Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Augmented Edition Review

The Augmented Edition features alternate box art.
The Augmented Edition features alternate box art.

When it was released in 2011, Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a collector’s edition of sorts in the Augmented Edition. Available for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC versions, the Augmented Edition contained a fancier game case boasting alternate box art, a slim art book, and a bonus DVD containing some extra features. It’s worth noting that I’m discussing the American version as some of the European versions contained DLC not present in our release. I’ve noticed the package is still available new on sites like Amazon, although for someone who has yet to play the game, I’d recommend the recently released Director’s Cut at this point.

A LIMB Clinic offering assistance to an augmented individual.
A LIMB Clinic offering assistance to an augmented individual.

The bonus DVD is the most worthwhile part of the Augmented Edition in my mind. I say that because of the lengthy making-of documentary included on disc. It follows the studio from its founding (this was their first release) until nearly completing the game. This documentary must’ve been shot before the game’s finalization as it ends in 2010 – the game released in late 2011. Interviews varied from all aspects of the development team so many viewpoints were represented.  I was chagrinned that nothing was mentioned about Square Enix’s takeover of Eidos, but I imagine that’s an indication that development continued on hitch free. There’s an interesting tangent about demoing the game to Warren Spector at Gamescom 2010 towards the end which was cool.

Also included on the bonus DVD is the soundtrack in easily extractable MP3 form. I’ve enjoyed listening to the soundtrack thus far. While playing the game I considered it similar to Mass Effect’s. The ambient instrumental music is something I foresee myself writing to in the future. The twelve tracks don’t make up the entire soundtrack, so that’s less than desirable. A motion graphic novel is also present on the DVD as well as a few trailers and storyboards.

The art book was pitiful. I find it such a cheap tactic to tout an included art book, only to discover that its bindings make up more of the book than actual content. If I’m going to fall prey to consumerism, I’d at least like something worthwhile. The artwork on display is stellar, but the art book is tiny and, unless you’re the type to draw inspiration for hours from this type of bonus, it won’t hold your attention for fifteen minutes.

Although the art book is pitiful, I can't say the same for the art or design itself.
Although the art book is pitiful, I can’t say the same for the art or design itself.

I think the Augmented Edition is a mixed bag. I like displaying the premium box and have or will get much use out of the bonuses included on the DVD. I don’t care for the art book as there just isn’t much to it. At this point, it’s a hard sell if you haven’t played the game. The Director’s Cut includes all of the DLC which will save you extra dough if you purchased the standard or Augmented Edition. But if you’re a super collector, it’s a decent addition to your collection for the right price.

Advertisements

Deus Ex: Human Revolution [Xbox 360] – Review

Lots of goldish hues in this game.
Lots of goldish hues in this game.

2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution was the first product of Eidos Montreal. Charged with the task of revitalizing the long-dormant Deus Ex franchise, I consider it an overwhelming success. Taking place in 2027, the game is set amongst the backdrop of contentious debates regarding human augmentation. The gameplay is an amalgamation of first-person shooting, stealth, and role-playing style character progression that offers the player choice in approaching confrontations. Further complimenting player choice is the level design – funneling the player towards objectives while offering multiple paths. These elements, aided by the fantastic art design, combine for a laudable single-player experience.

On the eve of a hearing in Washington D.C. regarding regulation of human augmentations, Sarif Industries – a Detroit, MI based manufacturer of human augmentations – is the victim of sabotage. The lead scientists are abducted and the company’s security officer is left on the brink of death. He is resuscitated and implanted with many augmentations, becoming more than human. Upon his awakening, Adam Jensen thirsts for answers and, along with the company’s founder and CEO David Sarif, wants revenge.

Players could choose a confrontational path...
Players could choose a confrontational path…

Adam’s quest takes him from his home in Detroit to Montreal and Shanghai. Along the way, he encounters every side of the human augmentation debate and the corporations and politicians who have major voices in shaping the future. Conspiracies and betrayals were prevalent in the two dozen hours it took me to complete the game. Every major player and corporation seemed to have ulterior motives, and I could identify with, or at least understand, the positions everyone took. If done correctly, players have the choice of four endings, each of which I could sympathize with partially. After viewing them all, I reflected on the concepts laid before me by the thinkers in this game’s world and on my part, I extracted those philosophies to other areas of human nature. In that aspect, I found the game to be very thought-provoking.

Or a stealthier alternative.
Or a stealthier alternative.

I wouldn’t describe the blend of gameplay styles to be provocative however, as they seem like a combination that is becoming ever more common these days. At the very least, the adaptation of RPG style skill trees is becoming increasingly prevalent in all styles of games. On a side note, that was sort of a trend in the seventh generation of home consoles, wasn’t it? In my mind, what makes this game stand out is the viability of either a lethal or non-lethal approach. I decided from the get-go to complete the game non-lethally and at the same time, attempted to do so without being seen and setting off an alarm. This involved reloading many saves and I wasn’t successful on the second objective, but I never felt like I couldn’t do it. In many games that offer this sort of option, it seems that the odds are stacked against the players who choose the stealthy route. I didn’t have that sentiment at any point.

Like most everything else about this game, the characters were interesting.
Like most everything else about this game, the characters were interesting.

What assisted this viability was the open-ended design of the levels. They were linear in a sense as most usually led to a singular endpoint, but as I compulsively explored I stumbled upon many routes propelling me forward. I’d generally choose the one most suited to my stealthy motives. Outside of these mission-based levels were the cities of Detroit and Shanghai. Both were open-world hubs that offered numerous NPCs and side quests. The cities also showcased the dystopian future that Eidos Montreal envisioned for the game. The art design in general was highly influenced by other works of pop culture but I still found it fascinating and cohesive throughout the game’s entirety.

This concept art of Shanghai perfectly illustrates the actual cityscape in the game.
This concept art of Shanghai perfectly illustrates the actual cityscape in the game.

My exposure to the original games is slight – I played a fair amount of Deus Ex: The Conspiracy on the PS2, of which I remember liking it and not completing it, and although I haven’t played it, I know that Invisible War wasn’t as well received as the original. So while I may not be the definitive source on judging how well Eidos Montreal did in reviving the series, it’s hard to argue that Human Revolution isn’t fantastic. The game dealt with a serious topic in a mature way and was thought-provoking throughout, but the ending in particular summarized each viewpoint well. I also thought highly of the gameplay and level design; especially the ability to play through stealthily and not feel inadequate in any way. Of course, the overall art design was awesome too. All in all, Deus Ex: Human Revolution combined many elements to form a cohesive, worthwhile, adventure.

Pokemon: A Grand Ambition

Rawr!
Rawr!

I’m a Pokemaniac. There, I said it. Now that it’s on the internet, I’ll never be able to reclaim those feelings and keep them caged again. Ever since Pokemon X and Y released, I’ve been surrounded by people who playing the game. This has created a certain fervor that one might describe as a zeitgeist. Well instead of joining in on the excitement directly, I’ve decided to do so in a roundabout way.

What I’ve done, is reinvigorated a plan to play through the earliest games in the series that will allow me to transfer Pokemon to the most recent releases. Therefore, my starting point is the Ruby and Sapphire era, consisting of mostly Game Boy Advance and GameCube games. The Pokemon from this generation can be transferred upwards to the DS games and then from the DS games to the 3DS games. Instead of starting with Ruby or Sapphire (or most likely Emerald because I never played it), I’ve begun with LeafGreen. Even though it and FireRed were released after Ruby and Sapphire, it makes more chronological sense to me as they are remakes of the original releases.

Being the Pokemaniac that I am, or was prior to Black and White, I’ve already played through LeafGreen. And honestly, I’m not replaying it for pure face value enjoyment. It’s a solid game but being an enhanced remake of the original games, it’s a little lacking. No, my enjoyment has stemmed from the long view I’ve got.

I’m naming my avatars differently so they’re not all simply John. I’m also nicknaming all the Pokemon I can along the way – something I’ve usually refrained from doing. I’m thinking that once (if?) this is all said and done, I’ll be able to look back at the fleet of Pokemon I’ve acquired and remember which game one of them came from and what I was doing/thinking at that time. At the very least, I’ll have a diverse cast of Pokemon that will get tons of experience from being traded!

Even though this is a process that appears like a deep dive into the Pokemon rabbit hole, it’s not as hardcore as you might think. For the most part, I’m avoiding caring too much about the multitude of stats tied to individual Pokemon. I could spend time searching for the optimal combination of traits in a specific Pokemon. Then, I could decide in which game I want to level a specific Pokemon to learn desired moves. Yet further, I could try and figure out what the hell EV training is. Instead, I’m leaving these extra opportunities for added enjoyment if I ever actually follow through and complete this grand ambition of mine.

Pokemon LeafGreen [GBA] – Snapshot Review

The GBA Wireless Adapter didn't see much use.
The GBA Wireless Adapter didn’t see much use.

Pokémon LeafGreen, and its retail buddy Pokémon FireRed, are remakes of the original Pokémon games. Released for the Game Boy Advance in 2004, LeafGreen and FireRed are 3rd generation Pokémon titles and the first remakes in the series. As such, there are major improvements over their originators. However, the improvements are primarily relegated to updated graphics, which are much more detailed compared to their Game Boy brethren. There is a decent amount of new post-game content too, mostly introducing Pokémon from newer generations. It’s a solid title, with the toughest Elite Four in the series and a selection of Pokémon that isn’t completely overwhelming.

By the way, the theme for the 4th and 5th Sevii Islands totally rocks. It’s so hot, I have it on my iPod!