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We Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

If you were given only one choice: To choose or not to choose, which would you choose? Deus Ex: Human Revolution is about choices. Many, many choices. Sure that’s putting a simple spin on what is an immersive, challenging, and extremely fun game. But on the rare occasion I’m confronted with a game of this high quality, I frown on waxing lyrical. Instead I’ll put it to you as simply as I can — this is a brilliant game with a bewildering array of choice. Find out after the jump what choices I made and why you should choose Deus Ex: Human Revolution as your next gaming purchase. In fact that last bit shouldn’t even be a choice.

The Jargon

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel to the acclaimed Deus Ex, a game that to my shame I never got around to playing. I can hear the boos and hissing from here. However, I have always known that I had missed out on something great. Those many times a gaming buddy mentions something cool he once did in Deus Ex and the uncomfortable silence when I have no story of my own to bring to the table. Those days are over. I certainly have stories now!

Blending RPG goodness with action adventure, Deus Ex: Human Revolution by Eidos Montreal is quite simply a game that lives up to the hype. No one envies a gaming studio that has to match up to previous greatness. It can be so difficult to achieve and so easy to fail. Gaming history is full of failed sequels, prequels, and the like. Fortunately Deus Ex: Human Revolution isn’t one of them.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The Story

The game is set in a future world straight out of the pages of Phillip K Dick, Neal Stephenson, and William Gibson. The cyberpunk setting is rendered beautifully in crisp graphics, which while aged in parts, certainly create a rich believable world.

You play the role of Adam Jensen who is injured early in the game and has the majority of his body replaced with cybernetics. Jensen doesn’t get to make a choice here, it’s probably the last time in the entire game that there is no choice! In a world were the implications of mechanical augmentation are the hot topic and causing the majority of strife, Jensen is thrown straight in at the deep end with his arms, legs and even his eyes being replaced. Clearly he can’t pick sides now.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Stealthy Does It

The main storyline sees Jensen trying to track down the culprits of the attack that left him near death and sans girlfriend. Spanning several city hubs, the main storyline is engaging and bolstered by quality cinematics throughout the game. There are also tonnes of side quests. Never fear you won’t be killing fifty rats and skinning them for pelts so Laura the Rabbis daughter can make her father a warm cloak. Nope, no tedious side quests here. Instead each quest is several layers deep and can be achieved in a variety of ways, depending on your… choices of course.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Shades

The Choices

While the moral implications of body augmentation come up often throughout the game, that’s the one thing Jensen had no choice in. Which as it turns out is a great thing. Augmentation is the main area of choice that you have in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Choose to bolster your hacking skills and spend your time reading spicy emails between company employees, taking over security systems and unlocking doors which lead to alternate routes through levels.
Choose to enhance your stealthy abilities. See through walls and tell exactly where guards are looking and then use that information to slip past them silently.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Spotted

Choose to enhance your strength. Punch holes through walls to make a new route to your goal. Take down multiple opponents with agile leaps and fists of fury! Move heavy objects and use them as stepping stones to get to previously blocked areas. Or pick up heavy objects and throw them at people.

These are just some of the many choices available to you. Every mission can be completed in what seems like innumerable ways and the entire game can be played exactly as you choose. While you can choose to go one way or another there is an amazing amount of middle ground too. What’s especially great is how Eidos Montreal have managed to make every choice seem like it’s the right one. You’ll never feel that your choice to stay slinky and stealthy means you’re missing out. In fact the stealthy option can be incredibly rewarding given the complex nature of clearing a stage without being seen! That said, every choice has rewards and you will feel great achieving them no matter your decision.

Obviously being a man of direct action, I chose not to go the stealthy route. My missions were completed in a blaze of gunfire, torn bodies, broken walls, and occasionally and most satisfyingly, a flying vending machine of doom.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - vending Machine of Doom

Minor Hiccups

As with any shooting game that I play on a console, I struggled with the controls. I know it’s an old cliché but once you’ve gone keyboard and mouse, you’ll never feel comfortable using a controller. This is of course very subjective, if you are a master of the d-pad, you’ll do fine. Me, well I was lucky enough not only to struggle along on the PS3 but also to try my hand at the game on PC, bliss. That said, the controls are configurable to suit your needs.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Kung Fu

The bosses are annoying. While they are most likely a necessary evil in what is a polished, refined, and excellent game in almost every aspect, I didn’t enjoy them very much. Throughout the game the free playability and the many choices that you can make becomes strangely addictive. It’s good to make choices and great to feel them come off just right. But when it comes to the bosses the playing field is greatly narrowed. You must kill the boss to get by. You can’t bypass them like you would other enemies. You can’t bargain with them as you can other enemies. You can only kill them. Truthfully it’s not the biggest hiccup when your playing style revolves primarily around throwing vending machines, but after being given so much choice, one feels slightly cheated to have even one option taken away.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Fists

My Story

So now I finally have a Deus Ex story to tell and it’s a simple one.

I played Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Its graphics and cinematic quality got me caught up and believing in the games intelligent cyberpunk world. The playability and the seemingly infinite number of choices available and their influence on how I played the game kept me highly entertained and it’s a ride I’m prepared to repeat.

I also threw heavy objects at people.

So the choice is yours, to play Deus Ex or to play Deus Ex.

Score: 9 out of 10 prawns

Details:

Publisher: Square Enix

Distributor: Megarom Games

RRP: R599 (PS3, Xbox 360)

Release Date: 26 August 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution