Deus Ex: Human Revolution developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix, is the third game in the Deus Ex series and takes place as a prequel 25 years before the events of the original Deus Ex for the PC. Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes place in the year 2027 just as the augmentation of humans is becoming a mainstream practice, where as Deus Ex took place in 2052, and Deus Ex: Invisible War in 2072. Unlike the previous Deus Ex games you may notice the augmentations in this game are mechanical augments instead of the nano-machines you may be accustomed to. The entire Deus Ex series leans heavily on the ideas of trans-humanism, which is a philosophical subject involving the belief that technology will advance so far as to make mankind faster, stronger, smarter, to the point where the blending of human and machine are no longer distinguishable from each other.
In DX:HR you take on the role of Adam Jensen, former SWAT commander and current private security specialist for Sarif Industries assigned to protect scientist and former romantic interest, Dr. Megan Reed and her team. Dr. Reed is on the verge of announcing a breakthrough in the field of augmentation. DNA Samples acquired from a subject referred to only as “Patient X” showed the ability to bond with the machine augmentations without rejection and will allow people the ability to augment themselves without having to use anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. Dr. Reed is preparing to announce her discovery in Washington D.C. when the lab is attacked by augmented mercenaries. Despite the best efforts of Adam, Dr. Reed and her whole team is killed and Adam is left for dead after being beaten, thrown through a wall, shot in the head, and left in the building as it was set on fire. Adam’s life is saved thanks to a wall collapsing, thus protecting him from the fire and due to the efforts of David Sarif the founder and CEO of Sarif Industries. He spared no expense augmenting Adam to keep him alive.
Now this is where the game begins to pick up. By this point you should have gotten a basic breakdown of the shooting system and taking cover and I have to say I like the combinations of 1st person shooting and the 3rd person view when taking cover. I got a lot of enjoyment out of hiding around corners and then popping out and beating my enemies with my bare hands. I also appreciate the Tactical Vision Augmentation which highlights nearby objects that can be interacted with, such as e-books, items, objects that can be picked up and thrown, or drawers and doors that can be opened.
The game play itself is primarily built around what the developers called ”Pillars of Game play.” The pillars are “Combat”, “Stealth”, “Hacking”, and “Social.” Each element of the pillars is a key structure that determines how the game plays out for you, and the sheer number of choices available will boggle your mind. Other games have tried to use the choice system which allows you to decide what kind of character you want to be, such as Fable or Fallout, but compared to the Deus Ex choice system, there is no comparison. Everything in this game is a choice, for example the augmentation procedure that saved your life, when people ask you about it you can choose to embrace the augments, reject them entirely as a violation of your life, or live indifferent to your new body, and each choice spawns a new set of choices. The Decisions don’t stop there though even your combat style is based on choice. Lethal or non-lethal, close range or from a distance, Crawl through the vents or kick in the front door? No matter what your game play style is there is always a way to accomplish your goal.
Running through the first mission after receiving your augmentations and nearly 6 months after the attack on the lab, you get the first taste of truly how grand your choices are. Personally I prefer to use a non-lethal sneaking method, running through the level hiding in the shadows with my trusty stun gun, ready to stun enemies and hide their bodies, but I keep my trusty silenced sniper rifle handy just in case I can’t get close enough to stun them. I appreciate the regenerative health, which is a new feature to Deus Ex but it’s not exactly fast, so if you find yourself low on health and being pursued I would advise either hiding somewhere no one can find you for a minute or the use of a healing item.
The weapon choices in the game are nothing to gripe about either, a few of your choices include a Revolver, Pistol, Battle rifle, Machine pistol, Stun gun, Stun Rifle, Shot gun, Sniper rifle, and crossbow. So no matter your play style there is a weapon set to accommodate you. There are also a few grenade types such as concussion grenades, Frag grenades, and EMP grenades for those pesky robots and they also work well to stun people who have been augmented.
The weapons available in the game are upgradeable and you are only limited by your inventory space. The inventory is grid-based where each item has a certain shape and you can organize, combine, or drop items as needed to allow you to free up some space. The inventory size can be upgraded along with your other augments using Praxis Kits or Praxis Points, but we’ll get to that a bit later. The weapon upgrades are pretty nice and come in handy when you find your current weapons lacking in areas. A few of the upgrades include silencers, laser sights, reload speed, clip size, bullet damage, and enemy tracking. A few of the upgrades are gun specific but if you find yourself unable to continue and there are no Praxis upgrades in sight, you may just want to find your friendly neighborhood gun runner and pick up some upgrades.
I handled the first mission using my pre-order bonus silenced sniper rifle and hand-to-hand take downs for most of the mission, preferring to sneak through the vents rather than engage the enemy directly. I was forced to change tactics in a few areas where I was caught and cornered, but that was nothing a concussion grenade and my trusty pistol couldn’t handle. This mission is your first encounter with the anti-augmentation terrorist group known as Purity First. Their leader has taken hostages and is looking for information to use against the Serif Corporation. The mission itself is to secure weapon data that was moved to the site earlier that day and you have sub-missions as well, such as freeing the hostages and rescuing the plant manager from Zeke Sanders, the leader of the Purity First radicals attacking the plant. Once you finally make your way to the “boss fight”, those wonderful choices kick in again. You can try to attack him and hope you can kill him before he kills his hostage, you can just agree with him and let him go taking the hostage with him, or you can try to convince him to let her go and to leave while he can. If you are smart you can convince him to leave without his hostage.
Now your choices are reflected by the random civilians you come across as well. At this point for me, they either thought I was a hero for saving all the hostages or they hate me because I let the terrorist leader go. Now with all these choices it makes me wonder how letting Zeke go will affect the story later on. What if I had killed him? How different would the story be? Every choice you make has the potential to change the story. This alone already has me excited for a second play-through to find out.
Down to a few of the dirty details, Augmentations.
The augments are pretty awesome, but not all of them are active when you start the game. To activate or upgrade any of your augments you will need Praxis Kits or Praxis Points which I mentioned earlier. Praxis Kits can be found or bought from LIMB Clinics throughout the game, though they are not exactly cheap. So collect those credits! The Praxis Points are acquired by gaining experience through missions, fighting, exploring hidden areas, and hacking terminals. Sub-missions are a good way to make some EXP outside of the main story, as well as learn a little more about people and events in the game. Most of the sub-missions will net you some nice rewards as well, such as weapon upgrade kits but only if you ask for a reward, and who wouldn’t? What? You want me to kill some drug dealer for you? For free? OF COURSE YOU DO! Sorry buddy, you better pony up a reward because this cyborg doesn’t clean your messes up for free.
Hacking is something I don’t think you can even play this game without encountering repeatedly and excessively, and to tell you the truth I rather enjoy it. I actually forced my way into the police station just so I could hack all of their computers and read their e-mails, and it was a blast.
The basic goal of hacking is exactly what you would think, gaining access to some piece of tech forcefully. The hacking itself is pretty straight forward: Capture the goal nodes before the system traces you back to your entry point. To get to the goal node though, you have to hack terminals and data stores to reach the node and do so before the system tracks you back to you point of entry and boots you out of the system. If you successfully capture any Data Store nodes during the process you will get rewards for it, but only if you successfully hack the machine. You do have a few tools at your disposal when hacking as well, such as a fortifying node you have already captured to slow down the tracing, as well as 2 hacking items you will find called Nuke and Stop. Nuke will allow you to hack a node with a 0% chance of being detected, and Stop will completely stop the tracing process for a few seconds. There is a cool down period of 30 seconds after any failed hacking attempt before you can try again.
There’s nothing like trying to read peoples’ emails and getting back-traced and reported to the cyber-police.
Throughout my wanderings through the streets of future Detroit, I kept wondering when Major and Tachikoma where going to show up hot in pursuit of the Laughing Man, maybe a billboard or some graffiti with the words “I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes.” I was pretty happy to find a poster though for a bionics firm called “Kusanagi” and for those of you that are fans of Ghost in the Shell you will recall that the Majors name was in fact Motoko Kusanagi, but his is far from the only Easter Egg you may find. Keep an eye out for references to Final Fantasy, Tron, Stargate, and Robocop just to name a few.
I’ve always been a fan of the dystopian future, cyber-punk genre and Deus Ex delivers exactly what you would expect: Conspiracy theories involving powerful corporations, secret organizations like the Illuminati, moral and ethical questions about the blending of man and machine, and only you can decide the outcomes. The entire world seems shadowed in darkness, giving off a feeling of conspiracy in the seedy underbelly of the future while still grounding you in what seems like a sepia-colored film noire of the 1950′s style detective films.
I’m already looking forward to a second or third play-through just because of the fact that every mission you complete, every answer you give, every tactic you choose seems to change the progress of the story a bit, and I want to see how those choices of how I play change the story another time around.
I have enjoyed this game immensely and am more than looking forward to the upcoming DLC ‘The Missing Link.’ The DLC is supposed to reveal what happened to Adam during the point of time where he disappeared for 3 days while investigating. Captured by Belltower and tortured, he has his augments disabled and must escape and find answers using only his basic skills. I for one will be sure to pick up the DLC as no stone can be left unturned in a game I just can’t put down.