4:47 PM

          It controls very, very well with the Xbox 360. It even engages a different tutorial when it explains how to access different weapons during combat.

          I'm playing on my PC with the 360 controller so I can sit on the couch and play on my TV :D

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            August 24, 2011 5:43 AM

            Good, good. I am going to buy this then for PC and play it with a controller. Thank you for doing this testing for me.

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          August 23, 2011 6:03 PM

          yes, it works VERY well.
          and I'm glad cuz I wanted to play it on my 42" tv

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      August 23, 2011 2:38 PM

      Disappointed that the combat/boss battles and AI sound substandard.

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        August 23, 2011 2:41 PM

        The combat itself is pretty solid, but as someone that focused on stealth it wasn't a big part of my experience.

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          August 23, 2011 2:43 PM

          Cool. Stealth usually doesn't work out for me so well anyway.

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            August 23, 2011 2:49 PM

            Yeah, other reviews seem to indicate that if you took the stealth/hacking builds, the boss battles are pretty miserable. I'm okay with a bit of stealth, but I'll be playing it as a shooter, upgrading combat skills most of the time.

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              August 23, 2011 2:55 PM

              Even if you are approaching it as a shooter, there just isn't room for tactics when the enemy runs directly at you and can, usually, one-hit kill you.

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      August 23, 2011 2:41 PM

      For those wondering, I finished the game and I think about half of the side quests in a little less than 30 hours.

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        August 23, 2011 3:00 PM

        Wow, that's a long time.

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        August 23, 2011 4:11 PM

        This is excellent news to me.

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        August 24, 2011 5:20 AM

        I'm really glad to hear it, nice to have a game with some legs!

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      August 23, 2011 2:46 PM

      Do you know if they plan on making all of the pre-order bullshit DLC eventually? I want to play the mission that reference Deus Ex 1 that you could only get by pre-ordering through Gamestop. I think it involves Tracer Tong?

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        August 23, 2011 2:49 PM

        The assumption is they will, but I'll try to confirm.

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      August 23, 2011 2:51 PM

      Really liking it so far, but I've run into a few bugs. I think if I crouch through a door that goes to a cutscene.. the whole scene is black. It's weird. I had to CTRL+ALT+DEL and redo it. Happened twice. Kinda sucks too because I haven't been saving a ton.

      Also, I despise that I can't use the mouse wheel for previous / next weapon.

      I need a better video card. :(

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        August 24, 2011 6:07 AM

        I had _exactly_ the same problem after the first discussion with David Sarif in the Heli. You would be able to press Space during the black screen to skip the scene, but then the game would freeze.

        Solution:
        Update nvidia graphics drivers to the latest version (280.something)

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      August 23, 2011 3:15 PM

      Hrm. That's it?

      Xav, I normally find your reviews brief - but this one just felt rushed. It also has an overall negative tone that doesn't ring true for your overall assessment at the end. What does the game do well? What surprised you? How do the environments feel? What makes this game different, better or worse, than other games on the market today? Will fans of the original like this one or hate it?

      I can't fault you for not finding every nook and cranny in the game. Those will be discovered over the next few weeks by those of us playing through it. I still remember hearing in the original that you could (spoiler alert for Deus Ex 1 save Paul Denton. I couldn't believe it! REPLAY! You can't know all of that stuff yet, but still, there's just a bunch missing from your review.

      Here's my summary:

      The story is multi-faceted
      You're a pawn with really no choices in the game
      Your voice acting sucks but others are good
      AI is generally stupid and can one-shot kill you
      Boss battles felt incongruent and out of place
      It was awesome
      THE END

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        August 23, 2011 3:26 PM

        We went back and forth with a very long review originally and we brought it down to the specifics. I do talk about what I enjoyed about the choices in the review. I do mention how the issues harm those choices.

        As for it "feeling" rushed. It really wasn't. We just decided to slim it down to the core of what I wanted to talk about.

        I may put the original draft on my own website at some point, but it's really messy.

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          August 23, 2011 3:30 PM

          Given the interest in this game, I bet people would tear into the longer version with a lot of zeal.

          It's true, you did mention what you liked...but it felt inconsequential compared to your complaints. I think the editing down to the core content is what made it feel rushed/incomplete to me. It read more like long bullet points than a flowing review.

          Not that I mind brevity in most cases. It just didn't feel right this time.

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            August 23, 2011 3:37 PM

            Thanks for the feedback. I do appreciate the candor.

            As for the original draft, I'll have to find out if publishing it is possible.

            Honestly, it's not about making the reviews here short--though we try not to throw mountains of words at you--it's about slimming the experience down to the core of what we felt as we played it. Choice is the major factor of the game, and that's what we focused on.

            If a game is bad, my review would be about why the experience is bad overall. I wouldn't delve so deep into what "matters" with the choices if I disliked DXHR.

            I thought it was great, but as a review that details experiences, I had to mention the things that were "speedbumps" in the road.

            The original draft reads like something you'd read everywhere else. It controlled like X it looked like Y. It's just really boring to me.

            Since people are just now playing it, I wanted to explore why things you do matter. That was my focus here.

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              August 23, 2011 4:00 PM

              I appreciate your willingness to accept my feedback. I fully understand the direction you went with the review and I generally support it.

              I have to stand by my earlier statements though. There's been so much hype and interest in this game - largely because of the reputation of DE1 and the game's heritage - that I think a lengthy review is in order. I personally want to know unusual stuff like how the music added to, or detracted from the experience. Can you - as one commenter tried - turn on Roombas in the game? It's little details like those that convey the effort put into a game like this. Talking about those aspects also makes for lengthy reviews. But given PC games of last few years (particularly those from EA) that give you 6 hours of very linear gameplay, I think we want to know if this game has lived up to the hype of being something different.

              Regarding your overall bad/good assessment: If you hadn't put the end paragraph in, I would've thought you didn't think much of the game aside from the voice acting and social interaction. Per my earlier points, I would've preferred to see you extol the merits of even having that type of gameplay at all. Then you can tell the audience that there were still some bumps in the road.

              My opinion isn't helped by the fact that I read PC Gamer's review. That's more of what I was expecting. I can appreciate the shack trying to be different and I commend it. Different just wasn't better, in this case.

              One of the frustrating things about writing is that everyone gets something different out of the same bunch of words. I'm sure plenty of other people reading your review understood that you really liked the game.

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          August 24, 2011 12:43 AM

          I normally enjoy Xav's reviews but I have to fully agree with Sniper21 on this one. Felt like an overly abbreviated review and (unfortunately) I don't feel like I learned enough to make a reliable purchasing decision. Not saying that's Xav's responsibility but it's nice to get a more thorough review of such a highly anticipated title. :(

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        August 23, 2011 3:35 PM

        I think your distillation of the review a bit harsh but a reminder, we don't do the book report style review of the graphics are ____, the controls are _____, the X is Y. There are plenty of those. We aim to be more a critique. How was the experience of playing the game? What resonated, or didn't, with the reviewer? Something much more like what we commonly see in film review.

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          August 23, 2011 4:08 PM

          It was harsh, if only to further my point.

          I don't want "controls are __, graphics are __." I don't think anyone here does. I certainly don't want a /5 or /10 rating scale. Xav's review just felt short on the critique. It felt like an ordinary review for an ordinary game, and DE:HR is purportedly much more than that. I certainly want to know where it fails, but I relish in knowing the details of where it succeeded.

          Taking the film analogy, it felt more like a review of a competent but forgettable film, rather than a critique of the power and meaningfulness of a more epic production. I expect more succinct reviews for films like Battle: Los Angeles, and longer, more elaborate reviews for films like The Shawshank Redemption.

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          August 23, 2011 5:31 PM

          do you guys ever write for reviews where someone doesn't find something to complain about?

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            August 23, 2011 5:34 PM

            Lol this is ironic coming from you. :D

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              August 23, 2011 5:52 PM

              because i come up with retarded shit to complain about their reviews with?

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                August 23, 2011 6:00 PM

                i understand his points. The game is important to him and he wanted more. Can't please everyone, but we learn from every piece of content we produce.

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                  August 23, 2011 6:05 PM

                  have you guys ever considered doing video reviews?

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                    August 23, 2011 6:25 PM

                    It's like you can read my to-do list............. :)

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            August 24, 2011 5:45 AM

            The day a perfect game comes out with no issues, you'll see perfect reviews where people find nothing to complain about. Until then, the entire point of a review is to inform a potential buyer about the positive and negative aspects of what they are considering to purchase.

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          August 23, 2011 10:49 PM

          I get it Garnett and Xav. There is a reason why I wait to buy most games till I read shack news or listen to weekend confirmed.

    • reply
      August 23, 2011 3:21 PM

      Damn game just locked up on me during first mission. Doh. Game's fun as hell so far.

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        August 23, 2011 3:49 PM

        haha, VICTORY!!!!

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        August 23, 2011 3:51 PM

        how many hoops did you jump through to get it working.

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        August 23, 2011 6:12 PM

        the game locked on me too and then an xbox achievement appeared. that's kind of shoddy but so far nothing game ending yet

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          August 24, 2011 5:08 AM

          A stutter upon getting an achievement was mentioned in a review I read for consoles. It shouldn't crash though.

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            August 24, 2011 9:12 AM

            no it hasnt yet. the first time it happened i was bracing myself for the worst

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      August 23, 2011 3:31 PM

      when I see green posts like this when using lamp I impulsively almost click click click because my for a moment my brain spazzes and thinks it's a set item.

      This is what DiabloII has done to me. Even after all these years.

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      August 23, 2011 3:32 PM

      Guess you made the review on the easiest difficulty.

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      August 23, 2011 4:50 PM

      Anyone else notice how the intro sequence felt a bit too much like the intro sequence to mass effect 2?

      Old guy talking facing futuristic screen. Similar beats. Dude get's 'revived' etc?

      Kinda strange because I'm sure they got this down before ME2 was probably out. Like minded directing lol.

      • reply
        August 23, 2011 4:51 PM

        An unfortunate coincidence. They probably conceived that intro sequence three years ago.

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        August 24, 2011 5:37 AM

        That's a pretty common, borderline cliche, method of creating mystery. Movies and tv shows have been doing this for a while now. The mass effect 2 intro reminded me a lot of evangaleon.

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      August 23, 2011 5:14 PM

      I posted this in Steam forums, but I'll ask here too:

      Is there a way to have a virtual keyboard pop-up on the screen when logging into a persons PC, like the virtual numpad that pops up for entering door codes?

      My disability makes it very difficult to type and reach all the keys, so I use the microsoft onscreen keyboard in windows which allows the mouse to click keystrokes. However it does not work in games.

      Just curious if this can be enabled in the PC version as I'd assume the console users must have some way to type.

      • reply
        August 23, 2011 5:53 PM

        If you're using an Xbox 360 controller, there is a button that brings up an on-screen keyboard. Does this game have a console, or config files? If so you may be able to bind a button to the same function that that controller button does.

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          August 23, 2011 6:15 PM

          Let me know if you find where the cfg or ini are that can be edited.

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        August 24, 2011 1:31 AM

        as a gamer who also had a disability, tho not as bad as your i'm sure (only missing two fingers, but its still a pita), i hope you get something that'll make this easier :(

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      August 23, 2011 6:04 PM

      i am not so much into stealth. at the end of the first mission i'm kind of finding it tedious. the game really doesnt want me to play this game aggressively. will i break the game if i say fuck it and start shooting people up instead of waiting behind a cardboad box for 10 minutes

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        August 23, 2011 6:37 PM

        No. But you might run out of ammo

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      August 23, 2011 6:26 PM

      Just to let everyone know, this upcoming episode of Weekend Confirmed is going have a lot of Deus Ex discussion. I'll try to detail some of the more intricate elements that we edited from this review!

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        August 24, 2011 12:45 AM

        That would be a good solution to some of our complaints about this extremely short review (imho). I guess it's a backhanded compliment to you, Xav (of sorts), in that people wanted to hear more of your thoughts on the game. :)

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          August 24, 2011 9:15 AM

          xav, if you made a longer review i would have complained that it was too long so you can't win

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            August 24, 2011 9:28 AM

            ^This.

            It's cool.

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            August 24, 2011 10:59 PM

            I see what you did there.

            Hey Dantastic, how about that BF3? Still think it's just BF:BC2?

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      August 23, 2011 7:18 PM

      This is my GOTY for sure

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      August 24, 2011 4:35 AM

      [deleted]

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        August 24, 2011 6:13 AM

        I went all "Absolve" on him and he let me through even without a social mod. Empathize man, that dude had issues :P

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          August 24, 2011 6:40 AM

          [deleted]

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            August 24, 2011 10:16 AM

            You're really manipulating him more plainly than in others, so I exceeded in building him up and crushing his spirit for the silver tongue achievement.

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          August 24, 2011 9:14 AM

          if you have a mod you can activate some pheromones and the whole time they were talking previous to that there were bars flashing about being an alpha, beta or omega. i think you have to count how many bars come up and pick which bar had the most and then pick the alpha, beta or omega response. i'm not 100% on how that works

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        August 24, 2011 9:30 AM

        You have to keep a few things in mind when you talk to people in those situations. Read the text about their personality. In that instance, it was pretty clear that he is riddled with guilt. So, pushing him on his error would shut him down. He needed to be told it was not his fault.

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      August 24, 2011 9:59 AM

      I read the article, expecting you to give the game low marks. You liked the social interaction, and some of the voice acting, but you didn't enjoy any of the boss battles, were disappointed in the way augmentations are handled, and say the AI is horrible. And yet this is an exceptional game?

      From your review, it doesn't sound like any part of the game is "exceptional", and the major parts of the game (bosses, augmentation, and AI) suck. And you still think it measures up to DX, and you recommend it? How does that work?

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      August 25, 2011 4:28 AM

      Game is fun but im not digging the graphics/art style

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      August 25, 2011 6:40 AM

      Is there a way to hide the achievements as we move through the game?

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      August 25, 2011 10:06 PM

      So everyone liking the game any surprise's or issues i should know about. I getting this game today on 360

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