When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.
I completed Deus Ex: Human Revolution about this time last year. Rereading my review, it’s clear that I enjoyed the open-ended nature of the game; especially the ability to play through the game non-lethally. It also offered much variety in a general sense, thanks to the RPG skill tree and the many “features” Adam Jensen had. The questions its story raised weren’t new, but I found them thought-provoking and appreciated the many sides portrayed in the game. It should be remembered as one of the best games of the seventh generation, even if its amalgamated gameplay was becoming commonplace and the boss fights were disappointing.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was developed by Eidos Montreal and it served as their first project. It was published in North America on August 23, 2011 by Square Enix and released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. A special edition was released too, and you can read my thoughts on it here. A Mac version was later released and finally a Director’s Cut was issued and released for the aforementioned platforms, as well as the Wii U.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.