Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review – Or: The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

The Gameplay

In terms of gameplay, Human Revolution’s title is a bit of a misnomer, there’s nothing revolutionary to be found here. The game’s core mechanics aren’t that big of a leap forward from 2000’s Deus Ex. The visuals might be enhanced but maintenance shafts and air ducts don’t look that much different, even with the 10 year technological leap.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution screenshot
“Hmmm… somebody scribbled “JC Denton Wuz Here!” on this box.”

Playing Human Revolution feels exactly the same as playing the original Deus Ex, a bit too much so. Any given situation will present you with a variety of methods in order to overcome it. Are there too many guards in the way? Sneak in close for a stealth kill and thin the herd. Or bypass the patrols completely by using the old action-movie standby of crawling through the air ducts. Door locked? Find the key, hack the code, or, if you can’t stand all that nambypamby tech crap, blow it to smithereens with a well-placed rocket. While it’s always nice to have options, please note that every sentence in this paragraph could easily describe both Human Revolution and the first Deus Ex.

While Revolution is anything but, fans of both action games and stealth games are well served by the game engine. The developers clearly want you to take a thoughtful, slow approach to any confrontation, but if you’d rather go in guns blazing, more power to you. However, it should be noted that Human Revolution is blatantly balanced more toward stealth than combat. The difficulty level ramps up considerably if you decide to get your John Rambo on.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution screenshot
You know, this seemed like a much better idea 3,452 bullets ago.

Luckily, standard grunts become cannon fodder once you upgrade both your weaponry and Jensen’s bionics, negating this complaint somewhat. As in Deus Ex, you’ll have to pick and choose which augmentation to outfit Jensen with. You can’t get them all, so choose wisely. It’s recommended that you stick with whatever complements your style of play. Outfitting a combat-centric character with nothing but stealth and infiltration powers means all the other bionics will point and laugh at you after they’re done kicking your ass while you try to hack the soles of their boots. Speaking of hacking, there’s a fun mini game that kicks in whenever you try to pop a lock. It wears out its welcome eventually, but I got a kick out of it for the first few dozen times it popped up. When you’re not out on missions, Human Revolution has a considerably large world for you to explore. The game encourages scavenging, it’s worth checking out every setting’s nooks and crannies for spare gear and other valuables.

Deux Ex: Human Revolution is a game that does nothing in a manner that can be described as extraordinary, but everything it does, it does well. The combat is exciting. Exploration is rewarding. Navigating dialog trees L.A. Noire-style is engaging. Plus, having different approaches to resolving any situation means you can easily play the game several times and still discover something new. In this day and age of short and sweet games, Human Revolution‘s replayability is a breath of fresh air.

The Presentation

Human Revolution’s graphics won’t win any awards come year’s end, but what’s here is solid. Graphically, the game is a triumph of art design over visual quality. At no point during my time with Deus Ex did I not feel like I was living in a cyberpunk metropolis. Each city you visit has a different feel. Whether it’s advertisements on skyscraper-size billboards or the local slang, every location feels unique. Human Revolution’s overall feel is akin to Blade Runner, it’s a world perpetually cloaked in darkness and/or rain.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution screenshot

Unfortunately, character models are another story. Generally stiff and far from lifelike, Human Revolution’s NPCs often take a running jump into the uncanny valley and never look back. Unlike L.A. Noir’s finely constructed models, characters in Deus Ex have few expressions beyond constant frowning. It doesn’t distract from the story being told but I do wish Eidos would have invested in some decent motion capture actors.

Luckily, voice acting is top-notch. Veteran voice actor Elias Toufexis gives Jensen a commendable presence, even if his voice does tend toward the monotone at times. The rest of the cast does the script justice. The rest of the audio does a more than adequate job of immersing you in Deus Ex’ world. The music is appropriately melancholic, with the occasional techno beat when the action calls for one. Explosions and gunfire have sizable impact, making sure to keep your pulse pounding when the shit hits the fan. Human Revolution doesn’t break any ground with its presentation. It’s a top-notch title, no question, but with a few improvements it could have been extraordinary instead of just good. Here is a game that depends on its gameplay rather than its graphics to entice gamers.

The Verdict: [rating:4]

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a long awaited game that delivers what it promises: great action, great story and a bevy of options for completing its campaign. While most triple-A titles nowadays won’t last you more than 5-10 hours, Deus Ex will easily double or triple that play time, depending on how many runs you’re willing to invest in, and in this day and age, that’s enough to get this reviewer’s vote.

Your faithful reviewer,

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a frown-off scheduled with my good friend Adam Jensen. He has no idea what he’s getting into. I was Frown-Off 2010’s frowner of the year.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution screenshot
You’re going down, bitch!

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