The Human Revolution
Deus Ex (the original) was a ground breaking game, which blended a darkly futuristic cyberpunk story, with an RPG/shooter that let you pretty much do your own thing. The means truly did justify the end in DX. I've long been a fan of cyberpunk and its associated ideas/themes and eagerly awaited the sequel/prequel – Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
I've spent pretty much just under a week or so with this one and the bottom line: Human Revolution is a worthy successor to Deus Ex and a fine game. Just like Deus Ex, Human Revolution is a game that may be linear, but offers that much choice in how you approach your tasks, it feels non-linear as well.
Being a prequel, you don't need to play Deus Ex, or Deus Ex: Invisible War to enjoy Human Revolution either - though I recommend that you at least track down Deus Ex (even though it's an old game now).Story
You're cast in the role of Adam Jensen, ex-SWAT and now Chief of Security at a global biotechnology firm, Sarif Industries. On the eve of a massive breakthrough in biotech research something goes wrong, Adam is nearly killed and ends up undergoing a life saving augmentation procedure, one that comes with its own set of problems. There's anti-augmentation feeling throughout the whole game, with a human led purity group and a general dislike from many quarters, of this technology that makes you more than human.
The rest of the story is a stark cyberpunk tale that is full of conspiracy and twists and turns. The story is told through a mix of pre rendered and in-game cinematic and dialogues.Gameplay
Now the story is linear and takes you across the world in the course of the tale. It is possible to miss out on side quests in the game if you don't go looking or exploring for them. Your approach to how you tackle the missions, side quests and narrative of Human Revolution however is up to you. You can go in guns blazing, you can sneak, you can adapt your tactics on the fly and it is possible (in fact there's an achievement) to go through the game and not kill anyone except bosses.
You can be as cold and detached in conversations as you want, or as welcoming and friendly. You can play the Adam Jensen you want to play and the game won't penalise you for it. That said, the social aspect of the game is quite a large one, there are social boss fights where you need to try and say the right thing to get what you want or the best outcome. These are very interesting exchanges and can have lasting effects on the late game depending on how you handle them.
There are augmentations to help with all kinds of elements of DX HR, from stealth fields, to emotional readers, such as the CASIE mod. One that literally lets you see the blush responses, pupil dilations and heart rates of NPCs. You can pick up their personality based on how you treat them in the initial stages of a conversation and use a special pheromone enhancer to influence the outcome. Pick the right tactic and you'll get them to open up and more. Some of the augmentations take energy, and you have several energy bars that can be replenished with nutrients in game. So don't think you can just stay cloaked forever.
As far as core gameplay goes, if the bullets start flying, then it's possible to hold your own. Stick to cover, play Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 style and pick your enemies off intelligently. You can adapt tactics on the fly, fade from view with the stealth 'glass-shield' aug and reposition, you can use brutal lethal takedowns or non-lethal takedowns to thin out enemies that stray too far from their position. You can basically play the game's combat like Splinter Cell: Conviction if you want.
There are lots of weapons, weapon mods and gadgets to help you out. From gas grenades, frag mines, mine templates (letting you make your own mines by combining grenades with them) to pistols, combat rifles, non-lethal tranq and stun guns. There are weapon mods that increase damage, reload speed and even allow for tracking seeker bullets that let you curve the bullets into your enemies.
The whole review could be taken up with the guns and gadgets in DX HR because there's that many.
The moment to moment gameplay, combat, raw and brutal, stealth (some of the best since Thief) and exploration are excellent. There are numerous routes, directions to go, options for you to use and ways to play that it's nearly impossible to list them all. For example, you can move small boxes to make box stairwells, you can move bigger boxes with the right upgrade and there are sections of the early game areas that can be explored if you take the time and trouble to think creatively. The camera snaps out into a 3rd person view when you go into cover, from there you can move smoothly around corners, move from cover to cover with the touch of a button and get a situational awareness of your enemies.
The game rewards exploration in the form of XP points and you need those. XP gets you Praxis and Praxis means new augmentations can be activated from Jensen's aug menu or upgraded. The hacking augmentation was the first thing that I focussed on, early on I wanted Jensen to be this hacking god and punch through walls, because I knew that exploration would net me hidden Praxis Kits and more.
I hacked everything, stole every bit of information possible, and broke into every system and room I could find. This is just one way of playing though, because there are alternate routes in the game for every possible thing you can think of. There's a large list of augs for you to buy with Praxis, ones that will make exploring so much easier, ones that make stealth something really rewarding and even an augmentation for landing without falling damage (the best aug yet).