The first “Deus Ex” game was a true revolution when it released in 2000. Eleven years later, “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” is a worthy heir to the title. However, a weak story and dumbed-down artificial intelligence (AI) component destroys what is otherwise a very smart game.
In this game, you play as Adam Jensen, the security director of a corporation focused on turning humans into cyborgs via mechanical limbs and neural implants. When a group of heavily armed and mechanically augmented soldiers attack a lab and nearly kill Adam, he is forced to undergo extensive augmentation to survive.
He emerges six months later, ready to uncover the people behind the attack. The story is rife with twists, turns, and political and corporate intrigue. It’s essentially a conspiracy story, but without the dramatic meat to fill in the gaps between all the techno/political babble.
“Deus Ex” is also a stealth-centric shooter that is much deeper than anything that has come before it. Think “Metal Gear Solid” meets “Mass Effect” in terms of gameplay with the usual stealth kill and blind fire abilities represented in force. Augmentations allow you to determine which abilities you want to develop. You can enhance your radar, see through walls, increase your defense or give yourself super-human strength. The augmentations are the heart of the game, and the fact that you’ll have to specialize in either stealth or action means that a second play through with different skills can feel like an entirely different game.
The player also determines the course of the story. For instance, you can play through most of the game using entirely non-lethal means, or do your best Rambo impression with guns blazing. There are four endings to see, but they all consist of Adam monologing over a stock footage montage.
After the lengthy 20-40 hour campaign, one would hope for a more satisfying ending than that.
The series of boss battles really chuck the whole choose-your-own-adventure aspect out the window because no matter what path you choose, you must fight and kill each of them. “Metal Gear Solid 2,” which came out in 2000, gave players this option. Why didn’t “Deus Ex,” a game in which player choice is the selling feature?
The boss characters are neither likeable nor interesting. One of the misaligned miscreants will actually stand still while you shoot him in the head again and again until his death. Also, there are some inconsistencies in how the AI detects your presence. Crouch-walking too quickly will alert a guard, but performing a cartwheel inches behind their back will not.
This won’t be much of a problem for gamers who prefer to shoot their way through missions-except in the early game when stealth is the only viable option due to ludicrously sparse amounts of ammo. “Deus Ex” may claim equal opportunity for both stealth and action, but some instances clearly demand a certain approach.
The future is dim, but only because the entire game takes place at night. Yes, future-Detroit is essentially a sepia-toned Gotham City full of reasonably interesting areas to explore and shoot up. The architecture and costume design are somewhat reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance, which reflects the game’s themes of societal progress. The voice acting is competent, though the main character’s goofy rasping whisper of a voice is one of the things that makes him come off as an action figure instead of a real person.
The story is big, but not engaging. The enemies are slower than a Commodore 64, and each of the game’s four endings are anticlimactic. However, the combat is fun and the sheer depth of the augmentation system means you’ll want to play through it at least twice. It may not be a revolution, but “Deus Ex” is an evolutionary step in the right direction.