Deus Ex: Human Revolution

September 24th, 2011

Near future dsytopian cyberpunk gruff-voiced first person shooter stylings with an emphasis on stealth and lateral thinking.  Well, kinda.  As with the first Deus Ex which came out some years ago on the PC and is one of those there classics of the genre, in theory the game offers you all kinds of ways to play and you make the choice as to how you will approach it.  Invincible cyborg battering ram or ghost in the machine?  Computer whizzkid or martial artiste, the choice is yours.  Well, kinda.

I like it, in general, certainly I played it all the way through.  On the upside the worldbuilding is very nice, the general look is great, and it makes a decent fist of working on several different levels – as a stealth-em-up a la Thief, as a cover-based first person shooter, as a game of exploration and thinking your way through problems.  It manages this combination a lot better than, say, Metal Gear Solid.  There’s also quite a nice line in different ways you can resolve certain situations which may or may not have results downstream.  It’s particularly good early on, when you have to choose your upgrades carefully and hence pick the style of play you’re going to follow.  Will you improve hacking or stealth or opt to run faster or jump higher?  After a while, though, as you rack up experience and unlock more stuff that element fades somewhat.  If you’re anything like me you start playing in a more slovenly manner and getting away with it.  Plus the lateral thinking is never all that lateral.  It nearly always consists of finding a grating somewhere and crawling into an air vent that, miraculously, brings you out in an advantageous position.  They’ve got some pretty damn labyrinthine air vents in some of these places, believe me.

I think if there’d been a much bigger and more extensive skill tree, so you really could keep specialising, it would be a better game, allowing for radically different approaches.  As it is, if I played it through again I’m not sure what I’d really do differently.  Plus the character work was a tad mediocre.  It’s hard to get to involved on a personal level with anyone.  I can scarcely remember one laugh or affecting moment, really.  So I guess I’d say it’s a solid game all round, but lacking that little sprinkle of fairy dust to really put it up there with the greats…

Posted in games by Joe Abercrombie on September 24th, 2011.

14 comments so far

  • Nick Sharps says:

    I had a good laugh at Zeke Sanders, the one-eyed hispanic pirate.

  • Koko L says:

    I played the game through twice. I played through the first time killing nobody but the bosses. The second time, I obliterated every innocent in each town. Disappointingly, nobody seems to care how many people you kill past the first couple missions. After the first, I got called a barbarian or murderer. After that it just seemed like nobody cared. Sure, the newspapers noted how there was a slaughter once or twice, but other than that, nothing.

    I did laugh pretty hard when instead of getting to the helicopter I was exploring the women’s restroom and got called on it after I got back from the mission.

  • Patrick H. says:

    I wouldn’t know, that’s the one game my Xbox has randomly chosen not to play. Still holding out hope my new copy will work when I get home tonight.

  • bryce says:

    Having just turned 40 this year, the unbelievable has happened. I just can’t get into my gaming anymore. Eh, how did that happen.

    Have I reached my Advanved Dungeon and Dragon moment with gaming, just seems I’m playing the same over again…

  • Dan says:

    Didn’t care for it. Sold it on ebay after about 3 hours of play. Now I’m really enjoying Gears 3! I suggest you get an xbox Joe. I know you can afford it…

  • weaselfeet says:

    I found the same issue with The Witcher (original, still only a few hours into the sequel), you specialised yourself in the early-mid game only to reap enough rewards in the mid-late game to essentially become the answer to all things. Likewise I found that I was somewhat disappointed and in response got a little lazy. Luckily there were real choices that affected story and characters quite heavily and I was hooked from the end of the 1st chapter through to the end. Did you spend any time in The Witcher?

  • Rob Kelley says:

    I have to disagree. This game is not what it is advertised as.

    It’s very linear. You’re punished for customizing your character any way other than for combat because of the boss fights.

    The cities and areas are extremely small which kills whatever joy could’ve been had from exploration. I live just outside Detroit and therefore had a lot of gripes with how it’s depicted in the game.

    The AI is very mediocre. They have perfect aim and think you’ve disappear if you walk outside a door.

    I remember thinking how stupid the game was in the police station. You can crouch through vents in plain site of everyone without any batting an eye at it. I even exited into rooms with people in them and watching me do so, they didn’t care at all.

    A cop saw me trying to hack a room and immediately started shooting me. Why didn’t he do that when I went into the room through the vent in from of him?

    This game is shoddy. I’m trying to sell it on craigslist.

  • Tim H says:

    Thanks for the review and everyone’s comments, I’ll take this one off my list for now.

    I’m looking forward to Skyrim but afraid Bethesda will make the same mistake of giving us uber-toons. Hopefully the perk system will force us to specialize and make tougher choices.

  • Jacob says:

    Balance is a major issue in gaming these days. Never is the game catered towards your actual choices, but instead the choices you are forced to make end up derailing the gaming experience. You can’t specialize in whatever you want and end up being able to complete the game in a reasonable fashion.

    Have you ever played Arcanum there Joe? If not you should check it out. It’s slightly dated but it was the most customizable, manageable, true RPG that has ever come out.

  • Nick says:

    Why am I crouching in the dark, cramming energy bars into my mouth? Because someone dropped the ball on the battery recharge system. I know you can quick menu them, but hunting about for chocolates to scoff just so I could hit someone annoyed me so much I couldn’t be bothered finishing the game. It had moments I liked, but overall I was really disappointed with this one.

  • Tyler Durden says:

    After an hour of this game I was bored. I crouch behind this wall and look into a hallway. I crouch behind another wall and look down another hallway. I just thought it was a better splinter cell. On a side note I am half way through “Best Served Cold” and I don’t know if it’s Joe’s best but it makes me want to keep turning the pages. And I’m loving how the characters are developing like Shivers.

  • Felix says:

    “After an hour of this game I was bored. I crouch behind this wall and look into a hallway. I crouch behind another wall and look down another hallway. I just thought it was a better splinter cell.”

    What kind of game would keep your attention then? You’ve got to look down hallways if you want to get somewhere. As my mentor always used to say.

    “Have you ever played Arcanum there Joe? If not you should check it out. It’s slightly dated but it was the most customizable, manageable, true RPG that has ever come out.”

    Ah yes, one of these illustrated Excel charts.

  • Jacob says:


    Is is somewhat old, but not to a point where it’s downright unplayable.

  • Gary says:

    I wanted so much to like Deus Ex: Human Revolution as I was a massive fan of the original and absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, I found this one just so boring. I have spent many years playing video games and to me this game just felt like something I had played countless times before.

    The stealth thing with sneaking around guards and if they spot you, you need to hide for a minute or so for them to ‘forget’ you existed has been done to death with Splinter Cell and the Metal Gear Solid series. Sure there are augmentations and RPG elements but they fail to make up for an otherwise boring game. Even if you choose not to go for the stealth approach, there is nothing new or exciting here. The story was substandard and I found next to no empathy with the characters, I really couldn’t give a sh*t about any of them.

    All in all this game was a massive disappointment for me, which is a shame because it had so much potential.

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