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Episode 341

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Darksiders II
 

Darksiders II

Review

 

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution
5
Game Name: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Platforms: 360/PS3/PC
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Eidos Montreal
Genre(s): FPS/Stealth/RPG
Release Date: August 23 2011
ESRB Rating: M 17+
Big Ups: Gameplay provides many options, Atmospheric and believable world, Extremely stylistic, DEUS EX IS BACK!
Big Downs: Boss battles break the flow of the game

Every once in a while a game defines a genre. It gets released into the public and becomes an instant classic, to which very few games(including sequels) can live up to. In 2000, PC gamers were introduced to one of these games called Deus Ex. Deus Ex was both critically and commercially acclaimed and some people even today consider it one of, if not the best PC games ever made. In 2003, developer Ion Storm tried to recapture that praise and released Deus Ex: Invisible War for both consoles and the PC but to no avail. The game was critically a disaster and, even worse, Deus Ex fanatics to this day don’t like to admit the game even exists. Fast forward to the present and almost a decade later, we have Eidos Montreal taking their stab at the beloved franchise by creating a prequel to the original game. To say they had some weight on their shoulders would be an understatement as this game could put the nail in the Deus Ex coffin or possibly reboot the franchise in a glorious manor. Does Deus Ex: Human Revolution(DEHR) re-invent the series in good form? Or will it follow in the same invisible footsteps as its predecessor?

In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you play the role of Adam Jensen, an Ex-SWAT team member who now works as private security for a biotechnology company known as Sarif Industries. Sarif Industries specializes in human augmentation to enhance the life of those who are willing to pay for them out of want or need through bio-mechanical implants and enhancements. Now already you can probably tell there will be conflict amongst those who believe this does indeed improve the life of others and those who think humanity should not be tampered with and that augmentation is simply corporations trying to play God.

The game opens with quite a lengthy tutorial in which you will learn all the basics of the game. During this time, Sarif industries falls to a brutal attack from an unknown source in which many scientists are murdered including your girlfriend Dr Megan Reed. Adam Jensen is severely injured and on the verge of death, but thanks to the technology of his employer, he is brought back even better than ever…think Robocop but more bad ass. From this point on your mission is both to seek revenge and to uncover who was responsible for such a horrific act. Throughout the story you will get involved with such factions as rival corporations, gangs, crooked cops and the infamous Illuminati, all of which have interesting takes on what is happening in the world of Deus Ex. This world will have you travelling from various cities around the world like Detroit, Hengsha and Montreal(GO CANADA!) Of course, like similar games, you’ll come across many twists and turns which range anywhere from predictable to off the wall bat-shit insane, but for the most part, they all seem to make sense(although some things toward the end still have me scratching my head). The story overall is a bit convoluted and can be hard to follow at times, but the game does a great job at keeping the flow of it moving, and if you do find yourself lost in whats going on when you boot up your game there is a summary of what has happened so far to remind you.

At first glance, DEHR looks to be a FPS, however this is not the case. Sure, the game can be played like an FPS but it also provides many options to the player. At its core, it’s a first person action RPG. You can: go through the game as a pacifist by being as stealthlike as possible; go into every mission guns blazing like rambo; or even do a combination of the two. A lot of games these days seem to preach the same idea; however, I can honestly say that this is the first game in which I never felt for a second that the game wanted me to play it a specific way and I could really change my play style on the fly. If I wanted to try to be invisible to my enemies and not kill a single person, I can find ways around rooms using things like air vents, rooftops, sewers and even an augmentation that lets you literally turn invisible. The difference with Deus Ex when compared to other similar games is that if I ever failed at being ninja-like and I was spotted, I felt I still had options available that wouldn’t make me want to re-load a save ASAP. I found myself getting out of jams by hiding until my enemies gave up looking or in some instances throwing my morality out the window and filling them full of lead until they died from it. Bottom line is, because the game does not rely on a karma meter or anything of the sort, I never felt penalized for taking such actions and that felt like breath of fresh air as a lot of games this generation tend to reward being the “good” guy and come down on players who want to have fu…..errrr be “evil”

That’s not to say that the game is perfectly balanced though. The shooting mechanics in DEHR are definitely competent but don’t feel as good as a full fledged FPS. It works enough to get the job done but it still feels a bit stiff and can make big firefights pretty hard to deal with considering enemies don’t really have much hit detection animation. Unless you’re shooting right for the head, the enemies can seem pretty bullet spongy most of the time especially later in the game. This isn’t really a big deal however since the game does allow for a lot of improvisation on the fly and just because you started a huge firefight it does not mean it has to end in one. The game gives many outs in the way of things like hacking alarms to turn them off, hacking gun turrets or robots to turn them on your enemies, or simply retreat and come back again with a different approach. The choices are really up to you.

So where does the RPG come in you ask? Well I’ll be glad to explain. Throughout your playthrough, you will earn praxis points through gaining experience(which is gained by virtually everything you do) by finding them or even purchasing them at local LIMB clinics(stores that specialize in augmentations). Take these as skill points if you will. You attribute these points to open up or improve various augmentations. This is essential in how you play the game. If you want to play stealth, you may want to invest more points into augmentations such as Cloak, Hacking, Thermal Vision, Legs, etc., or if you want to get all commando up in here go for augs that help out with things like reticule stabilization, bigger inventory(for more guns…duh!), or the totally awesome, Typhoon augment that spins Adan Jensen in a full 360 while hurling ball barring sized bombs taking out everything around you. During one playthrough, I managed to maximize quite a few of my augmentations and opened up the grand majority of them, but because of the numerous amount, it would seem impossible to max out everything in a single run. On top of this, you can fully upgrade any of the multiple weapons in the game by either purchasing or finding attachments. Either way, by about half way through the game, if you invest intelligently and know how you wanna play, you will most definitely feel like either the Terminator or a much more efficient Solid Snake(sorry, I had to).

You will also come across side missions along your journey to help you gain experience and to add more to the core story. Each city you visit is basically a hub world in which you can freely walk around, explore and talk to the local residents. Some of these characters will offer you a mission and in return you will get a reward. These missions can be completed in a multitude of ways depending on your augments and how you’re playing the game. There were only a couple missions that I took that seemed like I could only complete them if I had a certain augment or my hacking leveled to a certain pre-requisite, but for the most part I felt I was doing them how I wanted to do them. For example one early mission had me going into the local police station to recover something important. Upon entering the police station the guy at the main desk wouldn’t let me in because he was a colleague of Jensen’s when working for SWAT and he blames Adam for the fact he’s now working the desk and no longer in active duty. You have a choice right away here…you can say eff it and go in guns blazing or you can talk to him and persuade him into letting you in and in which case you have free roam of the entire station. The best part, when you have the opportunity to charm your way out of a situation you don’t need to have praxis points invested in that skill. You’re given 3-4 dialogue options and if you choose all of them correctly throughout the conversation you will get what you want..again, also a breath of fresh air as a lot of games that use this mechanic usually have it so that if you don’t have skill points in the correct skill you won’t even have the option to do something like that. Of course there is an option to put points into “social enhancer” to make these conversation easier but you can still complete them if you don’t. Anyways, I made it in by using both my charm and good looks and while in the station I found out there was another 2 ways I could have gotten in if I wasn’t able to get past the front lobby. Just adds to my point that when this game says you’re free to complete missions how you like, you really are. Also side missions in the game do not feel repetitive and that is likely due to the fact there are not too many to make you feel overwhelmed and every one of them kinda seem like a mini story. Just make sure before you leave any city that you complete any side missions you have opened up because once you leave you cannot complete them even if you find yourself returning to that city later in the game.

The game is full of decisions in both the main story line as well as the side quests, but I never once got the feeling that these decisions had a great affect on the outcome of my game. Sure, decisions I made during my quests drastically changed the way that specific mission turned out, but in regards to the underlying narrative, my influence on the world didn’t seem to change much. Normally, I would take this as a negative, but because the game is so good at letting you decide HOW to tackle the various challenges, it didn’t bother me that the story itself is extremely linear because, well, the gameplay and how the missions can be played out, is not.

Ok now to what I consider the biggest negative, the boss battles. During your time with DEHR you’ll come across some boss battles that will test your patience in a major way. The biggest problem is that while you’re not fighting bosses the game lets you determine how you want to go about doing things, let people live, let people die, figure out multiple solutions etc. The bosses? Not so much. To defeat them you have to rely heavily on the combat aspect of the game, and as I mentioned earlier, this is not DEHR best attribute. They all take an enormous amount of damage and deal it back at you and if you’re not prepared with the correct weapon and/or augment you will have a tough time beating them. That’s not to say they are impossible, as the environment will provide you with basic tools to get the job done, it’s just the game forces you into a specific play style and goes back on what it was doing so well in the first place. They can become a tedious endevour of trial and error and multiple re-loads of saved games. This is indeed unfortunate although luckily these boss battles are few and far between and once you’re done cursing at the game, you’ll be done with the boss and back to doing the fun stuff.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution overall looks fantastic. Textures are clean and clear, the lighting is impressive, and the overall art style is pretty striking. It’s obvious that the developers at Eidos Montreal had a great influence from the movie Blade Runner and they really nailed it. It’s extremely atmospheric and I believed I was in the year 2027. There are a few things that stand out though. Some of the NPCs don’t look as detailed as the main characters and when in conversations with people throughout, the game animations can be a bit robotic. As well the cinematic cut scenes look to be rendered at a sub HD resolution and look quite a bit darker than actual gameplay. This is a bit of a bummer as the in-game cutscenes look fantastic for the most part and when the game switches between the two it can be quite jarring. There can also be some framerate drops from time to time, usually in cutscenes or when some firefights can get very hectic, but for the most part it seems to run at a solid 30fps. Neither issues, though, took away from the overall look of the game as the positives far outweigh the negatives and there are many moments in the game you’ll want to just walk around and enjoy the scenery.

Ok time for some full disclosure. I have never played a Deus Ex game before. Therefore I was not soiled by the apparent disaster that was Deus Ex: Invisible war nor was I holding the initial game on a high pedestal. During my playthrough of the game(which was 20+ hours), I couldn’t help but compare the game, in my head, to similar titles such as Splinter Cell, Mass Effect and Metal Gear Solid, but for all I knew these games borrowed from the game that spawned this series. So what I can say is, if you were a Deus Ex fan and what I mention in this review reminds you of that great game you played way back in 2000 I have no doubt that Eidos Montreal brought back the series in a big way that will not only please old fans but bring more onboard like myself. Aesthetically the game pleases and the game had its hooks in me from beginning to end based on gameplay alone which I think is most important thing. Sure there are some issues here and there, but no game is perfect and what the game does well, it does really well. SonoVaBitch boss battles aside, I can’t recommend this game enough to gamers who truly like to play games the way they want to play them. There were even some things I didn’t touch on like the hacking mini game which never felt tedious nor impossible. A brilliant first effort by Eidos Montreal and a very big welcome back to what was thought of as a dead series.

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