Deus Ex Human Revolution review

deus ex human revolution

Does Deus Ex Human Revolution deliver on the promise of the original? Will it do for yellow what The Matrix did for green?

I was beyond excited to get my hands on a copy of Deus Ex 3: Human revolution. As it happens, although I’m a huge fan of RPGs and thinky shooters like Half-Life and Bioshock, I’m a Deus Ex virgin. But I knew there are huge fans of the Deus Ex games out there, so I tried to think from the point of view of diehard fans as well as newcomers. This is one of the most critically-acclaimed game franchises of all time – a lot of eyes will be on Deus Ex 3, willing it to succeed and praying it won’t fall.

Buy Deus Ex Human Revolution on PC / PS3 / XBOX 360

You begin Deus Ex Human Revolution…

In Deus Ex 3 you play Adam Jensen, an ex-cop security specialist hired by the Sarif biotech corp. The world you inhabit is a technologically-advanced dystopia. Global corporations with the power of governments control civilisation, and huge advances in genetics, robotics, information and biotechnology mean that anyone who can pay for it can become a next-level human through ‘augmentation’. The world seethes with politics: There are plenty of ‘purist’ human groups who are fanatically opposed to the augmentation of the transhumanists.

As Adam Jensen, your task is to protect Sarif industries on a day of historic governmental hearings. Despite your best efforts, superhuman mercenaries attack the buildings and murder Sarif’s top scientists, nearly killing you in the process. Whether you’re pro augmentation or not, turning you into a cyborg is the only way to save your life.

You’ve been resurrected at a critical moment in humanity’s history. Your decisions will determine humanity’s fate. Who will you side with? Who will you save? Will you be brutish and lethal, or a ghost, operating stealthily behind the scenes? The choices reside with you. What kind of person are you? What kind of future will you help to create?

Deus Ex Human Revolution gameplay

You’re hit in the face with choices early on, and there’s plenty of storyline to chew on. But the real beauty of Deus Ex 3 is the gameplay. It should appeal to the fans who loved the first game and wept with disappointment at the second.

Deus Ex missions require you to stay alive, and in Human Revolution, staying alive isn’t boringly easy (at least on normal setting – you do, of course, get the option of casual gameplay). You can only be shot about 3 times before you die. None of this ‘ooh I’ve been shot 20 times I’d better take a vitamin pill’. This doesn’t make the game frustrating – it just adds tension, and encourages you to think about how you want to tackle the mission.

You have a vast array of choices in both completing missions and progressing your characters.

Stealthy types: You’ll want to become superhumanly good at sneaking around. Augmentations focused on cloaking (and many other forms of cunningness) will of course help. Stealthy types are more than catered for in Deus Ex 3 gameplay: You can hide, play with movable cover (I didn’t – I freaked out and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. I was dying enough as it was, and didn’t want the indignity of dying while trying to wrestle a disposal bin), find ways around a problem via air vents, rafters and all sorts of sneaky alternatives in the terrain. You can specialise in silenced weapons, or sneak on protagonists, disable them with non-violent takedown and drag their bodies out of sight to avoid detection. The makers of Deus Ex Human Revolution promise gamers that, if you realise want to, you can get through THE WHOLE GAME without killing anyone except the main boss characters. Dear lord, that’s dedicated.

Wiseguy / Mata Hari types: You love social interaction above anything and want to talk your way out of situations. Your wit and charm will get you anywhere, my friend. You may want to focus on augmentations that enhance your social skills. They’ll help – a lot – and also give you conversation trees that don’t exist for anyone else that hasn’t specialised the way you have. Even with some of these social enhancements, there’s still the element of a mini-game. You may, for instance, augment yourself to have a higher success rate at appeasing alpha types and dominating beta types. As Adam Jensen, you’ll still have to figure out for yourself if that drug dealer you’re talking to in the understreets of New China is an alpha type or a beta type…

Hacker types: You’ll no doubt want to focus on improving your hacking skills to gain access to doors, information in secure emails, and lethal defence systems ripe for disabling and all sorts of other things that will make life easier for you. Who knows? Maybe you can even turn your enemies’ defences against them… Hacking is a mini game whereby you penetrate a server while avoiding detection. It’s enormously addictive and satisfying – but as the game progresses you’ll need quick reflexes and quick wits.

Gung-ho types: There are plenty of guns to find, buy and loot in Deus Ex. There are a huge number of augmentations that will make you become a tank, or a lethal assassin, or any combination of fighty roles. You can get up close with your fists, or with a pistol. And, as a back-up, you might want to be a reasonable shot with a sniper rifle. You’ll still have to be tactical, but yes, play your cards right and you could progress to become a death machine that stops for no-one. If that’s what you really want.

You can mix and match, of course! But it’s never a bad idea to boost your preferred area of expertise as much as you can. Personally I was quite into being a fighty shooty type who enjoyed a bit of sneaking but didn’t augment in that direction, and who built up their social and hacking skills as the game progressed…

There is always more than one strategy. There is always more than one solution. And this leads us onto choices…

Making choices in Deus Ex Human Revolution

The actual gameplay in Deus Ex is hugely involving, but you’ll also be making choices galore. Are you a lethal killer? Are you a good guy who only kills those who deserve it? You’ll be making moral decisions and gameplay decisions throughout the entire game.

Yes, but is Deus Ex 3 as good as the first one?

Friends who are diehard fans say it’s hard to judge, because the original Deus Ex was utterly groundbreaking – they’d never seen or played anything like it before. Deus Ex Human Revolution no longer has that precise edge, because we’ve experienced so many games like Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life and Bioshock since the launch of the original grandaddy of them all. But, having said that, my mates who loved the original also love my copy of Deus Ex 3, and on one eventful night played it compulsively till 5 in the morning. Lucky for me I got to have a go first…

The sheer variety of approaches to any given situation makes for enormously satisfying gameplay. The choices add depth and dimension to both gameplay and storyline, and the game is ABSOLUTELY FRIKKING BEAUTIFUL. As well as a haunting, moody soundtrack, the enviroments you’ll visit – from the ‘cyber renaissance’ futurism of Sarif Industries to the Bladerunner gorgeousity and scuzzy alleyways of New Shanghai, are literally breathtaking. While walking Adam Jensen down a corridor, I turned to the right to look out of a corporate window – and when I saw the beauty of the view, I gasped.

The environment of the game is utterly distinctive, with a thought-out palette of rich black and golds that will leave you in no doubt you’re playing something beautiful and new. I’d go so far as to say Deus Ex Human Revolution will do for yellow what The Matrix did for green.

I particularly loved the inventory screen, which was designed with a huge sense of fun. It’s divided into grids, and a machine gun will take up more grid squares than a pistol, which in turn will take up more grid squares than a bottle of pills. Even though it wasn’t a mini game, I got a kick out of re-arranging items on the inventory screen like a slot puzzle to discover that I could carry just one more item, after all… Apparently this inventory screen is just like the one in the original Deus Ex, so there you go… one more reason for hardcore fans to be delighted.

It’s worth noting that, while I can’t compare it with the original, the AI is pretty darn good in Deus Ex 3. You run away like a big girl and think the baddies aren’t waiting for you? They might be. They might well be waiting for you. You may have to assume they’re out for your blood, second guess where they’ve headed when you were out of sight, then use that intel to come up with an even more awesome plan B…

The characters are pretty good in Deus Ex, but in a way they suffer the same fate as the characters in LA Noir. There, the face detailing was so good that the limbs and torsos looked a tiny bit lumpy in comparison. Here, the environments are so utterly lush that the figures – while nicely rendered – can’t help but look a tiny bit lumpy in comparison. But for at least 30 hours’ of gameplay – and let’s face it, we’re really talking something in the region of 60-80 – that’s a small price to pay.

Deus Ex 3 is absorbing, challenging, rewarding and no doubt one of the very best games coming out this year. Fantastic.

Buy Deus Ex Human Revolution on PC / PS3 / XBOX 360