So you think the Freemasons created the Pyramids, the Illuminati started the global economic crisis from their base on Mars, and the worst of it all: you’re convinced popcorn is the aliens’ method of getting their mind control devices into our bodies. Your tinfoil hats do you justice.
However, there is something to know: none of that is true, but conspiracy theories, hidden agendas, and secret organizations are all central to the Deus Ex series. Eidos’ new Deus Ex: Human Revolution is actually prequel to the series progenitor Deus Ex released in 2000. Known for their intricate plots and dependence on conspiracy culture, the new Deus Ex does not fail to live up to its predecessors. You play as Adam Jensen working for Sarif Industries and its owner David Sarif. Sarif and his company are at the forefront of bionic modifications – the new wave of enhancements to the human body. These mods have been met with two responses in the world: a following of those who love them – people who need them to walk again and live normal lives; the other group following the rise of the mods is opposed to them – they deem bionic attachments as affronts to God and religion and claim they are terrible creations. These two social views play an important role within the game – are bionics where humanity should make the next technological leap to?
Gameplay is a hybrid of multiple games: it’s got stealth, it’s got action, it’s got RPG, it’s got FPS, it slices, it dices, and even makes Julienne thugs! Oh, and I’m being serious about that last one too. Jensen literally comes equipped with blades, allowing you to dispatch your foes in a devastating manner. That’s not all though – the game allows both a pacifist method of eliminating opposition as well as allowing you to use extreme prejudice. It’s a nice change of pace considering most games require you to kill kill kill. The best way for me to describe this game however is compare it to Metal Gear Solid with the sneaking mechanics, to Bioshock with the shooting aspect and weapon upgrades, and back to the original Deus Ex itself to really explain the modification upgrades your character can receive.
Out of those mechanics, my favorite hands down are the MGS-esque stealth mechanics that range in what you can end up doing. The sound you make, your visibility, (it’s possible to cloak and lighting plays an important role), and the cover system all aide your stealth capabilities. However, sneaking can either be a very important part of your playthrough with fun hacking minigames, secret paths, and stun weaponry. If you’d like however, the stealth can be completely ignored as you go in guns blazing and instead of sneaking, using the cover system to keep yourself protected. The shooting is your standard first person affair, but the upgrades (using upgrade kits) make the weapons stand out. Each weapon gets one or two special upgrades that are specific to this – be it giving it aim stabilizers, explosive rounds, or just making it more badass, they are worth hunting down and using. The last mechanic is a typical RPG element of leveling and gaining abilities as you go, though with Deus Ex these abilities manifest themselves in what you can actually do in the game. Want to jump 10 feet into the air or jump off a building and stun your opponents in a slam move as you fall? Spend your Praxis kits (upgrade points) on the requisite upgrades and you will be able to do anything you want, and actually be in control of it rather than clicking to activate an ability.
Did I mention the futuristic locales of Shanghai, “New” Detroit, and Montreal look fantastic? As you traverse the streets in the world, you can practically see a majority of development time for the game went into gorgeous graphics. Half of the fun is looking to see how the future of the world has changed society and affected humans. Weapons have changed, vehicles have changed, buildings have changed, and hell, even humans wear weird combinations of clothing. Obviously there are bionic arms and legs running around as well, and those metallic pieces look seamlessly attached to their human owners. The games graphic design made me feel as though I had jumped nearly 20 years into the future, and to go with this futuristic Earth, the game’s music went with it. Musically the game has a variety of genres that keep everything flowing. There is the futuristic techno (I think that is required for sci-fi), classical pieces at times, and just plain old good action-oriented tracks that keep you going in those tense fights. It fit well within the game and it worked very well to set moods. A+ work on the music, Eidos.
Ultimately the game is worth checking out. The only major downsides I can cite are the length and difficulty – on the hardest difficulty it took me about 23 hours and that was with lounging periods. I can probably estimate a rough length of 15-20 hours doing everything the game has to offer. The difficulty didn’t impress me either as I made it through relatively unscathed, even in the atrocious boss battles. Why there are goofy boss battles I cannot explain, but I can say they feel like they were just paper-clipped into the game to add more content. I also noticed some glitches with graphics – bodies flailing impossibly or getting stuck in walls. Beyond those though, I did have a blast playing and felt, as noted, heavily reminded of the Metal Gear Solid series. Everyone that wants a great sci-fi shooter and RPG will more than likely love this game. I give it a solid 4.5 out of 5.
I also recommend everyone keeps their eyes peeled for the upcoming DLC for the game. It adds (supposedly) another 5-8 hours of gameplay and is expected early this month. It bridges two sections of the game where there is a missing chunk of time. Jensen is stripped of his abilities, forcing you to go back to being a regular old human as you survive on a boat at sea. Previews so far look promising, but we’ll have to see.
Note: The Deus Ex: Human Revolution review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.