The long-awaited third title in the Deus Ex series is no with us, available now on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The multi-format delivery may well be a sign of the times, the need for a comprehensive release in order to achieve financial goals, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution hasn’t compromised in any other capacity. It’s a Deus Ex videogame just as you would expect, for better and for worse.
The setting of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is dictated by typical science-fiction convention, with Blade Runner being the most obvious influence. Playing as Adam Jensen, the player is cast as the security chief of Sarif Industries; in a near future world in which corporations have overshadowed the power of governments, Sarif Industries has grown to become one of the most powerful organisations on the planet. On the eve of the unveiling of the corporation’s latest technology, Sarif Industries is attacked, killing Jensen’s girlfriend and dozens of other employees along the way. Jensen is within an inch of his life when he’s cut and torn, his body augmented almost beyond any recognition.
Six months later, Jensen is called back into action by Sarif Industries’ CEO, David Sarif, due to a hostage crisis at one of the company’s manufacturing plants. A radical anti-augmentation group known as Purity First has taken control of the building and are assumed to be after the technology about to being manufacturing there, the Typhoon Explosive System. When Jensen stumbles upon an augmented hacker attempting to steal the device, who abruptly ends his own life, more questions are raised than answers given and confronting the leader of Purity First, Zeke Sanders, only goes to prove that there is a greater evil behind the attacks, and that this is only the beginning.
The infiltration of the Sarif Industries manufacturing plant is the first real mission for the player, with all that passes before being merely training for the core principles of the game. With the basic control and gunplay out of the way, the player is allowed to experiment for the first time, slowly discovering exactly what the substance of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is. The player sets about tackling the level however they may choose: set with task of entering the factory, there are several options available to the player, some more obvious than others. The front door is patrolled by a few guards, and using stealth tactics and silent takedowns is certainly an option, as is going in all-guns-blazing. However, to conserve your ammo – and prevent any unnecessary loss of life – it might be worth investigating the areas and finding an alternative route, such as through a broken wall and under a gantry, or for the most observant players, making your way up on to the roof and avoiding any chance of coming face-to-face with the guards at all. These four distinctive paths act as an example of the many different options available to players for much of the game, and also demonstrate that just because you’ve run out of ammo for your favourite weapon or an alarm has been sounded, it doesn’t mean all is lost as you mix-and-match your tactics to fit each different situation.
With each successful takedown of an enemy, each area passed without being detected, each door, computer or security system hacked and each completed objective the player will earn XP points, which slowly add-up and are converted into Praxis Points. Praxis Points are used to upgrade and enhance your augmentations. There is a significant range of augmentation upgrades available, balanced perfectly in their benefits with the number of Praxis points they demand. Beginning with the opportunity to increase your inventory capacity, hacking skills, skill points (used for close quarter combat) and other immediate effects, players can build to the point where they can change the state of play with each new addition, from smashing through walls to being able to ignore security systems. The augmentation system is Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s measure of progress and reward system, with each new upgrade being enticing enough to encourage the player to continue playing and experiment with those they have earned, and the temptation of which new abilities to unlock.
Another key aspect of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the conversation system. Players will engage with enemies, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers, and every other calibre of human being, hoping to extract vital information or convince them to assist in your mission. The outcome of these conversations may not always be that which you hoped for, but similar to the likes of Heavy Rain and Mass Effect 2, reloading a previous save in an attempt to change the result is missing the point entirely. What seems like a failure at one point in the game may well be considered a success several hours later, as the game progresses in a different direction because of that one seemingly incidental action. Deus Ex: Human Revolution isn’t designed as a game you can win; it’s intended to be a game you experience.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a good looking game, but it’s surprisingly not a top tier production. The budget has been put to very good use, with the city of Detroit being practically without visual glitches – a solid, near-immaculately presented world almost comparable to the best in-house works at Nintendo – a glowing yellow metropolis ripe for exploration. The animation is perhaps the weakest element of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, less than average at best and frequently sipping out entire sequences of dialogue. The voice acting is also plagued with poor delivery, with many of the lead roles flat and uninspiring, and Jensen himself – though one of the best performances – seems to be an odd choice of voice for the character.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a very enjoyable experience, though it’s not without its flaws. The drastic difficulty spikes will annoy, and the inclusion of boss fights designed to funnel the player down a set path seems to be at odds with the rest of the game’s open-ended gameplay. While it could never be as innovative as its predecessors, Deus Ex: Human Revolution does well to progress the standard established for the series so far. It’s not quite the masterpiece you may have been lead to believe, and it’s certainly not breaking any new ground, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution remains a thoroughly entertaining experience from start to finish.