on Mar 23, 2012
And so we have come to the end of Human Revolution. So naturally, Adobe Premiere threw a fit and I had to re-encode the video and upload it super late. Because nothing can go off without a hitch when Reginald Cuftbert’s at the helm!
It does really seem strange when I look back at this season. As I mentioned in the video, most of the time, when we’re approaching the end of a season, I just can’t wait until it’s over. There’s always a palpable urge in the back of my mind to just get on with it, because we’ve all worn ourselves out by fixating on the same flaws ad nauseum. It’s easy to stay level headed while talking about a game’s flaws for an hour or two; Try analyzing a game for twenty hours and you’ll probably want to hit someone before the end. Do that all while recording yourself on camera and you might just become marginally famous on the internet for being a massive meta-troll that shoves lit dynamite down people’s pants.
But that didn’t really happen in Human Revolution. Not just the pants dynamite, but also that we never really got to the point where the game had worn out its welcome with us. Well, except at the very end when everything went completely insane. Maybe it’s because the game was short enough that we didn’t end up spending as much time on it as with other games; this season is a good 25% shorter than our Fallout: New Vegas run. But, at least for me, I think there’s something more to it.
I mentioned at the end of our New Vegas run that I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters or factions that we’d encountered in the game. I felt as if the entire setting of New Vegas was just filled with caricatures that exist only for some narrative or humorous purposes. None of them ever felt real to me, and I didn’t see why I should even care about what happens to New Vegas at all. And that’s coming from someone who lives in Las Vegas!
Human Revolution, on the other hand, has a much smaller ensemble of characters, and most of them have their own nuances. Sarif isn’t just a generic cyberpunk bad boss – or even just a good boss. He’s got a lot of subtle (and more importantly, consistent!) traits – his love of baseball, the almost child-like idealism with which he views augmentations, the way he seemed to prioritize saving the lives of his staff when Darrow sprung his mustache-twirling evil-but-somehow-not plan; so much so that the first words out of his mouth when you find him are “Adam?! Oh thank god, you came! I’ve got wounded here. We’ll have to move them first.”
Well, when he’s not complaining about you holding a stun-gun, anyway.
And Pritchard isn’t a token insufferable teammate, Malik isn’t a generic second love interest, and Sandoval isn’t a run-of-the-mill bad-guy. The character writing in this game is really strong, so much so that when a character does end up being a generic, undeveloped caricature, like Hugh Darrow, or just completely underdeveloped in general, like Megan, it really sticks out. But even with those issues, the rest of the cast had me genuinely interested enough to want to see the game to the end twice in a row.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a lot of intriguing elements, and it gets a lot of things right. The plotting may be haphazard – and there’s really no excuse for that ending. And the boss fights are completely inexcusable. But the subtleties of the characters, the excellent dialogue, and the unique approach to how the player interacts with other characters; these are all elements that not only have merit, but were executed very well. They are elements that other game developers would do well to incorporate into their own games in the future.
Josh Viel is the primary editor and producer of the Spoiler Warning video series. You can support the show by backing the Patreon.