Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a world of expectation to live up to on PC – arguably more here than anywhere else. The original Deus Ex is revered by gamers of all stripes, but PC gamers are particularly passionate about it because, well, it’s theirs.
It was as a PC only game that Deus Ex paved the way for both modern action RPG genre blending and the kind of emergent, choice driven gameplay that every serious developer now strives for – and so many years ahead of its time everyone else is still catching up.
So for many of the faithful, regardless of opinions on other platforms, its only here on PC the final verdict on Square Enix’s prequel follow up in Deus Ex: Human Revolution could really be rendered.
What’s emerged on PC is a worthy sequel that while flawed is still an excellent action RPG that retains much of the original’s spirit. Deus Ex: Human Revolution spins an excellent, deeply atmospheric yarn.
Players are given a great freedom of choice in developing their character and, most importantly, a world flexible enough to provide myriad ways to progress and experiment with those abilities as you tackle its open world and set pieces. Better yet, the PC provides you with the best refinements and tools to enjoy this adventure.
One of Deus Ex Human Revolution greatest strengths is its narrative. It’s a time of global unrest in this prequel set more than fifty years before Deus Ex in the year 2027, as society struggles morally and violently with the concept of mechanical human augmentation.
You play Adam Jensen, the Security Chief for Sarif Industries, one of the major players in the augmentation industry, who’s fatally injured when a group of augmented Mercenaries attack the company.
Forced to become augmented himself, Jensen must uncover a global conspiracy travelling from your starting point in Detroit to futuristic metropolises like Shanghai and Montreal which serve as your sprawling mission hubs.
It’s still just as orange on PC.
It’s a darkly engrossing tale of corporate intrigue, morality and the battle for humanities future. Despite his personal struggle to adapt to what’s happened to him his augmentations give Jensen better combat skills, the ability to soak up damage, kill with blades in his hands, hack into security computers, affect people’s emotions with pheromones or even go invisible.
It’s with this developing arsenal that Jensen sets out to avenge the deaths at Sarif and get to the bottom of things. It’s an enjoyable tale, based on old school cyberpunk tropes and it’s driven by your conversations on quests, cut scenes and a wealth of tit-bits hidden on hacked computers.
Yes, its a heavy handed homage to Blade Runner, but it does it all so well that by the time you’re even halfway through the Detroit section you’re well invested to find out what happens in the end.
It’s hardly shocking that Deus Ex Human Revolution on PC is easily the best looking version of the genre blending prequel, but that shouldn’t be overlooked. Human Revolutions atmosphere is key to what it does best, which is get across a rich future world and tell its story.
Even if you aren’t running a top of the line graphics card this is a pretty game on PC, and it supports both DX9 and DX 11, although the difference between the two API’s isn’t mind-blowing. You just get more fine detail if you’ve got chops to run DX11 over DX9, but it’s great either way.
But sharper, more atmospheric looks aren’t the biggest difference maker on PC, it’s the platform’s controls. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is ostensibly a stealth driven game, with many of Jensen’s augmentations leaning toward hacking, invisibility and other sneaky leaning traits.
Levels are largely designed that way, with a focus on dodging guards, avoiding cameras and additional XP awarded for ghosting through levels.
Making wise choices with your augmentations early on is key, its a pity there isn’t better guidance in the game to help.
Your lack of combat ability has been a major problem in other platform reviews but ironically on PC Deus Ex: Human Revolution is actually more viable as an action shooter.
The precision granted by the mouse makes using joypad feel like playing with mittens on in comparison and its new third person cover mode works far better here.
You can actually make tight head shots with ease – constantly getting the very welcome Markman XP bonus. Blind firing from behind cover actually has a chance of hitting foes. You can more easily take on groups of enemies and it really opens up the game for those who, due to the violent vagaries of their personality, prefer combat to stealth.
That’s augmented by the keyboard layout of your weapons, as it’s much quicker to hit a number than summon a selection wheel to choose weapons or abilities. The little things count too, like the ability to quickly type passwords on work stations with a real life keyboard rather than the stick driven on screen one – handy when you’re hurrying to get a password in before an enemy on patrol catches you.
Hacking, which you use to by-pass doors, switch off cameras or unlock areas in a node based mini game, benefits in a similar fashion with tighter mouse control cumulatively shaving precious seconds off tough hacks.
None of this fine tuning of the controls or tighter interface can totally make up for some of Human Revolutions fundamental flaws however. While quite aggressive in combat, its enemy AI often responds to stealth poorly, forgetting about you when you hide or not responding to unusual occurrences that should bring them running, rendering stealth less than satisfying.
The games levelling up system, which very sparingly grants you Praxis points to develop your augmentations, can be frustrating as it can force you down a single skills path. That can however be overcome by doing plenty of side missions to earn a more rounded set of augmentations.
Yippee kai kai! On PC better controls mean you can actually take on groups of bad guys in fire fights quite easily.
These issues are a pain, but forgiveable in the larger context, especially now that combat is a real option again. No other game in years gives you anywhere as near as many choices as to how to tackle missions.
Will you go directly in and fight, jump in down from roofs with special augs, sneak around vents hacking cameras and auto cannons or even simply augment yourself to be able to go invisible and waltz past enemies?
This sandbox of choice goes right down to the individual aug and weapon level, as you puzzle out the best way to use your many toys – will you use lethal force or not, melee or explosives, long range guns or short? All this goes a long way to obscuring Human Revolutions flaws and engrossing you.
What’s harder to forgive are Deus Ex: Human Revolutions boss battles, which are very counter-intuitive to its spirit of choice. You can’t use non-combat skills to beat the cadre of killers who maimed you and that’s a problem if you’ve spent precious Praxis points on becoming super stealthy. It’s massively frustrating as you can die repeatedly or even worst have to back track to up your health or combat abilities to deal with them.
That said there’s more than enough good here to totally outweigh the bad, and the world itself is increasingly fascinating, which drives you onward.
Make no mistake this is a game that you have to play, and it’s ironic that Human Revolution’s slogan is ‘It’s not the end of the world but you can see it from here’, because in many ways that’s symbolic of both its strengths and weakness.
Eidos Montreal has crafted a game so capable of drawing you into its world, both narratively and mechanically, that its flawed mechanical edges, the seams at the end of its gameplay world as it were, stick out more than they might in any other game.
As the narrative unfolds you’re increasingly drawn in as both details of this world and its characters start to emerge.
You expect more from it because it already does so much so well, it’s just a pity it isn’t a more uniformly inspired offering. We’re hoping it does well enough to get a follow up that’ll allow Eidos Montreal to get it right.
But with its many control improvements and general ability to present its atmospheric world with greater fidelity the PC is the place to get the definitive Deus Ex Human Revolution experience – and now having played it across multiple platforms we can definitively vouch for that.