Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
posted on 08.22.11 at 03:33 PM EDT by (@salromano)
Decorated in gold, worth the same amount

As long as they’ve been around, I’ve never had a chance to play the first two Deus Ex games. Taking up Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a prequel to the series, I found myself engulfed in a completely unfamiliar universe, plugged with high-tech cities painted in gold, half-human, half-robot civilians, political unrest, and a protagonist looking for answers.

Deus Ex is set in the year 2027, where technological advancements have allowed for controlled evolution in humans. Companies such as Sarif Industries have created human augmentations, attained by surgical means, that gifts them with advanced eyesight, bigger brawn, invisible cloaking, smarter intellect… you name it. Becoming augmented means a new way of life. Neuropozyne, a drug manufactured for augmented patients, must be taken once a week to keep the body from rejecting its new enhancements.

Though, not all are pleased with these advancements. Many people want to see augmentations fail, as they believe it belittles the work of God and throws us off our path of evolution. Others fear the danger of the technology, or the addiction one may succumb to Neuropozyne. Factions like “Purity First” have sprung up in protest of augmentations. As you play, you’ll come across many civilians who plain dislike people with augmentations, or “augs” as the game’s unique set of vocabulary will come to teach you.

The protagonist, Adam Jensen, is an augmented human, though not by choice. You start the game at work as the boss of security at Sarif Industries. One of Sarif’s teams have just made a breakthrough with their research and were preparing a trip to Washington the next day to present their findings. An unauthorized break-in, which results in the death of the entire team, prevents the trip from happening. Jensen, who attempted to subdue the criminals, was nearly murdered himself, surviving by just a hair. Over the course of the next six months, Sarif Industries restores Jensen, equipping his body with all sorts of augmentations to keep him alive. After returning from sick leave, Jensen, as well as Sarif Industries itself, begins his search for answers. Eventually, you’ll discover that things are bigger than what they seem.

Deus Ex is a mix of ‘first-person shooter’ and ‘RPG.’ The entire game is played from the first-person perspective, minus cover instances, and offers a heavily gun-based arsenal to pursue your enemies. You’re given the option to play any way you like, as there’s usually always more than one way to complete an objective. During one part of the game, for example, you’re sent off to China, where you’re looking for a gang leader in a rave nightclub. The club, however, is members only. You could pay the bouncer 1000 credits at the door for a one-time entry, but credits aren’t easy to come by and you may not want to waste such a hefty amount. Instead, you could go snooping around for an alternate entrance, which will get you in, free of charge.

The majority of the game is a choice affair. In conversation, you choose your answers, which affect how the person in dialogue responds. If you’re trying to get information out of them, and you say the wrong things, they might not share with you what you were hoping. Though, you might get something entirely new out of them in the process. You — the player — choose your role, whether it’s the snarky, the sympathetic, or whoever else you’d want to be. A scene early on in Deus Ex sees Jensen looking to get into a police station morgue. An ex-partner sat in the front desk of the police station. If you’re able to sooth him over, he’ll let you into the morgue without hassle. If not, you’ll have two options: 1) sneak in and avoid being seen, snooping around cops and office desks, and performing melee stealth knockouts on guards or 2) run in, guns blazing, uncaring of who dies because hell man, it’s just a video game. This aspect of choice needs to be seen more often in games today; they make for both non-linearity and give the game higher replayability value. In Deus Ex, specifically, they put the player’s noggin to the test. As everything you say affects the reactions of others, you may not always get what you want. The morgue scene could turn into a 20-minute stage if you’re not able to persuade the cop; whereas it’s a 3-4 minute affair with the persuasion.

Choices are furthered displayed with Jensen’s augmentations. Though he was implanted with a plethora of augmentations (if you’re looking for a number, it’s 68), they’re not all activated. Due to issues relating to the science of life, they’d normally have to be turned on naturally over time. Though, upon medical inspection, Jensen was told his body has reacted rather positively to the augmentations — which isn’t a regular occurrence — and that he can activate them any time he likes. Awesome! That’s where Praxis comes in.

Praxis are your skill points. You’ll obtain them after earning enough XP, completing quests and side-quests, and can even buy them in medical centers. Praxis are used to upgrade your seven categories of augmentations. The ‘Icarus Landing System,’ for instance, which is one of your back augmentations, costs two Praxis to activate. It allows you to fall from any height without being injured. Another augmentation, ‘Smart Vision,’ which is part of Jensen’s pair of eye augmentations, costs two Praxis and allows you to see through walls. Some augmentations, such as the latter, must be activated manually and consume energy. Other augmentations, similar to the former, are automatically activated and do not consume energy. Of course, you’ll need to be careful about which augmentations you activate, because Praxis don’t come easy. Other augmentation upgrades include enhancements to Jensen’s aiming, strength, hacking, defense, and other abilities.

Deus Ex‘s structure is much less shooter than it is role-playing. Linearity is pretty much non-existent in this game. When you’re not on a mission off in some facility or wherever other location, you’re most likely in one of the game’s few hub cities. In these cities, which include the likes of Detroit, Michigan and Hengsha, China, you’re given a huge world to explore. There are people to talk to, side-quests to take on, terminals to hack, and a city to discover. Side-quests are all entertaining and each have interesting stories to accompany them. All your quests are put together neatly in your mission log, where you can view and check off all your objectives.

Simply walking the city is a breathtaking enough. Each city is built to its culture and is so vitally different from one another. In Hengsha, you’re surroundings are mixed with Chinese thrift shops and hooker-based hotels. In Detroit, you’re greeted with the thugs of the slums and the tall buildings of big corporate. The cities are also your ticket to weapon, item, and Praxis purchases. In Detroit, it’s also where you’ll find your apartment and place of work, Sarif Industries.

While structure takes the role-playing route, combat takes the shooter path. As mentioned earlier, your arsenal is gun-based, boasting weapons like pistols, combat rifles, shotguns, tranquilizers, crossbows and rocket launchers. You’ll take cover in third-person behind walls, crates, borders, and other objects, whether you’re stealthily sneaking past enemies or headshoting every last one of them. My only concern with combat is that, at points, it could be a bit difficult. One boss fight, for example, had me switching from standard difficulty to the easiest after killing me nearly 20 times. It felt unbalanced as each of his machine gun rounds took down over half of my health, and a single toss of his grenade killed me in a hit. But even after two strikes with a rocket launcher from my end, he was still standing! A few defense augmentation upgrades might’ve changed that, though, which really brings to light the importance of which augmentations you apply your Praxis to.

An interesting storyline, a world of exploration, exciting missions, the gift of choice, and a plethora of abilities are Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s star offerings. Eidos Montreal spent four long years working to the bone to put this out, and it’s no secret that it’s a hit. Whether you’re a fan of shooters, role-playing games, sci-fi, conspiracies, or the color gold (that last one was a joke), Deus Ex is for you. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is as golden in value as it is in hue — only much more affordable.

9/10

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was reviewed on a PlayStation 3. Story mode was played to completion. Deus Ex: Human Revolution launches for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on August 23, 2011 for an MSRP of $59.99.

  • maikel19

    I hope this game will be as good as U say………
    i’m getting this in the next few days, and for now im just playing darksiders(pretty good) to get me warmed up!

  • gold163

    I don’t mean any offense, and I’m not talking about you in particular, but I’ve noticed this disturbing trend of reviews for “new” games in established series where the reviewer is someone who’s completely unfamiliar with the series in question. Well, it’s not just reviews – Joystiq got someone who had never even played past Devil May Cry games to preview DmC. The reason why it’s frustrating is because it allows the developers and publishers to get away with essentially doing anything they want with a fan favorite. I know it’s supposed to be an all-new game, and I know DmC is supposed to be a “reboot” of sorts, but I think it would actually be better if they got a Devil May Cry fan to preview it – that way, any positive feedback seems that much more sincere and is that much more reassuring to wary fans.

    • Sal Romano

      I hear you, man. But honestly there isn’t much I can do about that. I’m pretty much one person running the site and I unfortunately can’t get around to playing all the things I want. Deus Ex and DE: IW are on the list though. ;-)

    • Adam Meadows

      Why should it be a reviewers job to judge a game based on how much it matches fan expectations? That effectively limits a title to its name sake, no? Feedback from a ‘noob’ is just as sincere. Far more people in the world will not have played a Devil May Cry or a Deus Ex. I certainly haven’t played the latter.

      They CAN do anything they want – it’s their game. By that logic, Resident Evil 4 would have gotten ZEROs across the board – all because they ‘got away with doing what they wanted’. Sal is simply here to judge one thing, “Is it fun to play?”

      And if anything, a fresh eye is far more sincere as they aren’t ruined by pre-conception of bias based on past entries :)

      • rockman29

        @Adam Meadows: Don’t you think you’re taking it a little too far? A reviewer knowing Deus Ex or having expectations based on experience with the series isn’t necessarily going to cripple a review, and neither is not having played Deus Ex. If gold163 said either of those things, you’ll have to point it out to me.

        It’s a little silly to say that playing Deus Ex is definitively a crutch to a review since the game is a direct prequel and the fundamentals of the game have not strayed far from the original’s.

        gold163 isn’t being nearly as brash as you are making him out to be. Using ‘terms’ like “pre-conception of bias” (which isn’t even a term, and neither should it be, considering how redundant it is) doesn’t help anyone.

        The fact is some of us have been around playing games on PC at the time when Deus Ex arrived. It might be desirable for us to have a reviewer who played the original, because we already might share some common ground. Any other extrapolations aren’t our responsibility.

        • Adam Meadows

          @rockman29:

          Hey. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that it was a crutch! My point was, in retrospect, to suggest that being a vet and a noob to any given series has advantages and disadvantages.

          I think, if anything, I was reacting to the use of the word ‘disturbing’, which seemed like overkill at the time. I didn’t intend to come across as high and mighty as I did.

          My apologies.

          • rockman29

            @Adam Meadows: No worries, no need to apologize :)

      • gold163

        @Adam Meadows: When you’re dealing with an established intellectual property, you’d do well to satisfy your existing fanbase as well as reaching out to new players, especially such influential series such as Deus Ex and Devil May Cry. It isn’t a reviewer’s job to judge a game based on fan expectations; I understand that these are supposed to be impartial. But it makes no sense, at least to me, to see major game reviewing outlets take people who are completely uninitiated to judge these games. (Once again, not talking about this site in particular). It would probably also help to make a complete opinion on a game if you’re at least a little aware of its legacy. Yes, feedback from non-fans can be just as sincere, but it seems completely disrespectful for me to see certain game reviewers say things like, “I didn’t like past Devil May Cry games at all enough to play them much, so it’s good that this one is different,” which is essentially what the Joystiq preview said. Deus Ex is one thing, but you CAN’T tell me that you don’t have someone on your staff who isn’t at least well versed in such a relatively modern series as renowned as DMC. That’s how you lose readers. Especially given a controversial game like the new DmC, I think it would at least be reassuring to have a Devil May Cry fan say, “it’s not as bad as you all think.”

        Games like Resident Evil 4 and Splinter Cell Conviction got good reviews because they are, generally speaking, good games. But you can’t pretend that certain fans of those series don’t hate those specific installments, which is essentially what game companies do. Ubisoft in particular likes to pretend that the things they aren’t currently selling never happened. If Chaos Theory couldn’t be milked for one more port on the 3DS, they probably would have forgotten about it entirely. You don’t see other Splinter Cell installments getting such widespread recognition. It’s all about the marketing.

        Nintendo was recently baffled that Metroid: Other M didn’t sell nearly as well as they thought it would. But to a lot of Metroid fans, it wasn’t particularly surprising at all. Sure, Metroid is Nintendo’s game, and they can do what they want with it. But if a fan sees something that they don’t like, they aren’t going to buy it. Given that Metroid isn’t Nintendo’s most mainstream, widely-known brand, and given that Other M so blatantly disregards the aspects of the series that fans loved, it wasn’t surprising at all to see it do poorly. The funny thing is, it wasn’t as if it was a bad game. Testimony from fans and non-fans alike showed that the game itself was competent, if not stellar. It was the fact that fans hated how different it was that became its undoing. The game itself was marketed pretty well, and it seems to have been well-made. But it’s not as if the opinions of fans shouldn’t mean anything at all, which is essentially how Nintendo made Metroid fans feel. It was their game; they did what they wanted with it. It doesn’t always turn out so well.

        In the end, with major names like Devil May Cry and Deus Ex, I feel like it would be in the publisher and developer’s favor to be a little more delicate and respectful of the properties in question. I have no doubts at this point that Deus Ex is a good game, worthy of being played and praised. But it would have been nice to see a major review outlet assign a Deus Ex veteran to at least offer a minor opinion on the subject. At the least, they could have said, “hey guys, it is like Deus Ex in some ways and it isn’t like Deus Ex in others, but it’s still a great game and it does the series justice.” Deus Ex itself is a tricky brand because there hasn’t been a Deus Ex game in years, but other series aren’t always like that. Because for every radical departure like Resident Evil 4 that does well, there’s a Splinter Cell Conviction that essentially becomes forgotten after it releases, there’s a Metroid Other M that may or may not be a good game but is generally disliked, and somewhere on the horizon there are games like DmC and XCOM that threaten to take a beloved franchise and completely retool it for a different demographic. You can’t just say, “the game’s okay, so there’s nothing wrong with it,” to every single one of them.

  • rockman29

    The art, presentation, and voice-overs are so good, that it just bothers me incredibly that the graphics are so far from par… if Square-Enix wouldn’t allow Eidos to splurge on Deus Ex, then when will they allow it?

    Sort of disappointed with the shooting mechanics personally. I know cover-shooters are all the rage today, but the version I played on PC was anything but slick. The boss fights are also nothing to write home about… they feel out of place.

    Anyhow, I think all these gameplay and graphics issues, as annoying as they are, will be overshadowed by the meat of the game which is the dialogue trees, augmentations, and science-fiction.

    “Whether you’re a fan of shooters, role-playing games, sci-fi, conspiracies, or the color gold (that last one was a joke), Deus Ex is for you. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is as golden in value as it is in hue — only much less affordable.”

    You sure you don’t mean more affordable, if you’re comparing it to gold? What is it at anyway… must be like 1800 USD an ounce right now or something ridiculous.

    • Sal Romano

      @rockman29: Yeah, lol. Fixed that. Missed it in the final edit!

  • http://www.youtube.com/tezchi TezChi

    Great work Sal. Buying this for sure on Friday, seems it’s just like I thought it would be.

  • whiteferrero

    any new game plus option sal? that would be great for a game like this.

  • http://www.orderpsvita.com/ pre order ps vita

    Never played a deus ex game before…been reading reviews for this one though and may have to pick it up now.

  • http://buypsvita.net buy ps vita

    Basically….we should all buy this title :-)

  • ruslik

    Great review. I played this game and it is amazing!!!

    Sal, are you running this site alone? Where do you get the time! Good luck, cause this is my go to site for game news. Thanx for that.

    • Sal Romano

      @ruslik: Pretty much, yeah. I can’t really answer that second question – I don’t know, myself. It’s an addiction, so here I am.

      Glad you enjoy the site!