Conspiracy, trust, choice, and super powers, just a few of the things you will have in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Will this prequel live up to rest of the critically acclaimed series? Get your favorite trench coat; we're going to do a little detective work.
Since Deus Ex: Human Revolution's story is partly revealed by the choices you make I will try to give you the basics and avoid any spoilers that may be specific to my choices.
It's 2027, 25 years before the events of the first Deus Ex game, you are Adam Jensen, a former Detroit SWAT officer, who is now head of security for Sarif Industries. Sarif Industries manufactures human augmentation parts, such as arms, legs, eyes, etc. These augmentation parts make people stronger and faster. Because augmentation imparts powers a rising faction of people want it outlawed or regulated by the government for the safety of regular humans. On the eve of presenting to the government new findings that could revolutionize augmentation and advance human evolution Sarif Industries is attacked by mercenaries. While trying to protect lead scientist and Adam's ex-girlfriend, Dr. Megan Reed, Adam is gravely injured. To save Adam's life David Sarif, founder and CEO of Sarif Industries, has Adam augmented.
Six months later David has Adam come in off medical leave early to handle a hostage crisis at a Sarif Industries manufacturing plant. Purity First, a radical anti-augmentation terrorist group has taken over. In the process of dealing with the terrorists Adam finds an augmented member attempting to steal the Typhoon, a special military augmentation. This person begs Adam to help him as he pulls a gun and kills himself. Adam eventually finds the leader of the group, Zeke Saunders, and confronts him about the augmented member of his group. Zeke denies any knowledge of augmented Purity First members, which leads Adam to believe Purity First is being manipulated by someone else.
At this point decisions you make start effect future events in the story. Some common threads are that Adam finds information that points to government cover-ups over the first attack on Sarif Industries and that some of the people behind the cover-up may be part of Sarif Industries. I will stop here so as not to spoil anything. The details are everything.
Controls and Gameplay
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a first person shooter with role playing elements. As you defeat foes, find clues, and complete quests you gain experience points which in turn gain you Praxis Points that allow you to upgrade your own augmentations how you want.
Choice is a big element of gameplay for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The game is designed so players can play it how they want. Do you want to go in as a guns blazing killing machine? You can. Want to sneak stealthily around avoiding or silently knocking out foes? You can.
I played the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution which, interestingly enough, offers of choice of controls for the game. You can go with the traditional mouse and keyboard controls or "on the fly" plug in a game pad. Either way you will find that both offer fairly standard control schemes that fit what you are comfortable with.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics of Deus Ex: Human Revolution offer a gritty realism of a near future Detroit. One thing I noticed was that every office seems to have a large amount of clutter, such as books, papers and post-it notes, giving the feeling that they are in constant use.
I did find some graphical glitches here and there. Most of these, like hair popping through the hats on security guards or a soldier's gun poking through a wall, were minor and didn't affect gameplay.
The sound effects were fitting; the hum of the elevator, your footsteps, gun fire or just the wind blowing never stood out, but kept the realism. The voice acting was also done well. Though I have to say I found Adam's gravelly "Clint Eastwood-esque" voice a little distracting. It was done well, but just didn't seem to fit with the rest of the cast of characters to me.
I walked into Deus Ex: Human Revolution without ever playing the original Deus Ex or its sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War, so I have no preconceived notions about the greatness of the series. On one hand it is good because I can judge the game on its own merits without comparing it to others in the series. On the other hand any references the game made to its predecessors flew over my head.
Being a fan of first person shooter and a stealth action games, Deus Ex: Human Revolution filled my needs well. Choosing to be stealthy may have even made the game harder and longer since I would have to study guard patterns more and keep my eyes open for hidden vents that I could use to bypass heavily populated areas, but I liked having the choice.
The story was told creatively in many ways. Most was told through dialog, but hacking into computers, finding personal secretaries (diaries essentially) and reading news or TV reports really fills out the story. Doing such will also open up alternate paths and dialog trees with characters. For instance when you confront Zeke Sanders you will be able to kill, capture, or let him go. I chose to let him go. This allowed me to get information from him later on, but it did cost the life of an innocent person unfortunately.
While the freedom of choice is a large part of the game, there does come a point where the game takes choice away from you, the boss battles. You have to confront them and you have to kill them. In a small way this ruins the whole premise that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game that you can play the way you want. The game even points out that lost choice in an achievement. The Pacifist achievement states "Complete Deus Ex: Human Revolution without anyone dying by your hand. (Boss fights don't count.)" A small quibble, but choice is supposed to be one of the basic tenants of the game.
Still I have enjoyed the game. I also felt the story's time frame, human vs. augmented humans, and conspiracy filled detective tale gave subtle nods to Blade Runner. The game also has some great easter eggs hidden away in it. For example, if you wander around the Detroit Police Station you will find the office of Detective Alex Murphy, in there an officer is talking to Detective Murphy about an 80's movie where a police officer is turned into a cyborg. Obviously they are talking about RoboCop, which funnily enough is essentially what Adam has become.
With mostly wide open gameplay and a great story Deus Ex: Human Revolution gets 4.5 out of 5.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is rated M for Mature for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol. It is available now for Windows PC, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360 and OnLive. For more information see the Deus Ex: Human Revolution web site.