Okay so... Most people probably remember how I absolutely trashed the first Deus Ex game. I was intrigued by its premise but thought the RPG elements were poorly implemented and systematically ruined the game with its poor collision detection and laughable AI. Since Deus Ex: Invisible War was widely trashed by fans of the first game I decided to ignore it completely, but when Human Revolution came out I decided to pick it up to see if it had fixed the mistakes of the first game. After playing it, I can attest that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is everything the first game needed to be and more. This is by far one of the deepest games I've ever played (it's not like I play many deep games, but yeah) and definitely one of the most satisfying. It's an intriguing mixture of action and stealth with a compelling storyline to boot. It introduces some new concepts and definitely tries to "appeal" to the current crowd with stuff such as regenerating health and a cover system, but you'd be surprised on how well these mechanics work in the game.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is set in the not-so-far future (2027 or something if I remember correctly) and the player takes control of Adam Jensen, the chief of security for the Sarif Industries, one of the leading industries in the field of Mechanical Augmentations. Basically in this new era and age it is possible to enhance or completely replace human body parts with mechanical ones, allowing many to become "superhumans" of sorts. Naturally this does have negative consequences as many people lose their jobs or are unable to afford augmentations, causing the rise of "humanity purists" groups who strongly oppose augmentations. Whatever though, you'll get to see the rest of the social-political talk once you play the game. Anyway, one fateful day Sarif Industries is attacked by an unknown group of mercenaries who attack the offices of the lead scientist Megan Reed (Adam's love interest) and her team, killing many scientists and Adam Jensen himself in the process. He didn't suffer brain damage however, and thanks to the advanced augmentation technology Adam's body is restored to life. Now augmented against his own will, his body reacts better than usual to the augmentations and he's tasked with finding the ones responsible with the attack, traveling across the globe and uncovering a huge conspiracy in the process. The storyline is interesting and well done. There is a lot of text to page through but this is usually well written and genuinely contains some interesting questions and fears for the future.
The game itself can either be played as a First Person Shooter or a Stealth game. Adam will have access to a variety of weapons for many purposes, from tazers to machineguns, from laser rifles to pulse cannons. These can either kill or knock out an enemy. Generally the game rewards you more for being non-lethal but let's face it, when facing some of the evil mercenaries it's more satisfying to kill them outright (and by that time you don't need as much experience as at the start anyway). There are some interesting gunfights in the game, for example the warehouse ambush in Hengsha or the Alice Garden assault.
As with the first game there is a lot of hacking involved, as you'll have to unlock terminals and computers to reveal hidden items or important information. One thing I didn't like is that some of the computers you hack contain absolutely no relevant or interesting information whatsoever (a few contain comic relief at least), so what's the point besides getting more experience? Hacking gets harder as the game progresses but for that reason there's upgrades related to it.
The fishy melee aspects of Deus Ex 1 have been replaced with a new Takedown feature which works very well. When close to an enemy, pressing the B button will show a cinematic where Jensen knocks out or kills an enemy in numerous ways, effectively making melee based entirely on cinematic. These are fairly entertaining to watch however and are monumentally better than the useless weapons in the first game, and they can either be lethal or non-lethal.
RPG elements come in the form of enhancing or purchasing augmentations that allow Jensen to gain new abilities, like being able to take down two people at once, improve his resistance to enemy fire, being able to turn invisible for a few seconds, and many other cool stuff. I'm usually not a fan of RPG elements as they tend to unnecessarily slow down a game for seemingly no good reason, but I have to say these were done rather well. Purchasing is done through Praxis kits: these can either be purchased or acquired with 5000 experience points every time (and sometimes found in secret areas). I'm also glad they took out the horrible detailed locational damage which was just a chore and not fun at all.
By far the most satisfying aspect of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is that enemies actually die (or fall asleep) when you shoot them! In the first game, the aiming was so awful that even after waiting 30 seconds for the crosshair to adjust its position it was still almost impossible to get a decent shot at anyone, but here aiming is absolutely dead-on, and even without the (obligatory) upgrades for it it's still somewhat respectable.
Most people despise the bosses because they "feel out of place", but these people don't seem to realize that Deus Ex Human Revolution is ALSO a shooter and the bosses empathize the shooter elements of the game. To be honest, the first one can be defeated in 5 seconds with the sniper rifle and the final boss makes absolutely no sense whatsoever (I have no idea how I defeated it but I did so without even taking damage). However, the second and third bosses were exceptionally fun and there is more than one strategy in taking them out. And yes, shooting them repeatedly is FUN.
The game gives you some main missions and various side missions, and there are various ways to finish and approach each one. There are many choices that can be made, both story-wise and gameplay-wise. To be honest, none of these choices have any relevance to the ending whatsoever, so perhaps some will wonder what the point is, but it's a nice touch nonetheless.
The controls in general are very good, as mentioned there is a cover feature which works very well (and in which the game wisely switches to a third-person mode), and in general it's easy to navigate the surrounding areas without getting spotted by enemies (watch out for the cameras and robots though!).
The graphics are mostly good, although they are a bit too dark at times (well, the game takes place at night almost all the time) and there is a yellow "glow" to everything (this can be disabled on the PC version from what I know, making the game significantly better looking).
The sound department is alright, all weapons sound as good as they should and the voice acting (well, at least in the italian version) is respectable. During gunfights appropriately "dramatic" music plays and during stealth sequence eerie ambient music is played.
You know, I just kind of hate when games often focus on complex story-telling and "deep" RPG elements and completely ignore important issues like bad collision detection or simply unengaging gameplay. When the focus switches to style over substance. Why can't we have both? Deus Ex Human Revolution succeeds mostly because it is able to have a good story and provide a reasonably deep gaming experience, but at the same time the gameplay aspects of the game are satisfying enough. There are other games that manage to provide both depth and fun, but I think that in this year and age it is time to realize that videogames are, in the first place, videogames, and not virtual books. That is the lesson Deus Ex Human Revolution teaches, and I hope it's something that other developers will see as a reference as time goes on.
Well there are quite a few things I didn't like about this. For one thing, what I certainly didn't like were the atrociously SLOW load times. I honestly am not sure if I spent more time playing the game or watching the load times. I suppose considering you can pretty much save anywhere (unlike most modern games) that is to be expected, but that doesn't mean I didn't find it to be annoying. We're talking about 20-40 seconds load times here.
The inventory space could have also been slightly enhanced, I know it's possible to do that with augmentations but I often had to drop items I could have needed to get new weapons and that was just annoying. Oh well.
The game definitely has a slow start and I believe a few more of the augmentations should have been enabled from the start (for example at least the first Armor upgrade, Jensen is so fragile that he can be killed by ONE gunshot without upgrades.)
Another minor issue I have is that sometimes in Hengsha and Detroit there is a lot of traveling to be done just to talk to someone and it gets boring very quickly, unless you purchase the running upgrades early on.
The Bottom Line
Despite its flaws however, the more I played the game, the more I liked it .Overall I would have to say that it really is a well crafted adventure that manages to stay true to the original's formula while making it more "accessible" and, most importantly, removing the pitiful collision detection and AI of the first game, managing to be the mixture between FPS, Stealth and deep story-telling that the original could not fully achieve. It is a very deep experience that any experienced gamer is sure to enjoy from start to end. Not just the gameplay, but even the theme of it is enjoyable and aspects such as the social battles really should be used by more games. Deus Ex: Human Revolution may probably frustrate casual gamers, but anyone willing to put some time into it will surely be rewarded. Definitely one of the best games of recent times. In fact, this is so good that it makes me want to completely reconsider my opinion on the first game. Whichever the case, after hearing a lot of praise regarding Deus Ex's deep, for the first time I can finally say "Yeah, I get it.".