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.
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.
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
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