Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Game of 2011

I know I promised to focus on Asian films and I am about a month late but I have recently finished the game and was so impressed I needed to post about it. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is brilliant.

I received this for my birthday around the time it was released in September but was engaged in playing a number of JRPG’s which would not see completion until Christmas day. I figured that I might not be missing much. How wrong I was. SPOILERS

In the near-future of 2027, humanity has created a new industry: augmentation. It is the use of technology to make us stronger, faster, and smarter. Unfortunately the world is divided along the lines of pro and anti-augmentation: supporters believe that it is the next step in human evolution and critics call it the end of humanity. It doesn’t help that the technology is reserved for those who can afford it. You play Adam Jensen, chief of security for Sarif Industries one of a handful of companies that research and manufacture augmentation tech. Sarif’s scientists are on the verge of a major discovery when high-tech soldiers assault Sarif’s headquarters, steal information, murder people, wreck the place and leave Adam for dead. But he hangs on to life and Sarif restores him to something more than a man through augmentations. Soon Adam is on the trail of an international conspiracy in order to discover who was behind the attack

Deus Ex Human Revolution is a genre defying game that mixes RPG character management with first person shooter action and third person stealth. It creates a heady mix where each section overlaps another comfortably serving to both cover weaknesses and allow situations the game throws at you to evolve in wonderfully original and different ways.

Games frequently ask us to believe we play super-soldiers and yet they restrict us in how we can approach situations and engage people. I always felt frustrated whenever blocked by a door that my hero should be able to shoot open or unable to climb a roof to bypass guards even though there are drainpipes. Deus Ex allowed me to explore the environment via the various ways of upgrading Adam which in turn allowed me to feel a sense of ownership and achievement whenever I approached things in the way I wanted.

Want to go in all guns blazing? Try it out. Want to sneak into places and remain undiscovered. It’s possible. Want to hack every computer available and control the security systems. Why not? I mixed things up.

Normally a game with stealth elements would have me grinding my teeth because I don’t have the patience to painstakingly memorise every enemy patrol route. I have more important real-life stuff to do. Deus Ex managed to make these elements enjoyable. I took the time to study tricky guard patterns and sneak past people and if I failed I shrugged my shoulders and just pulled out my guns an went with the flow because I could deal with the situation MY way.

It was this sense of ownership that made the game for me because I designed the character the way I wanted him to operate, disregarding abilities like radar and stealth and opting for hacking, strength and speed. Initially I felt under-powered and fragile but as I focussed on strategic upgrades I was soon punching though walls, running along rooftops and turning robots on their masters. With this potent mixture I was able to feel like I was free to do whatever my imagination could come up with. This reached its apotheosis in Singapore where I reprogrammed a turret and lugged the thing from building to building. I even carried it with me to a particularly challenging boss battle. It worked a treat. I lured the boss within the kill-zone of the turret and scooted behind some cover to sit back and watch the once fearsome super-mercenary get torn to shreds. I have done this in other games but those times I felt like it was breaking the game in some way however with Deus Ex I felt the designers were smart enough to design a great environment and let me play which gave me immense pleasure.

Enough about the mechanics.

The content is fascinating, beautiful and deep. The aesthetic isn’t a million miles away from Blade Runner’s neon hued sci-fi noir but Deus Ex has a luscious honey glow mixed with grime in many locations like Detroit and Shanghai. It also intelligently mixed up environments but the overall design and earthiness of the urban sections have a brilliant verisimilitude. I felt anchored in a near-future world which was believable and although the character models aren’t perfect the story and the world created are very compelling and the voice acting top-notch.

I knew I loved the games characters when I made a point of talking to every single person in every city from prostitutes to office workers and crooked CEOs’. What I didn’t realise was just how deep this love ran until I got into an ambush with Adam and Malik. I must have replayed that section seven times just to nail down the enemy AI routines and formations so I could save fly girl. Any other game I might have accepted letting a character die to proceed with the story but not here and the reward I felt in saving her was surprisingly delightful.

Even better was the fact that the game had depth in terms of its story. It had interesting politics that went beyond the surface of factions that so many games stop at. Deus Ex actually explored the ethics of human augmentation, big business and government oversight as well as delving into issues of morality and existentialism. I felt inspired by a lot of the content strewn around in ebooks and I would read newspapers and watch the news with the gorgeous Eliza Cassan….

Eliza Cassan From the Deus Ex WikiaI’ve bored you enough with this. There are other games I enjoyed in 2011 and some I have yet to play (Ghost Trick) but none that made me want to replay them as much as Deus Ex.

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