• Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Children of the Revolution

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"Well you can bump and grind
It is good for your mind
Well you can twist and shout let it all hang out
But you won't fool the children of the revolution" 


Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel to the critically acclaimed PC game Deus Ex. Released over 11 years ago, the original game was a genre-blending mix of shooter, roleplaying game and stealth game set on a near-future cyberpunk Earth. Since it's release in 2000 the game averaged a review score of 90% and has regularly appeared at or near the top of several "best games of all time" lists. I played the game through several times back in the day, as it could be completed in several different ways and had quite a few different endings.

So, this belated prequel has a lot to live up to. Does it work as well as the original classic? Read on to find out my thoughts.
There is a lot to love about this game. It really manages to capture the feel of freedom of choice that was the hallmark of the original, and eclipses it in many ways. There are a few niggles however that spoil the party. In a game this well designed there are some odd choices when it comes to a few of the mechanics, but I'll come onto that later.

Human Revolution improves on the original in several ways. Whereas the original was an ok shooter coupled with an ok stealther coupled with a great RPG, the new game is excellent in all three areas. It's as good as the best shooters around and as good as the best stealth-action games too, whilst retaining fantastic RPG mechanics and story. The setting and environment is like nothing else in modern RPGs, the cyberpunk near-future world so fully fleshed out that it really does feel like a real place. Wandering around Detroit, seeing and talking to the citizens, reading their emails and newspapers; it all adds depth and makes the game world feel alive.

Adam Jensen is a Cool Dude™
Whilst the main questline is quite linear (at first), the game retains the freeform approach that allows you to decide how best to proceed. Do you fight your way into the enemy base, or sneak in through the sewers and try to sneak past all the guards, or locate and hack into their security systems and turn the automatic turrets and sentry droids onto their owners? You really do have a choice, and you can pick one area to specialise in or mix it up depending on the situation.

The story is as good as the first game, with conspiracy layered upon conspiracy uncovered as you investigate further. There is no real evil bad guy in the usual sense either, all the major players seem to have their own motivations beyond just being an adversary.

The conversation system is one of the best I have seen. At first look it seems similar to the Mass Effect style dialogue system, but in actual fact it is much deeper and you can have a much greater impact on the loyalties of NPCs and the track of the story. The presentation isn't up to Mass Effect standards however, with some curiously stilted and poor facial animations during cutscenes and it's much less cinematic to look at. The social augmentation turns the conversations into a fun mini-game as you try to persuade people to your point of view by analysing their biometric responses and releasing pheromones at the right time to sway them.

There are a few issues I have with the game. The environments are large, but not as open as those in the original game. They do the job very well however. The two main problems I have with the game are the boss fights and the energy mechanic.

The boss fights are a real issue. The whole game allows you to approach things with an unparalleled level of choice, then suddenly you are forced to beat a stupidly hard boss in order to progress. So, my character specialised in stealth and I was trying to complete each mission by non-lethal means (sneaking past guards, hacking security systems to turn off cameras, resorting to tranquiliser darts and stun guns if necessary). Accordingly I put all my praxis (experience) points into augmentations (skills) that supported that role. Then I am forced to fight a really tough boss and I have no combat upgrades or lethal weapons. Such a stupid design decision.

The cities are huge, detailed and buzzing with life
I'm also not a fan of the energy mechanic. Each augmentation takes up energy to use, and this must be replenished before you can use others. This forces you to go looking for energy bars and means you can no longer use non-lethal take downs or use your cloak to sneak past guards. Again, an odd design decision; there must be a better way of doing things.

Despite those flaws however Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an astonishing game. It really does offer amazing choice to the player, along with brilliant core combat and stealth mechanics and an incredible story. It's quite unique amongst modern games and succeeds far more than it fails. Probably the RPG of the year. And the shooter of the year. And the action-stealth game of the year too! Right, there is a computer terminal of a police officer I need to hack in order to find out who was behind the attack on my company office. See you in New Detroit!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds very interesting. I find it frustrating when I see such good games I know I won't get time to play :) Nice to keep up to date though, and you are right mate..he really does look cool. That's how I look of course when going to work :)

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