Deus Ex: Human Revolution OnLive Review
Review By: Robstein
I know I’m going to catch hell for this, but I gave up on the original Deus Ex by roughly the halfway point. I loved the idea, I loved the world and I enjoyed the story, but there were so many gameplay issues that completely destroyed my will to keep playing. Granted I was also quite young at the time and had the attention span of a hummingbird on speed, but I’d also beaten Final Fantasy 3 (which is actually 6) several times over by then so it’s really no excuse. Yet even with my less than completely euphoric memories of the PC classic, I was incredibly anxious to get my hands on Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Adam Jensen may not be J.C. Denton, but I didn’t give a crap. The game looked incredible and I had to have it, despite knowing there was a good chance that I’d be disappointed. Then I played it, and realized I was wrong.
I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.
Human Revolution is really a precursor to the first game, taking place just as human cybernetic augmentation is becoming the norm. This technological (and evolutionary) progress isn’t without its problems, however. A number of peoples’ bodies have been having trouble integrating the changes, leading to full-on rejection, chemical dependency on the drugs used to suppress said rejection, psychosis brought on by overdosing on said drug or outright death. Oftentimes due to being unable to afford those drugs in the first place. It’s not a happy time for early adopters, and that’s just the physical complications. There’s also a major public outcry against the technology as “purists” claim humankind is coming dangerously close to playing God. There are rallies, riots in the streets, and some extremists even go so far as to attack or murder augmented individuals for being “unnatural.” It makes for a fascinating backdrop.
Fans of the original game who haven’t given up on reading this review because of my earlier statement will be thrilled to know that the open-ended approach to mission completion they’ve always loved is still intact. Each area has a myriad of different paths to take and ways to approach each scenario. Blocking the doors with heavy objects so enemies can’t enter, crawling through air vents to skirt around a threat, sneaking through a room full of hostiles without ever being spotted, hacking a turret or mech and screwing with the Friendly Fire protocols or straight-up blasting everything that moves are all viable choices. And I’m just talking about one room. There are even more choices with traversal, exploration and bad guy wrangling once the experience starts to add up and players begin to tailor Jensen’s augmentations to fit their play style. I preferred the stealth approach, so I focused on a temporary cloaking ability, a few mobility enhancements and special ocular upgrades that let me see through walls. Someone else might pour their points into hacking skills while another individual will focus their abilities on combat. It’s all up to the player.
Perhaps even better is the fact that it’s all polished. The shooting and weapons handling is excellent, the overall production values are top-notch and using most of the augmentations are both simple and incredibly satisfying. But the mechanics wouldn’t amount too much if they didn’t have a worthy venue in which to shine. Which is probably why Eidos Montreal took the time to create several hub-worlds with plenty of hidden areas to discover and a surprising amount of side quests (side quests!) to take on. Seriously, some of these secondary missions have multiple parts and each tells their own little story.
Unfortunately, the concept hits a handful of bottlenecks along the way that significantly impacted my play through. I am, of course, talking about the boss fights. Pretty much everyone familiar with Human Revolution knows about this practically universal complaint. I’d like to say that it’s just getting blown out of proportion, or that the internet is simply full of idiots who can’t appreciate nuance, but no. The bosses were terribly done. At least, from the perspective of a person who went the stealth route. Seeing as I didn’t put anything into defense boosts or EMP/Flash Bang/Gas protection, it made most of these inevitable grenade-spamming showdowns an obnoxious (sometimes even infuriating) chore. Once I got past them I went right back to enjoying the hell out of my experience, but each time I came across a new one the cycle of suffering and regret started all over again. I did think the final boss was pretty cool in both concept and execution, though. For whatever that’s worth.
Aside from the bosses, I only have two other quibbles. First, the constant recycling of the exact same animations during dialog cut scenes annoyed the hell out of me. Seeing half a dozen NPCs, some of significant note even, mirroring the movements of another that I just spoke to was jarring and seemed… well, it seemed kind of lazy, to be honest. Second and much less objective is the inventory. Or rather, the way the inventory fills up too fast and forces me to drop, ignore or shuffle items around in order to pick up something I want. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad if the game didn’t contain a ridiculously tiny amount of shops. It makes carrying something big around in the hopes of making a small profit somewhere down the line incredibly arduous.
In the end, despite my minor complaints and those damned bosses, Human Revolution is still a completely stellar game. I’ve been taking a break for a bit after beating it, simply because I couldn’t stomach the thought of dealing with those bosses again, however I’m very much looking forward to play through number two. Probably on a lower difficulty (my first time was on Give Me Deus Ex, the hardest level) and with more time spent looking for side missions. I know I missed some, and I won’t be happy until I finish them all.
Rating: 5 heavily armored guards out of… wait, I think I can take this guy out quietly without the others seeing me. Then I can drag him out of sight and wait for the one with the heavy machine gun to walk past and knock him out, too…