A lot of PC gamers will remember the first Deux Ex from 2000 as an instant classic in the FPS/RPG genre. Many felt the 2003 sequel did not live up to the original, but Invisible War still garnered high review marks everywhere. Enter Deux Ex: Human Revolution, the 2011 prequel released for PC, X360 and PS3 and now updated with a director’s cut edition. After an eight year hiatus, does this title manage to reintroduce the franchise with a bang? We definitely think so – read on to find out why.
Taking place in 2027, Human Revolution takes place 25 years before the events in the original game. Corporations have become more and more powerful, and both chaos and innovation are thriving. Fields where this innovation can be seen include biotechnology and robotics, resulting in augmentations such as mechanical arms and legs for people who can afford them. As a consequence, a socio-economic rift is created between those using these augmentations and those resisting those very developments.
In the middle of this you play the role of Adam Jensen, head of security for a major biotechnology company. Almost immediately after starting the game, the company is overrun by activists and take out Adam in the process. Six months later you’ve recovered, partly due to some augmentations given to you by the company’s founder and CEO David Sarif. His augmentations saved your life, but you’re now called on to confront the activists after they took over another company facility. I won’t go into too much detail here, but with a ton of drama and intrigue this is a game where the storyline really shines. If you’re a fan of movies like Blade Runner, you’ll feel right at home here.
Gameplay in Human Revolution starts out fairly linear, but as soon as you reach the city of Detroit you become free to move around and take on various side missions. Calling them side missions might not even do them enough justice though, as they are so well produced that they feel like integral parts of the main storyline. And just as in the main storyline, you won’t find yourself going in guns blazing either. Deus Ex emphasizes stealth over combat, and staying unnoticed amidst all the social turmoil is extremely important.
The way you achieve your goals is never set in stone, and you’re offered a large amount of freedom. If you need to infiltrate a building, you might try and enter it through the sewers or choose to go into a ventilation shaft on the roof. However, you might also try and persuade the guard to help you out instead… All of these options have different consequences, and can impact the story in different ways. It makes you feel engaged with the main characters, and invites you for a second playthrough before the game is even finished.
All over the gameplay world, you’ll run into computers and terminals you can attempt to hack. Through this, you can access valuable information or even activate or deactivate turrets to make life easier on you. However, some of these hacks won’t be possible until you gain access to the relevant augmentations first. This is where another important gameplay dynamic comes in, because augmentations are key to survival in the game. As Adam, you’ve already been given all the available augmentations, but they are not active yet. Choosing which augmentations to unlock determines or aids your playing style, so choose wisely as you’re not likely to gain enough credits to unlock everything at once.
All of these elements create a complex and vibrant experience, which is augmented by very strong visuals and audio that set up an atmosphere rarely seen in a videogame. If I had to find a flaw in the game, I would probably point out that the boss-fights feel a tad out of place. They don’t offer the same freedom of choice in choosing how to approach your goal and force you into head-on combat even if you’re a stealth-oriented player. Still, you’ll feel completely immersed in the storyline again right afterwards, eager to find out where you’ll be heading next. In the end, you’re likely to spend at least 15 hours completing the game, and that’s not even counting some of the excellent side missions that are available. And for those who still want more when the end credits roll… the director’s cut features developer’s commentary as well as all the DLC that was released for the game, including “The Missing Link”. Don’t be fooled – even though the original came out two years ago, this is one of the best games to grab if you missed out on it before.