What happened, Square Enix? You used to be cool, but now you’re just...square. Not long ago, when people heard the name Squaresoft, they’d automatically go: “That’s the guys whose graphics are incredible! Have you seen those? ” That was then and since 10 odd years ago, nothing seems to have changed. Nothing at all, which is exactly the issue in the grand advancement of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, anno 2011.
Eyes of glass, for that serious sociopath look to go along with the metal shirt.
Sure, cutscenes are still so crisp that they almost seem lifelike. On that part, Square and subsidiary studio Eidos show the world what they’re capable of with the current platforms. But then there’s the characters; dear Lord, the characters. At such high production values, the character designs, movements and any interaction related to them can best be described as a puppet theater. If there was ever such a world where every person gesticulates like Pinocchio, clanking jaws up and down and doing the robot, it apparently would happen in future Detroit. But it doesn’t just stop at the wooden marionettes, because everything regarding any character is downright awful.
In what seems to be a random die toss for casting, voice acting of characters seem completely detached from reality. Completely unfitting moods, lines and tones are commonplace in Deus Ex and that’s without touching the borderline racism. Any non-white Christian gets voiced as a page out of a stereotype book. It’s hard to believe that some ethnicities would not be offended by it. There isn’t an Oriental person in its universe that can conjugate a verb and black people all chuck and jive their way back to minstrelsy. Seriously, a joke is funny, but ridiculous is not strong enough a term for this giant farce.
And grievances pile up on top of each other, making it hardly believable this game is anything but a tragedy. Characters have erratic reactions towards interaction; cowering at the sight of typing, but staying motionless in the face of fistfights. Panic and run into a wall; spin around violently or willingly leap of a cliff; these are all normal behavior in a madhouse and Deus Ex.
The augmented conversation mechanic is solid, as long as you don't listen or look.
But the absolute pit might be the boss fights, which are as ridiculous as they are frustrating. The minor bosses are completely overpowered and tough to maneuver around. Though sometimes the broken detection system will let a boss put his face to a wall, whilst throwing grenades at it for long periods of time. Also, an endless supply of grenades really puts a damper on trying to get into position or firing. This also forces players to choose certain specific game elements and punishes others. It’s a bad scene all around and a constant reminder in this adventure of dozens of hours.
These 400 words of hate will probably mean horrible failure for Mindjack, or no, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Strangely, no; Deus Ex is probably one of the better titles in the entire genre, combining the best from action, stealth and adventure in a first person perspective. Presented in an awe striking expanded universe, the modern skylines merge the somber with bright electricity lighting, often mixing black and yellow. Together with the sharp instrumental soundtrack, heightening suspense, it sets a futuristic dream world right out of Blade Runner. Every scene has multiple levels of access, hidden parts and tons of interacting objects such as trashcans, terminals, boxes and so forth, indicated by a yellow outlining. It’s a true cornucopia of existence.
The screen can get a bit cluttered, but nothing stops the fun of espionage.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution revolves around the rise and fall of human augmentation, using robotics and technology to enhance ‘humanity’. This isn’t an uncontested advancement, far from it. The tremendous story will include many topics, such as the ethics of science and progress, but also merging with politics and the involvement of corporate interest. Capitalism has surpassed its nihilistic bonds and the Illuminati’s grasp on the world is on the verge of completion, with technology making human rule simple. It’s the theory conspiracist’s dream or better yet, nightmare. But at least every man can now be made perfect.
By using overshadowing topics, the game leaves a lot of decisions to the player’s discretion and amplifies this tenfold by doing so in a large open world. The open mechanic has rarely been done so right, where every part of the globe is connected to each other and yet holds an individual nature. This allows players to do whatever part of the game they want first and roam at their own discretion, using any tactic they want. Additionally, the wide variety of conversation options adds additional value to otherwise droning mechanics. There isn’t really a right or wrong approach, just more proficient diplomacies.
Adam Jensen, tackling Metal Gear, while fools die awkwardly.
Though stealth and empathy offer more benefits than brawn, no player is limited by previous decisions blocking off certain paths. Only the player’s ambition to pursue certain goals is a boundary and that keeps all the power in one’s own hands. This sense of freedom in the beautiful and extensive world is also advantageous to the tactical aspect of the game.
The protagonist Adam Jensen, douchebag in shades and leather coat, is the personal watchdog for a company named Sarif Industries. In what can be compared to a private army, Jensen is sent off into the world to fix certain issues. He is hereby aided by his sidekick Pritchard, a tech guy who handles the intelligence part of the augmentation army, by providing maps, coordinates and the likes. It’s much more believable this way, rather than to magically be aware of surroundings. In any case, these missions are often elaborate and multi-staged in complexes with multiple tiers. The fun comes from the different approach that can effortlessly be switched to at any time. Shootouts can be avoided by crawling into vents, skulking behind furniture or enemies can be taken down from behind walls, by smashing the other side with augmented arms. And the more augmentations, the more fun the grand adventure can be.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a lot of hacks, but reading books helps!
The leveling system of Deus Ex is another masterpiece. By using Praxis points, what essentially a level up means, Jensen can buy new augmentations that allow him to perform greater tasks or improve upon others. This is done in a constant and fluent manner, but also isn’t mandatory in most events. This makes advancement truly a plus, rather than a requirement, though there is a large emphasis towards hacking, as it consists of a large portion of the game. But by giving players experience incentives to explore hidden areas and reading up on lore, the game uses an effective way to get the most out of the adventure. Additionally, weapons can also be upgraded separately, bringing us to the combat aspect of the game.
Unfortunately, combat will always revolve around characters, leading us to aforementioned tirade, but all technical aspects of it are in order. Only sneaking and using cover isn’t always too reliable, mostly due to the erratic personas. Combat itself however can be satisfying, with a choice of using lethal or non-lethal means. Jensen might be machine, but can’t handle a wave of bullets, so effectively using cover and aiming well is vital. Especially landing headshots can be gratifying, as enemies won’t be alarmed if the corpse is dragged out of sight in time. Additionally, a charge bar can be used for special augmentations such as cloaking, but can also be used to perform motion captured takedowns. These batteries aren’t endless though, so using them wisely adds yet another tactical layer to the mix.
Augmentations offer a simple, yet wide variety of upgrades for the elite spy.
In short, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is in fact a revolution in itself. Even though the abysmal character interaction makes up about 40 percent of the game and is dreadful every step of the way, all other aspects are contradictory near perfection. This game can’t be described into one genre, as it uses stealth, action, adventure and RPG elements equally into a seamless whole. And while the major flaws in the game can’t be denied or forgiven, the experience of playing it is much too satisfying to pass it up for its large indiscretion. So ignore the awful puppet show, because this is the top of the line in immersive and open gameplay.