Eidos Lied, But All Is Forgiven In A Well-Augmented Conspiracy
©2011 Nicholas Laborde
In the year 2000, conspiracies began to die down. Tensions were starting to ease after the Y2K computer crashing rumors subsided, and in a world pre-9/11 and post-Cold War, we had nothing to fear… or so it seemed.
That is, of course, until Deus Ex released and with it, a reminder to gamers far and wide that conspiracies are probably still all around us, later confirmed by real, unfortunate events that still shape our world today.
The brainchild of Warren Spector and Ion Storm, Deus Ex offered a successful blending of multiple genres executed in such a way that gamers had never seen before, instantly propelling itself into the annals of video game history as a true ‘classic’.
Then, along rolls 2003 and Deus Ex: Invisible War trots onto store shelves everywhere… needless to say, we’d much rather forget about it.
Finally, we have arrived in August 2011, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution is here to augment your life and your very way of thinking.
Once again, conspiracies abound, and the truth will change you; the question is, are you ready to experience it?
• OXCGN’s Deus Ex article well worth reading:-
From what you may have already surmised, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an entry in a somewhat long-running franchise; while that is true, newcomers have nothing to fear, as the title is the prequel to the original, giving them access to the plot of the entire franchise.
The story of Deus Ex: Human revolution takes place in the year 2027, “a time of great conspiracy.” Human technology has advanced so rapidly that we began to enter into what was beginning to be the era of ‘self-controlled evolution’.
This evolution comes in way of ‘augmentations’, physical additions to the human body that can fix (and even improve) nearly anything. Need a new arm? Get a better, augmented one! Have terrible eyes? Get vastly superior, augmented ones as well!
Players take on the role of Adam Jensen, chief of security at leading biotechnical augmentation firm Sarif Industries. Not long after he arrives, a mysterious group attacks Sarif, destroying revolutionary research and its accompanying scientists.
One of those scientists was Megan Reed, long-time girlfriend of Adam. After witnessing what appears to be her death, Adam gets severely wounded and essentially dies; but, that’s nothing to the powers that be at Sarif Industries.
In order to save Adam’s life, he is fully augmented and brought back to the realm of the living, and is now out for revenge… within the purview of his boss’s orders, of course.
• Deus Ex Huge Screenshot & Art slideshow 100+ images
Taking orders from David Sarif, the leader of Sarif Industries, Jensen embarks to slowly but surely find out who was behind the attacks, experiencing the full spectrum of augmentations along the way. The rest… is up to you.
Aiding this is the classic Deus Ex device of moral ambiguity; where there exists no black and white, only varying shades of grey. Choosing how you interact and react to these characters determines how much of the segments of the story play out for you, and even the slightest alteration could be to your advantage… or disadvantage.
A perfect example would be a character early on that I chose to talk out of a dangerous and perilous situation, thus saving his life; later on, he gave me somewhat useful information that aided me in my quest… and even more so later on as the story unfolded.
As it turns out, he became part of an ambush team trying to stop me in the final hours of my quest.
Of course, if you want to be a cynic, the entire story of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is of a war between corporations and their influence in everyday life, a popular theme in today’s world.
You’re not embarking upon a wild expedition to a vast, unknown world, fighting the enemies of humanity for country and fame; that is far from what you will find here.
Deus Ex has never been a science fiction story, and it never will be; rather, it’s a post-modern exploration of ideas that are in their embryonic stage in our current world of 2011.
On the other hand, Deus Ex: Human Revolution provides a profound, thought-provoking journey into a not-so-distant future. At the beginning, you will find yourself wondering what all the fuss is about: the augmentations don’t seem that bad, they help those who need them, and better those who have them.
By the end of your journey, you will maintain a firm conviction regarding augmentations, and undergo an extreme mental journey that will undoubtedly teach you about human nature and the future we’re barreling towards like a roaring supersonic train.
It will open your eyes to a very real future.
The gameplay, much like the narrative, naturally revolves around augmentations. As you progress through the game, experience points earned will allow you to essentially level up, or, in Deus Ex speak - ‘augment’ yourself.
Each time you ‘level up’, you receive a Praxis Point. These ‘points’ can be spent on new mild or wild augmentations, with the buy-in for new ones being just two points, and all subsequent upgrades costing only one.
Many people have complained about this very area of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, saying that they took out “staple augmentations”, such as swimming. Swimming has always been a fairly useless augmentation at best, and in a game with no water, it makes sense to scrap it anyway.
Or a brute force badass who specializes in extremely accurate weapons? How about just punching baddies through walls?
All of the augmentations combine to fit your play style, but no matter what way you play, cover will be an essential part of that; simply hold the cover button and you’ll slap against the wall. It’s a very useful yet subtle addition to the franchise, and a very welcome one at that.
Some augmentations take precedence, and have direct correlations to your play style. One which still perplexes me is the energy system; abilities, such as the variations of knockouts and violent kills, all the way to punching through walls takes one bar from your energy meter.
It can be augmented to have up to five bars and recharge one bar faster, but the catch is that you have to find energy food in order to replenish it; you don’t even get a complimentary refill when returning to hub worlds, which makes zero sense to me.
The chief augmentation for the average player is hacking, which is essential if you want to get anything done remotely stealthily or learn anything extra throughout the game.
It’s a little alien at first, but after your first few hacks you’ll be a master at it.
Several items can aid this, such as a ‘Nuke’ which instantly captures a point, or the ‘Stop!’ which freezes time for several precious seconds, and these become extremely handy in a tight spot.
Whatever path you choose to traverse, Deus Ex: Human Revolution allows you to take that path and excel at it. No two players will choose the same thing, and it’s interesting to converse with your friends on how you’re playing the game, and your subsequent augments.
And speaking of paths, Deus Ex: Human Revolution truly does offer an RPG experience that isn’t quite heavy, yet nowhere near the “I can’t believe it’s not RPG!” Mass Effect 2 tier.
Boss fights do make an appearance, and superficially they make me angry to no end. They kicked my butt more times than I would like to say, but they were a welcome change of pace… at least until the caused hair pulling.
After the initial learning phase of the title, Adam is let loose in the streets of post-modern Detroit; along the way he’ll be meeting many colorful characters, uncovering alternate routes, and finding hidden items.
Each hub world features a gun seller, selling you the finest weapons available along with ammunition and upgrades, such as silencers, cooling systems, laser sights and more. Not every weapon can use every addition, so picking them strategically will make a huge difference in any arsenal.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution really pulls off the feeling of being in a city, with a sewer system, much rooftop access, the ability to enter many buildings, having side alleys, and the sheer amount of NPCs and their actions and dialogue.
It all culminates in an atmosphere that paints a vibrant picture of the world, circa 2027.
Detroit is the first of two main hub worlds, with the second being Shanghai. All in all, the game spans the aforementioned hub worlds with excursions to Montreal, Singapore and another story-based location that I won’t reveal.
While I am sincerely in love with the Deus Ex franchise (excluding Invisible War), and personally nominate Deus Ex: Human Revolution as a game of the year contender, I have to point out that Eidos blatantly lied to us.
When asked about the entire game being black and gold, laughter was expressed and a promise was made that there are other locations NOT consisting of black and gold.
Unfortunately, this proved to be much of a lie!
While it personally wasn’t a big deal to me (although our editor David Hilton finds it quite deterring), the lack of variety in the overall style is a minor setback. (Ed: Well I like variety of environment, and I don’t apologise for that! Half-Life 2 is an example where variety was used in a futuristic game; not just sticking us in a few Blade Runner-styled cities.)
I became so engrossed within the atmosphere of the world that I forgot about saving my game many a time!
Complimenting this wonderful blend of elements is the orchestral score by Michael McCann. Some compare scores to Halo; some to Mass Effect; some to Final Fantasy… the list goes on and on. Michael McCann resurrected the world of Deus Ex in a way that diversifies itself by striking those key moments in ways that travel straight to your soul.
A booming, moving, electronica-esque soundtrack will directly affect your adrenaline and make every moment that much more intense. The only disappointment is the lack of a complete soundtrack in the Augmented Edition of the game, which only features twelve select tracks.
The overall visuals aren’t the best of the best, but the style, sound and atmosphere combine to take the visuals to heights much higher than face value; you’ll be too enveloped into the world to care about how some things look.
My time was spent with the PC version (like Deus Ex is meant to be played), and barring a few bugs that were patched, it was an overall solid experience.
From the various paths you get to choose to the moving orchestral score, to the many characters you meet to the hundreds of ways to approach situations, it’s an endlessly replayable title with enough content to justify multiple, vastly different playthroughs.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a shining example that a derelict franchise can be successfully brought back to life without selling out or ‘casualizing’ the game; this is most definitely a game of the year nomination.
The tale of Adam Jensen awaits; are you ready to save our humanity?
OXCGN Gold Award
Review PC Specs
- AMD Phenom II X6 1090 T @ 3.2 Ghz
- Sapphire Radeon HD 6970
- 8 GB RAM DDR3