I didn’t touch on this in my review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but I really didn’t like the structure of the boss fights. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the boss fights were universally panned when the game was originally released. So much so that Square Enix actually revealed that they were outsourced, as if to shield Eidos Montreal or the otherwise stellar game from negative press. I didn’t care for them for one very specific reason – they didn’t coalesce with the way I role-played the game.
As I mentioned in my review, I played through the game attempting to go unseen. I also approached confrontations with the goal of non-lethally taking enemies out or bypassing them entirely. Neither of those play styles were options when it came to the bosses. Adam Jensen eventually came across these antagonists as the narrative unfolded, and he confronted them head on. The only resolution was to kill them very bluntly – guns blazing.
Since I role-played Adam in a different way, I was generally lacking in the hardware required to take the antagonists out. That made these fights difficult for me. The first fight was horrendously difficult as I had to get accustomed to a different play style. Meanwhile, Adam would die in a scant few hits from this initial boss. It was tough not to rage quit. I was more prepared with the later boss battles as I began always keeping a select few lethal weapons in my inventory. I didn’t find these as tough, but they weren’t easy.
For narrative purposes, these antagonists had to die. Adam talking them down or converting them to a different way of thinking would’ve stripped away the intensity and sense of threat posed by these baddies. After all, if Adam could talk everyone down, who are the ideologues leading his opposition? In that scenario, no one would believe that their point of view is the “correct” one. There wouldn’t be any honest opposition or nefarious individuals.
How should this be remedied? I don’t know. This has reportedly been addressed with the Director’s Cut so I’m curious what their resolution was. In conversations with friends, I’ve forwarded the thought that Adam could’ve found a way to sneak up on these enemies. That solves one of my qualms but he, or someone else, still needs to take them out. If Batman has taught us one thing, it’s futile locking the Joker up. One way or the other, he’s going to escape. In the end, it boils down to me role-playing Adam Jensen in a way not consistent with the narrative. However, Eidos Montreal sent mixed signals. The gameplay is open-ended, but the narrative doesn’t completely gel with any play style. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game that touts multiple paths but perhaps there’s only one true way.
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