Deus Ex: Human Revolution PC Review

Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/deus_ex_human_revolution/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Deus Ex is one of the PC gaming greats, a cyberpunk RPG with all the elements that make spy movies great, blended together in a way like no other. Over the past decade, the game has made for itself an even greater reputation, leading us up to now, where a new developer takes the helm with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, directly inspired by the original title, and approved by its creators. Hardcore fans (being hardcore fans) have been slamming the game and its design changes for some time now and refusing to believe a new title from a different team could even hope to match the greatness of its forebear. What you figured be damned: Human Revolution is the real deal.

The universe

The story is strong, voice acting is very high quality, music is wonderfully ambient (though consequently, lacking in memorable tunes), and the distinguished art direction makes for a very believable world. Over a decade may have passed and the universe may have switched hands, but Eidos Montreal have, in large part, successfully recreated the distinct feel I got from playing Deus Ex, but painted a fresh, new layer on top that blends in perfectly.

The shiny-shiny

Graphically, it may not be cutting edge, but it's plenty pleasing, provided you're not the type to need that sort of thing. And hey, it's a hell of a lot better than Deus Ex. Textures for the most part are high quality, and a variety of effects and techniques give the PC version an appreciated leg up (see bottom for the full skinny).

Story

As a prequel, Human Revolution puts you in the sexy shoes and coat of Adam Jensen, head of security aka badass spy at Sarif Industries, quite a few years before the events in the original. It's an exciting time, to be sure: founder David Sarif and his team are on the brink of pushing humanity into its next stage of evolution, all self-propelled by 'augmentations' -- bodily enhancements which can do everything from helping amputated war vets to giving one a machine gun for a hand, or hell, go invisible, just to name a few of the possibilities. Think of it as a practical, futuristic version of cosmetic surgery. Like that practice, augmenting is divisive: some groups and citizens are struggling to suppress it to preserve humanity's naturalism, while others are pushing it as far as it can go, and you're smack dab in the middle of it all.

Augmentations

You start off with just a few basic augs, but it's not too long before you'll have a few sweet abilities under your belt, whether it's seeing through walls, tracking enemies, performing the tornado-style Typhoon explosive attack, or hacking with the best of them.

Augs are chosen with 'Praxis', granted after you've gained enough XP. With these, you can choose exactly how you want to play, be that cloaking and dropping from rooftops stunning enemies Batman-style, going all out with guns, or opting for the extreme stealth route, taking in all information possible about the enemy and using it to slip by without a sound, or perhaps some mix of the three.

Different routes

As before, a few main hubs are available for free exploration during the course of your missions, but a good chunk of the game is closed. This is not to say it's linear per se, as within each set mission, there are tons of routes to take and secrets to uncover. Combined with the augmentation options and multiple endings, Human Revolution sports a sheer versatility rare in games today. It is perhaps the game's greatest strength, lending itself well to replayability not only to try out the different styles and routes, but also for self-imposed challenges, (e.g. never killing anyone, not using any augs, etc). Props to the guy who chooses 'Give Me Deus Ex' difficulty, uses no augs, and goes the extreme stealth route, as it's an equally rewarding and challenging experience.

Ch-ch-changes

Two major changes over Deus Ex are passive regen and third person cover. These were some of the biggest concerns for the hardcore, but rest easy as they've been smartly implemented. Regen is again justified by augmentations, but this time your health recovers automatically and consumes no energy cells. The rationale given by Eidos is it's simply to avoid medkit mechanics and keep the game flowing, and it works well enough. Rest assured, even on the default difficulty, enemies can take you down in the drop of a hat if you don't watch it, and it takes a good 30 seconds or so of not being shot to recover, so it's somewhat tough to exploit, and with bosses, near impossible.

As for cover, it makes for some of the game's more thrilling moments, allowing you to observe enemy patterns efficiently and undisturbed. Always fun: popping out from cover to alert an enemy to your position, popping back in, then out again to sock him in the face as he rounds the corner, or cloaking yourself, and rolling between pieces of cover undetected to your goal, and completely avoiding the hassle of confrontation. If you're a stubborn old-timer, though, the cover is completely optional; Human Revolution is certainly viable played with the retro method, if not more difficult.

One change which should delight everyone is the hacking. Improving on the non-interactive version in Deus Ex, it's now full-fledged and cleverly designed. Upon initiating a hack on a computer, safe, or security terminal, you'll see an interface with various objects representing a network, each of which you can capture, fortify, or use directly against the network. Nodes, for example, provide protection if the network catches on to you and tries to trace you; data folders are useless on their own but help you to reach your goals; data cubes provide cash or XP bonuses, and various cogs can be used to spam and slow down the network.

Routes from one object to the next are restricted, so you'll have to plan out carefully which you'll take to maximize your rewards and chance of being caught. If the network begins to trace you, you've got to think quick about how to beat it before it beats you. Three aug trees are available for hacking; I invested mostly in the stealth option, meaning my chances of being detected when capturing folders were minimal, which made for mostly breezy hacking. It all gets a bit tired toward the end as there are tons of terminals to hack, and if you're compulsive like me, you'll hack every damn one for every bit of experience and cash you can get. It's not quite Mass Effect 2 in its monotony, but it's not too far off. Still, a minor detail.

The big guns

Weapons and gadgets are varied and exciting. If you're the ranged type, there's the sniper rifle and tranquilizer rifle. Submachine guns: covered. Silenced laser pistol? You bet. Shotgun? Of course. If you're into explosives, you've got the rocket launcher, various grenades which can be transferred into mines if you're feeling crafty, and of course, Typhoon.

Guns all sound big and meaty -- or small and dainty in the case of the pistol -- like you'd hope. And if you don't feel like using weapons at all, simply opt for takedowns: with the upgraded augmentation, you'll be able to take down two enemies at once.

PC features

Eidos have been working in collaboration with Nixxes Software on the PC version of Human Revolution, knowing full well the hell old-time fans would give them for a poor port. Lay down your pitchfork, son, because it's exactly what you want: graphics options aplenty (including three kinds of AA), DirectX 11 support, HD3D support (sorry, 3D Vision owners, it doesn't play nice), smooth and customizable controls, great performance apart from some occasional stuttering (70-90fps on a 5770 / 1055t, maxed), and a drag and drop UI and quickbar. In short, it feels like a PC title through and through.

Final thoughts

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a big, satisfying game with tons of replayability, a solid score, unique art direction, tremdendously fun and challenging gameplay, and an intriguing story. Eidos Montreal have done the seemingly impossible: created a game virtually unaffected by the silly trappings of modern game design that's not only true to a classic, but superior to it in some respects.

It's not quite perfect: the soundtrack could be more memorable instead of hiding in the background most of the time, boss fights are often just trial and error methodology applied in the most frustrating way possible (though very satisfying when you do eventually win out), graphics could be better, more open areas would be welcome, hacking is a bit excessive, there are a few serious quest bugs, and animations are somewhat stiff. But in the end, it's petty griping compared to everything else it has to offer.

Games this deep, unique, and thrilling are rare; if Eidos pulls off Thief 4 in the same vein, they'll be well on their way to cementing themselves as a masterful revivalist of classic franchises.

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