2011-09-01

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Who Were We Meant To Be?

by Yo Snyder

Okay, so if you’re fan of games like Splinter Cell or Arkham Asylum, and you enjoy sci-fi films like Bladerunner and Robocop, then you definitely need to give Deus Ex: Human Revolution
a try. It has the aesthetics of those classic sci-fi films and the
gameplay of those awesome games. It’s an ambitious game with a lot to
live up to, and although it doesn’t quite achieve true greatness, it’s a
solid game that lives up to its heritage. Best of all, as you wait for
all of those huge blockbusters to release later this Fall, this game is
enjoyable enough and long enough to keep you occupied until those other
games arrive.

Now don’t worry if you didn’t play the 2000 original
or its underrated sequel, you’ll be able to jump into the world of Deus
Ex in Human Revolution without feeling like you’re missing out
on anything. Granted, you may notice a few more Easter eggs if you are
familiar with the other games, but you won’t be lost. Human Revolution does
a great job of introducing this story of ethics, philosophy, corporate
espionage, conspiracy and awesome stealth action and getting you caught
up on what the world is all about and the role you’re going to play in
it. Augmentations (or cybernetic enhancements) is still a very
controversial topic in this prequel to the original Deus Ex, and
the turmoil caused by that controversy seeps through into every part of
this world and your adventure in it. While the story isn’t necessarily
mind-blowing, or as epic as other sci-fi sagas like Mass Effect, it is interesting and it will keep you invested in all the fun, cyberneticly enhanced action you’ll enjoy.

As
the title suggests, one of the big questions the game explores is “what
does it mean to be human?” Granted, a stealth-action video game will
only delve into that question so deep, but there are some intriguing
conversations during the course of the game that grapple with that
issue. Do we change ourselves if we become more than what we are (in
this case through cybernetic augmentations)? I talk like Christian Bale in Batman; fear me.If we change our DNA to
improve ourselves, will we also lose ourselves in the process? These are
big questions that philosophy, science and of course science fiction
have been wrestling with for decades. It’s a good question; who are we
and who are we meant to be? While characters in Human Revolution
posit the possibility that we can discover the answers to that on our
own through our own cleverness, I don’t think we can. We can make some
very educated guesses, and we may even be able to get pretty close to
the mark, but in order to truly understand who we are and who we are
meant to be we ultimately need to look outside of ourselves.

Now
that isn’t always easy to do. No one likes to admit they can’t do it on
their own, but if there’s one thing made very clear in the Bible, it’s
that we can’t do it on our own. It explains very clearly who we were
created to be, and also what happened when we tried to take matters into
our own hands (through some self augmentation of sorts in Genesis 3);
in short, it wasn’t good. However, God loves us and he’s never given up
on us. He’s made a way through the death and resurrection of Jesus
Christ for us to once again attain who we were meant to be. We can’t do
it on our own, we need to let Jesus do some of the work for us, but if
we want to find the real answers to those big questions, we won’t find
them anywhere else expect in the arms of our loving creator.

But
enough of the philosophy, what about the game? So its story delves into
some deep topics, one could get that from a book; is this game fun to
play? Yes. Yes it is. The sense of freedom given to the players makes it
one of the more compelling stealth-action games to come along in recent
years. Yes much of the action can play out like a sci-fi Splinter Cell if you like, and you can also get brutal with stalking opponents and taking them down like Batman in Arkham Asylum,
but you also have the freedom to go in guns blazing and make it into a
straight up shooter. Or if you prefer, you can not engage a single enemy
and quietly make you way through each level. Or, you can combine all of
those into a hodge-podge of gameplay that you find the most fun. On one
mission, I counted no less than five different approaches I could have
taken to reach my objective. Now that’s what I call open-world gameplay.

Now
how you approach the game will be very much dictated by how you decide
to upgrade your character. The augments that you choose will open up new
possibilities, and likewise, the enhancements you ignore may mean
certain paths will be inaccessible to you. There’s far too many options
to go into great detail, so let me just give you a “for example” from my
game experience. I went stealth in my game. That meant I boosted
augments that helped me be silent and deadly (well, not deadly so much
as I often just knocked guys out, but you know what I mean). So I had
augments that let me keep track of patrols, see their vision cones, made
my footsteps quieter and so forth. I also boosted my hacking skills so I
could take over cameras, turrets and even robots (very cool). However,
this also meant I rarely could take the direct approach, and when it
came to firefight, I usually retreated to the shadows instead of
standing my ground. Now you can enhance your character so he can be a
one-man army if you like, or boost things like your jumping abilities
and your strength so you’re practically a super-hero and therefore can
find some very interesting paths through levels; it’s really up to you.
There trade-offs and benefits to every augmentation, so choose carefully
(the points for these don’t come easily, but are evenly paced to really
make you think carefully how to spend them) and craft things to suit
your gameplay style, and then look around the world you’re in and see
what you can do that will suit your strengths. If you can think of it,
in this game, you’ll probably be able to find a way to do it.

Although
there’s an incredible sense of freedom in the game, there are a few
things that will bring down the experience. For one, the A.I. isn’t
always all that bright. One time, I was hiding behind a door and they
couldn’t find me, even though they knew I was in the room. And while bad
guys will take cover, eventually they’ll do something to make
themselves and easy target for you. Plus, patrol routes are sometimes
obviously set up to give you the option to take someone down; i.e. a guy
will stand and face in an arbitrary direction for no other reason than
it means their back is turned to you. Finally, bad guys seem to have a
short memory span. You might take someone out and hide, and it wont’ be
long before the alarmed guards will go back to their regular routine.
Then there’s the boss fights. These are different from anything else in
the game. You won’t have the choice of merciful take-downs as almost all
of these encounters end lethally. They can also be incredibly
challenging if you choose a stealth route of development like I did as
these segments are just straight-up shooters. All those other skills
you’ve developed won’t help much when battling bosses. Fortunately,
those encounters are few and far between.

Batman: Arkham City is easily my most anticipated game of the year, but suprisingly Deus Ex: Human Revolution
made the wait a little bit easier. Much of what I did in this game was
very similar to the hotly anticipated action of the Dark Knight’s next
adventure; plus I had cybernetic enhancements to play with, which is
always cool. The stealth and the action in this game are great, and when
they’re coupled with the tremendous amount of freedom you’re given for
accomplishing objectives and the way you can craft things to suit your
play style with augmentations, you have a truly enjoyable adventure. A
few limitations and an overall slight lack of polish keep the game from
achieving true greatness, but it’s still a really good one that
shouldn’t be missed.

Score out of 7:

Grahpics: 5 –
Overall, this game looks great, but there are some stiff character
animations and when you tag out bad guys, their “rag doll” physics makes
it look like their bones have been changed to rubber. Also, there’s a
big change between cut-scenes and in-game sequences, which can be a bit
jarring. One doesn’t necessarily look better than the other, they’re
just different.

Sound: 5 – There’s a great soundtrack to set the
mood, and weapons and explosions have a satisfying punch to their
sounds. However, some of the voice acting is a little suspect
(especially your character’s Christian Bale Batman voice), also, there
were some times when characters were talking but their lips weren’t
moving; oops.

Gameplay: 6 – This game is a lot of fun to play.
There are so many options and choices for you to make on how you want to
play that playing through more than once is actually enjoyable. While
choices don’t have as big of an impact as something like Mass Effect,
they do affect the game. Action is solid, stealth is fun, cybernetic
augments are cool, and it all comes together in a solid package that’s
very enjoyable. Plus, an abundance of actually enjoyable side missions
(they aren’t just fetch quests) add on to the already great campaign.

Controls:
5 – The controls are solid. It’s easy to get in and out of cover, take
aim and shoot, and otherwise get around. However, there are a few odd
choices; the X button is your action button, which isn’t intuitive (I
kept hitting A out of habit, which caused some problems). Also, you
can’t switch weapons quickly but have to open a option wheel holding Y,
which isn’t a huge deal but it’s a little cumbersome. 

Story: 5 – A
well told story of conspiracy that deals with some interesting
philosophical questions. There are a few twists and turns that are hard
to follow, but overall the story adds to the enjoyment.

Content: 4
– There a bit of language here, also some implied “adult activities”,
plus plenty of violence with slight splashes of blood. The story overall
is kind of dark as well. Take the M rating seriously.

Final: 5 – I enjoyed Deus Ex: Human Revolution
more than I was expecting. I just kept coming across new possibilities
as I played the game that opened up new options for completing
objectives. The solid story keeps the action moving forward, and the
wonderful amount of freedom and choice bathed in a film-noir sci-fi
adventure is just a whole lot of fun.