Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution LogoLet me get the disclaimer out of the way before I go any further.  When the original Deus Ex was released back in 2000, it wasn’t even a blip on my radar.  College was starting and my eyes were squarely on Baldur's Gate 2 and Diablo 2 at the time.  Then came along Deus Ex: Invisible War, the 2003 sequel, and I purposely stayed away from that title, only hearing horrible things about its release including a multitude of bugs, not truly fitting in the atmosphere and world that the original created, etc, etc.  But it’s present day in 2011, and a new game has been released into the series: Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This time it’s a prequel to the original.  This is perfect; I don’t really need to know anything about the previous two games, and I can go into this one fresh.  How will that turn out?  Well, read on and we’ll find out together.  Please understand that spoilers will be mentioned and that each segment of this series will continually unravel different aspects of the game, much like a review, however, a very long winded review.  I’ll explain some side missions, the essence of the overarching story, and go into the details of the different components of the game, namely gameplay, graphics, sound, replay value, and stability.  In this first segment, story will be a large focus as you and I will be introduced to what’s going on.

If you’re into gaming whatsoever, you’ve probably caught a trailer or a website banner of this game sometime in the past 6 months and maybe have not thought any more of it.  I myself gave some articles a read here or there, with some interest remembering that the original Deus Ex was and still is a cult classic for its style of gameplay, which consisted of components including stealth, espionage, deep story, and some cutting edge gameplay.  Well, at least for its time.  After a couple trailers and some perusing on forums, my interest was peaked and I soon looked forward to the release.  Well, now it’s installed on my computer, via Steam, and I’m ready…

Let me set the mood here for the story.  It’s 2027, Detroit.  Yes, Detroit.  The color palettes of the game include some dark yellows and blacks, and it seems like the developers want to express a sort of Blade Runner vibe to the game.  There’s a grim undertone to the society due to differences in people’s beliefs between augmentation and “pure” humans which will be heard from the different non-player characters you pass on every street.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Loading ScreenYou play as Adam Jensen, an Ex-SWAT member who was let go over some little fiasco where multitudes of people were killed in Mexicotown.  Yes, that’s correct.  Mexicotown.  Some sort of massacre took place and this is why he’s not a SWAT member any longer.  We’re not really given details on the story at all in the beginning, but I’m sure they may be making an appearance later on.  Since then, he’s worked in private security and has started working for Sarif Industries--a company run by David Sarif, which has led the way with implementing augmentations into human beings to replace lost limbs, missing sight, and many other handicaps.  The story in the beginning is pretty much thrust at you; however you’ll be able to discern the gist of it as you go from conversation to conversation.  You’ll learn that a group called Purity First, who are considered terrorists, are trying to shut down Sarif Industries simply because they believe that you shouldn’t be tampering with the human genes as Sarif’s augmentations do.  Surprisingly, I’m not really picking up on any religious tones yet.  There’s also another group called Humanity First; however, they appear to be a nonviolent group protesting what Sarif Industries does, and they don’t seem to have ties with Purity First.  

In the beginning, you’ll be introduced to Megan Reed, a leading researcher with Sarif, who also happens to be Jensen’s old flame, who has discovered something “big” that she won’t speak more of.  Yes, anticipation building, right?  She’s currently on her way to Washington with Jensen in tow as security, to defend her research when all hell breaks loose.  All hell meaning that it appears that fully augmented beings break into the research facility and you find yourself running through the game’s tutorial where it tells you how to move, how to use cover, how to interact with the environment, and so on.  Now, at the beginning, you’re not told, but with the Purity First group not believing in augmentation, you’re not suspecting them as the intruders.  That’s where mystery comes into play and the motivation to keep playing enters.

Throughout the tutorial, you’ll be either shooting your way, or stealthily circumnavigating throughout the environments around enemies as you start to learn how easily you can die.  I’m playing on normal, which the developers have stated is “the way to play the game,”  but you should know that you’ll only be able to take a few hits before you die and then need to reload your last save.  This might not seem bad; however the game takes quite a long time to load, approximately 20 seconds per time.  While the load times can be jarring, and the idea of dying only after a few shots might catch some off guard, I enjoy the more realistic aspect of it instead of taking a few dozen rounds like some games.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution -- Death At the beginning of the game, when you start the tutorial, your character does not have any augments whatsoever.  You’ll notice this when you realize that no HUD is present on the screen.  Spoiler alert to follow… By the end of the tutorial, while looking for Megan, you come upon the intruders, those fully augmented beings I spoke of earlier.  Well, they basically wipe the floor with you, leaving you in a bloody mess.  From there, the beginning credits role, as you see how Sarif Industries applies augmentations to Jensen’s body to help him survive.  This is also where you’ll notice the production value of the game.  At different points throughout the tutorial and beginning cinematics, you’ll see how pre-rendered movies and gameplay are intermixed with each other--not in a jarring way that brings you out of you’re roleplaying experience, but in a way that further defines the environment and creates the mood and setting around you.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution -- Death 2You have just completed the tutorial…..

While this opening segment may seem a little chaotic, the segments to follow will vaguely continue the storyline including some side quests and also inform you of the different components of the game and how well they hold up throughout the entire game's experience.  As said before, these components will consist of graphics, sound, stability, replay value, and gameplay.  Some of these will be illustrated together and others will be more spread out as they tend to cover more material, however, I hope you enjoy.