Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Spoiler-free Review

I just finished playing through Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and as a long-time fan of the series, I want to post my thoughts on the overall experience here. I should forewarn you that I actually liked playing Invisible War, although the original was still by far the best, so perhaps you’ll consider my taste suspect, but in any case…

Overall, the game was exceedingly well-done. I finish about one in ten video games that I play, maybe less, so the fact that I bothered to finish it in the first place is a testament to the degree to which I enjoyed it. (Other story-based game series that I’ve actually finished are Mass Effect, Halo, Uncharted, and Assassin’s Creed, for the record.) The experience was much closer to the original Deus Ex in terms of the depth of story and the room for improvisation in gameplay than Deus Ex 2, and visually superior to both. I tend to play stealthily and generally non-lethally, and this game actively rewarded exploration (I’m pretty sure you get enough XP to earn a couple of augmentation upgrades just from Explorer bonuses alone) of its more-or-less open world, which was nice.

Things that I didn’t like: the fact that only one energy cell actively recharges, ever. Many of your augmentations require energy, but most specifically, a hand-to-hand takedown or kill requires one full cell of energy. So you can have up to five cells through upgrades, but only the first one will recharge; the other four will stay depleted if you don’t find the stupid granola/protein/whatever-the-hell-they-are bars in order to recharge. This is pretty irritating when you are going through long sections without finding any of them (especially near the end of the game). Generally, I found the non-lethal approach increasingly hard to maintain as the end of the game neared, mostly due to lack of ammunition and energy (takedowns require energy), and by the end of the game, I was forced to extreme improvisation in order to take down the last boss without killing (I literally used a stray EMP grenade that I found after running around the entire map dodging enemy fire, since I’d previously depleted all of my tranquilizer/stun ammo and gas/EMP grenades). The game shoved literally stacks of heavy rifle ammo in my face, but I could not find freaking stun ammo for the life of me. And, of course, my one remaining energy bar was useless, since I couldn’t use a physical takedown on the boss (the option would not pop up when I was standing right next to the boss, not that they ever seemed to work on any of the bosses).

Speaking of bosses, I agree with reviewers generally saying that it didn’t suit the tone of the game to have it force you to kill the bosses even if you didn’t intend to. It would have been nice to have a way around it, but there simply wasn’t any choice in the matter. It wasn’t game-ruining, but it was a minor irritation.

The only thing about the game that actually sucked were the “Asian” accents. Argh. I can’t stress how horrible they were, although I guess 20 years from now, maybe it’s possible that Asians will have that accent…yeah, right.

The hacking minigame was okay, but got repetitive near the end (and was still worth doing for the experience points, so I spent a lot of time doing it even though I didn’t really need to – boring). I found myself wishing for melee weapons other than the built-in takedown kill weapons – Deus Ex had swords, and everybody knows swords are awesome.;)

Otherwise, the game was awesome. Tons of weapons, tons of detail in the world (books, emails, conversations between people on the streets, etc.), lots of hidden paths around pretty much every map, some nifty abilities (wall-smashing is lots of fun), and that nice Deus Ex-specific vibe of paranoia everywhere. The music was great. Yay for Final Fantasy 27 posters on the walls! If you are into biopunk and/or cyberpunk and you want a good story (besides my FourWar novel *wink wink*), this is a must-play game. 5/5!

(Note to self: in about six months, after people have had time to play the game, I’d like to post again about the storyline with a spoiler-laden review/commentary. Lots of thoughts about it, I just don’t want to ruin the game for anyone.)

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