Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review for PC

On: PCXbox 360PS3
Deus Ex: Human Revolution screenshot
Deus Ex: Human Revolution screenshot

I may sound like I'm being overly critical of Human Revolution's shortcomings, but if this is the case it's only due to the fact that I love pretty much everything else about it. The level design is excellent, especially in the second hub area, Shanghai. On paper, it's nothing we haven't seen before - another post-Blade Runner Asian sci-fi metropolis, with fluorescent lights bleeding through the gloom - and yet rarely have we seen the idea so well executed in video game form. It's not just the size of the area, or the fact that there are loads of places and secrets to uncover; it's the fact that the entire place feels alive and inhabited. NPCs tend to be relatively fixed in terms of their movements (or lack thereof), but they've all got something to say - their gossip often tying in to wider themes, or to places or people you've yet to visit. Some of this chatter is important exposition, some of it is just background colour, but it all helps to make your surroundings feel remarkably organic - even if much of the world seems determined to replace its humanity with something shiny and robotic.

These nuggets of info aren't limited to the things you hear, either. About halfway through Human Revolution I started to wonder if the hacking mini-game was beginning to outstay its welcome. The game itself is a strange sort of territory-capture contest, a mix of limited tactics and outright luck that gets a lot easier if you upgrade the associated skills. It's better than the system used in BioShock, but the novelty does wear off over time - especially if you're hacking every terminal you can find. But here's the thing: there's a good chance you'll want to do just that. Pretty much every computer in the game - and there are hundreds of the things - has something worthwhile to read on it. It might tie into the plot, hint at a hidden stash of weapons elsewhere, or it might simply uncover a bitchy discussion between two co-workers - and if it's the latter, you can be sure you'll find another piece of the puzzle elsewhere.

In short, an empty room is rarely an empty room in Human Revolution. Much of this content may go ignored by many players, but nine times out of ten you'll be rewarded with an interesting discovery if you're prepared to dig about. The dialogue and plotting are extremely tight, juggling complex themes and characters with confidence and intelligence, and thankfully most of the voice acting is of a quality that does justice to the script. These strengths are shown off to particular effect during the set-piece conversations that crop up every once in a while. Here Jensen verbally duels with a key NPC, attempting to manipulate the flow of conversation to reach the information or outcome he needs.

At each break in the chat, players must opt from one of three approaches to follow next - "threaten", "pinpoint" and "advise" might be a typical set of options. You're given a rough overview of exactly what Jensen will say, but there's no way to know how the other person will react: you have to just watch their face and listen to their tone as they speak, and then make a decision based on that. While the facial animation falls short of the standards set by LA Noire or even Mass Effect, these interludes still feel commendably fresh, even if the raw mechanics aren't that much of an evolution from the dialogue trees of old. In their own way, these conversations are just as satisfying as the moments where you're silently picking off badguys like a mechanised Batman (Jensen has the gravelly voice to match). I'd certainly be delighted to see other developers pinching the idea for future projects.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution screenshot

While we're on the subject of all things audio-related, special mention must go to Michael McCann's soundtrack, which is another clear highlight. His original theme undoubtedly helped Human Revolution's first CGI trailer to carry significant weight, and his efforts across the game as a whole are equally potent. If you're a Deus Ex fan you'll spot familiar themes and motifs as they are mixed into the new world, yet another way in which the game pays homage to its predecessors while building its own identity. There's certainly no cause for concern if you're an absolute newcomer to the series, but if you do have previous experience of the Deus Ex canon you should be delighted by the nods and winks made in your direction.

I'm not sure if there will ever be another game to carry the same impact and long-lasting legacy as the original Deus Ex; in terms of my own tastes, I'd be amazed if there were. That said, I think that Human Revolution is as worthy a successor as any fan could hope for. The loading times (on Xbox 360, the version tested) are longer than I'd like, but this is small price to pay for the resulting experience. It's a hugely ambitious game, and naturally the odd element does fall short - your first mission is littered with cause-and-effect variables, but as the game progresses there seem to be fewer moments where your actions have major consequences. Still, the rest of the experience is so slick - so thought-provoking, dynamic, and endlessly enjoyable - that you'll be far too preoccupied to notice.

Perhaps the strongest compliment I can pay Eidos Montreal is this: with its grand design, dynamic play and sheer wealth of ideas - not to mention its old-fashioned pre-occupation with air vents - Deus Ex: Human Revolution is reminiscent of the best efforts from the golden era of PC gaming at the end of the 90s. It's a modern release imbued with the finer qualities of an age gone by.

New stuff to check out

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

Thought the game had one major flaw but other than that it was golden, i'd call it over-rated but given i had no interest in it until the week it came out....meh.

Wish they'd announce something that'll tie up HR and the original.
Posted 17:04 on 20 November 2012
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx

It is overrated tbh with the bosses, poor mechanics, poor first couple of hours, bland main story and freezing when achievements pop up on the 360 version.

I really liked it and I have done it more than once but it is a guilty pleasure if anything in all honesty and is not a classic.
Posted 16:58 on 20 November 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

Explain why.
Posted 14:33 on 20 November 2012
lukaa's Avatar

lukaa

a bull***** review
Posted 14:29 on 20 November 2012
87Sarah's Avatar

87Sarah@ Clockpunk

Same here, though I'm thinking I want to go through it again on Hard and maybe take a different approach.

I'm looking everywhere and have found multiple ways around the places a lot already. I also think I'm doing pretty well if there is a trophy available that says you must read every document you can find. :)

The clothing is pretty cool :s
Clothing looks quite Final Fantasyish to me apart from Jensen's stuff.
Posted 20:05 on 26 August 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

I'm playing at the default - medium difficulty with a charisma/stealth based focus. I'll certainly be playing through it again on hard, afterwards, though! How about you, Sarah?

Note - that could make for an interesting feature, vg - the best vending machines in games! ;)

I know what you mean about just looking at scenery - the techno-gothic aspect of pretty much... everything (thus far) really evokes a Matrixy-feeling. Is it wrong that I want a good deal of the clothing for my own wardrobe? ;)
Posted 19:20 on 26 August 2011
87Sarah's Avatar

87Sarah@ Clockpunk

After not being into my gaming that much recently and turning off every other game I have in my collection after 10 minutes of playing halfheartedly, I have been playing Deus Ex for 3 hours straight and I'm really enjoying it!

I agree with most of the little niggly things that could do with a bit of tweaking mainly a bit more to interact with in the environment. I don't understand why they allow you to be able to move every single cardboard box that's lying around but then don't allow you to press a button on a vending machine.
I also don't know why I was so excited to use the vending machine when I saw it and how disappointed I was that I couldn't :(

I haven't augmented anything yet and have just about got my first hacking trophy. :) I think I've spent way to long wandering about looking at the scenery and reading peoples emails for 3 hours.

Anyway I'm really enjoying it and think this game is going to be the only one I will play for a while.

What difficulty are you playing at Clockpunk?
Posted 18:52 on 26 August 2011
dav2612's Avatar

dav2612@ Clockpunk

Well that's done it for me. I'm just going to sell my copy if there isn't enough variety of foodstuffs in the game :)
Posted 16:59 on 26 August 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

I think the stylistic choices in the world creation are stunning - I love the aesthetics, and the music is superb. I just want to tell Eidos how much I love seeing the classic style inventory screen again. Thoroughly enjoying the game thus far.

However, a few little niggling details could have been improved, to my mind. Namely:

- Bigger range of weaponry.
- Slightly more control over augmentation - and that LIMB Clinics should have to be visited in order to upgrade/unlock new abilities.
- A bit more variety in the health-giving foodstuffs that can be picked up.
- Vending machines to be usable - as a source of said foodstuffs, as well as a weapon. Ideally both at the same time, raining down snacks while knocking off the heads of bad guys heads!
- More environment interaction - even if it doesn't do anything too special or interesting. Let me be an annoying bugger, and plunge everyone into darkness!

But these are very minor. This is the sort of game I have been waiting a long time for, and I cannot think of a better way to end the summer drought.
Posted 16:21 on 26 August 2011
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

Glad to see this game getting love. Will be very interested to see what people have to say after they've finished, too...
Posted 15:02 on 25 August 2011
SilentSnake11's Avatar

SilentSnake11

Yea this was a great review. I started a new game earlier today and I already feel nostalgia for it. I can't wait till I get home and get on it again!
Posted 10:15 on 24 August 2011
87Sarah's Avatar

87Sarah

Great review Neon. It sounds like a little bit of everything I want in a game. Great stuff.
Posted 13:26 on 23 August 2011
randa19's Avatar

randa19

Really good review,so glad to hear what u think of this game,i pre order this ages ago,and was hoping that Eidos could bring this game to the peak the demos showed,now after reading yr review iam one happy gamer.
Posted 10:01 on 23 August 2011
dazzadavie's Avatar

dazzadavie

Great review, will get my hands on this some how.
Posted 09:53 on 23 August 2011
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32

Thanks for answering :)
Posted 18:36 on 22 August 2011

Game Stats

System Requirements
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
9
Out of 10
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Intelligent and thought-provoking
  • Lives up to the hefty Deus Ex legacy
  • Offers multiple ways to play
  • Occasionally falls short of its own ambition
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 26/08/2011
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 683
View Full Site