Dénouement 2011: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

  By Shamus   Dec 21, 2011   205 comments

splash_deusexhr.jpg

How is anyone supposed to rate or even discuss this game objectively? It’s a sequel to a beloved and revered classic. (Whether or not the original deserves to be revered is a thorny discussion we can leave for another time.) This game is unlike the original in terms of gameplay and style, yet it preserves the original premise, tone, and continuity. (Or reverse-continutiy. Or whatever you call it when you make a prequel.) It’s not nearly as freeform as the original, yet it’s far more freeform than its current-day contemporaries. It’s smaller than the original, yet larger than most shooters. It has a slick, appealing aesthetic, yet that aesthetic doesn’t match the one in the original game.

deusexhr_city.jpg

Do we judge Human Revolution against the standards of today, or do we judge it as a sequel to Deus Ex? It seems like cheating to compare this game to a brown military cover shooter, since those games were never intended to offer open experiences with player agency and player-controlled dialog. Those games don’t aspire to be Deus Ex, and so saying Human Revolution is better than those other shooters is like pointing out that Wal-Mart has a better selection of housewares than Dominoes Pizza. At the same time, it seems really unfair to compare Human Revolution to the original, since it would be completely unfeasible and unreasonable to attempt to re-create a game of that size and scope using today’s technology. The game would take so long and cost so much to produce that it could never make money.

deusexhr_intro.jpg

Months later, I still don’t know how to judge the game. Is it a masterful and cunning improvement on modern shooters, or a short, dumbed-down bastardization of its predecessor? It’s kind of both.

I will give the game credit for this: The story worked. This should not be praise. This should be the most basic, obvious accomplishment that a game can achieve. This should be like saying of a restaurant, “The food was cooked.” But as Fallout 3, Assassin’s Creed 2, and Fable 2, and many other games have shown, game designers can’t seem to keep even the most simple plots from falling apart into contradictory nonsense, and they can’t devise characters with any sort of coherent motivation. Yes, there were parts of Human Revolution I could nitpick. (And the boss characters were unforgivably horrible.) But on balance the writers managed to create a world that was both complicated (by videogame standards) and sensible. There were many sides to the conflict, they each had a unique viewpoint, and none of them were mustache-twirling “EVUL FOR TEH LULZ!” (Again, aside from the Boss Villains. I make no excuse for them. They were just shameful, and felt like they were grafted in from a much dumber game. The point is, the factions made sense and had interesting things to say.)

deusexhr_screen.jpg

This is the first game I’ve ever encountered where the old cover-popup shooter mechanics just felt right. A lot of it is the idea of holding a button to get into cover and letting go to leave it. In other games, cover always feels “sticky”. I hit the cover button, nothing happens for a second because (say) my character is reloading. Then I hit the button again, just as he (and it is always a he) moves to cover, so then he jumps back out again. Then I hit the cover button, but he jumps into cover on the wrong side of the object, facing the enemy. Then he sticks there while I madly try and yank him free, only to have him leap to some other bit of cover when I want to start running away. When you’re in cover, you’re rooted in place like a potted plant. It’s always stiff and awkward and wrong. I’m sure you get used to it after a while, but getting used to something isn’t the same as it feeling good.

Human Revolution didn’t have any of these problems. It almost always picked the right spot for cover, it was responsive, and I never felt glued in place. I don’t know how it was on the consoles, but this is how cover mechanics should work on the PC.

In the end, I have to say I enjoyed the game. I played through it two and a half times, and was still finding small touches or bits of dialog that I’d missed. I especially want to support the game as a way of saying to the rest of the industry: More like this, please. Next time just leave out the boss fights rather than outsource them. And maybe ease up on the orange filter a bit. The point is: Good job.

A Hundred!A Hundred!5205 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?


  1. silver Harloe says:

    This should be like saying of a restaurant, “The food was cooked.” Unless it’s a sushi joint. Maybe: This should be like saying of a restaurant, “The was food we could buy.”

  2. X2Eliah says:

    Aye. I’m replaying this game at the moment – in part to get out of Skyrim mindset – and I must say, something about this game just works. Boss battles aside, everything is just plain enjoyable.

    IfI had to point out a particular feature, then it would be the style of the game. It’s very reminiscent of Blade Runner’s aesthetics in terms of audio and visuals; the environments (especially the city hubs) make sense and are both interesting and beautiful to look at. And, yeah, the gold filter was extremely prominent, but then again, it’s part of what makes this game have a distinct visual style that makes it very, very clear that “This is not a ‘photoreality warfare dirt simulator'; we are going for a stylized look here, if you can’t handle it, your problem.”

    One thing I’d like to bring up.. Imo, in some ways this game competes heavily with Mass Effect series. RPG-FPS meld, heavily plot-driven, somewhat linear overall structure. Between the two, my clear preference would be DX:HR, but I can’t pinpoint exactly why it is so much more enjoyable and interesting to play (well, if we ignore the utter stupidity of ME2’s REAPERBABY plot).

    Also.. it’s a complete shame that Sqeenix pushed this game as fast as it did. The devs at Eidos Montreal were planning to have at least one more ‘hub city’ and a good bit of extra gameplay. The lack of exposition/involvement of those three bosses (outside their miserable, deplorable, atrocious boss battles) is also a result of this cut-down.

    Oh, another thing that’s taken for granted but due to the game industry’s default practices, should be pointed out: The PC version was a proper version, not a port. Properly developed, and designed, unlike nearly any other multiplatform game of today :(

    • Robyrt says:

      Yeah, DXHR is definitely in the Bioware subgenre, or as I like to call them, “Dialogue-based shooters.” I’d say it was about as enjoyable as Mass Effect 2 or Dragon Age 1: character development, competent but unpolished mechanics, a fake-linear story that had just enough choices to make me feel I was doing something unique, lots of dialogue.

      (For comparison, Alpha Protocol is nowhere near as good as these games. Dragon Age 2 is mechanically fine, but suffers from a severe case of plot obesity that leaves me unable to care.)

      • Raygereio says:

        Alpha Protocol is nowhere near as good as these games

        Them's fighting words, sir.

        Actually when it comes to the gameplay I agree that AP is not really good

        • Audacity says:

          @Raygereio – I have to agree that Alpha Protocol’s base gameplay isn’t that good. It is, not unlike the original Deus Ex, very clunky feeling. Yet inspite of this I love both games dearly, and I’m still not sure why.

          @Robyrt – A denizen of the internets dares to impugn the quality of something I like?! Consider the glove thrown, Sir! I demand satisfaction!

        • GiantRaven says:

          Fortunately, Alpha Protocol more than makes up for poor gameplay in the dialogue department.

          Games like Mass Effect should be aspiring to have the level of variety and choice that Alpha Protocol’s dialogue had.

          (Now thems fightin’ words.)

          • X2Eliah says:

            Ehh, but then again, the dialogue department is ruined by that ridiculous mechanic of giving you a 4 second TIMER to decide what approach you’ll take… :|

            (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I also think you have no way of knowing what you’ll actually say when picking the one out of three options)

            • Bret says:

              You have a broad category of dialog, but no details, and it covers a fair chunk of talk.

              Plus, it’s worse than Mass Effect, even Mass Effect 1, at telling what you’re going to say. For example “Suave” is less James Bond, and more Sterling Archer.

    • Shamus says:

      Ah! You reminded me of one of the points I wanted to talk about: The cover mechanics. Rather than leave a wall of text here, I put it into the original article.

      • ehlijen says:

        Does it still insist cover is location based? FPS had working cover mechanics since…erm Half life? Possibly further back. Being able to just crouch whenever you want and have bullets be blocked by level architecture worked perfectly fine. I really don’t see why cover needed to become a location sensitive concept.

        • X2Eliah says:

          You can still crouch and just keep behind stuff.
          Buut.. Interestingly enough, the mechanic in this game actually feels better to use.

          Maybe because you can’t play this game as an FPS and roflcopter mow down waves of mooks.

        • psivamp says:

          You can still use cover like that, but the game actually makes location-based cover feel pretty natural and useful.

          Edit: Beaten to the punch.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Crouching behind cover doesnt quite work.You cant shoot from cover,you have to completely leave it in order to see/shoot at anything.Except in games that have leaning,which I wonder why I dont see anymore.

          • X2Eliah says:

            games that have leaning,which I wonder why I dont see anymore

            The obvious answer that’s somewhat depressing: Because gamepad controllers don’t have enough buttons….

            • Robyrt says:

              That’s not depressing at all. Control schemes that allow you to accomplish the same action at the same speed with fewer buttons are almost always better. The lean button had exactly one purpose (allow the player to see/shoot around corners) for which it took up 2 buttons of premium real estate right next to the WASD keys. A cover system takes 0 extra buttons (it overloads the Use or Jump keys), allows you to lean upwards as well as side to side, and lets you play custom animations that look way better in a third-person game than having to animate the player leaning over 30 degrees like they just developed a crippling spinal injury.

              • FatPope says:

                “it overloads the Use or Jump keys”

                Yeah, because there’s no way that could ever go wrong!

                • Joe says:

                  Actually, I think it overloads either the crouch key or the unused RMB. Which works pretty well, I must say. One thing that Shamus doesn’t note that I think is kind of significant is that a lot of the way this works is that the cover system works as well for stealth as it does for combat. Better, in some respects, since you’re a good deal less mobile, but with more control over where you’re hiding, and because the 3rd person camera lets you see who’s going to see you if you move.

                  That’s one of the problems with first-person games for me: I have no awareness of my actual body position. Playing Battlefield or something, I get shot in the leg that was sticking out of cover. In the original Deus Ex, I’d get spotted by my elbow. It’s not the AI frustration of “We saw an elbow, kill it!” as much as it is the frustration of me having no real indication that it was sticking out to be seen or shot in the first place.

        • “Being able to just crouch whenever you want and have bullets be blocked by level architecture worked perfectly fine.”

          You honestly consider that a cover mechanic? Because it isn’t and even if it were, it didn’t work perfectly nor fine.

          • Raygereio says:

            Why wouldn’t he? Hiding behind level architecture to avoid getting shot at is in essence the cover mechanic.

            There are two things really different in modern shooters from that:
            First up being that the process of hiding behind cover and that of sticking your head out, firing a couple of rounds and go back under cover is more streamlined.
            Secondly being that your health and enemy’s damage is usually balanced to the point where it’s flat out mandatory to use cover.

            • Kyte says:

              Because without a context-sensitive cover system, the character doesn’t adapt to the scenery. Try crouching behind stuff in, say, TF2. Sure, it’ll work, and it’ll block gunfire, but it’s rare the cover that provides just the right height to shoot from while still providing protection.

              • ehlijen says:

                Which is a problem why? At least it doesn’t result in chest high cover sprouting up everywhere nonsensically.

                Cover generally isn’t purpose built for the shooter. It’s whatever stuff you can find that will help conceal/protect you and it’s often not well fitted to be comfortably used.

                In the absence of full body control, I place more importance on being allowed to crouch whenever I want to, then on sticky cover that exposes less in the prescribed pose, but allows no others.

              • Naota says:

                I’ve actually created cover for a typical FPS game, and one of the things I wound up documenting before modeling the assets was what the ideal height for cover was that allowed the player to fully conceal themselves by crouching, yet wouldn’t obscure their field of fire when they stood up. With the proper testing and forethought it’s actually quite simple to design cover that works easily and effectively in first person without a dedicated cover system. If you’re hurting for cover of the appropriate height in an FPS, it’s either due to design or designer oversight – sometimes both.

                If anything, I’d guess that the “crouching behind a chest-high wall” factor is a result of a third-person shooter’s player character looking immensely silly without one. In an FPS you can intuit what your body is doing without seeing it, while a third person perspective leaves you wondering why your Fallout character is rubbing his face into some sandbags rather than striking a cool pose behind them. Sticky cover has more to do with aesthetics and console control limitations than gameplay demands.

                • Mechtroid says:

                  But I think that’s a little bit beside the point. A good “cover system” allows the player (or at least the player character) to adapt the environment, as opposed to adapting the environment to the player. Imagine being teleported to, say, a TF2 map. Both you and a scout dive behind two different oil drums to escape the fire of a minigun. As a person, you can hunch up behind the barrel, essentially wrapping your body around it. The scout crouches behind it, but his knees stick out, and it’s obvious he’s there. A cover mechanic mimics reality, allowing a player to change his profile to fit whatever cover he’s using. What you described is changing all the cover to fit the player’s profile.

                  And while either approach serves equally well at hiding from bullets, sticky cover is much more adept at hiding from vision. Deus Ex’s cover system didn’t improve the gunplay significantly. Yeah, it was nice to have a panic button when you were caught unawares, but the cover mechanic was primarily used outside of combat. It was for hiding your body from the enemy, sneaking around without being seen, avoiding a stray arm or leg from alerting a guard. Furthmore, cover mechanics are extremely adaptable. I was able to use a copier I threw on the stairs to completely cover my body, even though it was at an awkward angle and slowly sliding down the stairs. I used that sliding motion to slowly approach an enemy without being shot, then used the blind fire from my shotgun at a close enough range the innacuracy didn’t matter, allowing me to take him out without taking a point of damage.

                  You’re right, for a frantic FPS like TF2 or Serious Sam, cover systems aren’t needed. The cover system in gears of war was intended to slow down the game and allow you to gather information about your enemy’s position without exposing yourself to harm. But to say sticky cover is always more about aesthetics than gameplay is disproven by how much they enriched a game like Deus Ex. The cover system was a deliberate choice by the developers to enhance the stealth gameplay.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          The reason we have “location based cover” is that it is a cheat. When you crouch behind cover, you can’t see anything (and no one can see you, which is the point). However, when you “take cover” the camera gives you a view of the enemy, and allows you to line up a shot before popping out. Otherwise you’d have to do what is “realistic” and get shot full of holes while you’re training on a target.

          The “location based cover” isn’t just about cover, it’s about being able to take cover and see everything at the same time. Think of it as River Glau powers to glance at the battlefield and then line it all up in your head before popping up and shooting everyone. Which, by the way, is totally awesome. Which is why it’s a popular mechanic.

    • Sumanai says:

      I don’t think that a game should have a design decision that says “…if you can’t handle it, your problem.” unless it has a good reason. And I don’t think a color filter cuts it. I removed the green filter from Fallout 3 and the game was improved for me aesthetically. Which makes me wonder what the overall opinion would be if someone removed the yellow/orange filter from Deus Ex: HR.

      Best situation would be to have an option to remove it. Is there an option for that?

      • FatPope says:

        I agree. I hate the colour filter in both fallout and hr. Both have mods to remove them though.

        See
        http://kotaku.com/5843146/deus-ex-mod-removes-gold-filter-game-suddenly-looks-even-better/gallery/1

        • Sumanai says:

          “…(and makes a few other changes)…”

          Yeah, no.

          “…is only for Nvidia cards…”

          I have an AMD card. So double no.

          “…the improvements come at a cost in performance…”

          Yeah, okay. I think you have misunderstood. My comment about a setting in options for the filter was a hope towards a day when games properly support different type of people. You know, include instead of exclude. That mod is definitely not that, since not only does it exclude AMD users, it also excludes people with low end machines.

          It was also about removing only the color filter, so people could compare which gives the better experience and aesthetic for themselves.

      • Kyte says:

        They wanted an aesthetic. The Missing Link DLC doesn’t have a gold filter, and most hubs have a tint in addition to the gold filter.

        • Sumanai says:

          Epic wanted an aesthetic for Gears of War. Do you like it? Id wanted an aesthetic for Rage. Do you like it? etc. Just because the decision was made for a reason doesn’t mean that it was the correct decision, especially for everyone. Therefore: options.

          Personally I fail to see how filtering everything, and all the time, with one color would give an aesthetic feeling, since either you’ll soon ignore it (eyes adjust to color errors in monitors for instance, a color filter is basically the same thing) or you get tired because of it (there are less colors and everything feels a bit washed out. Since recognition uses colors as well, this means more straining to differentiate between things).

      • Zagzag says:

        Am I the only person who interpreted the filter as how things would look throgh Jensen’s perpetual sunglasses? I know you don’t have those at the beginning, but still…

    • Thomas says:

      For me the game was long enough. It didn’t feel short and I was just getting gameplay fatigue on the final level. I liked the condension of the missions too, because they all felt important

  3. I’ve tried multiple times to get into the original Deus Ex, but the stealth and melee mechanics were just too damn clunky. HR may not have the scope, but it sure as hell is smoother to play. If it stuck just a lil closer to the original in design, it’d be the perfect game.

  4. kikito says:

    The absence of poignant remarks about the bosses makes me a sad panda u__u.

    But, I liked the game a lot. Despise the bosses.

    • Raygereio says:

      The absence of poignant remarks about the bosses makes me a sad panda

      The problem is that there is pretty much nothing to say about the bosses. All you can really do is comment on the gameplay of the bossfights (which I thought wasn’t that bad, by the way).
      They have no characters: they just show up and go “I’m a guy with a minigun for an arm! Let’s fight!”. You can’t comment on nothing.

      The weirdest thing about the bossfight though is the fact that they’ve been outsourced. Is there literally a company out there that does nothing but make bossfights? o_O

      • noahpocalypse says:

        Huh. Those boss fights sound an awful lot like Army of Two’s bosses (especially the second, the 40th Day (wow, that’s odd to say.)) They show up at the end of a level, always wield rockets, shotguns, or a chaingun (there might be a sniper later on), and they take a ridiculous amount of damage. Which is a shame, because everything else in the game is a lot of fun- good cover mechanics, excellent team gameplay (in story), and the shotgun behaves like a real shotgun. A bullet to the head with any gun on any trooper not a boss that doesn’t have a helmet will make his head explode. The real problem is that they make the game harder by making enemies tougher. They take many, many more bullets, which is an extremely cheap way of doing things. The guys look the same as well.

    • BeardedDork says:

      That’s how I felt when I finally got around to playing Batman: Arkham Asylum. The bossfights felt outsourced, I don’t know if they were or not, but they felt like it.

    • krellen says:

      He linked to an article full of poignant remarks about the bosses that he had written previously.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      I felt like all of the problems with the boss battles would be solved if, right before combat began, Adam’s hair turned blue and he yelled “Is this some sort of messed up way of asking for a chaaaaaallennnnnnng?!?!”
      I mean, he’s already got the robot boots. And then afterwords everything would go back just like it was. It would be the perfect introduction to the Big Lipped Alligator boss fights.

  5. Joe says:

    Trademarks of good games:

    Passable story
    Crossbow

  6. Master Jedi says:

    Wow, I love the irony in the fact that a game as complex as Deus ex can’t be made today, with all of out fancy new graphics and voice acting and stuff like that. Its kind of depressing now that I think about it. Although I guess the fact that they tried (for the most part) in Human revolution is better than nothing.

    • Atarlost says:

      That people say this is almost a sure sign there’s a market for scaled back technology games in this genre.

      Ditching voice acting or arranging a setting where you can use voice synth is the first step I think. Mute protagonists are good, but it’s time to take it to the next level: the deaf protagonist. Important NPCs are distinguished by knowing sign language, giving a perfectly reasonable excuse to not flesh out background NPCs. There are no environmental sound effects, reducing the sound budget to mood music at most and possibly nothing at all.

      Rolling graphics back from the cutting edge would help allow larger worlds, but getting rid of voice acting to allow widely branching dialog trees will let you tell a story more effectively than opening up the world. Scaling back graphics, though, also allows the game to reach a wider market, and the people who want this sort of game experience aren’t always on the upgrade treadmill. There’s almost no reason to be on the upgrade treadmill unless you play modern FPSs.

      • FatPope says:

        Even better: If you make the main character blind then you won’t have to do any graphics at all!

      • Naota says:

        A deaf protagonist would be extremely compelling, provided there was still a fair bit of text in the game to read from objects in the environment. I’m sure there are some very unique premises which might get by on no expository information at all, but for the most part I’d rather get the written prose back from games like NWN, Final Fantasy VII/VIII, or Planescape: Torment. Where possible games should always show rather than tell, but at the same time there’s no reason they can’t show you things that make sense to be written down, like letters, books, and journals written by NPC’s in the world.

        It’s also interesting to note that Thief managed to take at least 30-40 hours to complete for me despite being fully voice-acted – it just had far less of a drive to be “cinematic”, leaving most of the story up to the actual gameplay to tell rather than a train of set pieces, cinematics, and linear non-gameplay.

        But yes, a middle-of-the-spectrum game that focused on the depth of its gameplay mechanics and storytelling (not to mention some proper goddamn level design) rather than limiting its scope with AAA production values would be fantastic.

  7. Raygereio says:

    And maybe ease up on the orange filter a bit

    I loved the fact that when modders removed the filter, the game suddenly looks fat better. Another example of that would be FO3 with its ugly green filter.

    I’m convinced that those useless graphical whatsits are being put into games for their own sake, not because they actually add something.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Better gold than brown.

    • Adam P says:

      I read somewhere that the gold filter exists as part of the aesthetic. The art director wanted the game to have a renaissance vibe to it, so gold filter. I’m not an art buff nor have I played the game, so I can’t comment on it further. But the point is, the filter is there because it helps achieve the vision the art director had.

      • PAK says:

        The gold filter is also a pretty clear “Blade Runner” homage.

        I liked it, personally. I’m all for clearer, more compelling, and more thematic art direction in games. I find it much more interesting than a straight “photorealistic” approach.

      • Raygereio says:

        But the point is, the filter is there because it helps achieve the vision the art director had.

        I don’t know: I would be marginally okay with it if the filter served any real purpose. As it is, I just don’t see how it adds anything to the feel of the game.

        All it does is wash out colours.

        • X2Eliah says:

          … Visual style is a real purpose, at least in my books.

          • Raygereio says:

            Your book is naturally wrong. ;)

            Seriously though; that argument would work, if the filter effect actually added something to the style of the game’s art direction as a whole.
            Take FO3 for a moment: the green filter looked hideous from a purely aesthetic viewpoint. But one can say it served a function as a component of the visual style. To help to say the player: “This wasteland is dead”.

            Does the filter effect in DX3 serve in such a way? Does it help to get a certain message of feel acros to the player? I say no.

            • Sumanai says:

              Personally the green filter in Fallout 3 said to me “everything everywhere looks like crap for some reason”. The lack of plants said “most things are dead and I’m in a wasteland”.

              I have yet to play DE:HR, but I suspect I’ll be looking for a filter remover after a few hours.

            • X2Eliah says:

              Does it help to get a certain message of feel acros to the player? I say no.

              Well, I say yes. The colour palette makes the game-world seem like that of Blade Runner, and that to me establishes a whole another look and feel than just ‘realistic colourz’ would.

              • Sumanai says:

                They could, you know, stylize the colors of objects instead of just shoving a color filter on top of everything.

                Now I wonder how HR would look if you took the filter out and tinted every metallic object and electronic device towards the yellow/orange shade of the filter.

                • Sumanai says:

                  Of note: that would mean that the skins of humans would be natural and would possibly create a further contrast between augmentations and natural parts on people. It would also contrast technology and trees/sky. And possibly it would prevent the mind from “resetting” the colors according to the hue since some stuff would still be in their natural colors.

            • Even says:

              There’s a lot of psychology behind how colours affect people. I’m not going to pretend to know what the designers had exactly in mind but it does effect the mood of things. Personally, I felt there was just a little bit too much of it, ruining the effect. Looking out of the elevator window in the Sarif building was sort of cool the first time, but then the novelty wore off and during the course of the game I really started to wonder what the hell’s up with that anyway, like it’s always an eternal washed-up colored sunset everywhere in the world at the same time. I kid you not, hitting up the last area of the game, the snowy bits felt actually a bit refreshing.

    • swimon1 says:

      I kinda disagree, without the filter it just looks kinda generic. Also without the filter it loses some intrigue, it just looks too bright and clean. I agree that it was perhaps a bit much originally but removing it completely is, I think, a bad move.

      • Klay F. says:

        I agree with you. Removing the filter pretty much removes all sense of uniqueness from the visual style. Without it, the game world, looks like pretty much the most generic thing ever.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I wouldnt go so far as to say how modern technology burdens games so much that a game like original deus ex cant be made.Take skyrim,wall of the locations(say,by water that you can only fast travel across via a boat/plane),so that you can dick around in them,but still have to finish the objective to continue,hire some competent writers to do the story and dialogues,and do the menus in a proper way.It wouldnt be easy,nor cheap,but its not impossible either.

    Still,Im satisfied with human revolution.The mere fact that I not just tolerated the horrible boss fights,but wanted to go through them in order to progress the story shows that the games strengths far outweigh its weakness.And Im joyful that not all the remakes/sequels/prequels of old dear things suck.Lets hope that that joy wont completely go away once xcom shows its ugly mug.

  9. Hal says:

    Playing it on a console feels like blasphemy, but it’s still enjoyable. The load times are unbearable, though, and I miss Quick save/load. I’m not comfortable with FPS controls on a console, either, so I find myself playing a stealthy game more out of practicality.

    I’ve gotta say, sometimes it feels like cheating to be taking advantage of quirks in the AI to progress through the game. It’s not just the stealth, though I’ve certainly worked that frequently enough.

    I’ve only been through one of the boss fights so far, but I only finished that guy off by letting him commit suicide.

    First, the guy follows you ceaselessly, just firing away at you with a chain gun. I whittled him down for a while by circling around a column in the room and taking pot shots when he would lumber around the corner. This worked okay, but I’d get torn to shreds if I didn’t time it right. So I’d run away, wherein he’d start chucking an endless supply of grenades at me (1 at first, then later 3 for reasons I’m still figuring out). I finally beat him by throwing a gas canister at his head, which hurt him (?) and caused him to stumble around confused. Oh, and throw three grenades into a wall instead of at me, so they landed right at his feet. Did I also mentioned that he was standing next to one of the explosive barrels inexplicably littered throughout the room? I’m surprised there was enough of him left to scrape together for the congratulatory cutscene.

    • psivamp says:

      I also played stealthy for semi-technical reasons — I played on my MacBook which is not built for such things.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Next time,stock up on emp grenades,and a weapon of choice(I prefer the rocket launcher,but people say regular grenades do the trick as well),then just stun the boss with emp,and unload your clip,stun again with emp,unload a clip.It works on all bosses(except the last,but that one is quite easy,especially if you use a laser rifle),and you dont need special upgrades to do it.Nor do you need perfect timing for this to work.

    • Robyrt says:

      As a stealthy character, you can take down bosses fairly easily by swapping between the stun gun and any high-powered weapon (shotgun, revolver, lasers, rockets, etc.) That doesn’t excuse their presence, though.

    • Jake says:

      All three bosses can be stunlocked and taken down with the stun gun. Although for Barrett, that’s a little trickier.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Myeah. If your augments allow it, the best scenario is StunGun->Typhoon->StunGun->Typhoon and so forth. I think on normal difficulty, three typhoons (or two, if you have upgraded fully the typhoon aug) are sufficient.

    • Trix says:

      I would think that would be considered a legitimate creative way of defeating the boss – confuse him so he can’t act properly.

  10. psivamp says:

    Some of you may be aware that I LP’d — poorly — the opening third of the game (Detroit up to the first boss, the leaked press beta) in two different styles.

    It says volumes that I played that opening third four full times before the game came out and was not bored with it when I was able to load the full game. I played through the full game three times before school started in earnest and only at that point did burn out set it.

    I love that the game even ran on my system, this speaks to some real effort put into the PC version that I could do that passably. (Yes, there were slowdowns and load times were sometimes awful — and everything is always worse when you’re running Procaster; but, it ran enough for me to play and not be constantly frustrated with it.)

    The push button ending was disappointing, however, until that point you were free to shape your version of Adam and give him your own set of motivations. There were even choices you made in the game that made a difference later on.

    • Thomas says:

      Did you get the set of four choices? Because they were pretty broad. None of them perfect but they drastically shaped the world around. Maybe you didn’t speak to Sarif and Taggart?

  11. Mathias says:

    I think the reason why it just clicked for a lot of people is for the reason that Extra Credits pointed out that the game lets us dicker around with a world that’s like our own, and yet so utterly alien. If anything it’s a fascinating look at what would happen if augmentation technology like this landed in our world RIGHT NOW. Basically everything in Human Revolution that’s not related to augmentation technology (bar the plasma rifle and the Hyron Project) seems very contemporary, and the big, clunky robots in the game feel much the same.

    Deus Ex was one of my personal favorites this year because it had a strong theme, and it’s something that even well-written games occasionally miss. The most irritating example for me was the Witcher 2, which has a very well-written plot (and a horribly written main character, but I digress) but barely any running themes that are worth delving into throughout the whole thing. Deus Ex let us play around with the concept of man’s evolution, and how we should deal with it. Should we stop it altogether because it’s dangerous, should we let the people in power watch over the scientist’s shoulder as he continues his research, or should he be free to do his research in peace, with the potential for abuse that brings? Jensen is less like a character when it comes to “answering” these questions through the ending, and more like a force of nature that gets things done. He’s the Deus Ex Machina (in the ancient Greek sense of an actual god being lowered onto the stage) in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, acting as the divine force that eventually settles things.

  12. Mark says:

    WRPGs’ writing going all stupid is a distressing phenomenon. It’s gotten to the point that you can expect a more believable and compelling story out of a high-profile Japanese RPG than a comparable American (or European, Canadian, Australian, etc) one. Not by much, granted, but I never thought I’d see the day.

    • Bret says:

      Really? Really?

      I mean, you’re saying you’d rather go through Final Fantasy 13 than Mordin’s loyalty mission?

      You’re saying New Vegas is worse written than Fallout 2? (I just played Fallout 2. It is not.)

      You wouldn’t give Alpha Protocol’s (apparently, excellent, if paired with flawed-as-hell gameplay) narrative the time of day, but trust Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World?

      Deus Ex is as W as RPGs get. Just happens to have Square paying for it.

  13. Lord of Rapture says:

    I honestly don’t get the love for the original Deus Ex. The amount of praise it gets for its storytelling, freedom of choice, and gameplay is vastly inflated compared to reality. It’s passable in all of them, but nowhere near the best game ever.

  14. Nick Bell says:

    I just wanted to point out that Deus Ex’s cover mechanic is not new. This is the exact same system used in the two Rainbow Six: Vegas games. Works fantastic in that environment as well. Definitely wish more games used it.

    • CalDazar says:

      For some reason the way it worked there had me poping out of cover when I didn’t want to or getting behind something when I wanted to move to a new bit of cover.
      Maybe I’m just better at playing these days or I remember it incorrectly, but I do see DX:HR’s cover as better.

  15. SolkaTruesilver says:

    At least, I am reassured to learn there are few good writers in Montreal, alongside the bad writers of Assassin’s Creed.

  16. Kresh says:

    You can judge a game against other games, but only so long as that’s all you’re doing. To truly judge a game, you have to assume the game is alone in the genre it represents. Judge it’s victories, it’s faults, and it’s quirks. This nonsense about judging games against each other is just that; nonsense. You can compare them, and rank them, but that’s all you should do. A game shouldn’t be called “good” merely because it is “better” than another game of a similar type. The opposite also stands true.

    A must game stand on it’s own merit or it does not. Either a game is good, or it is not. Deus Ex: Human revolution is either a good game or it is not. You can say you don’t feel it’s as good as the games it purports to be a sequel to, but that alone will not make it a bad game.

    What’s my point? People need to stop being wishy-washy and just make a conclusion. Which Shamus did… after a bit of extended navel gazing. Then again, this isn’t a review site, per se, so I’m not sure where I’m going with this.

    Ah yes, this is where I’m going with this…

    /rant

    • Lovecrafter says:

      NEVER GO TO PHILADELPHIA

    • Lalaland says:

      This is why I’d love to see a Reginald Cuftbert DX:HR playthrough of this game, I can’t play that way. I honestly replayed the first section of the game because I felt bad for not rescuing that NPC’s husband the first time round.

      Good voice acting made such a difference that I listened to most dialogues whereas I skip 90% of Skyrims dialogue and read the subtitles instead. I know there are some notorious failures in DX:HR in this regard but most were good to great.

    • swenson says:

      That’s the first actual gameplay I’ve seen of the game, and… you can just talk to anyone, even people who don’t have flashing arrows over their heads? You can gleefully go running off rooftops anytime you feel like it, because the game assumes anyone retarded enough to do that deserves the fate of dying horribly? You can pick up anything you like?!

      THIS GAME IS AMAZING.

      …the sad part is that I am legitimately excited about such things.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      No witnesses?Oh my god its Rutskarn!

    • RTBones says:

      OK, took a flight in the ROFLCOPTER after that one.

      Hilarious!

  17. Picador says:

    I liked the game a lot, but the one thing that took me out of it the most was about 3 seconds in, when I saw what Adam Jensen looked like (gelled hair and goatee, wearing a swishy trenchcoat and sunglasses inside?) and sounds like (raspy Clint Eastwood monotone from a 30-year-old?). I LOLed, hard. Then I remembered: hey, he’s just as ridiculous as the original JC Denton!

    After that, I was willing to embrace the absurdity as a loving homage to the late-90s teenage boy aesthetics of the original.

    • Klay F. says:

      Before he gets his augmentations, Jensen doesn’t actually wear sunglasses. Also, there is a pretty good reason why he wears sunglasses constantly afterward: His eyes were replaced with synthetic substitutes that look extremely unnatural up close. I would think anyone that actually tried to look him in his new eyes would be pretty uncomfortable. Also, he’d probably be pretty self-conscious about it. Its not exactly a rational thought, but then again when are humans ever rational?

      • Amnestic says:

        It’s not just practicality too. There’s a character/thematic reason behind it. The one time Jensen ‘removes’ his sunglasses is when he finally meets Megan again. That’s the only time he does it. Throughout the rest of the game, when talking to anyone else, he keeps them on. I thought it was a really nice touch. The scene would’ve worked the same if he’d left his sunglasses in place, or if he’d removed them for other interactions (like with Sarif) throughout the game, but the conscious choice to only do it then was one I thought was well done by the developers.

        More generally: I really liked HR and will probably go back to it. I liked the original Deus Ex too and will probably go back to that at some point. I have completed both already, of course :P People (generally) seem to have a fairly favourable view of it, and a lot of people seem to have played it…so I gotta wonder why the game has seen such an enormous price drop from release.

      • Kian says:

        As for the trench coat, his arms and legs were replaced and he has a pretty bulky harness holding it all together. The coat covers all that up so that he’s not constantly freaking people out.

  18. swimon1 says:

    I find DX:HR hard to analyse and criticize. It had a lot of good to it certainly and I want more games to aspire for greatness like it did. It’s also nice to see a game that has a narrative that deserves some analysis and tries to discusses very real ideas, so long since I saw that in a AAA title. That said I have a hard time remembering the good parts looking back at it.

    I think the problem is mostly the ending. The ending is awful. It starts by making most of the enemies crazies, which of course are impossible to sneak past. Because logic dictates that trained guards on high alert are trivial to subvert (which rhymes ^^) but a crazy person barely conscious is impossible to sneak by, at least after the level designer has given up and simply flooded every part of the level with enemies you can’t possibly get by without them detecting you. Screwing over sneak based characters in the final parts is pretty much a standard in the deus ex series but I don’t see why they keep doing it, I played a sneak character for a reason! Hey game designers: you’re not adding tension you’re just being annoying. After that we get treated to Adam Jensen being a shouty jerk to the coolest character in the game (“ookaay I muurdeered a few kids to make this sweet necklace dedicated to corporate greed but Adam wee’re at waaar here”). Then we get the final boss and can someone tell me why she goes into that machine? I mean it was designed to analyse the pressure on the project right? So why does she need to do that? Wasn’t her idea to alter the broadcast Darrow was trying to send out? She didn’t need to connect to the machine for that, I know she doesn’t because Adam doesn’t need to. So after you killed her and executed three unarmed civilians (you don’t even try any alternative ways) Adam delivers an honest to god oneliner. You use oneliners to show either how detached the character is that he can joke about someone’s death (like when James Bond does them) or to show the audience that these lives have no value so you shouldn’t feel bad about them dying (like when Schwarzenegger uses them, also Bond again). But in a game where you can choose to kill or to spare your enemies lives always has value, otherwise the choice would be meaningless. Making a killing oneliner in such a game just makes your character look like a sociopath. It’s even worse actually since the oneliner in question “women always underestimate men” is a callback to what was previously the worst part of the game where it turns out that all it takes is some woman throwing herself at Jensen for him to completely lose his shit. Also saying that women always underestimate men after having committed manslaughter (in self defense, but still) doesn’t exactly scream “I’m a well adjusted member of society and above things like rampant misogyny”. After that atrocity we get the dénouement machine 3000 which delivers an ending of your choice at the press of a button! Free of any sort of build up! Free of shipping charges! And in no way plausible (seriously there are like a hundred people still on panchaea no one talks to the press afterwards?)! Order yours NOW!

    That and the fact that I really dislike the character of Adam Jensen makes it really hard to remember the good parts. Like David Sarif or that British guy who more or less goes “It’s awfully nice to see you Adam the captors are ever such brutes and the tea is dreadful. Oh well stiff upper lip, god save the queen and whatnot… I’m so awfully very British”. Also I don’t like the costume design (do you still call it that in games? I mean they’re not really costumes right?) but now I’m just picking nits.

    Edit: Putting s in angle brackets < doesn't work apparently, only writing strike does. Weird but all right.

    • acronix says:

      The costumes are weird in order to provide a “it´s the future” feeling.

      And the final boss is a Giant Flea From Nowhere.

      • PAK says:

        Actually, the costumes are derived from Rennaisance fashion. References to the Renaissance are sprinkled throughout the art direction, for thematic reasons.

        • swimon1 says:

          I’ve heard that and:
          1)they still look dumb, yes again picking nits but it’s true.
          2)What thematic reasons? The renaissance was about embracing the past (as much as any century is about anything) which really doesn’t seem to fit with the game.

          Is it a reference to a “renaissance man” in that you’re a balanced person skilled at most things? I guess you could say that about Adam (although he doesn’t get much use out of his non-athletic abilities except for hacking) but he isn’t really the important part of the game. It’s more about people at large and a movement seen through one persons eyes rather than a character piece. I guess you could argue that the augmentations make everyone a renaissance man? That seems like it’s stretching the metaphor tho.

          Lastly I’ve heard the argument “It was a time of great scientific and cultural achievements” which is just false. Well not false but comparatively false since accelerating returns means that the accomplishments of the renaissance were pitiful to the accomplishments of the 20th century technologically (21st has only had 11 yrs but I’m pretty confident it will out-class the past) and when it comes to cultural change it’s equally unmatched.

          I get the gold/black colour palette because it’s a world that is depressingly dark or a golden age depending on who you are or how you look at it. I don’t get the renaissance reference I just don’t see what that is supposed to symbolise.

          • PAK says:

            You are of course free to think that the thematic connections to the Rennaisance are poorly made or not in keeping with your view of the Rennaisance, but all I was speaking to was the interviews with the project’s art director (I think there’s one on Gamasutra somewhere) where he explicitly stated that Renaissance references were part of his intent.

            On the other hand, I can’t help but engage with you now in the spirit of friendly debate. Let’s look at the broader cultural themes. While the Rennaisance indeed looked back to Classical values, one result of that was an interest in humanism, aethetics, and what it meant to be a good, stong, “Universal” man. What was the most important essence of being human? In DX:HR, the characters are circling around to exactly the same set of questions and considerations, by looking instead to the future. I think it’s an interesting symmetry, really.

            Also, also, I thought the costumes were cool. So there. :P

          • Klay F. says:

            Because videogame nerds are experts on fashion trends. Also who are you to say the achievements of the Renaissance are nothing compared to achievements of today? If you are talking about comparative improvement in the general quality of life, then that is patently false.

            • ben says:

              The renaissance did practically nothing to improve quality of life at any level of the class structure of the time. It was a cultural shift driven by the resurgence of a literate middle class in Europe for the first time since the fall of the western roman empire.
              The major technological advances of the renaissance were architectural, navigation, armaments,& realist art.

              The cultural movements that actually brought quality of life improvements were the Enlightenment, which brought with it the scientific method, chemistry, physics, and medicine, and the Industrial revolution which applied those advances on a mass scale.

              Although all 3 eras were part of the same linear chain of events that continued into the atomic age (which brought an agricultural revolution and electricity), and the information age(which made this comment possible).

              Interestingly enough, each was followed by their own period of backlash and regression, as the people struggled to deal with change. The renaissance was followed by the Baroque, the Enlightenment was followed by the romantic, the industrial was followed by the nationalist, the atomic age was followed by the counterculture, and the period after the information age is just forming up and has yet to acquire a name. (All of the irrational food trends+ ironic hipsters + occupy wall street = what exactly?)

              Deus Ex: HR is set 1 cycle ahead, after a bionic age of sorts, and is in the beginning of the dystopian era the original Deus Ex was set in.

    • Raygereio says:

      It starts by making most of the enemies crazies, which of course are impossible to sneak past.

      I’m not really sure what you’re talking about: you can sneak past all of the crazies. Period. There’s one point at the very end where it quite hard and requires carefull timing to do so without the invisibillity-aug, but if you’re playing stealthly then you’d have that anyway.

      can someone tell me why she goes into that machine? (snip) She didn’t need to connect to the machine for that, I know she doesn’t because Adam doesn’t need to.

      Adam wants to shut it down, which he did by destroying the Hyron project. Zhao wants to take control of the Hyron Project for the Illuminati. They have objectives that require different approaches. Sure the way she’s plugged in is… well, wacky, but there’s a reason for and personally I liked the callback to DX1’s ending in the fight’s settingdesign.

      As for your whole one-liner rant: when did Adam even say that? I don't recall it and I couldn't find it in youtube-footage of the DX3's end sequence.

      • Jake says:

        He doesn’t say it anywhere near the end. It’s before fighting Jaron, in response to something that totally makes sense (which I won’t spoil here).

        • Raygereio says:

          Oh it’s there? But the Namir fight isn’t anywhere near the endfight.
          And wait a minute: doesn’t Zhao say the exact same thing, just reversed, when you first encounter her?

          Oh why am I even trying to make sense of that poorly formatted post. The whole misogyny rant read like a shitty attempt at trollbaiting from the SA-forums anyway.

          • guy says:

            Jensen says it when Zhao tries to shut down his augments if he didn’t get the biochip

            It’s an intentional callback to her saying the inverse right after diving into her panic room.

      • swimon1 says:

        You’re right actually, that comment wasn’t where I remembered (at least according to all youtube videos I can find, sometimes the dialogue isn’t exactly the same in all clips but that one was pre-rendered I don’t think those change) which is weird because I can remember it so vividly. I must have dreamt it or something but that isn’t accurate and I’m sorry for that, well more embarrassed actually. I would edit it out but I can’t edit the post any longer.

        As for sneaking past the crazies: how? I know there are some places where there are ducts in the wall you can crawl through but there are a lot of places where you have to run past hordes of them (and unlike most enemies they don’t patrol or anything so you can’t really observe their movements and do what you usually do) and the invisibility is just nowhere near long enough for what you need. I had to resort to either just running through the halls past them since they can’t shoot or take them out with the whole punch business and exploit them by standing somewhere they can’t get while my batteries recharge and then slap another. It wasn’t as much stealth as it was whack-a-mole. I never had this problem in the rest of the game which is why it bothered me it was a change in how the game played and it wasn’t exactly better for it. I guess I never got the slowfall aug tho (because it felt like cheating to use magic in what was otherwise such a hard sci-fi setting) so maybe that’s it? You never needed that before tho and only having one path that you need a special ability to cross for stealth characters isn’t much of a defense, at least not when this was something the game had done well before this.

        Also yes Adam wants to shut Hyron down and she wants to use it my question was: why? What does she need it for? She says “I’m going to use it to hack Darrows signal and rework it’s message to our benefit” (I checked on youtube this time so it isn’t my weird psychosis again) which is exactly what you do at the end without Hyron. Is the Illuminati message special somehow? Well I don’t think so since writing it the way Taggart wants is the Illuminati way isn’t it? I’m not arguing that there isn’t an explanation but I don’t know it is and it confused me playing the end. Also seriously no one talks after this? That just seems nonsensical.

        • Mathias says:

          Rereading Shamus’ first impressions of Human Revolution seems almost prophetic. “Maybe the whole thing falls to pieces at the end of the second act.”

          Almost correct. It started falling to pieces around the third. If only it’d had a way to sneak past the zombies.

          I will agree that David Sarif is one of the best characters in the game. He seems like the generic white-collar villain “evil boss” character, but he ends up being more like the idealist of the story – believing in the power of augmentation and corporate freedom because he knows how close they are to changing the world. Other notable acts: not betraying you, ever. Also his first line when you meet him on Panchea:

          “Adam, thank God! Come on, we have to get these people out of here”.

          That does allude to him being a better person than a lot of people give him credit for.

          • swimon1 says:

            yeah it’s pretty awesome to see them take the ethically challenged corporate scum bag cliché and turn it into this really interesting character. Someone who is very ok with the killing one person to save ten way of thinking while still coming off as a very nice person, almost a bit naive. It was very well done. Although I do really like super British person too. His Britishness is unequalled ^^

            • Mathias says:

              I also liked Taggart, since in the beginning he seems like the token “humanity first” advocate that you always end up working for in other games (because when did we ever want the aliens to win even when they’re the good guys by every definition possible) but actually turns out to have motivation and depth, though not as much as Sarif.

              Incidentally, I abandoned my pacifist run when Faridah died. Murder needed to happen at that point.

              • Entropy says:

                A sufficiently prepared Pacifist can save Malik. Thats what I ended up doing, after about 3 or 4 tries.

                • cadrys says:

                  Key thing to remember there is that bots don’t count against pacifist, and neither do secondary explosions. Took a few runs to figure out, but doable.

                  Interesting side thought: How many of us automatically went “oh HELL no” and reloaded when Malik died the first time, and kept banging away at that scene until she escapes?

                  • Velkrin says:

                    I know I did. Screw rescuing Dr. Reed, saving Malik is far more important.

                    I’m also extremely annoyed to find out that secondary explosions don’t count towards the pacifist achievement given that in my playthough I had to stun a guy and then drag him behind cover before EMPing the robot so he wouldn’t be killed by its self-destruct.

          • Even says:

            He did have your other arm cut off which was actually still “salvageable” pre-surgery for you to have two cybernetic arms and probably even more that’s not directly hinted at. You can read an e-mail about it at the Detroit hospital and I think one of the sidequest NPCs hints about the extent of the operation.

        • Raygereio says:

          As for sneaking past the crazies: how?

          By sneaking past them? I don’t mean to sound facetious, but that’s it really. From your description it almost sounds as if you’re talking about a completely different game.
          There are two kinds of crazies:
          One just stands in place and won’t move. They won’t notice you as long as you sneak outside their view.
          The other kind does have a set patrol path that you can observe.
          In the places where it’s downright impossible to time the patrol paths right, you can use alternate paths such as ducts to get past. The only semi-mandatory conflict that I can recall happens if you want to talk to Taggart.

          I don’t really know what to say beyond it’s doable to sneak and I did not notice a change in how the game played.

          Also yes Adam wants to shut Hyron down and she wants to use it my question was: why? What does she need it for?

          That’s a very valid question. Well, that is to say, erm.

          I don’t really recall. Let’s find out. Off to the wiki!
          *musical intermission*
          Huh. The game’s dialogue doesn’t really make it clear, the best I gathered it’s to take over the world, or something. She wants to take control of Hyron, which I guess grant her control over all of the augmented people Hyron’s signal is effecting? It would fit into the Illuminati’s vision of centralized control.
          I dunno; it’s clear why she hooks herself into Hyron; she wants to use it, instead of shutting it down. But beyond that her goals and what she’s hoping to accomplish by doing that isn’t expanded upon.
          That is to say, if that explenation is there, then i don’t recall it and I can’t find it being expanded upon anywhere.

          • Kian says:

            Adam didn’t need to use Hyron because he had Eliza on his side. He didn’t hack the transmission, Eliza did. Since she was already a communications and mass media manipulating AI, you didn’t need to do anything but tell her what you wanted done.

          • SlowShootinPete says:

            You can also make it past a lot of them without sneaking by using the jumping augmentation or gas grenades and a stun gun.

            I pretty much just sprinted through that entire section, it’s surprisingly effective.

          • guy says:

            I figured it was because Zhao wanted to alter the control signal while Jensen wanted to shut it down and email everyone on the planet. Of course, the Hyron was the most powerful supercomputer on the planet, and there’s lots of things you can do with a powerful supercomputer.

    • GiantRaven says:

      ‘all it takes is some woman throwing herself at Jensen for him to completely lose his shit.’

      I assumed Jensen was under the influence of the CASIE aug.

      • Jarenth says:

        I like this interpretation. Though it’s a little odd that two CASIE augs wouldn’t cancel each other out, or at least indicate their presence to the respective owners. But still better than the given explanation, which is ‘Wait, what?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Well you too can use your aug against that woman that doesnt want to pay,and she complies.

        • X2Eliah says:

          Yeah, CASIE augs are not self-cancelling most of the time.. Afaik, only Malik will call you out if you use the pheromones on her, any other characters known to have the social aug (such as that business broker woman who you need to extort money from in Hengsha) are still vulnerable.

          • Even says:

            There’s also that one augmented guy who quotes the Bible and Apocalypse Now in the Hengsha sewers who will call out any and all attempts at using the pheromones telling you to not bother because the stuff doesn’t work on him, so there obviously is some protection from it, only apparently very rare.

    • Yeah, the entire Panchaea sequence was just out of nowhere. It was ridiculous.

  19. webrunner says:

    Deus Ex: HR was a good game.

    Also it was a game where you can noticeably carry a vending machine around, then drop it and hide behind it and suddenly have everyone lose you like some sort of crazy cartoon bush.

    It’s also a game where I had a guy walk through a wall and fall out of the world and die.

    In short: Perfect Cuthbert game.

  20. RTBones says:

    First – no, the food is hot, you’ll need a tray. :)

    Second – I have really enjoyed this game. It is not end all – be all, but it is a great game. The biggest downer to me is the boss fights. If I could get rid of, or at least get around (stealth character) them, it would be even better.

    • Thomas says:

      You sir, needed exploits. The first boss, you stun then run away and hide behind a pillar. He turns round and round randomly attacking and when he’s not looking you shoot him with a silenced weapon so he can’t work out where you’re coming from.

      The second boss you turn stun, turn invisible and then back off and run behind. I’m not sure quite why it worked for me, but she’ll stand still looking for you straight ahead and you can just snipe her with a silenced weapon (tranquiliser gun for me, it was a pacifist playthrough).

      The third boss you immediately run behind the wall straight ahead to your left. Mash the melee button and when he jumps over you’ll instantly take him down. End boss fight.

      The last one you win the conversation with the guy and type in his rather appropriate code into the mainframe of the machine. Congrats you win!

  21. Tohron says:

    A funny thing about the cover mechanics – in my first playthrough, I only used them once, and that was just to try them out. Admittedly, this was partly due to the nature of my playthrough, with the focus on stealth leading to takedowns and shooting from airducts rather than cover-based shooting – but when I did need to use cover, I found myself falling back on the HL2 style of crouching behind cover and then uncrouching to take a shot. I guess I’m just more used to it that way.

  22. Mailbox says:

    Really enjoyed the game. Played through it three times. Praxis Points are too abundant and character builds near the end of the game don’t differentiate enough from one another.

    Just thought of this last night:

    Patrolling the Mojave almost makes you wish for an arrow to the knee.

  23. TehShrike says:

    I enjoyed the Errant Signal on Human Revolution, I thought it was a good commentary: http://youtu.be/X43i8NQ–_s

    He spends a bit going over something everybody already knows about (horrible horrible boss fights), but puts a bunch of other points into perspective too.

    • Mathias says:

      I don’t get his argument with the themes.

      Essentially, what the writers did was have more than one perspective on what augmentation would actually -mean-. The introduction of augmentation into one’s daily life wouldn’t just be reflected in one thing, and would naturally lead to more than one thing. And of course people would find more than one argument to defend or attack augmentation. That an act as significant as augmentation, effectively the next step in human evolution if we don’t learn to control our pesky brain to give us those damn superpowers already would only be represented by one deviation from our world doesn’t make any sense, and would have detracted from the story as a whole, I think.

  24. RariowunIrskand says:

    The problem you described with judging the game is exactly why I still don’t know whether I like or not. From a modern point of view, it’s a shining angel of awesomeness, showing the industry how to do things right in a manner comparable to what the first Half Life did (Not as good as 2, but still a great game). From the point of view of Deus Ex, it’s a dumbed down, stupider, less impressive game. I felt that it tried to be too old-school, but was limited by today’s technology (However weird that may sound) and gameplay conventions. I really don’t know whether to praise or criticize it. It certainly had the feel of the original, and quite a few points in its favour, but I felt like it was too far from it to nail the sweet spot. I really don’t know whether I’d give this game a positive or a negative review, if I had to. Maybe I’m just to stuck on Deus Ex 1 (My favourite game of all time, but it seems like Skyrim’s coming closer and closer to overtake it)

  25. Alex says:

    Shamus, everything you just described about how the cover-system doesn’t work in other games? THAT’S how I feel about the cover system in Deus Ex. Like in Assassin’s Creed or Prince of Persia, it never could get a handle on where I wanted to go, often didn’t work in times where it really should have, and ended up alerting me to the enemy’s presence more times than I can count. Getting into cover was annoying. Getting out was infuriating. And it didn’t seem to do me any good in the long run anyway, so it was just a confusing waste of time.

    I have never played a game that screwed up the cover mechanic as badly as Deus Ex: HR. I’ll agree that the plot is interesting, as is the setting. I just wish they’d built a decent game around it.

    • psivamp says:

      That’s interesting to hear because the consensus seems to be that the cover system is well done. I, for instance, thought it was quite well done and I had a significantly lower incidence of confusion with the cover system here as opposed to games like Army of Two and Gears of War. In fact, I thought the cover system actually made navigation while sneaking easier.

      I wonder a bit how many more people felt like this cover system was less intuitive than other games or did unexpected things…

  26. Milos says:

    Does this mean you aren’t making DE:HR the next game in Spoiler Warning? I was under the impression that was one of the reasons you didn’t write much about it until now.

  27. […] December 21, 2011 // 0 Dénouement 2011: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Twenty Sided I will give the game credit for this: The story worked. This should not be praise. This should be […]

  28. Niryain says:

    Weird. I felt rather differently about the story. Oh, yes, I’ll agree the themes, setting, and so forth were excellent, but I got many, many EXTREMELY jarring moments of ‘Gameplay and Story Segregation’, in the sense of realism and character. The game gives you the agency to do what you want, so I intentionally decided to press that agency to the limit by playing ‘Jensen the Sociopath’. Whenever the game presented me with an obstacle my response was the same: Gun down anything in my way. Including civilians and cops. And yet the story refused to acknowledge anything I did in the game in that sense. In my game? Jensen should have been taken down by SWAT teams, military, and the like about.. Two hours in. That the game gave no response to my gameplay actions in a story sense ruined the game for me.

    • acronix says:

      I´d say it´s a case of “we will ignore your actions, player, because they don´t lead to the story we want to tell.” Eveen though a final shootout of destiny in a futuristic skyscraper and augmented swat members sounds cool (if a bit clichetastic).

      • Thomas says:

        I was thinking about this, but the truth is, the only way to deal with it is to give the player a non-standard game over. If the guy acted like you did, he would be taken out at range by augmented people he couldn’t see. No-one would give him a mission or allow him to wander the streets. I think the best solution would be to throw infinite strong waves of people at you, until you die and refuse to give you quests and not autosave but that would have taken development time away from proper aspects of the game.

  29. el_b says:

    i would love to live in the deus ex universe, everything is my favourite colour.

  30. MrGamer says:

    Strangely when I played Human Revolution, I tried to play it as if it were the original, I played without using the “cover system” and played it like the 90’s game and surprisingly it worked well and I really enjoyed it.

  31. Jonathan says:

    Why can’t you just get cover from enemy fire by walking behind a convenient metal-lined crate and, you know, crouching?
    Why is there a button for basic movement?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You can do that if you want,like MrGamer above you said.Taking cover is optional,not mandatory.It only serves the purpose to give you a better view,and allow you to shoot without revealing yourself.If you want to,that is.

  32. Zaxares says:

    I did actually find the boss fights fun on their own merit, but I agree that they felt quite jarring compared to the overall style of the rest of the game.

    Fortunately, the boss fight in the DLC “The Missing Link” shows that Eidos took the criticism to heart and made a boss fight the way it SHOULD have been done.

  33. arron says:

    One think that I did like about the game’s factions is how..human they were. All the various sides (Sarif, Taggart and Darrow) had a valid point regarding their positions augmenting humanity and did unconscionable things to achieve their endpoints. Sarif took a pragmatic view to action to ensure his business would continue – Taggart used a extremist group to manipulate public opinion and Darrow showed how the technology could be controlled by people into subverting humanity. Or choosing to blow it all up so people make their own choices without the major players.

    It did remind me of the final episode of Connections with James Burke where the choices regarding technological progress as being a choice between unregulated progress that gives rise to major advancement, regulating it to certain areas, consolidating what we have to improve it before rushing ahead with further development or ending it all. In reality there is no one definitive answer. The story in this game is basically a key problem with our world and our relationship with technology played out in a form that most people can engage with :)

  34. Joe says:

    Coming from the perspective of somebody born too late to fondly remember the original Deus Ex, or most of the great games of that era, by the time I picked it up on steam, it was showing a lot of age. I could understand why people thought it was so fantastic, and I was willing to accept the lower graphics quality as a sign of age (Although if we’re talking about how the original has aged, those are definitely a point in favor of “badly), but I couldn’t really enjoy it.

    Stealth was extremely difficult, because I never really had a good sense of where enemies were. I’d hide, wait, go to run, and then get caught by another enemy. I’d be trying to explore the level to find all the hidden doors, omnitools, lockpicks, medkits, and other “It’s Dangerous to go alone! Take this!” stuff, only to get caught by guards and have to reload. Also, trying to hide from guards and cameras was really frustrating, by virtue of not being able to keep an eye on them. Hiding from a camera that jumps to suspicious if it catches a look at even the tiniest fraction of your nano-augmented hairdo, with intent to sneak by, and only being able to know where it’s pointing if it can see you? True, once you learn the timing it becomes less of a problem, but having to quicksave/quickload that often was frustrating. (Especially when you were too busy enjoying the admittedly fantastic level design and atmosphere to have saved in a while.)

    Also, I tend do dislike games that make combat feel like a punishment. Human Revolution went a little bit too far in the opposite direction, in my opinion, but getting into any kind of combat in the original was oftentimes a guaranteed quickload. It didn’t feel tense or exciting, it just really reminded me that I had screwed up. Other than the stun prod (which is my favorite weapon in any game ever), the game felt like it was grudgingly letting you shoot something. I’m OK with it being a stealth game, but if you’re going to give me a slim chance to fight my way out of a failed stealth attempt, at least let it feel like a heroic last stand.

    Lastly, and this is going to be true heresy to a lot of you, it felt too long. Or at least, I never felt the same constant thematic undercurrents I felt in HR. I got as far as returning to Hell’s Kitchen from Hong Kong to sink the Versalife ship before realizing I didn’t really understand why I was fighting.

    Plot recap of the first half of the original Deus ex, combined with some of my thoughts:

    I started off with UNATCO, fighting terrorists. OK, I can work with this. Terrorists are bad. Then my brother told me that the Terrorists are actually the good guys, and that UNATCO are secretly controlling the world. OK, I can work with this. Then I get captured, and find out that UNATCO are actually the military arm of MJ12. OK… I guess. Then I escape, and go off to resolve a Hong Kong gang war because… How does this relate to anything? (I know that it helped Hong Kong be immune to MJ12 influence or something, but it still felt really disconnected.) Then they send me to destroy the machine that’s making the virus that MJ12 is using to control the world.

    And now I’ve won, right? I’ve found the bad guy, and stopped them. Without the Universal Constructor, how can they keep synthesizing the gray death. Sure, it’s unsatisfying, because the bad guys are still in power, but still. Where’s my celebration? I just struck a major blow. And now I’m going back to where I started to sink a ship of the stuff. Isn’t this the kind of mop-up work that gets assigned to less important people by now? Shouldn’t I be at least targetting the leadership? I feel like I just went down a step.

    Mother of all that is bright and shiny, I still have half a game left to go…

    I felt like I spent way too much time doing things compared to what happened. The scope of what was going on kept expanding, and I never got a sense of how my actions were impacting it. I could understand this idea of being like an insignificant fly to them, if they hadn’t built me up as being some kind of transcendant being going back to the title and cover art.

    This added to the issue of lacking thematic consistency. There was a lot of class struggles (compare the posh UNATCO office to the mole people’s subway tunnels), advanced technology, globe-spanning conspiracy, and so on, but unlike HR, there wasn’t a very clear thread to tie me into the story. In HR, the fundamental question is about the nature of humanity. Jensen gets augmented, and starts to find out the kind of problems this technology is bringing to the world. Is a man still a man when he can buy his way out of his physical limitations? Is a man still human when he literally builds over the parts of society he doesn’t like Hengsha). Is a man still a man when somebody can, without warning or consideration, take control of his very body? The original has none of that. I’ve since read some plot summaries and watched a Let’s play, so I can see that later on it becomes about AI and godlike machines, and our place in a world where they exist, but that doesn’t come in until far too late. The AI I’d met at that point was helpful, even friendly, and other than initiating my breakout, hadn’t affected the plot too severely. It felt like for as much as had happened, and as much time I had put in, I hadn’t been questioned very much. It was a very well put together game, but the story didn’t quite have the unity that comes from that sense of being ‘about’ something. HR felt like the writers, artists, and designers were all more or less on the same page, and the game was much better for it. Combined with a lot more polish on the gameplay and graphics angles, I personally enjoyed HR a lot more than the original.

    Also, Holy mother of all that is bright and shiny is that a wall of text…

  35. GTB says:

    I think if I had to pick, that this game would probably be my GOTY. I thought the ending was sort of meh, but other than that I thought it was pretty much flawless. I understand some people had issues with the single-track boss battles. Since I made a combat monster I happened to be on that track, so they didn’t bother me. I imagine I would be pissed off if I put all my points into stealth and then suddenly had to punch a guy’s face till he quit moving.

    I like skyrim, but it suffers from too many tiny annoyances that Im not sure you can really avoid with a game that open. I like minecraft, but im not sure it qualifies as this year’s goty. Maybe last year.

  36. Bryan Bridges says:

    “I will give the game credit for this: The story worked. This should not be praise. This should be the most basic, obvious accomplishment that a game can achieve.”

    – Shamus Young

    Uh…Shamus? The story made no sense. At All.

    SPOILERS: Consider Hugh Darrow’s motivation: He wanted to destroy augmentation, because he didn’t want to create a society where most of humanity gets left behind. Megan Reed’s research, at the beggining of the game, removes this problem altogether, making augmentation cheap and available for everyone. That is why it was such an important Macguffin. This means that Megan Reeds research at the opening sequence rendered Hugh Darrow’s entire motivation moot.

    Next, consider the Illuminati’s position: They don’t want to increase their wealth or power, apparently, they just want perfectly reasonable government regulation of augmentation research. If they have a perfectly reasonable goal, and they control the world’s foremost newsstation, and a significant percentage of the world’s most powerful governments, they why do they need to resort to murder, kidnapping, extremist fundamentalist groups, and lies in general? Why not just use their control of the major news networks and politicians to pass their perfectly reasonable legislation? Normally, the only thing preventing perfectly reasonable legislation is the wealthy and powerful opposing it.

    Next, consider the fact that David Sarif is augmented, and wasn’t driven insane like everybody else. Or the fact that it made no sense for the entire illuminati to all be in one isolated place, when it is a well known fact that David Sarif is opposed to the extreme fundamenalist luddites and that he has an augmented killing machine assassin on his payroll, who has been steadily killing his way through the employees hired by the Illuminati, and that he might have figured out who they are by now.

    This means that Hugh Darrow sabotaged his own scientific creation for no real reason, the Illuminati killed a bunch of people and started riots for no apparent reason, thereby prompting David Sarif to send an apparently unstoppable superhuman killing machine to kill them.

    David Sarif is the only one here who is even remotely sane. And he is sane despite the fact that the Augmentation scrambling frequency should have driven him insane. This plot is a trainwreck.

    • Infinitron says:

      He wanted to destroy augmentation, because he didn’t want to create a society where most of humanity gets left behind.

      No, you misunderstood Hugh Darrow’s character. His motivation was that he didn’t want to create a world where the Illuminati or any other group could control people through their augmentations, which he believed would have happened anyway.

      He also was becoming disgusted by the Augmented Brave New World he’d ushered in, which he couldn’t be a part because of genetic incompatibility.

      Next, consider the fact that David Sarif is augmented, and wasn’t driven insane like everybody else.

      Because he didn’t put a TYM biochip in his head, duh.

      • Bryan Bridges says:

        You just said he was disgusted by the Brave New World he’d ushered in, which he couldn’t be a part of because of genetic incompatibility. Like I said, the entire signifigance of Megan Reed’s research, is that this is rendered irrelevant. The entire point of her research, and the reason it was such a huge Macguffin, is that it made everyone genetically compatible with augmetics.

        Secondly, Megan Reed was able to easily invent something that could prevent people from being controlled by radio frequency, and the primary means by which people are being controlled at the start of the storyline- drugs that prevent rejection- are, again, rendered irrelevant by Megan Reed’s research.

        • Infinitron says:

          Megan’s research was about eliminating Neuropozyne dependence. Hugh Darrow had some unspecified condition that was even worse. He couldn’t use augs at all.

          Besides, I think Darrow’s disgust goes deeper than that. He was a tired old man, who invented this incredible technology when he was younger, more vital and less introspective.
          Then, as he grew older, he looked back at the world he’d created and thought “Yech! Look at these people implanting metallic limbs into themselves! I just wanted to help amputees! How did it come to this? What have I done?”, etc, etc. The fact that he couldn’t be augmented himself just drove in that disgust harder.

          At least, that’s how I read his character. I do think that his depiction was not as good as it could have been. That final confrontation in the Panchaea Tower was really insufficient.

          Secondly, Megan Reed was able to easily invent something that could prevent people from being controlled by radio frequency

          That’s non-canon. ;) Seriously, I doubt Hugh Darrow would care. He’d become an extremist. To him, putting a computer in your head means that somehow, somewhere, someone can control you. And technically, that’s true. Augmentations have firmware, I presume. Who writes the firmware? Can they be trusted?
          Megan had patched that specific exploit, but nobody could ever remove the underlying problem.

      • Bryan Bridges says:

        The site copied my post for some reason. I got a message saying “bad response from server” and saw my post copied. Meh.

    • Thomas says:

      Dude I think you’re confusing logical actions and logical character actions. What was brilliant about Deus Ex: HR is they nailed logical character actions. The conversations worked perfectly as complex characters acting exactly how they should.

      I don’t know if you ever got the persuasion perk. But as part of it it’s gives you a break down of the people’s characters. And a big thing about Darrow was he has zero empathy for other people and a superiority complex. When he said he was doing it for the good of society, he wasn’t telling the truth, although he believed he was. He essentially believed that whatever he thought was the truth, and if you point out to him that he’s actually just destroying society and killing people he will refuse to here the point or understand the pain of people’s deaths.

      And the Illuminati didn’t just want ordinary legislation, They wanted legislation because the legislation was being written and enforced by them. If you listen to some bits of dialogue in the game, and the Illuminati ending, they wanted legislation, not because it’s a good idea but because it puts them in a position to control the power of other people. What’s more they were using the powerful people and the media to control the legislation, a lot of the emails revealed these were the main tools. But powerful non-illuminati people (like David Sarif) were doing their best to stop them. Not all powerful people are conspiracists, or even most of them, else they would have already one. The terrorism was just seasoning to give them more power. The kidnapping was something else entirely, it was them exploiting the power they already have to put every human being under their control. They just had multiple aims.

      As far as I’m aware the illuminati were never in one place at the same time and in fact only three members were. The after credits cutscene shows that most of the Illuminati are alive and functioning even if you destroyed the whole installation. All three of them that were present were present for pretty good reasons (except maybe the bio-chip lady, but if Sarif was there, she could be there).

      The only thing I found disappointing with Deus Ex was too much of a gameplay focus. I exploited all the boss fights so I didn’t mind those and in a lesser game they would have been incredible boss-fights (even by Deus Ex standards, the last one was okay, if you had high enough persuasion you could skip it, if you had stealth you could employ that, if you had hacking you could employ that) and were very responsive to core mechanics like stealth (the first two fights in particular).

      The ending was brilliant. To choose to end the game with a choice was brilliant. And I still can’t decided which choice was the best. Letting humanity discover for itself was what I wanted. I wanted to tell Darrows truth, with Taggarts result and freedom from the illuminati. The only option I didn’t consider was proponed by the one human of the three I trusted. Brilliant stuff :D

      • Infinitron says:

        In fact, only junior members of the Illuminati were present at Panchaea. Zhao was explicitly not a member of the Inner Circle (and very angsty about it), and Taggart didn’t seem to take them all that seriously either.
        The heavy hitters – Everett, DeBeers, DuClare, Page – were all safe and sound.

      • Bryan Bridges says:

        You said that Hugh Darrow has zero empathy and a huge superiority complex. Does that mean he did this just because he hates people? Megan Reed’s research still makes every reason he listed for doing this irrelevant.

        And I can understand that the Illuminati wanted to wield power. That still makes the way in which they tried to obtain their goals- which were apparently reasonable at this point in time- one of the most inefficient, pointlessly criminal ways possible.

        Lastly, part of what really bothered me is the “Hugh Darrow” ending. It is outright stated that humanity rejected Augmetics in that ending because you told them the truth, and that you did it to prevent most of humanity by being left behind. Not only does this ending show a lack of understanding of human nature- when have we ever walked away from powerful technology, regardless of how dangerous it is?- but this ending shows total ignorance of the fact that Megan Reed’s research rendered the whole “getting left behind” thing irrelevant. It was an ending that failed to acknowledge the events at the start of the game.

        • Shamus says:

          There were two issues with “getting left behind”. One was people who couldn’t use augs medically. The other was people who couldn’t use augs because they couldn’t afford them. The idea was that rich people could get the best augs, which would make them really, demonstrably better than other people. This would deepen the rich / poor divide. Worse, it would entrench it. (If you family is poor than you can’t get augs which means you will be poor, etc.)

          • Bryan Bridges says:

            That is very good point, Shamus. I forgot about that. It still seems wierd that Hugh Darrow was complaining about his biological incompatibility problems when Megan Reed fixed those at the start of the game to my knowledge.

      • Joe says:

        “The ending was brilliant…”

        I liked the fact that you ended on a big choice like that, and I liked the individual endings well enough. (To be honest, the only one I felt I could morally take was the “Blow up Panchea and let the people choose” one.) But I felt like the way it was presented, with the dare I say Deux Ex Machina (The literary device, not the game) Resolution-o-matic, felt a little bit off. That’s not to say I could think of a better way to do it, but the “press button, get ending” thing didn’t really work for me.

  37. Velkrin says:

    Shamus: “I played through it two and a half times”

    I played through three times myself. Standard playthough, pacifist playthough and omnicidal maniac playthough (complete and utter annihilation of the populations of Detroit and Hengsha)

    I was rather disappointed that no one commented on the fact that I wiped out everyone on the Detroit’s Police Department night shift. There were no news articles talking about how some madman had depopulated the streets of Hengsha. Worst of all Sarif didn’t thank me for eliminating a fair chunk of the rival company’s R&D department. So I shot him too.

    The only exception to my rampage was Malik. Nobody harms Malik.

  38. KelThuzad0398 says:

    Speaking from the position of someone who never played the first Deus Ex, the start of human revolution was interesting, but my first attempt was using lethal and stealthy methods. Unfortunately, this playstyle is really gimped as the starting lethal weapons are not silenced and the lethal takedowns make sound while the nonlethal takedowns do not. This kind of put me off the game, considering how useless going lethal is and how strong nonlethal methods are.

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  1. By Truth! « Random Ramblings of Rude Reality on December 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    […] December 21, 2011 // 0 Dénouement 2011: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Twenty Sided I will give the game credit for this: The story worked. This should not be praise. This should be […]

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