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Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Xbox 360) artwork

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Xbox 360) review


"Deus Ex: Human Revolution so astutely recaptures the spirit of the 2000 original that Iím amazed an outside developer is responsible for it. Compare it to Invisible War, the slicked-up, dumbed-down sequel that still has fans reeling, and you could conclude that Eidos has a better understanding of what makes this series tick than the people who got it running in the first place."



Deus Ex: Human Revolution so astutely recaptures the spirit of the 2000 original that Iím amazed an outside developer is responsible for it. Compare it to Invisible War, the slicked-up, dumbed-down sequel that still has fans reeling, and you could conclude that Eidos has a better understanding of what makes this series tick than the people who got it running in the first place.

Nearly everything that encapsulates the Deus Ex experience is on display in this prequel. Itís evident in the way your character slowly transforms into the supersoldier you make of him, and how the open-ended level design always seems to cater to the way you want to play. Itís apparent in the futuristic setting, in which daylight is no longer something that exists and all of humanityís technological advancements canít stop Americaís city streets from looking ugly, ramshackle and miserable. Itís also perceptible in the gameís complex, politically-charged plot, and in the way the ending forces you to make an Earth-changing, morally grey decision and leaves you to ponder over the effect it ultimately has. Like so much good sci-fi, Human Revolution raises heavy questions about humanityís place in the universe that the real world hasnít yet been confronted with.

Itís 2027, a quarter of a century before the events of Deus Ex. Human augmentations are still a relatively new thing, and society is having a difficult time adjusting. Some people want augmentations to be outlawed, claiming theyíre unnatural; others simply want them to be regulated. Some are seeking peaceful protest; others are, say, storming the headquarters of a major biotech corporation and murdering all of its employees. Itís during this incident that our protagonist, Adam Jenson, is injured and forced to undergo major augmentation. He emerges as the spitting image of JC Denton in that he wears a black trench coat, sounds like he could use a cough drop, and now has sunglasses attached directly to his face.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution asset


Jenson is the face of Human Revolution, not simply because heís the hero, but because heís whatever hero the player wants him to be. The traditional RPG leveling system that was more or less absent from Invisible War has returned, though itís now focused less on major styles of play and more on a large set of smaller, more unique skills. Iím betting that Deus Ex fans will be comfortable with this change, because instead of committing to one direction, players gradually construct their own customized character throughout the course of the game. Every new augmentation purchased opens new doors to the way you progress through Human Revolutionís missions.

Being able to jump higher or punch through certain walls, for example, gives players access to shortcuts that they otherwise wouldnít have been able to use. Having the extra strength to pick up large objects means you can employ mobile cover, crush enemies with vending machines, or uncover hidden air ducts. There are plenty of stealth-based upgrades that muffle your footsteps, or allow you to track your last-known location, or provide enemy cones of vision. Dumping experience into hacking means you can access confidential emails, deactivate security cameras, or turn turrets against guards.

At one point, an automated turret was aimed directly at a terminal I needed to hack. I couldnít find the computer that controlled it and I didnít have enough energy to cloak for the amount of time I needed. So instead, I wound up sneaking up behind the turret, picking it up using my strength mod, and pointing it into a corner, rendering it useless. If it sounds stupid, but it works, itís not stupid. Later, while descending a very tall building, I accidentally plunged into what Iím pretty sure was a smokestack of some sort. I figured the impact of the fall would kill me, but then my Icarus Landing System kicked in and softened the blow, upon which I realized I was on the bottom floor, right where Iíd been headed. Stumbling upon unconventional solutions like that illustrates how little of Human Revolution runs on rails.

As someone who went the non-lethal route throughout the entirety of Human Revolution, I can confirm that the stealth works incredibly well, as long as youíre okay with the AI operating under the usual parameters (enemies have pre-determined movement patterns and are incredibly quick to dismiss perceived threats, etc.). The new third-person cover system is smooth and makes it incredibly easy to move across levels efficiently while having a keen understanding of your surroundings. For those seeking a more straightforward approach, the combat works well enough, though thereís definitely far more satisfaction in experimenting with your augmentations than in sticking with the standard cover-based gunplay. Again, allowing players to find their own means of overcoming obstacles is what the original game did, and what the prequel emulates so well.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution asset


Except when it comes to the boss battles, that is. Yeah, wow, Human Revolutionís bosses are awful. In any other game, theyíd be bland, overpowered and cheap, but itís especially damning for this game, where player choice is such a major element of the design. Thereís a sequence late in the game in which an injured character is attacked by dozens of soldiers, and you can choose to either fend them off or use the firefight as a distraction and sneak right past them. The bosses should have received similar treatment, but instead, they force us into heavy combat even when weíre not necessarily prepared. Iím glad Human Revolution doesnít have weapon skills, because I canít imagine going into these battles without even being able to accurately fire a gun.

Last yearís Alpha Protocol suffered from the same issue, but even that game had that wonderful instance early on in which you could creep past a certain bossís guards unnoticed, sneak up behind him, and throw him over the side of a bridge. It was one of the few cases in which gunfire wasnít necessary to win a boss encounter, and games like these need to take that approach more often. I was fortunate enough to have invested in an explosive mod called Typhoon that wound up being extremely effective against most of the bosses, but they still stick out as a crippling design flaw.

Of course, thatís only the case because the rest of Human Revolution so wonderfully mimics the dynamics that the original established, and that many felt were missing in Invisible War. Those who still feel that the prequel is a disappointment would do well to realize that weíll probably never see another game like Deus Ex again, one that forgoes all attempts at theatricality and polish to truly explore the potential of interactive entertainment as an art form. The new title falls into a few of the traps of modern games (such as with Jensonís ridiculous scripted takedowns, which are brutal and bone-crunching and anything but stealthy), but for the most part, itís a smart, earnest production that demonstrates a sharp understanding of its source material. Itís the first game in over a decade to truly be worthy of the Deus Ex name.

Rating: 9/10

Suskie's avatar
Freelance review by Mike Suskie (September 24, 2011)

Mike Suskie is a freelance writer who has contributed to GamesRadar and has a blog. He can usually be found on Twitter at @MikeSuskie.

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zippdementia posted September 25, 2011:

I got chewed out for walking into the bathroom, too ^_^
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fleinn posted September 25, 2011:

..the thing about the bosses. Seen a lot of people complain about that, but...

//spoilers//


//I'm serious!//

The first boss can be defeated by throwing a gas-canister at him. There's a specific talk when you do it, and a specific animation. On normal, it's one or two canisters, and three gunshots to the head. So the encounter would be sneaking around as much as possible, using stealth, and then striking from a distance.

Second boss can be defeated by blowing up the server banks. It's difficult, but you can get her to blow the banks up herself, and that will cause more damage. So in the end you stun the boss, and can defeat her with just a few shots to the head.

Third boss is worse, specially if you did that .. thing early on. But it's more of a classic boss-battle, like Bruce Lee fighting the guy with the bear claw in the hall of mirrors. Or the scene in Boondock Saints when the police-guy goes on a rampage. They even have that slow-motion music every time the boss turns up :)

..arguably, the first terrorist leader could be a boss as well. And you can defeat him by just talking.

Maybe Hugh Darren is a boss as well. And you defeat him by "extrapolate", "critique", or "appeal". :D

...sorry, shouldn't complain, really. I've been trying to write a review for a couple of weeks now, and I can't. ..I just.. there's something I can't really explain here. About how the game doesn't really nail you on it if you change attitude and direction half-way into the game. The original did that. It would have Gunther go "oooh, ze boyscout learns way of real world". Or the people in the base suddenly are impressed that you stick with your way of doing things, and still get things done. There were a lot of these things in Deus Ex.. but..

Same with the transport stages. It seems so haphazard in DE:HR.. The actual levels are great. But it's.. "oops, I'm in Shanghai for no reason". "Now I'm off to sleep in a canister that goes god knows where".. . just seems they could have let there be something to Pritchard being involved with the hacker, or something like that.. Just to explain how they know where to go.

Anyway.. It is a good review. And the free approach thing really is the core of the game, after all, so good thing to focus on that. Approval :p

(....one thing... it's Adam Jensen. The "-sen" affix comes from the same thing as "-son", though. In Sweden, it typically is "-sÝn" on the surnames. On Iceland, for the few who have patronyms, it's "-son"(pronounced "sawn" at the end. Both of them mean "son". Denmark and Norway tend to have "-sen" instead. ..but it's not as common as using farm-names or places.

So Jensen's parents probably were Danes or Norskies :p).
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Genj posted September 25, 2011:

I liked it more on my second and third playthroughs.
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zippdementia posted September 25, 2011:

I second Suskie's complaints about the bosses. Sure, you can use multiple methods to defeat them, but it still forces a player to play like they are a combat whore. It has nothing to do with augmentations. It's all about not catering to different play styles.

Case in point, I just defeated that annoying boss last night where if you did... you know... you can't use your augmentations. I was able to defeat him (on the hardest difficulty, I might add, which made me feel good) because I had been playing a heavily combat oriented game. I couldn't use augs and, frankly, I didn't even have the greatest weapons (I ended up using all of my combat rifle ammo and then switching to the exploding revolver, which I had to be quite accurate with).

Point is, I was only able to defeat him because by that time I'd trained myself to be dead accurate and incredibly fast at using cover and dodging shots.

If I had been playing a stealth game the whole time, I would've been fucked. None of those skills would have been developed. That is a problem in design, because Deus Ex encourages such a variety of play in the first place.
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fleinn posted September 25, 2011:

Mm. Agree with that. ...the annoying thing is that the first boss (the terrorist leader) can be stunned, and then he can be arrested. I spent all my darts on the second guy before ending up throwing crates.

It's .. you kind of can accept that you have to kill them inside the plot. ..in a way. I decided I had put the entire thing behind me when I finished the Mother-in-law quest.. So I really didn't want to kill the guy, not really.. So if you had a way to trap the guy, drop a crate on him, or disable his weapons. Have some sort of parallel track where you could hack a rocket launcher he would always be using to finish off his target, something like that. So he would blow his arm off, and try to self-destruct an blow you up as well, using the lead to lure you closer, etc..

And that's not there. :(

..anyway. So you did the upgrade, then, Zipp? I didn't trust them :D ..and the last boss was very easy when I had the cloak (and the improved hud).
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WilltheGreat posted September 25, 2011:

Third boss you can kill by punching him in the face once.

I'm serious.

As for that thing you can do that makes that fight harder...highlight below for spoilers

Well, I figured, I'm playing a game in a series about conspiracies and things not being what governments and corporations claim they are. So when it comes out that there's a design flaw in the standard biochip and EVERYBODY NEEDS TO GET ONE REPLACED RIGHT NOW GUYS, I thought "Hmm, something's fishy here". Turns out I was right. :D

I look at the biochip thing as a way of poking fun at people who are too trusting of NPCs. Trust nobody. I absolutely love that it's an option though, cause you end up either like Zipp, feeling really good for overcoming a massive handicap that came out of nowhere, or like me, feeling really clever not falling for a trap. :D


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Genj posted September 25, 2011:

Spoilers:

I took the chip because I thought you had to get the side quest at the Limb Clinic to appear. Then when I was infiltrating the Harvesters' hideout, I noticed the guy on the radio mention that he thought the recall was an Illuminati plot to control people and I was like "Ah shit I'm going to get a bad ending or something." Even worse!
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Suskie posted September 25, 2011:

Spoilers:

I had the same experience, Will, and I wound up wondering what would've happened if I'd taken the chip. I'm glad I didn't, because fighting that boss without augs sounds awful. (I, too, played this on the highest difficulty.)

I'm serious, though: Typhoon works wonders against bosses. All three of them (not counting the final boss, which is a bit more complicated to take down) die from two or three Typhoon shots. The only boss who gave me trouble was the second one, and that's only because I'd run out of Typhoon ammo. And even then, I only beat her when I found some of said ammo in one of the nearby lockers.
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fleinn posted September 26, 2011:

"Third boss you can kill by punching him in the face once."

Really? ..That makes sense. So the first one is the gas-canister. The second is the exploding servers. And the last one is close combat. :)
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Suskie posted September 26, 2011:

The exploding servers electrify the floor, though. She kept destroying those on her own and then I'd get zapped to death. I only won once I'd learned to keep her the hell away from those things.
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fleinn posted September 26, 2011:

..if you have full health, it should drop you down to 10% or so. Then if you regenerate and do it again, she should be stunned after the third time, I think..

It's suddenly throwing you into a fight with lots of guns everywhere in the room, though.. So yeah.. a bit strange. That there's no way to jump somewhere and avoid the zap or something..
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WilltheGreat posted September 26, 2011:

I suppose if I were to play through again, I'd get the EM shielding aug early.

Which is a shame, because having your HUD go nuts when you run into an EMP grenade is really cool/immersive.
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zippdementia posted October 01, 2011:

I should mention that you CANNOT punch the third boss in the face, though, if you are under the influence of a "poorly thought out decision."

He was hard, Suskie, yeah. I had to save after each successfully volley I landed against him. Once I got in the groove I didn't die too often and the time I actually beat him was a nice streak of saves without the need to load any of them, but it was still a bit of a shock to have to pull out "Half Life" quick save tactics in Deus Ex.

The only bosses that annoying in recent memory were in Alpha Protocol. Which I think you mention in your review.

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