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Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Eidos Montreal
System requirements: 2 GHz dual core CPU; 1 GB RAM (XP), 2 GB (Vista and 7); GeForce 8 or Radeon HD 2000; Windows XP, Vista, 7 with DirectX 9.0c; 8.5 GB disk space
ESRB rating: Mature
Release date: August 23, 2011
2011 has so far been a great year for games in general and for highly anticipated sequels in particular. A lot of favorites got follow-ups; some were impressively good, while others were of the sort not mentioned in polite society. Different types of gamers looked forward to different game worlds getting expanded, and quite a few of us were holding our collective breath for Deus Ex: Human Revolution – a prequel to one of the best role-playing games of all time: Deus Ex. The classic PC masterpiece was released in 2000, and blew away the critics and the audiences alike. In 2003 a sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War was released for PC and consoles, and although it was a decent game in its own right, it failed to live up to the glory of the original and has always remained something of a disappointment to the hardcore fans.
It is no secret that measuring up to one’s predecessors is often hard, and when Human Revolution was announced, there was a lot of skepticism. Those upset by Invisible War were quick to voice their fears of shoddy narrative and gameplay. Others doubted the ability of the developers to do justice to the franchise. PC-purists (such as myself) were worried that shortcuts would be taken that might result in dreaded “consolitis” – a dumbing down of the game in terms of the controls and visuals in order to make it more accessible to the console audiences. As new details continued to emerge, however, the skeptics found it harder and harder to to raise objections. The developers turned out to be avid connoisseurs of the original. A competent writer was recruited. The PC version was being enhanced by a separate developer, resulting in DirextX11 implementation, high-resolution textures, mappable controls, skippable cut scenes and other things we’ve come to expect on the PC. When the download code arrived in my mailbox on Friday I took a deep breath (a number of those actually, as the game is 8 gigabytes and takes a while to download) and went in.
The year is 2027 and you are Adam Jensen, a former SWAT operative now working as the head of security in a firm that builds augmentations – the kind of advanced prosthetics that will undoubtedly exist one day but can seem almost magical in comparison with today’s technology. Passions revolving around the use of these enhancements are running hot in the dystopian world of tomorrow, and Dr. Reed (the company’s chief scientist and also Adam’s ex-girlfriend) is about to fly out to DC for a congressional hearing. Suddenly the corporate office comes under an attack by a group of augmented mercenaries. Many of the researchers are slaughtered and Adam is wounded so grievously that an immediate surgery is the only option. A surgery that sees him being heavily augmented as there is no other way to save his life.
That was just the prologue, and the real game begins when Adam is called back to work six months after the attack. Dr. Reed is dead, and he should still be recovering, but a new crisis requires his presence. Anti-augmentation terrorists raided the company’s factory and took hostages. In the trademark fashion of Deus Ex games, you are given a problem and it is up to you to find a solution. You can grab a gun and mow down those who would oppose you. You can take it to the air-ducts and dark corners, sneaking past your enemies without them so much as suspecting your presence. You can hack doors, computers and security systems, turning turrets and robots against your adversaries. In addition to that you have the option of reading your opponents during conversation, and manipulating them into doing what you need them to do. Naturally the game can play very differently depending on what path you take, but you can be sure that whatever you do, you will be rewarded with XP points – yes, even for crawling in the vents.
Most people opt for a combination of the above approaches, but Adam Jensen as played by Alaric Teplitsky is a bit of a special case. You see, MY Adam doesn’t kill people. Not for any philanthropic reasons, of course. He just feels that he is so far superior to the rest, that he allows them to live as an ultimate display of contempt and disdain. There is nothing they can do to thwart him and he doesn’t mind a bit of an extra challenge. Firearms are of no use to him; his weapons are a tranquilizer gun and an electroshock. Many an armed thug have had their arms dislocated and lights punched out when Adam drops in on them unexpectedly. They get to live, all of them, but nowhere does it say that their lives must be pleasant. Altogether combat is satisfying, challenging and looks and feels great. The game is not at all shy about killing you, and that adds to the immersion. Mechanics-wise, an excellent third person cover-based system is implemented, which I used more often than not, though it is entirely optional and if you are a Deus Ex classicist and don’t need no stinkin’ cover, you are free to do your fighting and sneaking the way JC Denton did. Same goes for the highlighting of usable objects and so forth. To me that feature makes perfect sense, but turning it off is just as viable an option.
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