It is 2024, the future of humanity is now. Rapid technological breakthroughs have made human cybernetic augmentations commonplace. These grant augmented individuals superior, strength, stamina, and cognitive abilities. Unfortunately, something in the human body causes them to reject their augmentations requiring a synthetic drug to keep the limbs functioning — and preventing massive amounts of pain.
You play as Adam Jensen, security chief for Sarif Industries. Sarif is one of the major providers of augmentations and, the most popular anti-rejection drug, Neuropozyne. Sarif HQ is attacked by paramilitary operatives, major scientists are kidnapped, and Jensen is left broken and battered after a run in with a powerful augmented individual. Not much of him is salvageable and to save his life Sarif has to replace his legs, arms, lungs, eyes, portions of his brain, and portions of his torso — they do throw in some cool sunglasses prosthetics, so that’s a plus.
Six months later, Jensen returns to service but there are still few leads concerning the attack. He must use his augmentations to do whatever it takes to rescue the kidnapped scientists — one of which is his girlfriend because they have to throw in a heavy emotional attachment or he won’t care apparently — and figure out what happened to them. The whole while he must grapple with his, perceived or real, loss of humanity.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. The original Deus Ex was developed by Ion Storm and spearheaded by studio founder Warren Spector. It produced a sequel known as Invisible War and Spector left afterward. In his absence the studio floundered for two years, gaining no real headway in creating a series sequels until Eidos Interactive shut the studio down in 2005.
Development on Human Revolution began in 2007 with the formation of Eidos Montreal. The leaders of the team began by reading up on what Cyberpunk actually is. The new team contained no members of Ion Storm so many of them had to play the original Deus Ex to determine what should stay and what should go.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released in August 2011. It’s competition was Bastion (PC and XBLA), Limbo (PC), and Duke Nukem Forever (PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360).
In real life being moral is its own reward. Someone who does good things in the EXPECTATION of being rewarded isn’t really a good person — getting cookies for doing the right thing is nice but if someone gets mad for not being rewarded then they’re just a jerk. The same goes for any game. Being a good person should be difficult, especially in a world as murder-centric as the cyberpunk dystopia of 2024 Detroit. But here’s the thing, I was TOLD that Deus Ex: Human Revolution rewarded the player for a non-lethal playthrough and that just doesn’t happen. It’s not the game’s fault but this failed expectation tainted the entire experience for me severely.
I ended up wasting my time trying to knock out bosses — which is impossible by the way, not that I knew at the time. What really irks me though is that this is a game about player choice. You can play this game how you want and the game will, usually, support your playstyle. There is however one section especially that does not. I spent 40 minutes stuck in a closed arena where I had to non-lethally take out 11 guards and a giant robot attacking a downed chopper. There is no opportunity for stealth, and under pacifist restrictions you probably didn’t bring any heavy, robot-blasting, ordinance. The point being, I was fed some bunkum information by the internet. Combined with previous experiences with the pacifism gameplay differences of the original Deus Ex created a cloud of frustration that really tinged the rest of the game.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a first person shooter RPG with stealth elements where you can play your way. Longing for the days of the Thief series of games? Be a sneaky bastard. Just wanna shoot things? This title’s got you covered. No matter what path you choose — and sometimes for finding intricate solutions — Jensen will get experience points. Every 5000 XPs Jensen will get a Praxis point which he can spend making his augmentations more powerful. Like giving him the ability to run faster or the ability to breath toxic gasses — Just remember, it’s a good idea to keep Praxis points in reserve so Jensen can adapt quickly to a new and unexpected problem.
The game has a relatively rote quest structure within hub world maps. The big boss will give Jensen a job and then en route a series of hard up locals will ask a complete stranger, Jensen, to help them with their problems. Naturally, people you’ve helped out will reward Jensen in some way, at the very least with XP but sometimes with rare items or information.
The thing that really kept me going through the game, no matter how frustrated I got, were the social encounters. Every so often Jensen can try to talk his way into what he wants using logic and other debate tactics to run verbal circles around his adversaries. A certain augment will give the player more information about the character, or you can derive it from their actions or e-mail messages. I am a huge fan of arguing, using friendly prattle to reach a mutual conclusion, so I really enjoyed being able to do that in a game. There’s nothing like using verbal sparring to render a foe into humble silence.
The Cyberpunk atmosphere is really on point. Instead of seeing things from the downtrodden rebel’s point of view, like most cyberpunk media, Jensen is in an elevated and corporate position. Although, I admit, it’s still a story of defiance it’s a unique take on the Cyberpunk genre.
Everything gives Jensen experience and I do mean everything — pick your nose, I’m sure there are a few XP up there. Finding secret areas, sneaking around, and hacking all provide enough XP to build a decent Jensen.
Some of my favorite quests in the game were the detective quests. Jensen needs to find enough evidence to figure out what happened or whodunnit. There’s something exhilerating about searching a room for clues and then crafting the correct narrative for the crime.
For a game that lets you play the game your way the boss fights are all gunplay. The Director’s Cut introduces advanced tactics but I didn’t play the Director’s Cut and don’t want to shell out ten dollars for a game that should have been released complete or patched. It’s baffling that they would create encounters that render certain skill-sets useless, especially against such a powerful foe.
I think it’s time to retire the Illuminati as a thing in media. When was the last time you heard a story in which the Illuminati being revealed was a cool thing — personally, the last time I saw the Illuminati implemented well was in The Secret World so good on them. Whenever a story writer needs a secret society to be evil, have near infinite wealth, and influence they’re go to is always the Illuminati. There are tons of conspiracies out there, there had to be one that fit this setting more. Maybe they could have just come up with a new one.
The melee take-downs in this game are visually and viscerally satisfying. It’s a pity that they consume a resource that has a really slow recharge cooldown. At least there’s a taser but it can only carry one shot at a time and is also resource dependent. The point being there’s no ammo-less melee weapon. Can I please just throw a rock, or have a punch, or a baton or something? I have metal fists, even if I don’t have a take-down in reserve I could still grind someone down with punches while they shoot me — I can take it, my robo-heart gives me regenerating health. Sadly, the solution instead is to hide behind a table or something like a total jackass until Jensen’s kung-fu energy recharges.
I do not have in recent memory a more frustrating game that I finished. The side-quests were much more satisfying than the main story. The gunplay may be grand but being bound to the moral high-road meant I got to use lethal weapons twice. The point is, if this sounded cool to you then get the Director’s Cut, it’s on Steam for 20 dollars. There’s no way to get the normal version anymore so you guys can get the TRUE experience. At this point, I don’t care to.
Next Week: Hearthstone