Oh come on, I couldn’t start a Deus Ex review without a Six Million Dollar Man gag. It just wouldn’t be right, would it..? Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s do this thing – Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel to the 2000 original and, like that game, deals with the concept of human beings modifying their bodies through Augmentations–mechanical additions that grant people extraordinary abilities. These can range from brain chips that allow people to hack computers or influence individuals, to mechanical arms that can let them punch through a solid wall. All this sounds awesome right? Well, you’d be right. Mostly.
Taking the role of ex-SWAT commander Adam Jensen, now security chief for one of the premier Augmentation companies in the world, you are tasked with finding the people responsible for the attack that cost you your arms and led you to be filled with augmented technology. This leads Adam down a path of conspiracy, violence and intrigue that questions the very morality of human augmentation. The plot is one of Human Revolution’s greatest strengths – with a genuine mystery to solve along with some solid voice work (all from relatively unknown voice actors who do a frankly excellent job) mean that there’s a definite need to see how events will unfold. Add to that the fact that certain choices can mean that characters can die early on or survive to become future allies or enemies, increases the need for replay.
Deus Ex was famed for giving the player choices and Human Revolution adheres successfully to that formula. Players can choose how they wish to deal with almost any situation in the game – they can sneak around enemy forces, hack security systems so that they turn on their masters, find alternate routes, or go in guns blazing. This lends itself to many different styles of play and should satisfy many different players. The augmentation system is also tailored for this, allowing you to enhance Jensen to your play style. This is great in theory but it becomes clear early on that, no matter your preferred build, if you don’t dump a lot of upgrades into hacking, you’re going to miss out on a lot of supplies.
I built Jensen up as a massively powerful gunslinger, essentially designed as a firepower-wielding killing machine. This doesn’t mean I could just wade into a fire fight, guns blazing, and expect to come out the other side. Even with the addition of regenerating health to the franchise, enemy fire is exceptionally lethal. There is still a certain amount of tactics and planning needed for any encounter which is helped by a cover system that moves to third person when utilized (that’s how you do it, Killzone. Take notice).
The major problem with Human Revolution is that while it does everything to cater to different players’ styles, it throws a major hurdle in the path of all of them: At various points in the game there are unavoidable boss battles. Now these didn’t pose a problem for a character build like mine, designed to take punishment and dole it out in equal measure; but a stealth or hacking specialist is going to be ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deal with the 8 foot augmented armoured nightmare that wants to rip his head off.
Secondly, the whole thing feels a little short. There aren’t as many side missions as you’d expect from a game like this and the main story feels very linear. This isn’t your Fallout or Oblivion. There are really only two large main areas to explore and they’re revisited a couple of times. Even early on, I started to wonder how much freedom I was really going to be given – never a good sign.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a worthy addition to the series (more so than Invisible War was) but it’s not without its issues. If you can get past them, however, there’s a whole lot to enjoy–including some incredibly satisfying combat and a great plot. There’s also a ton of replay value in going back and trying out different character builds to maximize your mechanical death dealing.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is out now on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3