It’s the year 2027 and you are Adam Jensen, the security chief for one of the most powerful biotechnology juggernauts in the world (Sarif Industries). We join Adam right in the midst of a massive attack on Sarif Industries by an unknown foe. During the attack, Jensen’s ex-girlfriend (Dr Megan Reed) is kidnapped along with others. What’s the motive behind this attack I hear you say? Well, Sarif Industries are about to unveil an amazing new breakthrough in the world of human augmentations, allowing controlled human evolution. At the forefront of this was Dr Reed. The attack leaves our hero Jensen horribly injured and scarred, the only way to save his life is to undergo lifesaving surgery to implant augmentations in his body and these give Jensen many new abilities. The story of this game is so deep. It twists and turns touching on many social issues, including the responsibilities of government and science, and while I won’t ruin anything for you, I will say that you should truly expect the unexpected. Now, if that hasn’t got you excited to play Eidos Montreal and Square Enix’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution, then I don’t know what will.
At this point I think it would be good to define that an augmentation is a technological modification to the body which allow the user to perform actions no normal human can do. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DXHR) has four so called pillars of gameplay: combat, stealth, hacking and exploration. The augmentations that you can use and upgrade cater for these pillars. By pressing the select button you have a multitude of options to choose from. You can view your map, inventory, missions and, of course, the augmentation menu. This allows you to choose the various body parts to augment, and thereby enhance, via the Praxis points you get after completing missions or gain experience.
The bodily changes you can make include, for example, arm augmentations which allow you to move objects and use them for cover, punch through walls and reduce recoil, and sight augmentations which give you the ability to see through walls and spot enemy soldiers (a favourite of mine). You can also view the cones of vision the guards have so you can sneak past better. For the core augmentations you can choose from upgrades such as dermal body armour and the ability to jump from any height without dying (by using a personal force shield). Leg augmentations allow you to run faster and make no sound. One of the augmentations that will appeal to most gamers is the ability to be invisible; this is great fun and looks amazing. Be warned though, it’s a massive strain on your power and will deplete your power cells very quickly, so use it wisely.
Of all the four pillars though, the one that stuck out the most for me was the hacking one. Hacking in itself is a mini-game that is initiated every time a secure terminal, PC or safe place must be hacked into. The aim is to hack servers whilst getting to a node of control, however the system will detect you and if you are not fast enough you will get booted out. To help you in this pillar you can buy nukes or stop viruses. They can buy you time or allow you to hack without being noticed. For a mini-game, it’s a deep and fun experience and makes a very nice break from the normal RPG action.
While the hacking pillar is all about sneaky subterfuge, the combat pillarencompasses the more direct courses of action available to you in the form of gun-play and body-to-body combat. There are many guns you can use, including SMGs, sniper rifles, heavy rifles, combat rifles and rocket launchers. To help with the stealth aspect, you also have stun guns and tranquilizer guns at your disposal. The controls here are the standard FPS controls, meaning you will get used to them very quickly, and while the standard aiming and shooting is nice, there’s much greater enjoyment in taking out guards with smooth stealth kill or knockouts. These special moves looks so good I cannot emphasise them enough, every time they’re different and every time they provide a very satisfying relief to the building tension.
Choice is a big aspect of DXHR, not only because of the 4 pillars,but also because the way you interact with the people of the various towns, apartments, labs and warehouses you encounter will determine if you get the information you need or not. To aid you in this, there is the mental augmentation which allows you to assess the people you’re talking to and decide the best way to converse with each of them.
The stealth aspect of DXHR is very cool. Pressing L3 allows you to crouch down and slowly sneak past guards, get into vents and circumvent many of the defences that have been set up to stop you. All this stealthy approach plays into the final pillar of the game, exploration. Exploration is a big aspect of DXHR’s gameplay, as you’re constantly looking around to find new points of entry without having to kill everyone or give your position away. One negative point about this is that sometimes you won’t find a vent and will be forced to engage in combat, which can be a problem as ammo is not freely available and when it runs out you’re then forced to try and adopt stealthy approach, even though this may be tricky or you may not want to.
Thanks to Human Revolution’s physics systems, the gameplay itself is very smooth and effortless. When you move around and interact with the environments you really feel like a souped up human in a real city. As the story is so deep you form an instant connection to Jensen and really want to keep him alive and make the right decisions. The voice acting is first class and all the main characters play their roles very well. Even the random people you talk to on the streets say interesting phrases which more often than not help you in a big way.
Yet abother thing I feel in love with in Human Revolution, was the game’s colour pallet. Eidos Montreal has purposely used gold and black colours and sharp edges to evoke the feeling of a cyber-punk Renaissance era and a world in transition. As you change levels and the story progresses, the various places you visit all have their own identity. For example, the outside of a night club in a location called the Hive has an appropriate yellow honeycomb design that pulsates with the music. It’s just of the game’s many different locations each of which have their own identity and purpose, and none of which have been included just for the sake of it.
To round out the package, the music in DXHR is just spot on. In the moments when you are sneaking around the background music matches your action with a slow and steady pace, and when you’re in combat the sounds change becoming shapr and intense. You can hear even hear Jensen’s heartbeat in the game, which usually mirrors your own sitting on the couch. As mentioned earlier, the voice acting is very good and the way the characters display their emotions and intentions make a huge difference in how you play along with the story.
DXHR will give you around 20-25 hours of gameplay, but trust me, when you finish it you will want to play it again and again. There is a lot of replay value here and you will want to fulfil the side missions and get all the juicy bits of information. Playing this game again will give you the option to use a completely different pillar and advance your augmentations based on this. I’m currently on my third play-through and the ability to eventually get every augmentation is extremely rewarding, making you feel virtually invincible.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution has, in my opinion, delivered on all the hype and attention surrounding it. There are issues surrounding the small size of some of the city districts and the lack of ammo but don’t let that take away anything from this game. Eidos Montreal and Square Enix have delivered a game that is deep, very fulfilling and beautiful to look at and play. The four pillars of gameplay add a level of sophistication that is very rare to find in RPGs or FPS. This game is a good combo of both these genres and added to that the hacking mini-games, the various augmentations and detailed world Human Revolution strikes an extremely pleasing balance. DXHR is very quickly becoming one of my favourite games of 2011.
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