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What Human Revolution Got Wrong

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 13 Sep 2011 16:00
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So, as has been made abundantly clear in my writings and videos over the last few weeks, the original Deus Ex was a game that hasn't aged well at all. Characters all looking the same, shoddy engine, weird physics and a main character who apparently tapes jittery cats to the end of his rifle barrel. And the less said about most voice acting the better.

Nevertheless, here are some areas in which it still surpasses Deus Ex Human Revolution.

1. You know who the danged boss characters are

For me the most obvious comparison to draw is between the mech characters in Deus Ex (Anna Navarre and Gunther Hermann) and the mech mercenaries you have the misplaced boss fights with in HR (I can't even remember their bloody names now which is kind of the point). Even if one disregards the lurching gameplay issue, even if it had been possible to defeat them by more ways than brute-forcing their hit points down, my issue is this: who the hell are these people, and why do they hate me so much?

Anna and Gunther are actual characters. They're slightly monstrous hired killers who have embraced the machine to the point that they have lost touch with the sanctity of human life. But at the same time they are rational enough to follow orders and resent the newest model of augmentation passive-aggressively. Gunther in particular is painted as rather a tragic figure, lacking his partner's self-assurance and haunted by his looming obsolescence, driven to despair and revenge when Anna is killed when she's sent to bring down the Dentons. One almost feels guilty about killing him in self-defense.

But who are the jackoffs spoiling the HR experience with their unavoidable boss fights? They're the mercenaries who smash up the Sarif labs at the start, which might give Adam good reason to want a rematch, but what's motivating them to stand in his way with such violent hatred? Strutting around taunting like fucking Saturday morning cartoon villains? Are these characters or purely functional devices, like the warm-up man who occupies the audience while the scene changers are at work?

2. There are danged melee weapons

This was one of the most glaring omissions in Human Revolution's gameplay: not so much as a sharp stick for whacking things directly in front of you. Are melee weapons another thing that modern-day shooters are attempting to phase out, like health bars and fun? There used to be a dedicated weapon slot for it and for a while it was almost de rigueur for each shooter to have its own iconic melee weapon (Quake's axe, Half-Life's crowbar, Blood's pitchfork, Duke's shoe). Then melee weapons had to start sharing a slot with a gun, as with Gears of War's chainsaw bayonet, and now for the most part shooters eschew independent melee weapons in favour of a pistol whip or rifle butt attack.

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