Review: "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" Is The Sneak Game You've Been Hoping For

Review: "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" Is The Sneak Game You've Been Hoping For
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: August 23, 2011
Price: $59.99 (360, PS3) 
$49.99 (PC)

Remember watching Minority Report back in 2002? Remember how awesome the prospect of having that technology felt, no matter how completely unrealistic it was? Deus Ex: Human Revolution throws you into a world full of similarly flashy and awesomely powerful technology just begging for you to experiment with it. Of course, this isn’t the “happily embracing futuristic ideologies” we might ideally like.

The biotech corporations that specialize in augmentations of this nature often go about...questionable methods of competition for dominance. After protagonist Adam Jensen becomes the victim of a brutal attack against Sarif Industries - the augmentation research company that employs him - the only way to save his life leads him to the half-human, half-cyborg that you see in the game.

The storyline is rife with political and social conflict over the morality of “playing God” and the potential threats that may cause. Adam is no stranger to this dilemma, and dialogue options reflect an underlying emotional discomfort behind his physical compatibility to the augmentations. While most people’s bodies quickly reject the mechanical additions, Jensen is somehow able to withstand it relatively well without medication.

Your more immediate concern as head of security at Sarif Industries, however, becomes to investigate the black ops mercenaries’ attack against your company. Greedy competitors are not unaware of to David Sarif, and Jensen is tasked with learning more about their potential involvement in the recent attacks that left him forever changed, and his loved ones dead.

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

We have to issue a warning here straight off the bat: Deus Ex: Human Revolution is certainly not for the faint of heart. Unraveling the messy conspiracies behind these corporations does not come easy.

Whether you choose to have Jensen charm his way passed guards at the Detroit police station, utilize ventilation shafts at heavily-armed rival corporate headquarters to sneak through undetected, or hack into storage rooms for ultimate loot and more information, it will be up to your discretion as to how to carry out your missions. So long as you’re delivering the necessary intel David Sarif is looking for, you can even decide to just straight up gun-blaze your way through those maze-like sewage systems. Although, you’ll undoubtedly die almost instantly because, although Jensen is a ninja mastermind who can roll from cover to cover, he’s also weak as all hell.

Even with boosts to your defensive armor and health, a few shots will immediately land you face-planted in a pool of your own blood. So, obviously, we don’t suggest the run-and-gun tactic too often, particularly when sneaking around is much more of a challenge, and clearly where the game shines most where gameplay is considered.

SKULKING AROUND ISN’T COWARDLY WHEN YOU’RE ADAM JENSEN

DX: HR isn’t the fast-paced, button mashing battle you may be familiar with from other games. Rather than confront them, your best bet is to sneak around obstacles by remaining patient while calculating their patrol patterns. Are you going to shoot a stun dart at the patrolman walking down the catwalk to loop around him, or will you navigate your way through a maze of cubicles while avoiding the security cameras?

The tension when deciding on your navigation is often palpable. Long waits for certain patrolmen and (all too often) waiting for your threat level to decrease sometimes diminishes that elicited emotional response, though. Or, you may have sweet-talked your way towards a less hostile path. The occasional take-down with your mechanical arms or your trusty stun gun will be necessary, of course.

You’ll be finding your way between expansive city levels, exploring cities on opposite continents. Jensen takes his investigations from the rooftops of Hengsha, China to the sewers and outer-city limits of Detroit. Interacting with people on the streets impresses an even larger idea that each one is unique even beyond the incredibly elaborate artistic detail that went into them. There are stores tucked away into nooks of the city, but you can talk to their store owners, too. You can even get information from hobos on the streets of Detroit, where you’ll find them rifling through trash cans for their version of loot. Heck, you can get hit on by prostitutes if that’s what you’re looking for.

Once you’ve had your fill of scoping out the local talent, Jensen will need to continue about his mission for vengeance (or, you know, his next pay check). Complex formations of turrets, robots, footmen, security cameras, trip mines, etc. all lay before each one of your paths.

The necessary trial-and-error here can be frustrating, sure. But we can assure that playing the game extensively to grow accustomed to its fickle nature pays off in the end. You’ll be a master of ghost crawling around each level in no time. Setting off alarms won’t even be a big deal if you’re quick enough to slip into a side door and hide from the alerted enemies.

Even if sneaking isn’t your forte and you never get beyond that learning curve, DX: HR rewards you for literally everything you do. Have a particularly successful conversation with someone? Points. Mercifully knock someone unconscious? Points. Brutally kill someone instead? Yeah, sure, points! The game may be a challenge, but it certainly doesn’t shy away from rewarding you even in the small, but appreciated, ways.

A STORYLINE FROM THE OUTSIDER’S PERSPECTIVE

DX:HR is an aesthetically beautiful game with a rich, detailed world. If you’re ever looking for reading material, look no further than the broken-into emails, scattered books, and newspapers to fill any contextual void you may be feeling after the lengthy main and side quests. For such an in-depth story, however, we were initially disappointed at how excluded we felt from it. Jensen is often told stories rather than allowed to be a part of them. Problems arise and Jensen is ordered to deal with them.

As the storyline progressed, the grander scheme of what was at stake revealed itself: the tension between pro-augmentation society and the anti-augmentation extremists, and every other organization, company and government involved in between. Jensen will [minor spoiler] eventually witness his city ravaged by protest. It comes as no reassurance that the anti-augmentation extremists are still at large [/minor spoiler]. We often want to feel that we have an impact on the storyline rather than just watching from the sidelines as Jensen conducts missions for his superiors. But Eidos Montreal has created such a riveting world of conflict that it becomes more pertinent to examine the issues rather than feel a part of them. Of course, we ultimately decided that we're still partial to anything that gives you blades protruding from your arms. Amirite?

DX:HR will have you setting out adamantly to each new mission, partly to prove that you can’t be beat by the system and partly to experience the rest of the sometimes-creepy cyberpunk, Renaissance-themed world. Even with the potential frustration of death upon death, DX:HR is a test against your observatory skills to the point that every finished mission will feel like a sincere accomplishment.

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Score: 9/10
Tags: deus-ex-human-revolution, xbox, ps3, square-enix
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