Review – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex BannerDeus 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!

Review – The Path

THE PATH – Developed by Tale of Tales

I purchased this game through Steam as part of a package offering multiple games at a low price. The whole packaged contained quite a few games, and a few of which showed promise as very independent and artsy; which admittedly peaked my interest quite a bit.

I was excited to try this game out, and let me start off by saying that I didn’t read up on the history of this game, other reviews, FAQ’s or anything of the sort. I went into this game blind, and what follows is my experience and opinions. If you’ve played this game and feel I missed some critical points, feel free to comment and let me know; but I feel that this review is worthy due to the fact that I am a fairly proficient gamer, and believe as such that a game should be able to be fun without predefined knowledge.

That being said, I started up the game, and was pleasantly surprised as to the art style and twisted view of a classic story. It became apparent that they were going for a gothy red riding hood theme, and they pulled that off marvelously. I was presented with a selection of various goth-styled little girls, and told to select one. So I picked the tall skinny one with a leg brace – she looked like she could use the walk for physio-therapy or something.

After the loading, my character was on a beautiful surreal path in the woods, with presumably insects, pollen and little birds flitting around in the air, tall shady trees, and was presented with a large message: “GO TO GRANDMA’S HOUSE” – “STAY ON THE PATH”. So being the obedient gamer that I am, I figured I would play along and started down the path to grandma’s house. As I walked, I noticed that there were colored icons and sound effects that would appear ever now and then. At some points I heard a dull growling or the sounds of animal footsteps, and saw some paw-prints walk their way across the screen. I stopped, looked all around, I didn’t see anything and continued. There were many other little icons and sounds, but nothing remarkable; just stuff I would attribute to good ambiance.

There I was; peacefully walking through the forest, wondering what was supposed to happen – for quite a while. I debated going off the path, wondering if that was how to get the conflict going. I decided to stick it out and just stay on the path because that’s what I was instructed to do. So as I carried on, I came across a quaint little cottage near some water with a picket fence. I walked up to the door, and then went inside. Once inside, the whole house looked old and withered – great creepy factor, and I was expecting something climactic to happen, but I found I could just move forward along a pre-set path in the house, and it was taking me upstairs towards a bedroom. Upon entering the bedroom, I saw that there was a decrepit old woman sleeping in the bed, so I’m assuming this was grandma. After approaching the bed, the game took over, and the little girl climbed into bed and snuggled with the woman. The woman’s eyes the flew open on her expressionless face – which gave me a chill. Then… THEN! Nothing.

That’s right folks, you heard right – it was the end of the game. That was about 7 minutes from the beginning of the path. I got brow-beaten by the game’s text for not discovering secrets or encountering wolves and a smattering of other stuff… I was then presented with a selection of little girls again, and expected to do it again. I uninstalled the game about 2 minutes later.

Now, let me explain my point of view; It’s not to say that it’s a bad game or poorly designed, I mean, obviously if there were so many things I “failed” to do, it had to have more dimension right? Short answer- I don’t care. When you make a game, there are no rules, but typically when you tell the player to do something, I should hope you don’t punish them for it. Was I expected to venture off the path because that is “human nature” to not listen when rules are imposed? That’s a load of garbage; because all video games are is a collection of rules and boundaries. Even sandbox games have walls and limitations, so you either figure stuff out yourself or the game tells you – you don’t get lied to by the game and then while taking it’s advice have the worlds most boring walk through some pharmaceutical-induced woods; only to find your dessicated grandma in a small cottage just waiting for a young girl to come along for necro-cuddle.

Now, I also thought that maybe the encounters were random, and I just “lucked out” to not have any. Seriously though; nice programming if that’s the case – don’t account for the possibility that all your encounters won’t happen when the dices are rolled.

Basically, good concept – poorly executed. Again, I apologize to the developer if I had a less-than-intended experience for whatever reason; but I will say that Minecraft has no manual, no tips and no written rules – and I’m still playing it and having loads of fun. Makes you wonder what “fun” really is, but it’s not a 7 minute stroll through a trippy forest with pedo-bear’s grandma waiting for you.