Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes place during the year 2027. This happens to be 25-years before the original Deus Ex. The world is a place of innovation and technological advancement, but it is also a world of chaos and conspiracy. Nanotechnological augmentations have not been created yet and biomechanical augmentations are the current state of the art. But right from the get-go, the development for augmenting humans into military weapons of destruction is well under way. You play the role of Adam Jensen, who is a private security officer with Sarif Industries. As you would guess, Sarif Industries is a leading company that specializes in human augmentations. In the early going, Adam witnesses a devastating attack in the Sarif Industries plant and becomes a casualty himself, which leaves him brutally injured. Adam is then forced to undergo augmentations to survive. The technological modifications to Adam’s body allow him to use superhuman abilities. Those who played the previous Deus Ex games will recognize these augmentations as they are known as nanotech in the previous two games. As the story goes, Adam embarks on a journey looking for answers, and the choices he makes throughout the game determine the fate of humanity.
Overall, I found the storyline to be captivating. Sure many of us have played similar futuristic sci-fi like games where the man versus machine plotline plays itself out; however, Deus Ex: Human Revolution managed to capture my imagination and kept my attention which is something I cannot say about many games this year. I found myself curious to discover who was behind the attacks and ultimately unfold the conspiracy. While the story on the surface does appear predictable, the plot does take some surprising twists and turns throughout.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is strictly a single player affair which came as somewhat of a disappointment. But when you consider the single player mode can take easily over 30-hours to complete, you are getting plenty of bang for the buck and a game which appears to be worth the price of admission.
Being a game with a heavy RPG emphasis, the choices you make in the game when you encounter various characters becomes a critical aspect of the way the game and story unfolds. Random encounters with obscure characters also reveal critical elements, including ways to proceed in any given mission. The game isn’t exactly a linear experience as getting from point A to point B is accomplished a variety of ways. You are actually encouraged to explore different means of sneaking past enemies or pouncing on them.
While Deus Ex: Human Revolution does have heavy RPG elements; at its core the game is a tactical based affair with heavy stealth elements. Granted, you can proceed through many of the levels with guns blazing, but the health system is very unforgiving and you would not be taking advantage of your hero’s abilities. In the early going Adam becomes augmented so, as you guess it, customizing his abilities is a big part of the game and plays a critical role when attempting to proceed throughout the game’s many missions.
Before you jump into a mission you have some option in terms of how you want to proceed. In one instance, I had the option of taking a stealth-like approach, sneaking around enemies while using a tranquilizer or stun gun when needed; or I could have gone in like Dirty Harry mowing down everyone in sight. Regardless, there are multiple ways to proceed and the many ways you can tackle objectives seems plentiful leading to a game that has plenty of replay value.
As I suggested, Adam’s augmentations are critical and are unlocked by using Praxis Points, which is the games XP system. Some of the abilities that can be unlocked include cloaking, smart vision (where you can tag enemies), and x-ray vision. A power gauge governs all of your abilities, so needless to say your abilities are time sensitive and managing your abilities also plays a significant role.
In the early going, your hero isn’t equipped with much in the way of augmentations as the game slowly introduces you to them. So you could find yourself stuck in some situations. For instance, in the early going I selected a long range tranquilizer gun to proceed through a level. Soon I found myself trapped inside a warehouse with enemies surrounding me as I struggled to take each of them out. I ended up having to restart the level and take a different approach all together. Life doesn’t get any easier for you when you die either. Checkpoints are spaced somewhat far apart. So when you die there are instances where you may have to go back quite a ways. Not to mention, you are also punished with some long loading times.
As far as the game’s controls are concerned, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is strong but far from perfect. Aiming down sight of your weapons can be a bit finicky at times and doesn’t feel as refined as other ‘Triple A’ shooters on the market. Yes, I understand Deus Ex: Human Revolution is not a shooter, but in this day in age into the life of the Xbox 360 I expected a bit more. Deus Ex: Human Revolution also features a cover system much like Gears of War; but unlike Gears of War the cover system is not as smooth or as seamless as Epic’s shooter. Some of the game’s basic controls seemed out of place too. For instance, aiming your weapon is accomplished by clicking the right thumbstick. This is fine when you are not in cover, but while in cover aiming is not accomplished so easily. The melee combat also feels detached. In other words, if you get close enough to an enemy, you press the B button, which takes you into a mini-cut scene where you are either knocking your enemy out or killing him. I would have preferred an in-game melee combat system instead of a Metal Gear cut scene melee action sequence.
On the bright side, the game does have wonderfully presented tutorials scattered throughout the games first few levels. They are very informative and clearly instructed. You can also skip them if you so choose, but if you are going to invest over 20-30 hours in the game you better have a firm handle on all your abilities including the hacking segments, which I was not a fan of.
On top of the RPG, combat, and stealthy segments, Deus Ex: Human Revolution also features hacking. During the game you will encounter various locked computers and electronic devices. These can be accessed by finding the correct password somewhere in the mission or by hacking them. Once you hack into a machine you are presented with a mini-game where you need to infiltrate a network screen. Overall, I found the hacking system confusing and simply took me away from the game. Much like melee combat, I found it detached and out of place. Connecting the nodes is only entertaining the first few times then it just becomes a pain as I found that it took me away from the gameplay. I am sure some may not mind this aspect, but I personally did not enjoy it that much.
Visually, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is rock solid as the level of detail is unquestionably impressive. Everything is crystal clear and sharp looking in high definition. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is most definitely on par with other ‘Triple A’ games like Gears of War, Call of Duty Black Ops, Mass Effect and other home run hitting titles already on the Xbox 360 console. The developers managed to wonderfully create a world set in the future that is believable and realistic looking. Sure it can be a dark and dreary realm with not a lot of bright or vibrant colours, but being a darker themed game the overall colour scheme suits it well.
The characters found in the game are simply stunning. Each one has there own unique look and style. They also all have their own outfits that feature unique futuristic yet realistic fashion designs. Needless to say, the level of detail that went into each of the many characters you encounter along the way is fantastic. Deus Ex: Human Revolution also features some slick looking level designs. The amount of props used in each of the games many areas are incredible. Everything from a simple looking desk lamp to a billboard sign on the side of a ‘Blade Runner’ like building, the attention to detail is top notch and pays off.
While the entire game looks fantastic, the games cut-scenes really stood out for me. The production value is high and they are reminiscent of a big screen Hollywood blockbuster movie. The cut-scenes manage to suck you in and much of that has to do with the each scenes visuals which are nothing short of superb. Everything from the dynamic lighting to the level of detail in the futuristic sci-fi settings is as good as it gets here. Even right down to the handheld computer tablet our main hero, Adam Jensen, uses to scan for critical info, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is game that does not seem to overlook any details.
Much like the game’s graphics, the sound in Deus Ex: Human Revolution delivers. The voice work is clear and quite believable. That being said, I would have liked to have heard a little more emotion with some of the characters dialogue. I am just not convinced that the pain and uncertainty the characters are experiencing is emotionally conveyed in the voice work at times. Our main hero does a good job with his voice work, but Adam can come across as sounding like a cheesy Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry character at times. In any event, the characters do manage to convey the story is a manner which draws you in and is credible.
The sound effects very much support the stealthy RPG gameplay, and are crafted in such a manner that even something like the pace of your footsteps could alert the enemy to your location. Much like other stealth games, the sounds your characters make as you enter areas littered with enemies play a big part in the game. Listening to what is happening in an environment is as important, if not more, then what you see in your environment. Deus Ex: Human Revolution does a nice job in this department. As for the weapons, they manage to take a sound stage of their own with the accuracy and power you would expect. They are nothing incredibly original sounding but manage to do the job.
Finally, the game’s music is also very strong and it feels and sounds much like a summer blockbuster movie. Deus Ex: Human Revolution features a tight sci-fi score that perfectly captures the mood. All in all, I had no major complaints with the game’s overall audio package.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the Xbox 360. What makes this game so good is its ability to mix things up and not follow any one particular genre template. The RPG, Stealth, and Shooter sequences all work together and the series has successfully managed to capture some of the magic from the original game. The visuals and sound alone are fantastic; and the 30-hour plus single player campaign offers up plenty of replay value and should keep gamers coming back for more for months on end. Needless to say, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one of the better Xbox 360 games to arrive this year.