Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the story of a man who gets blown apart, and then put back together again. Viewed from another angle, it's also the story of Eidos Montreal taking on a decade-old franchise - one created by Ion Storm at the turn of the millennium - and attempting to make it their own.
In both cases, you'd be forgiven for being pessimistic in your expectations. A terrorist attack at the start of Human Revolution leaves security chief Adam Jensen as a stumpy, mutilated mess, while Eidos has to deal with the legacy of the original Deus Ex - an epic sci-fi RPG that's often cited as one of the best games ever made. Under the circumstances, failure seems inevitable for hero and studio alike.
But, against the odds, both parties find success. Via the wonders (and horrors) of modern science, Jensen is rebuilt as a mechanical force of retribution, a walking milestone of technological progress. Meanwhile, Eidos Montreal shows commendable bravery in delving into the world built by Warren Spector and chums over 10 years ago - a world that is dirty, paranoid and littered with betrayal, yet irresistibly thrilling to explore.
As most people will know by now, this is actually a prequel to the first Deus Ex. Veterans of the previous games will take delight in spotting the myriad references to events and characters who pop up further down the timeline, but there are key differences between the 2027 landscape that Jensen explores and the ones traversed by future heroes JC Denton and Alex D.
Human Revolution unfolds at a landmark point in time for bio-mechanical augmentation. Companies like Sarif Industries have successfully pioneered robotic limbs and organs that can replace and outperform their flesh-and-blood counterparts, but the public are reacting to these innovations with a mix of awe, suspicion, and outright disgust. Arguments over the ethics of transhumanism are creating extremists on both sides, violent public disorder is on the cards, and mysterious political forces are pulling strings from the shadows, manipulating the situation to their own ends.
It's against this backdrop that Jensen's story plays out, with our rebuilt super-cop searching for the ruffians who attacked Sarif's headquarters in Detroit, robbing our hero of his arms and much of his sense of humour. As with previous games, Human Revolution is a first-person RPG, although the game now switches to a third-person view whenever you're skulking about in cover - whether it be for stealth or combat purposes. You can roll between hiding spots via a system that's vaguely similar to Gears, but as soon as you leave cover you'll return to a standard FPS view. The transition can seem a bit jarring at first, but thankfully you'll soon become comfortable with the frequent change-ups.
Gameplay alternates between large hub areas, ones in which you're relatively free to explore, chat to people and stock up on supplies, and more action-driven scenarios in which you're attempting to reach an objective by sneaking or blasting your way past dozens of guards. In the former situations Jensen will strut about in a trenchcoat (essential menswear for any future dystopia) while the latter see him adopt a more streamlined, body-armour look; despite this distinction, the line between the two scenarios is often blurred. There will often be non-hostile NPCs present during major story missions, and you'll certainly get into your fair share of scraps while exploring the hub areas. Indeed, the game will usually give you the freedom to unload your weapons or technical abilities on the general populace; search for Human Revolution on YouTube and you'll be greeted by several hooker-punching montages, made using the preview code that was illegally leaked online some months ago. As distasteful as these clips may be, they certainly say something about the freedom Eidos Montreal has tried to bring to the party.