Many games in recent years have pushed the mechanic of choice as a selling point. In an era where RPG’s have evolved in to a cinematic experience, where the player can push through making choices in an open world, it is wise to question what ‘freedom’ is provided. We have the standard dialogue options (Mass Effect), the open world (Oblivion) and the typical customisation of a players class (…countless). But how many of those games truly offer a diverse experience for an individual?
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a title that epitomises choice. Do you want to push through a level unseen, hacking your way through security terminals? Or are you more liable to picking up an assault rifle and smashing skulls? Maybe you want a mixture of both – and DX:HR provides.
As a prequel to one of the most revered titles in history, Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a lot to live up to – especially after fan disappointment to 2003’s Invisible War. Fans nervously anticipated on a promise of strong narrative, combined with the hallmark gameplay that the series is renowned for.
Set in 2027, Human Revolution provides a complex story which explores the nature of human augmentation. Allowing improved strength, faster reflexes and even cloaking, there is strong social debate on the ramifications of allowing such an industry to remain unregulated, especially alongside such rapid developments in the technology and in a world where global corporations dictate much of society’s progress. Pro-aug groups argue for its benefits, whilst human liberty groups cry at its potential for misuse.
You are Adam Jensen. Working as a security guard for Sarif Industries, an attack on the corporation leads to sensitive information being stolen, whilst scientists are kidnapped and you are left for dead. Being rebuilt with the help of augmentations, the player is thrust on a thrilling journey to uncover the truth.
Moving at a steady pace – the plot gradually unravels through a lengthy main quest. This is broken up through well thought out (and substantial) side-quests which engage the player in a world which feels frighteningly real despite the hub worlds’ fairly small scale.
Whereas other games might be happy to rely on caricatures whose main purpose is to fluff out the plot, DX:HR’s NPCs are three-dimensional characters that have been clearly developed, and serve to immerse the player further. This is further reinforced by a littering of e-books, newspapers and emails (which are often obtained by hacking PC’s in a gloriously done mini-game) – giving the impression that a much larger story exists around you.
Gameplay is nicely varied. While missions will often be based around standard objectives, there are numerous ways to achieve each goal. One mission has you trying to get through a heavily guarded factory – whether you stay in the shadows as a ghost, or turn every corner firing a rifle is up to you. Sneaking in through the roof might be just as viable as going in a back door. The game doesn’t make it obvious that these choices exist, so it is helpful (and entertaining) to examine your potential options before jumping in. What’s remarkable is how balanced each option feels, with the game working seamlessly as a cover shooter, as well as a stealth experience.
Certain sections may begin to frustrate a player who fancies a change of pace midway through a mission. Often you will be sneaking past rooms full of patrolling guards (who operate on an alarm/alert system akin to MGS), and a poorly equipped player may struggle to directly tackle them. But this is also part of the joy of the game, as it rewards thinking and pre-planning, with not so obvious solutions to problems allowing moments of joy. In one example, I was low on any ammo and ended up hacking a moveable security turret to dispose of my enemies, whilst sneaking through.
These choices are also expressed through the games levelling up system (or augmentation screen). A player who is more hell-bent on all out warfare may choose to upgrade weapon handling skills, but a stealthier player may focus on cloaking systems or hacking upgrades. My lengthy playthrough didn’t allow me the option to choose all selectable options, but potential is there for a varied experience should one wish.
The games generous length is interspersed with a few boss battles, which can feel completely distant from the gameplay that directly preceded them. Going from such wide open gameplay to a section which almost forces you to shoot (in a straight up FPS style) is jarring. But overall these take away little from the 30+ hours of gameplay.
Visually, the game impresses. The streets of Detroit are (always) dark and menacing, and build up a sense of foreboding. A common use of strong black and orange tones, provides a striking image – with solid artistry ensuring that each area feels different enough to add variation, but similar enough to spread an uneasy atmosphere throughout. Technically the game is fairly standard for current-gen consoles, albeit more than good enough. Animation is strong too, although facial animations can seem a little rough at times which surprisingly detracts very little from the immersion despite their frequency.
Controls feel responsive and service the games mechanics efficiently – Relying on a radial menu for weapons, and a smooth cover system which compliments the change from 1st to 3rd person in frequent situations.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a unique title in this modern age, fully rewarding experimentation across its varied mechanics, and is a worthy purchase for any fan of the franchise or any gamer looking for a thrilling adventure.
[9/10 is rewarded to a game which has really impressed us, and is a definite recommendation based on experiences]