Freedom is a funny thing in gaming; titles like Fable claim to give you the means to do whatever you please to whoever you want whereas shooters like Homefront or Call of Duty force you to follow a linear path that offers you no exploration or no other option to tackle the task ahead apart from slowing pushing forward, shooting everything in your way. And while Deus Ex: Human Revolution simply has you moving through area after area completing set objectives, it's the freedom you are given to carry the requirements out in any way you wish that sets it miles ahead and apart from anything else available at the moment.
Everything in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, be it an infiltration into a warehouse or the conversation with a Chinese drug lord, can be handled in a number of ways; a different option to fit a multitude of different play styles. While the path forward may seem incredibly clear, a little exploration could lead to the discovery of a hidden vent behind a stack of cardboard boxes or a secluded ladder in the corner of a dark environment and it's these discoveries that force you to adapt the way you play.
A climb up to the second level could mean that the planned route of silently taking out the enemies one by one must be discarded and that you can miss all of them completely by following the route the ladder has revealed to you. But, at the same time, you may want the experience points or the items the enemies might have so maybe killing them all silently or by shooting them behind cover is the right thing to do. In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, there is no right or wrong, just what you want to do and a plethora of ways to do it.
But none of these endless options would mean anything if you didn't have the equipment or the abilities to do it but thanks to the wonders of Augmentations you can progress from a robotic security man to a smooth-talking professional hacker or a one-man-army, depending on your play styles. Everything you do in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, be it killing a guard or moving a box to reveal a climbable ladder, earns you experience and every time you level up, you gain a Praxis Point. These can then be assigned to improving certain levels of your persona, ranging from the ability to see through walls all the way through to being able to fall great heights without a single injury.
The paths you take when upgrading yourself can also change the way you play; upgrading your guns could mean that you have the ability to win any fight, no matter the odds, whereas improving your stealth factors, like radars and silenced weapons, could determine the probability of you getting out of a room quickly, but more importantly, quietly. But the gameplay isn't the only thing that changes depending on the points you spend; the genre also alters too. Gamers could play Deus Ex: Human Revolution as a run-and-gun shooter whereas others may take it as a stealth action title, on the other hand, the remaining players could see it as a story-driven experience.
And what a story it is. The year is 2027 and the lines between what it means to be a human are being blurred. The DNA of man is being blended with the wires of robotics to create "Augs", people who have been enhanced in some way by the powers of machinery, be it a missing arm recreated by metal or a weakened eye improved by technology. But all is not well; the "Purists", people who are against the idea of Augmentations, are revolting and the battle lines are being drawn. You play as Adam Jensen, head of security at Sarif Industries, the world's leading company in the department of robotic enhancements, who uncovers a dark conspiracy after his scientist girlfriend, Megan Reed, is murdered by mercenaries who want her findings for themselves.
This intricate and interesting tale, weaved skilfully by the writers at Eidos Montreal, is both smart and thought-provoking by attempting to question how far we should let technology go and whether using robotics and machinery to fix nature is good or bad. Games nowadays don't usually tackle subjects like this or at all in some cases and instead rely on creating a good narrative that keeps you playing instead of one that deals with issues and raises questions so it's nice to see the writers trying this and it's even better to witness it being pulled off to such a high standard.
Not only will the story draw you in and get you interested in the turns it will take, but it will combine with the stunning world of Detroit and Hengsha in 2027 to create an incredibly immersive world that you genuinely believe. In the seedy underbellies of the games two hub worlds, prostitutes sit on street corners calling out to anyone who passes by and homeless folk rummage in full trash cans, looking for their next meal. Steam rises from the vents in the floor and on the walls whilst litter flutters around in the breeze. Juxtapose to this, in the penthouses and towering sky-blocks above, floodlights illuminate the night sky and businessmen waltz about in priceless suits, augmentations gleaming in the black and gold light.
Although Deus Ex: Human Revolution isn't the best looking game on the market at the moment, the artistic direction taken by the developers definitely makes up for it. Gone is the usual brown palette that is so frequent in most shooters today and in is the gold and black that dominates everything you see. Although it makes some of the games locations a little dark, this actually helps the environments significantly as the poor lower districts of Detroit and Hengsha look that much more realistic when coupled with the dingy colours the game presents to you.
As good as the art direction is, there is a few problems with the graphics themselves; the character models look a little off, with the edges being quite square instead smooth and there is a small amount of screen tearing and glitches regarding lip-synching and the ragdoll physics used when a body is being dragged to hide away in a corner. Thankfully, all of these problems are incredibly small and do not distract you from enjoying the overall experience at all.
Alongside the stunning art direction, Deus Ex: Human Revolution features some incredible sound design with the voice acting of most of the characters being of a high standard. Whilst it's not up there with the performances in games like Mafia 2 or Grand Theft Auto IV, it does what it needs to do and does it to a good level; the guns sound and feel great, too. But none of these, as good as they both are, can compare to the music of Human Revolution; as minimal as it is, it's can be both moody and epic at the same time. Action scenes are accompanied by orchestral booms whilst moving through the hub worlds of Detroit are Hengsha are completed by low hums.
But the game is not perfect. It's a shame because the games biggest problem doesn't actually need to exist; the boss battles. Throughout the thirty plus hours it will take you to complete the game, you have to take part in four unavoidable boss battles and they are awful. Deus Ex is a game about freedom and tackling the objectives in any way you want but the boss battles are so simple that they stand out like a sore thumb. Instead of having a plethora of ways to carry them out, there is basically two options: you either find the simple way of doing the battle or you unload every piece of lead you have in your inventory upon them. Although the character designs of the bosses are pretty cool and the satisfaction of defeating them is great, the only reason you're glad that you finish them is because you know that you've got a while before the next one.
Simply put, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is phenomenal. Games nowadays try their hands at a whole host of different things but rarely excel at everything. However, in Deus Ex, everything it does is done perfectly. The shooting mechanic is as good as it is in other third-person cover shooters, the conversation system is on a par with that found in Mass Effect and is miles ahead of titles like Fallout 3 or New Vegas and the stealth option expertly balances out intense encounters with the enemy forces whilst never becoming frustrating.
On the surface, the game might sound incredibly simple but delve down a little and it becomes immensely complex but only if you want it to be. The freedom to carry out your objectives means that it becomes your own experience, one that changes each time you tackle a fight or a boss battle. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a rare game and is something that only comes around every once in a while; it's a game that literally everyone should buy. 2011 is a good year for gaming and has had many titles that stand out, like LA Noire and Portal 2, with a whole host of others to come. My judgement is still undecided whether Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be able to withstand the behemoths that are Skyrim, Gears of War 3 and Uncharted: Drake's Deception but, at the moment, it is, without a doubt, my hands-down Game of the Year and that is not a title that I give away easily. As the title suggests, Deus Ex is a revolution but not of the human sort; instead, it revolutionises the gaming market as we know it today.
Blends different gameplay types together perfectly
The choice to play it however you want to
Phenomenal music and voice acting
Black and gold art direction
Incredibly long (about 30-40 hours)