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Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

Steve Butts | 22 Aug 2011 22:10
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A lot of this gameplay works because of the conversation system. Deus Ex isn't limited to the binary definitions often found in games like Fable or Mass Effect. Here the focus is on presenting a complicated situation and giving the player a number of responses based on attitudes. You have to decide whether or not it'll help to be more empathetic or confrontational, to deny a lie or merely redirect the conversation. The stakes are usually pretty high as well. In one sequence, you have to debate the leader of an anti-augmentation movement during a big public speech and convince him to help you. It's very satisfying to try to figure out what motivates him and then use that to manipulate him into giving you what you want. Even better, there's a sequence where a character is about to commit suicide and it's up to you to decide if you want to try to talk him out of it. It's almost like a dialogue-based boss fight, and it makes the game feel so much more substantial than the sometimes strained cutscenes ever could.

The environments also reinforce the reality of the game. Sure, that means you'll hack into computers only to read about the mundane details of life, like concert tickets or AA meetings, but the game feels like a real place inhabited by real people with real problems, not least of which is that they can't ever seem to have more than four emails in their inboxes at a time. The settings themselves are the greatest success in the "show, don't tell" department. Walking into Jensen's apartment in Detroit, you don't have to be told that his life has become a mess since the tragedy that kicks off the game. Likewise, the sudden departure of the office workers in Montreal is told less by the emails and radio communications you're getting than through the overturned coffee cups, ringing phones and unlocked computers scattered around the offices.

For all that it gets right, Deus Ex isn't perfect. Some of the problems, like the confusing story and ridiculous Illuminati references, are just the nature the beast. There are other problems, however, that ought to have been addressed. The game's few boss fights feel outdated and inappropriate next to the rest of the gameplay. To move from open-ended, environmental problem solving to circle strafing super soldiers with rocket launchers is a huge step backwards. Additionally, the game's economy is almost entirely unnecessary. I had tons of cash and loot in the game, but no consistent place to buy or sell equipment.

By far the biggest problems are the moments where control of my character's reactions was taken away for the sake of a story point. There's one betrayal halfway through the game that's so obvious, it's hard to imagine Jensen ever falling for it. The game had done such a great job of letting me decide who is and isn't to be trusted, that it felt wrong to force Jensen to be so obviously duped just for the sake of moving the plot along and cramming in one more big firefight. Even so, those are minor problems that never got in the way of me enjoying everything else that this game does.

For those who care, the game was reviewed on an Intel Quad Core2 2.67GHz CPU with 4GB RAM and a GeForce 9800 GTX+. With all the details set on high at 1600x1200, it ran beautifully with framerates never really dropping under 30. The resolution and graphics options were reduced to get a smoother image for our video review.

Bottom Line: A worthy sequel to one of the most celebrated PC games of all time. Aside from a few, easily overlooked missteps, this is easily one of the most enjoyable games of the year.

Recommendation: Play it.

Steve Butts would be happy to sacrifice a bit of humanity to be able to punch through walls.

This review is based on the PC version of the game.

What our review scores mean.

Game: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Genre: Action
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox360
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)

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