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Deus Ex: Human Revolution review

Astonishing
AT A GLANCE
  • The entertaining cyberpunk story
  • Extremely polished everything
  • Open ended gameplay and maps
  • No multiplayer modes
  • Easy to abuse enemy AI
  • Minor control issues

To say the 2000 release of Deus Ex changed the face of gaming might sound hyperbolic if it weren’t true. Warren Spector’s cyberpunk effort followed in the footsteps of his equally worthy System Shock series, smoothly melding the visceral feel of the first person shooter with the character progression and customization elements of role-playing games. At the time, these genres were oil and water, and this successful hybridization set the stage for games like Bioshock and even Modern Warfare. Deus Ex: Human Revolution clearly has a lot to live up to. Fortunately, Eidos Montreal has delivered on all fronts. 

Above: El Dorado

Unlike 2003’s unfortunate DX: Invisible War, DX:HR is as unapologetically cerebral as the original, and immediately throws the player into a world in conflict. You play as Adam Jensen head of security at Sarif Industries, a corporation that sells human augmentations (robotic arms, x-ray eyes, and the like). They're on the verge of an incredible breakthrough, when the lab is attacked by mercenaries who kill the company’s leading scientists and leave Adam for dead. Left with no choice, Sarif’s CEO authorizes the use of extensive augmentations to save Adam's life, bringing him back to find out who was responsible for the attacks. 

Like its predecessor, a large part of DX:HR’s appeal is in its well written, intelligent story. The Deus Ex franchise has always been a series in the Metal Gear vein, focusing on corrupt shadow governments and corporate espionage, though its main focus is on Transhumanism, the ethical concerns raised when man mixes with machine. You may think a robot arm would be totally badass at first, but when you realize you’ll need an expensive drug for the rest of your life to keep your body from rejecting it, you might be more hesitant. There’s also the more philosophical issue of where humanity ends and machine begins, and how expensive upgrades reinforce the class system. If this all sounds a little highbrow, well, that’s because it is. 

Above: Human Revolution is just as filled with conspiracies as the original

Make no mistake, DX:HR relies heavily on its story to compel players forward. It's well written, expertly voice-acted, and presents two sides to every story, letting the player make up their own mind. If you're the kind of player that enjoys reading all of the lore and flavor text (found primarily in emails and e-books scattered around the world), you'll love the level of detail that DX:HR has lavished on everything. That said, players who habitually skip every cutscene and prefer to spend their time fragging noobs will probably find DX:HR to be an excessively wordy slog. 

Once augmented, you're given a vast array of upgrade options to choose from. Some directly increase your strength and health while others offer temporary invisibility or an increased ability to hack into computers. While the game can be played as a straight FPS if you upgrade Adam appropriately, the core mechanics slightly favor cover and stealth over the guns-blazing method. Even so, the game is designed to reward every type of approach in its own way; knockouts and kills award experience, but so does finding secret stealth paths to avoid confrontations. 

Above: The less subtle approach

DX:HR's gunplay is good, bolstered by fairly intelligent AI that puts pressure on you, but knows when to turtle and flush you out with grenades. If you haven't upgraded any of your combat augmentations though, even the lowliest soldiers will make short work of Adam, especially towards the beginning. Every weapon can be upgraded with faster reload speeds, increased damage and additional ammo capacity though there are rarer weapon-specific upgrades that dramatically increase your firepower. While DX:HR’s boss fights are entirely combat-based, the game does a nice job of providing options for non-combat players, and there's generally a large cache of weapons in the room if you're the type that typically only packs a stun gun.

There are some issues with the combat though. The controls while Adam’s in cover can sometimes be finicky, and it's too easy to accidentally peak out and aim you weapon when you're trying to creep alongside a barrier, alerting enemy guards when you're trying to be stealth. And while enemy AI is solid, they’re easily foiled by hiding in vents, and their inability to use ladders makes escaping too easy in some cases.

An annoying design issue in the quick-access combat menu makes it very easy to accidentally use your health and energy regeneration items. You hold down the Y/Triangle button to bring the menu up, and let go of it after you’ve made your selections, but passing the cursor over any consumable while in the menu automatically highlights it to be used, forcing you to click the left stick to unselect them. It’s much too easy to forget to do this in the heat of battle. The game’s initial difficulty curve is also an issue, as Adam is incredibly weak and will die from a single burst of enemy fire in some cases.

Above: How much liquid can Bounty paper Towels really absorb?

The game is also structured much like the original, punctuating the more objective-driven levels with city hub maps. These city hubs are large areas where the player can explore, investigate, buy items and upgrades, and complete side missions. The side missions deserve special mention as they exhibit the same exceptionally high level of polish as the rest of the game. The writing, voice-acting and subplots in these are rewarding and always worth completing. They also serve a dual purpose of giving you a motivation to explore the expansive cities, it's fun to see hidden back alleys and secret rooftop entrances you never knew existed, but it’s even better when the game rewards you XP and items for wandering.

At one point, we broke into an apartment (purely out of curiosity) and found an overturned chair and a blood splatter on the wall. We hacked into the owner’s computer and read a few e-mails detailing the occupant's participation in anti-government protests and his paranoia that his movements were being tracked. No mission directs you to this apartment, and you could very easily pass over it, but it's this attention to detail and crafting a world that makes exploring and hunting everything down so rewarding.

Above: It's yellow, but it's pretty

While Internet wags have made light of DX:HR's heavy use of yellow/gold lighting, not since Bioshock has a game's visual style been so arresting. Mixing the clean ultramodern look of Mirror's Edge with the grungy cyberpunk future of Blade Runner, the game throws in a little touch of the Baroque period as well. You'll definitely notice the way paisley patterns and rococo furniture contrast with the Apple-styled LIMB clinics. It's a subtle touch, but it reinforces the game’s ideas perfectly, old vs. new, organic vs. inorganic, man vs machine. The synth-heavy, minimalist soundtrack also reeks of the game's high production values.

DX:HR does have a few issues that might turn some gamers off, the most significant being its total lack of multiplayer. While that will undoubtedly alienate some gamers, this is no eight hour campaign, and a single playthrough will take a minimum of 35-40 hours. It’s almost impossible to see everything the game has to offer in a single playthrough though, as there are a huge number of optional paths, content and secrets to explore on a second run, especially if you take a different approach than you did the first time. 

Above: The long shots of the cities are amazing.

As far as single-player experiences are concerned, DX:HR is one of the absolute best of this console generation. Unless you insist on having some kind of multiplayer mode, or hate reading, there's no reason you won’t enjoy DX:HR. While it’s slightly more linear than the original, the level of polish and effort that have gone into it more than make up for it. Eidos Montreal has successfully blended the best of both worlds, rebooting a classic franchise without losing the core of what made the original beloved.

Is it better than...?

Deus Ex? No. DX:HR comes close, but it's slightly more linear, and lacks the revolutionary feel that made the original so unique. FPS/RPG hybrids aren't exactly one of a kind these days. That said, while it may not be better than Deus Ex, coming this close to one of gaming's finest moments is still a huge success.

Deus Ex: Invisible War? Yes. Invisible War was a classic example of the sophomore slump, awkwardly dumbing itself down and alienating a large portion of its original audience in the process. Human Revolution's plot, gameplay and pacing all trump Invisible War's, further solidifying IW as the series' red-headed stepchild.

Mass Effect 2?  In terms of gameplay? Yes. In terms of story? No. DX:HR's gameplay is much more diverse and malleable than ME2's, but Mass Effect still has the edge as far as characters, set-pieces, lore and the universe are concerned. Human Revolution has put a lot of effort into its world though, and we're eager to see where it goes from here.

 

Just for you, Metacritic!

Intelligent, fun, challenging and beautifully realized, DX:HR is an incredibly polished game that lives up to the impossibly high standard of its predecessor.

Aug 22, 2011

More Info

Release date: Aug 23 2011 - Xbox 360, PC, PS3 (US)
Aug 26 2011 - Xbox 360, PC, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, PS3
Genre: Action
Developed by: Eidos
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol
PEGI Rating:
18+

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105 comments

  • cgriff63 - August 8, 2012 10:54 a.m.

    Not necessarily true that it takes 35-40 hours to complete. I completed almost all of the sidequests, and I finished the game in less that 25 hours.
  • needles - April 25, 2012 3:13 p.m.

    I give this game a 9.5. It would have been a 9 but I gave them an extra point for not shoe horning in some stupid multiplayer mode. I wish there were more games like this that are actually interesting and fun to play. Intead we get Crysis 2, Killzone 3 and Gears of War 3. I had to be shit faced stoned to play those games and actually enjoy them. We have only ourselves to blame.
  • Lucstanfa - May 29, 2012 6:25 p.m.

    Well Crysis 2 isn't that bad. Come on now. Have you played th story bro?
  • needles - June 1, 2012 1:35 p.m.

    Yeah I played it story mode and multiplayer. I just got done with Deus Ex human revolution and am currently playing Mass Effect 3. We need more action RPGs and less retarded first and 3rd person shooters. Playing Gears of War 3 was insulting. And it got such good reviews lol!
  • Cwf2008 - June 12, 2012 2:11 a.m.

    Yes, action RPGs are very fun, but so are shooters. If you don't like those games, oh well. Your loss. Although I'm definitely glad there are still games that won't shoehorn in multiplayer
  • sirtomski - October 11, 2011 2:54 a.m.

    After reading practically every review on the internet for this game I felt a little uneasy about what to expect. After playing I can safely say this is my type of game. I thiough it was brilliant. That doesnt, however, speak for the millions of other gamers out there who have their own damn opinions. The way I see it? Every fault is something to work on for the next game. Right, Eidos? So listen up!
  • psycho ninja 4 - October 6, 2011 3:30 a.m.

    This game is awesome. My only problems with this game is the loading time and that there aren't any augment that allows Jensen to grab a ledge.
  • simple - October 1, 2011 9:07 a.m.

    this game, while decent, is not worth a 10 out of 10. the story is ho-hum, the locations (all 3 of them?) are even more ho-hum and the pace is quite slow. it is cerebral, interactive and allows the coveted player influence but does not measure up to the original in terms of scale, originality, story and, most importantly, overall experience. the first one left you feeling like you'd been a part of and accomplished something big while this one just left you 'wanting more' (insert 'disappointed'). it pales in comparison to say mass effect 2 or the fallouts or bioshocks. i'd say 8/10 would give readers a more realistic expectation. my two cents. now, bring on rage!
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  • andy24king - August 30, 2011 12:56 p.m.

    This has game of the year written all over it. Despite the long loading times between changing locations, this is a great game with so much depth and a great story and Adam Jenson, wow great lead character. Well done Square Enix, next time, make it bigger and better. All I say is buy this game, now where have I heard areview say that before. ENJOY THIS GREAT GAME!!!
  • BertTheTurtle - August 28, 2011 3 a.m.

    I haven't played this for very long yet, but so far its amazing. Also, I keep "Artificial Immortality" by Becoming the Archetype stuck in my head while I play it.
  • goggamanxp - August 27, 2011 6:55 a.m.

    i never asked for this, jk i did.... i preodered it a month ago on steam
  • BALLSTOTHEWALLET - August 26, 2011 1:16 p.m.

    I never asked for this. . .
  • jajamoo - August 26, 2011 10:09 a.m.

    One of the best parts of the Deus Ex experience is the game's deft ability to tackle issues that are both futuristic but applicable to current trends in the real world. For example, as our penchant for and ability with technology increases (think Moore's Law, biotechnology, etc), the issue of Transhumanism- the issue of surpassing our biological selves with the help of technological augmentation through such new inventions as nanotechnology or highly advanced prosthetic limbs (both of which are central technologies in the world of Deus Ex). Also, the racial discrimination that would ensue because of this "new" race of augmented humans is an issue that pervades the world of Deus Ex and is a thought-provoking possible consequence that we are forced to ponder as technologies such as these emerge in the real world. How would those who are not augmented with sometimes seemingly "super" powers react to and interact with those who were and vice versa? And if one could not afford these technologies to augment one's self with these new, powerful additions to one's biology, could this cause a new socioeconomic underclass that is effectively ruled by super-smart, super-strong augmented humans? How would the power dynamics of the politics of the world and change and what would the role of mega-corporations who create these new technologies be? All these questions (and more) are brought up in Human Revolution and while these issues are not at the forefront at this very moment in time in the real world, there could be a time in the not-so-very-far-future where we as a nation and race must confront these questions. And when we do, I think it would be a safe bet to say that at those trying times, this game will be considered ahead of its time, if not prophetic. The game doesn't deserve a perfect 10 (long load times and and some small bugs keep the game from being completely perfect) but I would give it a 9 or 9.5. An excellent game that makes me want to see more from Eidos Montreal as the years go by. Kudos to Eidos Montreal. Now, I'm going to go play through again as a Quake-style tank that blows everything up in his path.
  • jajamoo - August 26, 2011 10:08 a.m.

    I remember when I played the original DE on my old AMD K6-2 machine and had to upgrade to a new video card (it had a whopping 64 MB of VRAM on the board!) just to play it. I had never played a game with more freedom or that gave you the vast amount of choices the game gave you: you could accomplish a goal with stealth or or go on a Quake-like shooting rampage. You could use diplomacy to talk down a baddie or you could just shoot him in the face and call it a day. The sheer amount of choices available was staggering. That, along with a post-modern, cyberpunk-dystopian, futuristic setting with excellent writing and polish made Deus Ex (in my humble opinion) the pinnacle of not just FPS or RPG games but games in general. I was sorely disappointed with the lackluster sequel that was Deus Ex: Invisible War, though I did not detest it like many hardcore Deus Ex fans did. But it just didn't feel or play the same as the seminal original game by Warren Spector. I had been following Deus Ex: Human Revolution very closely, all the way up to the release (like many, I pre-ordered it), pre-loaded on Steam and stayed up until 3:00 or 4:00 AM when Steam "unlocked" the game for downloading and playing. Immersed in nostalgia from the get-go, I was also struck by the polish and meticulous care that Eidos Montreal tool to not only create a faithful "follow up," as Human Revolution is actually a prequel, the game studio also created a game that was an excellent game on its own merits. The graphics were top notch (I recently created a brand new PC just to play a few new games that are going to be released soon or have been released- this game was one said game), the sound and voice acting are superb, and (in true Deus Ex fashion), the story is deep, complex, multi-layered, and filled with enough plot twists and homages to the original to drive a true Deus Ex fan like myself into a state of heightened exhilaration that rarely happens to me anymore because of a game. (CONT)
  • Inferno - August 25, 2011 11:28 p.m.

    I am playing it. At first it was boaring but now i am loving it. I love to takedown though it takes a lot time.One thing i am not sure is about the augmentation sys. Some looked useless. But overall it is one of my favourite games.
  • gilgamesh310 - August 25, 2011 2:47 p.m.

    @brandon-messick, yeah I would say that happens quite a lot. The amount of 10s they give out is unreal. I would say them awarding BulletStorm a 10 was the stupidest thing they've ever done though. I think the reviewer called it an evolution of the genre because of the skillshot system. I was really laughing at that point. With regards to Deus Ex, I loved the original and I expect Human Revolution to be god, but 10 does seem to high, considering the flaws listed. I don't see why they need to compare the reviewed games to other games at the end of their reviews either. Comparing it to Mass Effect 2 is just stupid. He said that the story in ME 2 was better than that in DX HR. I strongly doubt that is true. if anything it's probably the gameplay that's better. ME 2's story was very simple. Deus Ex is all about intriguing conspiracies and interesting plot twists.
  • pinoklin - November 13, 2011 10:41 a.m.

    actually bulletstorm has earned that 10 in my book, not the skillshot system but the shole game...kept me hooked on for days without playing anything else...and srsly he says me´s universe is much better eaized..and it is true...have you read the whole codex??.....that´s right you haven´t.....it does make up for a huge world, while dxhr does make up an amazing world....it doesn´t have the same amazingfeel that mass effect´s has.
  • KidJustKid - August 25, 2011 4:38 a.m.

    I was so scared it wouldn't live up to the hype of the new 'proper DE'. But seeing as the 2 reviewers I trust gave it a 10 and an A, and today is my birthday, you may well have given me a reason to blow 40 quid and 10 days of my somewhat long life. Sounds awsm.
  • VMPSaberwolf - August 25, 2011 2:50 a.m.

    As someone who's never played the origional, I have to ask, what game is it most comparable to? For example, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines? Fallout 3? Metal Gear? Thanks in advance.

Showing 1-20 of 105 comments

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