Review: Deus Ex Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human RevolutionGame: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
XBox 360, PS3, PC
Eidos Montreal
Square Enix

So, rather than hit you with the common “Deus Ex Human Revolution looks alright doesn’t it?” type thing we took the time to sit down and finish the game on it’s hardest difficulty to ensure we could bring you informed, accurate and complete opinions on this huge game.

Before we jump in I would also add that the original Deus Ex is one of my favourite games ever and I’ve had the pleasure, nay honour, to play it through a number of times. So having spent many an hour with the original (and, yes, played the less popular sequel) how did my play through of Human Revolution stack up?

Well, you’ll be unsuprised to hear it was a blast, but not only that it was engaging, exciting, enthralling and tense. All the things I demand of Deus Ex.

There are so many good things to say about it that it’s hard to know where to start. So, somewhat counter-intuitively perhaps, I’m going to start with the negatives.

Erm… hmmmm… wait for it… give me a second… nope… no… sorry… I’ve got nothing.

Eidos Montreal have delivered a blinder. They took the experience of the hallowed original and not only faithfully transplanted it with loving care into a shiny new engine, but also “augmeted” it in a considerable number of ways.

Deus Ex Human Revolution Combat

Sometimes it seems like everyone is out to get you... well often actually...

There were moments playing this game where I truly felt I was back in the original, all the micro-panics, quick retreats and rethinks were there alongside fresh new twists in the form of a renewed hacking mini-game, increased weapon selection & customisation, wider skill set to choose from, interesting encounter / dialog mechanic and a more varied set of locations and environments. Another big area of improvement for me is the environmental destruction engine which has taken the interactivity to a new level, whilst you can’t blow holes in every wall you can certainly blow most doors off their hinges, rip through specific walls with mines & grenades (or your suitably augmented fist!) and use the environment against your opponents, be that by throwing exploding barrels or heavy furniture at them or by gassing or shocking them using nearby water or gas valves. Combine this with Deus Ex’s famous “vents” and the ability to move large object around and you often have 4 or 5 realistic options for overcoming each obstacle. A favourite pass-time of mine became picking up turrets themselves and moving them around, the amount of fun you can have with this game engine is bordering on the frightening!

In addition to the exploration and re-arrangement of the environment, one must also contend with the opposition, in this case a fairly strong, if a little predictable, AI. This really shines when working out how to deal with rooms containing multiple AI. On the harder difficulty this requires split-second timing and more than the odd skipped heart-beat. But again, the joy of working with, or rather gainst, this is considerable. Manipulating opponents by use of cover, doors and noise can be as much of a thrill as it is a challenge and yet there are times when even a hardened Deus Exer must duck and run for cover and / or stealth their way through a crowded room or onrushing heavy troops. Particularly impressive in this release are sight-lines. You certainly feel that unless you are fully in cover you will be seen and the enemy will sometimes spot you through pretty small gaps, so caution is, as ever, strongly advised.

Deus Ex Human Revolution Takedown

Great fun one-on-one, but a takedown is more than twice the fun when it's a double!

When we talk about the opposition in Deus Ex we can’t fail to discuss “take-downs”, perhaps my favourite introduction into Deus Ex is the “Double Takedown” which is as effective when correctly used as it is awesome looking. Within all stages of the game you are often met with pairs of opponents, these can prove surprisingly tricky to negotiate “sophisticatedly” unless you have chosen to take advantage of this double take-down offered by the Reflex skill. Deus Ex is not, of course, limited to those who enjoy stealth & hacking, but also welcomes those who favour a more direct approach. Weapon handling is excellent across the board, be that using an assualt rifle, grenade, rocket launcher or even a plasma rifle. The ballistics feel realistic and the weapons themselves powerful and effective, which all leads to a strong shooter experience for any who enjoy shooting from either cover, or, indeed, the hip.

But the game is not all about dealing with armed foes, and the other areas of the game have clearly been given just as much tlc as the combat. In addition to a fantastic story populated by richly realised characters who are affected to greater or lesser degrees by our each of our decisions we are also treated to a range of environments each individual and full of local flavour. The way these two elements are interwoven as the game unfolds is another great credit ot both the franchise and the developers.

Deus Ex Human Revolution Augmentations

Which ever type of Adam you want, you can have, but remember, you can't have it all.

But what of Adam himself? Well he is as multi-faceted and dynamic as the rest of the game, with a real opportunity to customise him to your play style and learn to use his abilities, skills and strengths to your advantage over the whole course of the game, without ever giving you a sense that you have mastered every option he provides. This bodes very well for anyone who is considering multiple play-throughs, which I would encourage. Every player should certainly consider one “full stealth” and one “direct attack” play-through. The game really does offer a completely different feel under each of these styles and so is certainly worth exploring from both angles.

I have, in the past, been accused of being overly glowing in my praise for a game, so I am glad that I can raise one final, and perhaps trivial, niggle. Boss fights. Now there are only really a very few of these, but they are a little, how should I put it… uninspired? No, that is too harsh. They are perfectly playable, but as the bosses can’t really be “stealthed” you must be prepared to deal with them directly, regardless of your preferred play style for the rest of your play-through. Having said that, once you’ve mastered the approach to defeating each one they can actually be rather enjoyable. So chin up, knuckle down and give ‘um hell!

So, yes, it’s a game you should definately play, and yes, you will enjoy it, a lot. The real question should probably be how many times will you play it? Once? Twice? or More? Well, my personal recommendation to you is to play it at least twice, as above, but I would then invite you to play a third time as well, to really enjoy mixing and matching the two distinct styles and using the best one to deal with each situation you encounter, thus mastering the game and giving you that great sense of smugness that comes from dominating the opposition fully in each area the game presents. There really is nothing better…

Review Round-Up

Graphics 4/5 – Superb. Yes they’re not absolutely cutting edge, but surely functional futurism has never looked so good. With genuine wow moments (Take the opportunity to look up every now and then, and / or admire the light coming through the blind in your apartment) it certainly adds to the overall experience.

Sound 4/5 – A fantastically Blade Runner esque soundtrack does great things to help plunge you into this dystopian universe, and all the other audio is certainly strong enough to keep you under for the duration.

Gameplay 5/5 – Certainly the game’s strong point the flexibility of both the game’s engine and environment design make multi-play throughs far more “recommended” than simply being “possible”.

Longevity 5/5 – Yup, you guessed it with gameplay this sharp it would be a travesty not to play it at least twice, non?

Overall 4.5 out of 5

With a collosal weight on it’s shoulders, Deus Ex: Human Revolution not only delivers but does so repeatedly, like an OCD postman that’s fallen in love with you, it just keeps delivering, over and over and over again.

- Richard “Rax” Burley

Tue, September 6 2011 » PC/Mac, PS3, Reviews, Xbox 360

2 Responses

  1. joe bloggs September 20 2011 @ 3:39 am

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear………… I haven’t read enough of your reviews but you mentioned criticism of being too overzealous in your praise of games. Unfortunately I have to agree with your peers and say that you are a a repeat offender once again. The game is not that good, not that perfect and has many flaws.
    1. The character models, particularly with facial textures and structure right off the bat in the game are inconsistent and down right dated at times.
    2. The game moves farther away from the mantle set by the original deus ex by reducing it’s rpg elements even more.
    3. Most of the augmentations are either useless or boring and take forever to acquire.
    4. There is no back story, no real consistent story telling to have any visceral/emotional connection to the protagonist. They tried making Adam Jensen into Christian Bale when he is in his Batman persona. i.e. emotionless, incredibly wooden and having a voice as gruff as chain smoking meth addict. It doesn’t make him sound tough or “deep” it just makes him into a douche.
    5. The “silent” take downs may not be heard by the npc’s most of the time, however they are long winded, extremely crude and highly unrealistic. (they should take a leaf out of splinter cell conviction and batman arkham asylum’s books)
    6. Why should punching someone in the face use up a whole energy module required to perform “inhuman feats”?
    7. In invisible war you could take something like the humble pistol and augment it in an array of ways to accommodate or employ it in all sorts of situations. The weapons upgrades in HR are relatively sparse and unimaginative.
    8. Why would a shop that specialises in catering to human augmentation only stock two praxis kits at a time?
    9. Deus Ex HR is far more linear than people realise, your choices mean very little and there is no free roaming. For the sake of levelling up you are forced to play the game in a certain way and spend half your time hacking and reloading your save if you make a mistake. The first two Deus Ex games were real action RPG’s, HR is just an FPS with a few RPG elements.
    10. Getting augmentations takes an insane amount of hacking, a mini game that isn’t generally fun and with no new game+ mode you are left with nothing if you want to play again.

    To improve the franchise for the next sequel (and a lot of people predict a remake of the original deus ex) I feel that they need to:
    1. Create more options and customisations that let the player use their imagination as they modify weapons and abilities. But not in a whacky way ala Bioshock.
    2. Make augmentations such as running silently a passive ability.
    3. Create a number of mini games to represent different “types” of firewalls you are trying to hack through.
    4. Make the world properly free roaming.
    5. Mark on your map the exits you need to go to to reach your destination.
    6. Don’t engage a little movie everytime I should make a takedown or begin to climb a ladder…..
    7. Make the takedowns instantaneous
    8. Dump the whole yellow on black theme. I was tired of it early on and desired much more variety in colour, lighting and scenery.
    9. Get a much better voice actor for the protagonist.
    10. Incorporate some investigative techniques/gadgets into the game.
    11. Try and scare your audience as well as enchant them. Don’t stop at trying to make everything just “cool”. Take risks, incorporate families, and psychopaths in their rawest form as you contrast the state of “humanity” as it wrestles with it’s future bonding with technology. The relationship, interaction and involvement of the love interest was deplorable. The closest I came to feeling shocked, sad or desperate was in once sequence when you try to save your pilot who is trying to sacrifice herself for your needs. Another failure in utilising the possibility of an interesting antagonist in Ezikiel Sanders. You get a massive speech with him, learn about his history and what he is trying to achieve…… the next you see him is just later in a room where he is easily taken care of……. very boring.

    I did like the game, but I LOVED the other Deus Ex instalments. The franchise is moving in the same direction as the Fable Series, but not in such a retarded fashion.

  2. Rax September 20 2011 @ 11:42 am

    OK, nice to get such a complete and well articulated response! ;-)

    Now, it would be remiss of me not to respond, obviously, but I would say that having completed it it on “Hard” twice now I think I can speak for the game as a whole reasonably accurately.

    First, I’d like to respond to your list of “flaws”;

    1. Possibly, but this depends largely on which platform you are looking at and which characters you are talking about, Adam looks awesome, whenever you see him, and most of the main characters also work well; particularliy Sarif, Darrow and Megan. I personally didn’t completely go for Faridah or Pritchard, but that may just be me. Also the “stylisation” of the game shouldn’t be discounted, it affects a raft of the visuals, and I further felt the scripting , story & voice acting were all spot on. Character-wise I think that makes for a very good end product! (If you are just arguing on visuals then I am dissappointed, “characters” should be so, so , SO much more than that!)

    2. RPG elements? Do you mean story / characters / arc or skills / stats / equipment? You’re not really clear enough on what you mean here for me to answer properly.

    3. Do you seriously mean that? Augmentations are key to how easy the game is to play! Hacking becomes virtually impossible without the correct augmentations, specially later in game, equally you will not be able to control cameras or turrets without the relevant augmentations. Stealth is only viable with the cloaking augmentations, and pursuing a “non-lethal” approach is greatly hampered or assisted with specific, key, augmentations. I felt that the pace of aquisition of augmentations was just right… there always seemed to be one I wanted next, without making the game unplayable for the lack of it. Sorry my friend, really don’t understand where you are coming from on this point!

    4. OK, I appreciate your point more strongly here, Adam is “colder” than some may like, but in reality this is totally down to how you play him, the choices you make as him. As for lack of back story, I liked the blank canvas of the player character, much as I do in BioShock or Mass Effect. Equally I was shocked at the Faridah storyline and delighted when I managed to resolve it the way I wanted, and the “final choice” is well presented and had me pondering it for quite some time before I made my decision(s)! Personally I think Adam is a cool badass, and is portrayed well as such.

    5. What? Unrealistic? The guy has a hugely powerful cybernetic arm that can smash walls, he can cloak, drop from any height without damage and fire mini-grenades from his back and you are worried his takedowns are unrealistic? I LOVED the takedowns, for the whole of both my run-throughs… we’ll have to agree to disagree!

    6. Erm, because it’s totally silent, 100% effective and instant (that sounds “inhuman” to me).

    7. Again, tend to agree with you here a little more. Some of the weapon upgrades are awesome (explosive revolver rounds anyone), whilst others are far less inspired, but over all it’s functional.

    8. To stop you over-powering the game. Why aren’t there millions of bullets in the military warehouse, why can’t you drive cars, why can’t you airstrike? All about balance.

    9. OK, maybe we played different original Deus Ex’s, I did PLENTY of saving and reloading on my runs! But on the linearity I would agree that this one is a little more linear than necessary, but I think you may be forgetting that the first (& second) one tended to also be fairly linear most of the time.

    10. Hacking, whilst not genre defining, is no worse than BioShock, Thief, or any other leading hackable games. OK, it doesn’t feature the simple excellence of Covert Action’s hacking game, which is still the best ever in my opinion, but it’s certainly not the worst! Could do better, but nowhere near as bad as it could have been. Aslo remember you can keep hacking down to a minimum by finding the 10 hidden praxis kits & buying the 8 available from the LIMB clinics. Sorry, but I had 6 unused praxis points left of my first runthrough (and 2 on my second), praxis shortage was never a problem for me.


    1. 6/10 = You have to be VERY careful not to unbalance the game. But always welcome if they can afford to develop them.
    2. 7/10 = Mostly agree. Although I like the extra challenge of the depleting energy meter, it adds peril to the mechanic, which is welcome.
    3. 6/10 = Again agree, except for the added cost & development time. In a perfect world yes, but otherwise copy Covert Action’s one and use that!
    4. 5/10 = In addition to everything else this would take HUGE amounts of time and limit the options re augmentations, as it would make the game too easy otherwise.
    5. 3/10 = No planning required is a poor way to go. You have a map, use it. It’s part of the fun.
    6. 4/10 = Agree on ladder, disagree big time on takedown. I thought the way they gave different takedown “movies” for different scenarios was awesome!
    7. 2/10 = They are. All opposition is frozen whilst you execute them, oh and thus “chaining” takedowns is very awesome.
    8. 4/10 = I liked it’s Bladerunneresque style and really felt it really pulled me into the world. One or two spots of “High Colour” would not go amiss, but overall a minor issue.
    9. 3/10 = Always the case in every game I’ve played. Overall I think he actually did a very good job with Adam.
    10. 2/10 = No thanks. This is fundamentally an action strategy with RPG, not LA Noire. You can’t have it all, otherwise the game would cost $220 per copy to develop!
    11. I thought the game asked, and indeed forced you to answer at the end, a lot of questions about human alteration (be that in reality genetic engeering or indeed cybernetics) and about what it is to be a human and what value to place in the “body” as opposed to the “mind” and who controls which parts and at what cost. Whilst not perfect I thought at least it asked questions, unlike Metal Gear or Splinter Cell, which lack this “upper level” of decision making.

    I loved this game, and was very pleased with how they delivered on it, it goes into a hugely strong second place after the orignal and way before Invisible War, and comes out well above Metal Gear & Splinter Cell in my book. Not quite on a par with the BioShock’s maybe, but it’s close and definitely a game anyone with any interest in the topics it raises / gameplay styles it offers should certainly play.

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