Reader Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Tristan Damen does, as he jumps into a game that most people in the Kotaku community spent their weekend playing.

As always, the best written Reader Review each month receives a Blu-ray/DVD pack from Madman Entertainment.

Take it away, Tristan!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Until late last year, I'd never played any of the previous installments of the Deus Ex series. I picked up both of Human Revolution's predecessors during one of Steam's delirium-inducing digital fire-sales after tiring from the numerous, pretentious rants that I'd read discussing the importance and influence of the original. Ten years after its release, however, proved to be too late for me to discover its magic. What I saw was ugly and unapproachable. I didn't even think to load up the sequel, Invisible War after that eyesore. Instead -- shallow man that I am -- I waited for the latest iteration, with enticing art direction and, most importantly, rendered with all of the grandeur and beauty that I've come to expect from modern hardware.

Loved Crack gaming -- Deus Ex: Human Revolution is straight-up addictive. There's no sugar coating or sidestepping the fact: this game will cause you to lose sleep. Whether it was agonising over my next augmentation, wondering if I played that last conversation the right way, or getting lost in futuristic Heng Sha: I found it genuinely difficult to put my controller down and walk away. Even now, after having completed the game, I still find myself going back to sneak up a storm.

Illuminating tale -- Core to the game's addictive quality is its brilliant story that pushes to you question whether self-controlled evolution is the future of mankind or a propellant toward its demise. The central characters are all voiced expertly and some, like Pritchard, have an enjoyable chemistry with Jensen that evolves throughout the adventure. You can approach the story at your own pace and, in what I see as a master stroke, you're not obliged to experience it all. Not that I can see why one wouldn't want to comb through each of Detroit's dangerous streets and alleyways, but it's great that the game gives you the choice all the same.

Summon the funicular -- Human Revolution's environments are dripping with cyberpunk intrigue. There may be a bit of recycling at play, but locations like The Hive and Picus Station are memorable and demand to be explored. I'm now halfway through my second playthrough and it's amazing how many new locations and conversations I've found thanks to a different approach and a compulsion to collect everything. The various mechs, vehicles and augmented humans that you encounter are also impeccably rendered and designed. While not the most technically impressive release of the year, I challenge anyone to think of a game with more pleasing art direction.

Who's your daddy? - Human Revolution's many influences are obvious, however, they are all treated with respect and, in some cases, carried out better than the source material. Conversations in this game aren't as frequent as they are in Mass Effect, but their outcomes are more ambiguous. The logs and literature don't contribute to the pervading sense of dread and calamity as effectively as those found in Bioshock, but they do give you a greater idea of the geopolitical landscape of the future Earth that Adam Jensen inhabits. The stealth mechanics are more fluid and forgiving than those from Metal Gear Solid 4, and discovery isn't tantamount to what the Penny Arcade team once described as sliding down a "shit-greased chute" for inept players. Human Revolution is a smoothie comprised of my favourite games.

Hated Corn bread -- Last year, I commented that the voice-acting in Just Cause 2 was so heavily set on stereotypes that it was almost offensive. Human Revolution also features some regrettable voice direction with some African-American characters sounding like throwbacks to Gone with the Wind. Some Asian characters who speak in English are scripted with intentional syntax errors. I'm not saying that every Chinese hooker is going to speak English as though it is their first language, but at times it sounds forced and unnecessary.

Who's the boss? -- As I've detailed in a previous post, the boss fights in Human Revolution felt alien when compared to the rest of the experience. They were often unforgiving and, worst of all, almost incompatible with players who choose espionage-flavoured augmentations. One of these encounters can be made drastically shorter -- to the point of farce -- if you invest in the typhoon augmentation. The final two boss encounters actually bordered on enjoyable thanks to some of the choices I had made earlier in the game. It's a mixed bag for sure.

A litany of minor errors -- As polished as the core action is, you'll come across a great many slight inconsistencies that can serve to lessen the sense of immersion you'll feel throughout the game. As per my last post, NPCs are sometimes completely unaware of some pretty big indiscretions that you'll carry out in plain view. There are also some big questions that certain play mechanics raise over sustained play: · How come I need to rest for as long as twenty seconds before I can punch another enemy (or civilian)? · Why would I upgrade my battery's recharge ability if it has no effect on depleted cells? · If I'm so advanced, how come I can only sprint for the in-game equivalent of five metres? · How come I can't fall a painfully-short distance without dying?

The Verdict There are scores of minor flaws and wrinkles that one would find in any given play through of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but after thirty hours of well written, though not always well-delivered, dialogue, slick stealth gameplay and varied locations, I'm still hooked. This game has sunk its augmented claws into my skin and I can't escape. Better yet, I don't want to escape. I'm happy to have a crack at every achievement, every weapon, every air duct and anyone that looks at me sideways.


Comments

    I agree with this wholeheartedly!

    (What a valid and inciteful comment Blaghs)

      +1 ;)

    The voices in Just Cause 2 were awesome. "Da Reapahs, in da sectah!"

      I find it sad that there's a comparison between Just Cause 2 and Deus Ex. Both good games in their own right, but also wildly different from one another.

      Deus ex needed a whorehouse blimp.

        What crazy person compares the two?
        IMO JC2 is more like GTA series then Dues Ex

          Probably someone who is comparing bad voice acting.
          Now why does that sound familiar?

    good review but i dont totally agree with the boss fights. Sure it was jarring to be thrown into a situation where im suddenly playing in a way that is different to the way i approached the rest of the level. But there was always a way to defeat the boss without having to have specific upgrades (ie armour) The pieces to the puzzle are there and just need to be found.
    But a great review, spot on.

      I disagree. Most people sneaking around may not have even had a gun for the first boss (myself included). In theory, I could have picked one up around the room, but on the harder difficulties, that's a insta-kill. I ended up having to drop the difficultie, and even then it was tough, because the silent weapons took a lot of space in the inventory, so I would run out of ammo, and my guns weren't particularly upgraded.

        SPOILER

        Should have just used the yellow canisters to stun him for a while, then the red barrels to explode against him. Very easy to defeat him that way, even on the hardest difficulty.

        /SPOILER

          SPOILER CONTINUE KIND OF MAYBE

          That's only if you can get him near enough to them though. On my attempts he destroyed most/all of them with his typhoon attacks before I could use them against him.

          END

            Really? My autosave was just before the cut-scene, so it was the start of the boss fight straight after that and I'd just quickly dart to the side, grab the yellow canister, hit him with it, run and grab the red barrel, hit him with it and then so on and so forth..

              You could actually run around without him shooting you dead in under 2 seconds? What was your aug build? I was mostly hacking focussed, didn't get any of the damage or sprint augs til waaay later and about 2 seconds, if that, of gunfire from him killed me.

                There's a short delay after the cutscene before he starts firing, because he's centred in the room and the first yellow canister is in the right hand corner of the room, one of the pillars partially blocks his access to you so if you run straight to the canister, move up to right behind the pillar, so he can't see you, then when his gun stops for that second or so while he reloads or whatever, you pop out, get him with the yellow gas canister. After that, if you keep going yellow, red, yellow, red...he doesn't get enough time to shoot you after that.

                My augs were all stealth/hacking orientated. Except for the couple I had on strength to boost inventory space.

                  That definitely wasn't possible in my version. The worst was the second last boss fight... I had no shielding, so even on the Give me a Challenge difficulty, I was usually killed before I could even move.

                  You could say I had poorly built character, and in most other RPG's I'd agree, however, I was basically a cyber thief, and there was no way for me to beat the game playing that way.

    My biggest beef with this game was the end. It didnt answer enough questions. Jensen mutters about the human condition while eating a bowl of gravel-O's while stock footage plays...

    I mean, hot damn I loved the end of the game purely for how much it changed the game up (that last catwalk at the end thats covered in pseudo-zombies was my finest elbow-bladin' hour) but as I quit out of the game at 2am after the final credits and rubbed my bleary eyes, I find myself a little empty.

    I guess I expected to be more swept up by the story. Eh, either way.

    I agree with this review completely. It's definitely my game of the year, which after The Witcher 2, is saying something.

    I found it kinda good to be able to finally use some big ass weapons in the boss fights, after playing through stealthily and as a pacifist for the rest of the game. It was good to flex some augmented muscle!

    Did anyone else find the first boss the hardest and the last boss the easiest?

      First was definitely the hardest. I invested in the typhoon before the second fight, which as a result was the easiest. Last fight was pretty damn simple though.

    - How come I need to rest for as long as twenty seconds before I can punch another enemy (or civilian)?
    - Why would I upgrade my battery’s recharge ability if it has no effect on depleted cells?
    - If I’m so advanced, how come I can only sprint for the in-game equivalent of five metres?
    - How come I can’t fall a painfully-short distance without dying?
    ---

    These things, a thousand times over.

    But play the first, come on.

    Here is my review: If your not a dumb arse and like a little maturity in your games buy DE:HR. Done.

      A dumb arse would use "your" instead of "you're".

      Good review, great game.

    -Why can't I sprint more then 5m?

    Don't quote me, but I think you don't "Have" advanced legs, or at least can't use them untill you "learn" how to (XP). So it's moreso "You're running with a body made of metal with no real boost to your leg power"

    -How come I can't fall short distance

    Same as above, you're metal and don't have Chell's legs (Unless you bought them)

      Had the first level of advanced legs for a fair while and still copped loads of fall damage. On my second playthough I opted for the Icarus augmentation very early and the game was all the better for it.

        I think he means the advanced legs for the longer sprinting, not to reduce fall damage. There are augmentations to increase sprint speed and sprint length. So the whole "why can I only sprint for 5m" point is down to you not checking out the augs...

    Would highly recommend playing Deus Ex in the hardest mode possible.

    Makes the consequences that little more immediate.

    But yes Boss battles. Stealthed up augs proved no help here. where is sneak to secret area and drop an anvil, or hack a turrent or power source while they stand in water.

    For me this is a small indiscretion from the team for the masterpeice of a game they have given us.

    On the subject of boss battles;

    http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/i-jJRZhDr/0/L/i-jJRZhDr-XL.jpg

    The original was boring and ugly, as such, I never played the sequel. I've been advised if I didn't enjoy the original, there is a very good chance I won't enjoy this one.

    Also, one would think that with all the additional weight that augmentation brings, your mass increases and you will get very sore if you fall a small distance. Resistance is such a bitch.

      Sigh, the original was ugly and boring? I guess you're one of those people who have caused the games industry to care more about the high shiny prettiness and instant gratification than a quality story and the ability to have a detailed interactive environment.

      I'm guessing that you also are in the camp the hated Duke Nukem

    I actually finished it with fifteen praxis points unspent. Once I realised I didn't care about going unseen and maxed out the strength and inventory space augments there was nothing really useful to spend them on.
    That last level was really a disapointment for a shooty Jensen, no challenge and since it was the last level there was obviously not going to be any consequences. Very disappointing on that front.

      Interesting. I will need to investigate this on my next playthrough. Currently on the first, as a pacifist hacker. I don't even punch hobos!

    Addictive game, but not enough content in the world! The ending were canned and all your previous efforts/decisions have NO effect on the ending! 4 endings to choose from (do yourself a favour and save before you choose an ending then reload, and watch the next one - easy 50gamerpoints on 360 version too!) Great game but one playthrough is enough to see everything this game has to offer. Also the augs are very generic compared even to invisible war - more like unlocks than advancements...

    Also, after the tutorial (pre-augments), is there a cutscene of Jensen in his apartment all bandaged up? I felt like I missed something when it just continued.

    Nice, dude... Very nice! I concur on all counts, but can't keep chatting 'cause I have 2 Praxis points to spend.

    I played Half-Life and various HL mods for a good 2 or 3 years after it came out. I missed Deus Ex until several years later in college when I got a cheapo GotY edition copy from a toy store clearance bin.

    Is it up to today's visual standards? Of course not. Is it as ass-achingly ugly as everyone seems to say? Hardly.

    Go back and play vanilla Half-Life, then play Deus Ex.

    Stop complaining about the visuals and discover all the glory that lies beneath them. (mini-spoiler: that 'glory' I speak of would be "The GAME")

    :-P Sheesh. People act like if a game doesn't have 16 different shaders going on somewhere on the screen then it's not worth their time.

    (Extra Credit: Find a copy of System Shock, the original game not the sequel, on Google and play it. It's awesome. It's old and pixellated. Learn to get past it. Grow and mature as an individual. Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 dollars.)

    i did a computer science with a major in hacking. the first boss fight (which is all i got up to so far) - had to restart the sequence about 4 times but then i understood the fight. im playing on normal.......

    spoiler
    use the canisters in the room! there's heaps of gas and explosion ones! just pick it up and throw at the guy and shoot inbetween!

    My fav game of 2011 so far...

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