Grizzly Gaming

Friday, January 6, 2012

Deus Ex: Human Revolution review: Not quite the future you were expecting

When the original “Deus Ex” was released in 2000 and “Deux Ex: Invisible War” in 2003, games that gave you the freedom to explore a huge open-world with numerous ways to complete quests and tasks were in short supply. After “Invisible War” received a lukewarm reception from fans and critics, the series went dark and many wondered if we’d ever see another “Deus Ex” game. It wasn’t until August of 2011 that new developer Eidos (the previous two games being developed by Ion Storm) released the latest in the dystopian cyberpunk series, “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” (which I’ll be referring to as DX:HR from here on out).

It’s odd that a popular series like Deus Ex would be put on hold so long. Now that it’s back, the DX gameplay formula – allowing players multiple avenues to completing missions – has shown its age. Not that the formula isn’t popular these days – it’s actually the opposite. In the eight years since the last DX game was released, multiple series have hit the market that allow gamers near total freedom in terms of playing the game and completing tasks. “Elder Scrolls: Oblivion,” for example, came out in 2006 and gives players an even bigger world to explore than any DX game and offers nearly the same gameplay style – allowing the player to tackle challenges as they see fit. I use Oblivion as an example for a reason; to emphasize that what DX offers, isn’t all that innovative anymore. Though DX:HR isn’t necessarily just a re-hashing of well-tread ground in terms of narrative and gameplay, it may get a little too close for the liking of some.

The events of DX:HR take place in the year 2027, 25 years before the first Deus Ex title. In it, you take on the role of Adam Jensen, chief of security for the bio-augmentation company Serif Industries. Though Jensen begins the game as a pure human, events quickly transpire that require Jensen to become augmented. As the head of security for Sarif, Jensen sets out to track down a group of mercenaries who attacked their headquarters in Detroit. One nice little touch Eidos added was giving players a recap of recent narrative events when continuing the game from the main menu so that even if you’re coming back to DX:HR after playing other games, you’ll always have some kind of idea what’s going on.

DX:HR is an open-world, first-person action/adventure RPG and its gameplay is divided into three different aspects – social, hacking and combat/stealth. Jensen begins the game in the city of Detroit as he searches for the mercs he will be able to explore Sarif Industries and some of the surrounding areas of the town. Most of the areas you’ll explore in DX:HR exist in large hub worlds where Jensen will have numerous opportunities to speak to people and hack terminals. You might notice I didn’t really mention getting into combat situations because, for the most part, I found playing DX to be more about avoiding combat as often as possible.

Depending on your personal preference in video games, you could love or despise the emphasis DX:HR puts on stealth. There isn’t an obvious penalty for choosing not to be stealthy, but you will find completing missions much, much harder if your first course of action is pulling out your weapons at every turn. I myself am not much for staying hidden and using cunning rather than bullets to solve problems so saving and reloading often became a necessity for me. I was able to stomach the constant “trial and error” feel that completing certain sections requires however many others may not have the patience needed to tackle DX:HR.

Though it is technically open world, there isn’t a whole lot to do in DX:HR besides following the main story quest and completing the occasional sidequest. A merchant may exist here and there to sell you new weapons or ammo (though you’ll hardly need it – more on that later) or Praxis points at the LIMB clinic to upgrade your augs but other than random terminals to be hacked, DX:HR doesn’t offer much to do outside of completing missions.

Over the course of the game, Jensen will earn XP from conversations (by talking his way into new information), hacking terminals, performing takedowns/kills, exploring, sneaking, etc. Eventually you’ll earn Praxis points that can used to upgrade one of Jensen’s many augmentations. Jensen’s augs are split between his head (where hacking abilities are found), torso (energy cells and lung/sprint duration), arms (strength, inventory capacity, aiming/recoil reduction), eyes (improved vision, seeing through walls), back (reflex booster for multiple takedowns), skin (increased health, cloaking), and legs (jump height, moving silently) and each has many different options for upgrades. It’s really up to your own play style to determine what to upgrade first, though hacking and social interaction enhancers seem to come in handy more frequently than being able to pick up vending machines, punch/see through walls or ignore poison gas.

Though I didn’t understand/like it at first, hacking in DX:HR is probably one of the most entertaining mini-games I’ve ever played. Each terminal you find (whether it opens a door, a safe or unlocks a computer) has a security rating and to hack it, your Capture software aug needs to be an equal or higher value. The goal of hacking is to Capture directories on the system until you reach the Registry.

Each system you’ll hack is made up of different icons, connected by bridges (some of which only allow travel in one direction). Most directories on a given system are meaningless go-betweens that allow you to access the next directory while some contain XP, money, hacking software (Nukes allow you to capture any point without being detected and Stops freeze security subroutines for five seconds), or other useful programs like Spam (which reduces the level of the security subroutine) or Clearance (which reduces the level of each directory on the system by 2). Captured points can also be Fortified to increase the amount of time it will take the security program to trace you, should your intrusion be detected. Each time you capture a point, there is a chance the security on the terminal will detect your intrusion and begin a trace to find and kick you out. If detected, a terminal will lock you out for about 30 seconds and sometimes they can also trigger alarms so be sure to save your game before hacking. Also, when hacking or using terminals, Jensen is still in the world in real time – meaning that there’s a chance you could be detected by guards while trying to hack a terminal.

I’ll be honest, it’s been a long time since I played Invisible War, since about 2003 to be sort of precise, and in that time I must’ve forgotten how DX games usually play out. I say this because I often found myself more frustrated with DX:HR than having fun. That’s not to say that DX:HR isn’t a well made game, because it is. I love the futuristic, sci-fi, cyberpunk dystopia that it presents and it blends RPG elements nicely in an action/adventure title. However, there is a fairly steep learning curve when it comes to completing DX:HR optimally (more on that in a bit) and it frequently, without warning usually, amps up the difficulty, leaving you needing to reload your game and play out situations numerous times until you find the right way to do it.

As in most games these days, DX:HR gives you a ton of freedom when it comes to completing tasks and missions. How you complete missions, such as the way you went about completing your objective and how you handled conversations along the way, also has a bearing on the outcome you’ll ultimately receive when the game is all said and done. Keeping this in mind while I played, I found myself, more often than not, playing situations over and over and over until I had cleared an area without being seen, gotten through a conversation successfully or hacked a terminal without being caught. Granted, this is mostly attributed to my need to obsessively complete games as perfectly as possible, I know the same can be said for many other gamers as well. And those gamers will eventually become more than frustrated with playing DX:HR, possibly to the point of putting it down entirely.

I’ll give two examples along these lines and I’ll try to keep it brief. At a certain point, Jensen confronts his boss, David Sarif, about a company security concern he wasn’t briefed on. I needed to play this rather lengthy conversation more than a few times just to make certain I was actually getting the best responses and not just finishing the conversation. My next point pertains to the sudden and jarring difficulty spikes that pop up in DX:HR. Eidos made a big deal about how every situation could be dealt with using stealth, combat or a mix of the two. However, the first boss you encounter is a tank of an augmented man who has a minigun for an arm and can tear Jensen to shreds in a matter of seconds. There’s no way to hide from him and you can’t talk him out of his decision to try and rend you limb from limb – there is only “fight” or “die.” I had to, and I’m not proud of this, lower the difficulty level to easiest just so I could advance past this particular boss fight. Because after the 10th, 15th, or 20th time you’re gunned down by a near impenetrable, bloodthirsty cyborg, you’re willing to do whatever you need to to make it stop.

Luckily all-out firefights like this boss fight aren’t terribly common. The action areas of DX:HR have more in common with Splinter Cell or the MGS series than other action/adventure titles in that, despite your powerful augmentations, stealth is often your most powerful tool. Jensen’s inventory has enough room to carry a few weapons at a time, though I rarely ever used them outside of maybe popping a guard silently here and there. I really can’t stress enough how much emphasis DX:HR puts on staying out of sight and not relying on firearms. Despite his augs and weapons, Jensen can take a relatively small amount of damage before being killed and if you start a firefight, you’ll rarely survive long enough to finish it.

Despite its flaws, DX:HR is a very well-made, worthwhile game. Even on the normal difficulty setting, I found DX:HR to be fairly challenging – something most games these days can’t claim. That challenge did affect the fun I was having the game at times and if you only play games as a way to unwind and pass some time, you may want to look elsewhere. But if you’re up for a challenge and prefer sticking to shadows more than running-and-gunning, DX:HR may be right up your alley. And since it came out in the summer of 2011, you should be able to find it for a reasonable price.

So the world's gonna end this year...'s been a while hasn't it? Like a month? That can't be right.

I'm planning on doing updates more often. The plan is that I do more updates, but they're shorter so it'll even out in the end. laid plans, right?

Anyway, I do have a few more things in the works right now. Be on the lookout for a DLC update on one of my favorite games of 2011, a list of my most anticipated games of 2012 (or what is slated for 2012 anyway) and maybe even a new "Need to Know Basis." Who knows? I certainly don't.


Blogger smeth ross said...

I like your post, in this post players can get the whole information about this game. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the very nice game to play. Firefights is my favorite part of this game.

January 19, 2012 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger smeth ross said...

I like your post, in this post players can get the whole information about this game. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the very nice game to play. Firefights is my favorite part of this game.
r4 for the ds

January 19, 2012 at 8:17 PM  

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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