Bargain Gaming Special Review – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Posted on Sep 01 2011

It’s funny, but I’ve never really been one to get into the hype that surrounds most main stream titles. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy them, as I do, but that my consideration of which games I want to play and my subsequent enjoyment are not based off of other people telling me how good or bad a game will be. This is both a curse and a blessing though, as while it prevents me from being too untowardly biased towards a game I haven’t played yet, it also means that a lot of really great games go completely undetected by me. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was initially one such game, until my brother graciously allowed me to give his copy a shot. And I’m glad he did, as otherwise I might never have known that such an interesting game even existed, let alone played it myself! And now, having had a week to sit down and play through this title, I want to share my thoughts with you as to whether it’s worth checking out or if it should’ve just snuck past undetected.

Well, let’s start off with what is probably the most important aspect of any game and, in this case, the game’s strongest element, the game play. This is due to the sheer amount of options the game throws at you right from the start. Unlike most first person shooters, the conflicts in this game don’t necessarily have to devolve into inevitable gun fights that accumulate with all of the enemies dead in order for you to progress. Sure, you can do that if you’d like, but you have so many other options at your disposal! You can sneak past the enemies, using cover to obscure you from their sight as you creep around, or look for alternate paths and solutions to getting past your enemies unscathed. And these options are only expounded upon by the augment system, as you unlock additional abilities that can let you do all sorts of fun things. Will you be a stealth based character, using your cloak and silent running augments in order to get past even the most wary of enemy patrols? Or will you circumvent them entirely by hacking a lock and taking an alternate route. Or maybe you’ll drop right into the center of them from an overhanging awning and trigger the Typhoon augment, obliterating everyone around you! There are so many different options available to you, to the point where it can actually be somewhat overwhelming late game.

This is because by the time you’ve gotten to the game’s end you’ve most likely unlocked almost all of the augments available, meaning that you can pick and choose how you want each encounter to go. And while I would’ve liked to see more augments in order to give players the option to further specialize their build how they wanted, I have to admit appreciating being able to sneak late game despite my early focus on hacking and murder, as some of the later enemy groups can be a real pain to deal with. I mean, seriously, there’s a random thug with a welder’s mask on and he can take ten pointblank shotgun blasts to the face, yet by sneaking up on him I can still knock him out with a single punch! Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for increasing the difficulty level as the game progresses, but it would’ve been nice in a game where most things are portrayed as fairly realistic for there to be some consistency in the survivability of certain enemy types.

But I’ll get more into the annoying aspects of the game in a bit. For now, let’s switch gears to look at the game’s graphics, which are rather impressive as well. The best word I can think of to describe the visuals would have to be “atmospheric”. From the cities filled with a strange yellow fog, giving the player the impression of a future where pollution has only worsened, to the brightly lit interiors of the Tai Young Medical facility, you always get the sense that you are in a location with depth beyond what you can readily see. On top of this the game is already visually impressive, as the varying character models and backdrops are also well done, contributing to that feeling of immersion. And, seeing as how the game is made by Square Enix, the cut scenes are even more visually impressive than the in game graphics, which is an impressive feat in and of itself. Tie this in with a solid musical score and decent voice acting and you have a game world that appeals to the player despite (Or perhaps because of) the grittier setting.

Speaking of the setting, the game’s story is probably one of the game’s most interesting parts if you allow yourself to get caught up in it. Without going too deep into it so as to avoid potential spoilers, the main character, Adam Jensen, is unable to prevent an incident at his place of work, Sarif Industries. Left for dead, he is rebuilt by Sarif in an attempt to create a weapon that can deal with the issues that seem to plague the company. This in turn leads you deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that is hinted at from the beginning, a conspiracy that will take you across the globe searching for answers, redemption, and revenge. And while I enjoyed this story, I can see how a player who’s not interested in conspiracy stories or is just looking for a straight forward first person shooter might be turned off by it. But if you’re the type of gamer who likes getting absorbed into a story and watching as the pieces slowly fall into place as you progress, then this is the story for you.

So now that we’ve touched on the key aspects of the game, let’s take a moment to look at some of the things that annoyed me about it. As I mentioned earlier, I am not a huge fan of how some of the enemies can seem to take an excessive amount of bullets to the face in an otherwise realistic game. What do I mean by realistic, you ask? Well, unlike most first person shooters where your character is some sort of super soldier who can take a tank round to the face without a problem, Jensen is still as vulnerable as ever even with his augments, a few shots being enough to kill him even with the highest level of armor. This also holds true for most enemies, as unless they have some sort of armor a single shot to the head is enough to incapacitate most enemies and an EMP grenade can kill even the toughest of robots. I really appreciated this, as it allowed for me to get invested in the game’s world while still retaining the sense that I was playing as a bad-ass (just not an impervious one). As such it really stood out for me whenever an enemy in very basic armor suddenly became impervious to head shots. Sure, a heavily armored soldier might take two or three shots to brings down, but a thug with a welder’s mask?

One of the worst offenders of this particular breach in game play are the game’s bosses, the first one in particular if only because you’re not expecting it. Here’s a guy who’s decked out in armor and has a machine gun for a hand, yet he’s not wearing a helmet or any sort of head protection for that matter. As such, having dealt with everyone else through head shots up to that point, the solution seemed obvious to me. Stun him with an EMP Grenade and then unload a clip of Shotgun ammo into his face! Sadly this did not work as I expected, and I was subsequently defeated. Just to clarify, this is not a critique on the bosses in and of themselves, as they are all well designed with all of the tools you need to beat them pre-existing within their arenas. The issue I have is that they just seem to be out of place when put into the context of the rest of the game. I found myself dreading the later boss fights until I discovered an easy way to beat them (which I’ll reveal in my tips section at the end). And considering the fact that it’s an achievement to not kill anyone but the bosses, who you have no choice against, it seems that even the designers recognized that they were out of place. If there had just been a clever way to use your other skills to evade or outsmart them it would’ve been fine, but as it is they bother me.

Yet despite this grievance I still thoroughly enjoyed this game, and it currently holds a special place in my heart as the best new release I’ve played this year. If you find yourself even slightly curious about this game or are looking for a new game for your next gen or computer system, then I heartily recommend giving this title a shot. It’s got a great atmosphere, solid aesthetics, an intriguing story, and some of the best game play mechanics I’ve ever seen in a first person shooter. It’s truly a great game and worthy of your gaming pleasure.

And now, as promised, it’s time for some bargain tips! Now augmented and better than ever!

First off, I recommend pouring some points into your hacking skills early on. I know you’ll probably want to put your points into things like cloaking and extra armor, but trust me it pays off. Even one or two points into hacking early on can give you access to a wide array of information and equipment, not to mention the fact that every hack gives you experience (to the point where I hack terminals even if I know the password).

Secondly, look everywhere. In the cities in particular there are a lot of hidden goodies and side quests that you can unearth by exploring the world more thoroughly, making it a worthwhile investment. This is especially true if you have the augment that lets you punch through walls, as with that you can find even more items, praxis kits, and hidden passageways.

And last but not least, if you’re worried about having issues with any of the bosses (or if you’re using a stealth build that’s not meant for combat), invest three of your praxis points into the Typhoon augment. I know it seems like a silly augment to have, (after all, how often are you going to be surrounded by enemies?) but it only takes two, maybe three shots with the Typhoon to kill all three of the main bosses. It actually feels a bit cheap, as this move also triggers an animated scene so you can’t be hurt and the enemy can’t dodge while you’re doing it, so only use this if you’re having trouble or don’t want to fight the bosses.

Well, that’s it for me! I hope you enjoyed this review and be on the lookout for more game reviews and convention content in the near future! Until then, this is Bargain Gamer, logging off!

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