Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review: Nothing Is What It Seems

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game about subjects that at first glance seems pretty farfetched, but the more you play the more you realize that it’s not so crazy after all. You are Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT specialist who’s been handpicked to be the head of security at one of America’s most experimental biotechnology firms, Sarif Industries.  One day things go really bad when a bunch of “thugs” invade and take out the facility and its personnel with extreme prejudice. You try to intervene, but are overpowered by the highly augmented force and end up severely wounded.  So severely in fact, that Sarif Industries feels they have no choice but to mechanically augment you, and from there your life will never be the same. The world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is filled with mystery as you try to unravel a complex conspiracy where nothing is what it seems – and I do mean NOTHING.

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Adam Is One Cool Customer

Gameplay

Deus Ex: Human Revolution plays from the first person viewpoint most of the time, but it would be a disservice to call it a first person shooter because it is so much more than that. For the most part, the game presents you with objectives and then leaves it to you on how exactly you should accomplish them. In almost every place you go and everything you do, there are multiple ways to achieve your objective. With that said, there are also benefits to adjusting your approach to each situation based on the recon you can gather. The key thing to remember is that while Adam may be “augmented”, and thus able to do things the average human can’t, he isn’t superhuman. Often times, as you will find out, brains can overcome brawn.

The majority of the time you will be outnumbered, and taking on your enemies head-on would be suicide. In cases like this is where the stealth and hacking component become critical. The stealth aspect of the game is one that you don’t have to use, but it would behoove you to at least give it a shot. If there are multiple enemies in an area, often times it’s smarter to just look for an alternate path around them. There are many ways to achieve this. A few are making sure to keep an eye out for vents, windows and manhole covers. If you truly want to remain stealthy, you will have to master the art of hacking, which I have to admit is cumbersome at times and really affects the experience of the game.

deus ex human revolution mar 1 550x309When you come up to certain doors or objects, you will see that they are password protected. At this point, if you have been a good operative, you may have already acquired the passcode in which case it will show up on screen for you, and all you have to do is punch it in. In other cases though, you won’t have the passcode and in that case your only choice will be to attempt to hack it. Every time you decide to hack a door, computer, or whatever, you risk being detected by that objects “Sub-Routine”, which will detect you and either lock you out or trip an alarm. The amount of time it takes for the “Sub-Routine” to detect you varies depending on multiple factors, but it will detect you eventually and when it does, it’s a race against the clock. It’s not so bad once you get used to it, but I do think it hinders gameplay. The difficulty of the actual hacking mechanism itself is only one part. The other frustrating part is that you can only attempt to hack an object if your hacking capture software matches the level of the door. You start with a Level 1 and to increase that, you have to purchase an upgrade for that augmentation. It cost you very valuable upgrade points that you could use for some other upgrade that could be more directly beneficial to gameplay. The net result is that if you decide to focus on more gameplay oriented augmentations, then chances are you are going to encounter a lot of doors that you will never know what is behind them. The fact that the hacking mini-game is so challenging in and of itself, it ultimately limits either the player’s ability to explore everything the world has to offer, or causes you to defer on an upgrade that might actually help them be more effecting during the core story modes.

Combat

This is where Deus Ex: Human Revolution really starts to shine, though it is still hampered by design decisions that just weren’t necessary. In terms of weapons, Deus: Ex Human Revolution has quite a solid variety of them, including everything from your standard pistols and combat rifles to stun guns and more “experimental weapons”. The problem here though, is that you will often times find yourself out of ammo for your first or second choice of weapons and have to fall back to your pistol. When it came to ammo, it feels a lot like the old Resident Evil games where every ounce of ammo was like mana from the heaven that had to be used with the utmost care. From one perspective, I understand that the developers probably did this to attempt to force the player to look for ways to avoid engaging the enemy and thus highlight the stealth features. While this is commendable, you often times feel like you are being forced to play a certain way whether you like to or not.

In terms of melee combat, it is as cool as it looks in the trailers, but even with this part of the game that is so cool there is a flaw. When engaging an enemy, whether you sneak up on them or not, you can activate a melee maneuver that is lethal or non-lethal. While both look cool and vary by enemy and the context, they do have a distinct difference that again, ultimately affects how you play. When you are outnumbered and trying to sneak around, you of course want to be as silent as possible. There are two distinct differences between the two types of attacks that I could tell, but only one affects the way you play. The first thing is that the “lethal” attack of course kills your enemy, while the “non-lethal” takedown only knocks them out.  The important thing to note about the “non-lethal” takedown is that, I suggest you only use it when you don’t expect anyone to find them, because if they do, not only will it put everyone else on alert, they will also wake them up.

So then you say, “well I’m just killing them then, they won’t wake up from that right?” You are right about them not waking up from that, though the downside to the “lethal” takedown is that it makes noise and that will definitely influence when you use it. If you just happen to run into a lone guy in a hallway or office it might not matter. However, if you need to get past a guy who is in earshot of another enemy, they will hear you. This again forces you to go for stealth takedowns a disproportionate amount of the time to avoid being detected. Another thing that will slightly annoy players is energy cells. In order to perform a takedown, you need to have at least one full energy cell. Every time you use a takedown one is depleted, and while the player can have several, only the first one regenerates itself. For the life of me I can’t understand why it would cost an energy cell for the stealth takedowns, which are all things our hero could do without any augmentation at all. For the lethal takedowns and wall punches, I could see how those might require an energy cell, but not for a simple chokehold. In the end though, this does not change the fact that they look awesome, no matter which one you use.

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Conclusion

In the end, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a really good if not quite a great game. It has tons of depth to the story, presents us with a compelling lead character, and delivers solid gameplay. I was also really impressed by the overall excellent design of the game. For as rich of an environment as they have created, there are hardly any loading screens through the majority of the gameplay, and that is the mark of a well made game. Deus Ex: Human Revolution definitely has something for everyone. If you want to stay on the main story path and press through it, you can do that. However, if you don’t mind exploring a bit, there are more than enough side quests to keep you intrigued. The game’s social aspect when it comes to engaging with characters you will encounter also adds another level of richness, as how you handle them can determine if you get that critical piece of information you need the easy way or the hard way. It is a rare thing to find a game that has so many components to it, come together so well allowing players to at times literally make there on way where there wasn’t one before. I came across a gate that was locked and I didn’t have the security code and didn’t want to risk hacking it and causing an alarm. So I stacked a box on top of a trash can and used that to just jump over the gate – security code be damned. Anyway, we think that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is more than a worthy follow-up to the original Deus Ex (even if it is technically a prequel), that’s why we give Deus Ex: Human Revolution 8.5 out of 10.

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Lorenzo Winfrey

Editor-In-Chief at ZoKnowsGaming
I am the Co-Ceo of DLT Digital Media. We are a company that is focused on developing new and innovative web properties in addition to developing WordPress based web sites for others. But before I was all that, I was a gamer.