Updated Thu, Aug 25, 2011 by Stow
Deus Ex has often been referred to as the Holy Grail of gaming by its rabid fans. It sported a massive and immersive world, with a relatively emotionless protagonist to create your own image for. It also sported combat that had multiple ways to win, and eventually this style of gameplay could be seen later in games such as Bioshock, where crafty spells have just as lethal effects as bullets.
....but yes, you can just shoot everyone to pieces if you so choose.
So the bar is quite high for Deus Ex : Human Revolution. We already saw one sequel in Deus Ex: Invisible War try to remake that epic feel of JC Denton’s adventure, the protagonist of the first game. While it wasn’t a bad game, it was nowhere near the level of awesome that the fan base was expecting. Now it’s up to the guys at Eidos to learn from their mistakes and make a worthy sequel of a legend. But did they succeed?
Human Revolution, and the Deus Ex series in general are a wealth of genres pooled together. Since each one is an important part of the whole, we’ll approach the gameplay one at a time.
The first part of the gameplay that will probably stand out to you are the stealth portions. These are common, but largely optional. Forced stealth is not a fun mechanic, and I’m happy to see the developers realized this. Being spotted will almost always trigger attacks and possibly reinforcements depending on the alert level, but the AI for better or for worse is completely retarded. If you so much as duck behind a box for a few seconds, the sentries will go right back to their posts/along their merry way. Seeing as we’re not playing Metal Gear, I can accept this. It also helps with the flow of the game. If you’re constantly getting spotted and not playing a combat-oriented character, you’ll definitely appreciate the quick resetting of patrols. But the stealth gameplay isn’t just get by—it can also be get to your opponents for conversations or quick kills.
Stealth is optional, but the rewards are so much more satisfying than playing Rambo.
When the blood spills, it turns into a fairly standard game. Fans of the original will be happy to see that your accuracy isn’t horrendous at long range now, and like every other damn shooter, we’ve got a cover system. Even when you get hit, there’s a health regeneration element. A lot of you probably stood up and yelled after reading that, but fear not. It’s fairly slow, and if you pump up the difficulty, extremely slow. Mistakes in combat are not easily fixed as a result, so you can’t rely on being in cover for 5 seconds to restore your health. You restore your ‘mana’ as well when it is depleted, but only enough for one action’s worth. You have to find consumables to restore the rest. Attacks such as Takedowns (lethal or non-lethal, more on this later) will use your energy just like special attacks.
Hacking has always been a staple of any sci-fi RPG, and it returns in this game in multiple forms. Like Bioshock or Fallout, you’ll hack computers to read messages and use turrets. But you’ll also be hacking keypads, or if you’re not man enough, you can typically find the code in the stage if you search enough. The actual hacking process itself is a difficult little mini game about territory control. You capture ‘territory nodes’ on the way to the AI’s core, but along the way, the AI will come to life and begin taking territory back and try to make its way to your home point. Fail, and chances are you just pissed off the whole complex!
One of the places Human Revolution shines is in the conversations. There are multiple paths, but unlike Mass Effect for instance, the asshole or bribery response is not a guaranteed way to get what you want. Eventually you’ll get augmentations to help you detect what kind of person you’re talking to, but until then you’ll have to rely on your wits and analysis to determine how the person best responds. Each conversation will only happen once if you reach an end point that locks you out, so don’t think you can just mash options and work your way to a resolution through trial and error. Note that you can actually hover over your conversational choice to see what you’re going to say fully, rather than just some little quip, which is a nice feature for those of us seeking to fully define our main character’s personality.
All in all, the spirit of the original is definitely noticeable, and this is a very good thing!