Deus Ex – two words that I had no idea the meaning of back around the year 2001. I was in a CompuSmart store, and I saw the box art beckon me. It was a nice shiny blue box with a picture of a cool looking guy with sunglasses that resembled the movie The Matrix; of which I was a very big fan of at the time. I took the box home, found it had a soundtrack and some other goodies, but I put those aside and installed the game.
I was hooked. Wow, just wow. This must have been what it was like when an alcoholic takes their first drink, because I was relatively new to PC gaming at this point, and the game just simply scratched all the itches I had. It catered after my craving for violence, humor, style, reading, stealth, RPG elements and most importantly a fantastic storyline that just kept me going. I particularly enjoyed the divergent path approach to challenges, and the dynamic way that NPC’s and events would change based on the choices you would make; even seemingly insignificant ones like walking into the women’s washroom and getting berated by the boss for doing so. (I was looking for items I swear… That’s the story I’m sticking to, at least.)
Alright, this review is not about the first game; but rather the third in a trilogy of sorts – Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I wanted to give some background and perspective that I am quite a fan of the Deus Ex series, even the second game which wasn’t great, but was still enjoyable. I must admit that I was looking forward to this latest addition, but was still hesitant due to the fact that most sequels get botched and don’t live up to expectations. I headed into DX:HR with quite a lot of pessimism, but it wasn’t long before I was pleasantly surprised!
I am the first person to tell you if a game sucks in my view, and this one certainly does not suck; quite the contrary in fact! I was playing the game and there were times that the music and atmosphere just made me feel like I did 10 years ago playing the original. Not very many games have been able to accomplish this kind of nostalgia for me, so that is impressive. The graphics are beautiful, even running on my average machine. The music is very digital and expressive. Controls are a tad stiff for my tastes, but well within reason. The inventory menu is a pleasure to use, as is looking up door passcodes and notes that you pick up. And much to my surprise; the story gave me about 33 hours of gameplay! That is bloody amazing compared to most games that get released these days which pad out 6-8 hours of content if you’re lucky.
I pretty much expected the story to have twists and turns, which I suppose spoiled some of the surprise for me, but it was still thoroughly engaging. As were the little tidbits of books, scientific excerpts, emails and dialogue in the game. Altogether, the game was a pleasure on the eyes, ears and mind.
It wasn’t perfect though, as nothing ever is. There were some cinema scenes where the helicopter flew into the distance and through buildings, I found the pattern of all NPC’s having 2 lines of unique dialogue a bit formulaic, and I really was hoping for some more weapon variety – specifically hand-to-hand weapons like a good ol’ crowbar. I had the crowbar in the first game along for the entire length of the story. I named her Betsy. Granted weapons are a moot point since Adam Jenson, (your character) is a walking mechanical death forge, but I still love hitting an unsuspecting enemy over the back of the head with ol’ Betsy. Very personal experience!
I wasn’t a huge fan of the pre-rendered cutscenes as well. I know they are smooth and look good, but I find they interrupt the gameplay because there is always a noticeable jump before they kick in, and I can see the compression artifacts. Also, as a side-note to Square Enix who made all those beautiful cutscenes – can we please TRY and have the lips match the dialogue? I know it’s much easier to dub the game into many languages when everyone mumbles, but Jesus… I feel like everyone has had their jaw stitched shut. I can’t blame Square Enix completely on that department, as the characters in the game suffer from the same problem; so perhaps they were just keeping consistent.
This is hardly an impartial review, as it’s obvious all my nerdy juices are flowing for this game. Don’t let that change your mind from playing it though! If you enjoy first person perspective, excellent story, beautiful graphics, dynamic situations, dark futurist predictions and just a damn satisfying experience – do yourself a favor and buy this one. Probably could avoid the DLC for it though, as it doesn’t look like it adds too much for the experience. My only wish is that they could have reproduced the feeling I had in the first game when I spent 30 minutes debating human existence and moral ambiguity with a prototype AI in a frenchman’s secret base; then went and thawed out his illuminati freezer-pop. Ah… the memories!