More than a simple shooter, but less than a full fledged RPG, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a hybrid of styles that lets you take pretty much any path you want through its futuristic cyberpunk world. Should you sneak through a room full of guards? Kill them all? Take a different path to bypass the room entirely? Or, depending on what skills you invest in, you could come up with a completely different solution.
It is freedom unlike most other games this gen. The core gameplay isn't as sharp as it could be, but the strength of everything else makes Deus Ex: Human Revolution one of the best games of the year.
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Eidos Montreal
- ESRB Rating: "M" for Mature
- Genre: FPS / Adventure
- Pros: Great music; nice visuals; upgrade system; lots of different ways to complete missions; good story
- Cons: Shooting and stealth gameplay only so-so; braindead enemy A.I.; long load times
In the year 2027 human augmentation is a major part of society. Technology can make humans stronger, faster, and overall better than they were before. There are, however, some groups that are against augmentation and try to stop it. Sarif Industries is a major player in the augmentation market and you play as the company's security expert, Adam Jensen. Six months after an anti-augmentation group attacks Sarif and leaves him for dead, Jensen (now equipped with augmentations) starts investigating who the attackers were and what they were looking for, which leads to a bigger global conspiracy no one expected.
At its core, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a first-person-shooter mixed with RPG elements, but there is more to it than that. In any given situation, you have a ton of options on how you want to progress. You can sneak through a level undetected. You can shoot everyone. You could take everyone out in non-lethal ways. You can bypass guards entirely by taking different paths. You can hack doors (or steal codes from guards) and computers for information. And much more. The game takes place in large fully explorable hub areas complete with side missions in various cities around the world with other missions branching off from the hub.
The RPG element comes into play when you earn points that you can spend on various skills. You can be more stealthy or even turn invisible, have better armor, be able to hack easier / faster, jump higher, fall from high places and not get hurt, lift heavier objects, or even change your personality so conversations (with long branching dialogue trees) go differently. By putting points in different skills you drastically change the way you play the game and no two people will ever play the same way. If you are thorough in how you explore the levels you could theoretically max out pretty much every augmentation, but most folks will have to specialize in how they want to play.
What makes the game especially interesting and gives you a lot of freedom, besides the augmentations you choose, is how the levels are put together and how the missions can play out. The levels are full of alternate paths and ventilation shafts, so instead of heading directly for a mission you could take a different path, maybe hack some side doors or computers, and do things completely differently. The missions are also interesting because they can turn out wildly differently based on how you do them. Take too long to start a mission, for example, and hostages might die, but you'll still be able to progress to your true objective. Or you could save them. Or you could get there in time, fail a hack, and they still die. But you always move forward. You are free to do things how you want, consequences be damned. Of course, different choices do lead to different endings when all is said and done.
We do have some complaints, though. While we love the freedom and how well executed the feeling of real choices are in the game, there are some snags as well. Boss fights, for instance, throw choice out the window and make you kill them even if you've played the rest of the game without killing anyone. Also, the core gameplay of moving around and shooting stuff is actually kind of mediocre. It just doesn't feel right. If you do play Rambo-style, watch out as enemies are bullet sponges yet ammo is pretty hard to come by. You can also do takedown moves when you get close to enemies but they, annoyingly, cut out to a third-person view of the takedown which really breaks any sense of immersion you had in the game. Stealth is a bit spotty as well as the enemy A.I. is pretty braindead to begin with, but sneaking gets way too easy if you buy any stealth augmentations along the way. The A.I. is suspect in other ways as it will waste tons of ammo shooting walls you're hiding behind, is easily tricked (let them see you, then sneak around behind them because they think you are still where they saw you), and won't shoot you through breakable glass unless you break the glass first. Topping it all off, the load times are really, really long especially if you die.
With all of that said, the game is still absolutely worth playing because the sandboxes the game places you in are fun to play in even if the core gameplay is a little off. Nothing is bad about it, mind you, but it does make you wonder how great it could be if everything was a little more fine-tuned.
Visually, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a great looking game. The environments are detailed and the lighting is fantastic. The gold and black color scheme used for much of the game is also appealing. Character models aren't quite so good, though, with dated facial animation and particularly bad looking NPCs. The framerate is occasionally a problem as it stutters quite a bit during firefights.
The sound is very good for the most part. The sound effects are well done, but the music really is the star of the show. It is a sort of futuristic synth with a good beat (reminded me of Perfect Dark, just for reference) and every theme is awesome. Voice acting isn't as consistent, but is good for the most part.
All in all, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a very good game that is highly recommended. We're big fans of freedom and choice in games and DE: HR does a better job with it than most games this gen. The core shooting gameplay isn't as sharp as we would have liked, but it gets the job done and doesn't get in the way of the important bits which are the great game world, story, dialogue, and awesome sense of freedom. Because of the wealth of choices and options for how you play through each mission, there is a lot of replay value here. Considering that it is a 25+ hour game that you'll likely want to play through more than once, we highly recommend Deus Ex: Human Revolution for a purchase.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.