Games Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex is one of the great classics of PC gaming – a highly regarded critical darling from back in the midsts of time spoken of in hushed whispers. A less successful sequel, Invisible War, didn’t make much of an impact when released and the IP passed into distant gaming legend, so when Eidos Montreal announced they were working on a prequel, it was met with a mix of anticipation and fear that a beloved franchise was about to be subjected to the “modern treatment”.

You start Deus Ex: Human Revolution as the Head of Secuity for Sarif Industries, a near-future corporation specialising in Augments, or human cybernetic enhancement. After a break in by heavily augmented terrorists to the company HQ, you end up rebuilt, six-million-dollar-man style, and sent on a quest to find out the who, and why of the attack. This takes you in a maze of conspiricy and deceit involving those closest to you…

DX:HR is a complicated game. Visually it looks very much like a cyber-punk themed shooter, but the gameplay is heavily build on steath;  gunfire is very quickly lethal to you, and a run’n’gun approach simply won’t work – the game gives you plenty of alternative approaches, melee take-downs and silent options and positively encourages a non-lethal approach, even to people who are hunting you down.  It makes for a very tense game, crouched behind desks waiting for guards to move into the right places for you to move, or drop one, and mistakes can be brutally punished as you are hunted down by a pretty decent (but not quirk-less) guard AI.

Most reviews of DX:HR will point a finger at the games most obvious flaw, it’s Boss Fights. There are four in total, three of which feel totally at odds with the rest of the game. Instead of having multiple avenues to approach the problem, you are simply locked in a room with a boss trying to kill you. Whilst I don’t think they’re bad boss fights in their own right, they jar so horribly with the rest of the gameplay they are an exercise in frustration, especially if you have spent your precious upgrade points on stealth and hacking augments. The final boss fight feels more in tune with the rest of the game but is also too easy because of it – I’m not sure boss fights were the way to go at all, to be honest, as some of the games non-boss setpieces are excellent and challenging.

But what really makes DX:HR for me is the stuff that goes on around you as you play. This is a game that is interested in talking about stuff; about morality, about freedom, about Transhumanism. Big stuff, for a computer game, and they’re presented through books and newspapers scattered around the game as well as being integral to the plot and to the various conversations you have with the games NPCs. It wants you to think about these things, and stays focused on them, and its fantasically compelling to play through a game which treats like you’ll have more interest than just getting to the next checkpoint and blasting some more aliens.

Overall, the odd niggle, and it’s frustrating Boss Fights notwithstanding, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a fantastic game, a nuanced and smart vision of a future atmospherically realised. It’s flat out brilliant, and well worth the time spent playing it.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is available now on PC, PS3 and xbox360.

GS Rating: 5/5
GS Review: Matt

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2 comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Loved this game. Every second of it drew me in. The first DLC should be out this month too.

    I was doing a stealth / hack playthrough on hard and didn’t struggle too much with the boss-fights though. In fact the third I managed to defeat with one button press.

    Apparantly those fights were developed by a separate studio and it seems they didn’t quite grasp the concept of the game.

    • dwgrampus /

      yeah they’ve said the boss fight in the DLC should be more in keeping with the rest of the game.

      one press? you cad! i just ran around the arena blazing away with a laser cannon. which felt…wrong…

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