Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

As humanity races blindly towards the future, mounted atop the unstoppable carriage of technological progress, the lines distinguishing man from machine begin to blur and fade. Why suffer deformity or disability when you can just swap out your defective appendage in favour of a brand new, shiny metal one?

So goes the line of thought establishing the topical and political contours of Deus Ex’s near-future setting. With society on the verge of meltdown, rippling with tension on both sides of this new line in the sand, terrorist actions are being loosed at the corporations peddling this new technology to consumers and it falls to you, Adam Jensen, to quiet the storm and dispense your own brand of justice in a tempest of blood, sweat, tears and severed data cables.

Something important to note is that this Director’s Cut version of Human Revolution has put itself in a very vulnerable position. The discerning cynic may jump to conclusions, branding this a money-grabbing cash-in by the developers, and though it’s hard to dispel that feeling entirely, there is undoubtedly fresh meat here for the fanboy to wrap his jaws around, whether this extra appeal has a wide spread, however, is a thought demanding attention.

A brave survivor of corporate terrorism, our man Jensen is back to work after a spell of comatose convalescence, freshly augmented with a whole range of cybernetic goodies, fused to his very being by his bosses at Sarif in a wild attempt to save his life. Now part man and machine, and sadly missing his ex-girlfriend, lost in the attack which nearly claimed his own life, Jensen is presented with an opportunity to claim vengeance, and an arsenal of tools to tip the balance in his favour.

The scope for improvisation is perhaps Human Revolution’s greatest strength, and here the title pays its dues to its pedigree. Appealing to a range of potential play styles, here we have a veritable Swiss-Army knife of a game. It’s entirely possible, although a bit of a grind, to charge through the game as a gun-toting adrenaline junkie, gearing your augmentations to suit mayhem and swarms of bullets by opting to increase damage output and defence capabilities. What’s more time-consuming, more considered and infinitely more rewarding for one aiming to plunge deep into the very bowels of the game experience is taking the stealthier path, perfecting your skills at hacking and remaining unnoticed, learning to turn your obstacles into assistance. It’s the difference between gorilla and guerrilla, and both styles, along with the miasma of possible permutations the lie in the gulf between, undoubtedly have their merits, though for a comprehensive engagement with what the title offers I would unreservedly recommend weighting your choices towards staying off the radar.

Interestingly this is the way the game seems keen for you to go, burdening Jensen with an undeniable allergy to lead. Swapping over from your standard fairground shooters where you’ve a ghost(s)like resilience to fire, are presumably dosed up with all sorts of opiates and assumed to be made out of titanium alloys from the off, this can be a little disconcerting, even irritating, but once you’ve readjusted to the notion of enjoying a game for its challenge, Human Revolution duly rewards your acceptance of its stern warning of ‘that’s not how we do things around here’ and takes your hand, drags you into a backroom and displays to you a wonderfully accessible and enemy-free ventilation shaft. The gorillas will snort in derision and the guerrillas will take this blessing and find a way to victory that leaves endless bloodshed on the sidelines. That it’s possible to clear the entire game without spilling a drop of blood shows the extremes Human Revolution is willing to go to to distance itself from the herd, and this feat is worthy of an attempt for any gamer. Call it broadening your horizons.

The free reign lent to the player in how they navigate the plot, which is pretty chunky clocking in at about twenty hours, allows space for a certain level of immersion, sucking you in after a strangely RPG-esque fashion. There’s quite a story to be had, ladies and gents, but it does ask a lot from you.

The graphics are serviceable but a little dated, though the block-colour styling (reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge) does not go unnoticed and certainly lets you know you’re in a future of glossy superficial smiles and corporations happy to let their stink land on the little guy, and whilst it appears as if the lighting and shadows have been tweaked a little but this is no shiny new paint job, perhaps just a quick polish. The introduction of Smartglass features for the 360 version is admirable, if under-utilised, but smacks strongly of a development team desperately searching for more padding to try and justify a rerelease. The commentary will, I’m sure, be interesting for fans and is implemented in a reasonably innovative way, allowing access to the content through interactions with relevant game objects as you play through the story, however a commentary is hardly a reason to buy the game again and so if you’ve already got the first release sitting on the shelf, this is in no way a good reason to hand over your cash a second time around.

As glossed over before, there are new things here, but hardly enough to justify a re-release. Obviously bug fixes have been applied and this is a version of Human Revolution that’s had plenty of time to smooth out its rough edges, but the new content itself is just a patchwork quilt of cutting-room detritus and bits and bobs thrown in to satisfy the fan who is loyal to a fault. A good game, and a must buy if you’ve yet to indulge yourself in the Deus Ex world, but loyal to a fault I am not and overflowing with praise I shan’t be.

Sam Finch

Sam has been unable to peel his bloodshot eyes and RSI-ridden wrists from the world of gaming since he was first introduced to it, like all good junkies, by his Grandad. From those early days of MegaDrive sweetness, bashing through the throngs of enemies on Shining Force II, his love of all things games has extended upwards and outwards onto a variety of platforms. You can either believe that spiel, or get the real scoop and know that his spaceship actually crashed here some years ago and he is currently incognito as a games writer for Console Monster.

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