Monday, December 16, 2013

Game Review: "Deus Ex- Human Revolution"

I recently finished "Deus Ex: Human Revolution". The concept & story was interesting enough to make it worthwhile for me, but in my opinion the actual game play could have been much better.

Deus Ex takes place in the near future, 2027, where humans are physically merging with machines to an unprecedented degree. People with cybernetic augmentations are called "Augs," and they have abilities that are unavailable to natural humans.

As a result of the inevitable socio-political tensions that arise from one group having an advantage over another, an anti-augmentation movement forms, called "Purity First".

Far from being a mindless waste of time, games like this can actually offer powerful commentary on ethical issues like human augmentation & the role of technology in our evolution. These are emerging problems that are already in the news, and we are going to have to deal with very soon.




New Scientist:

Deus Ex is a 1st-person RPG shooter, so it has role-playing elements for the character interactions. Although I like the idea of influencing the story through the player's decisions, it was a little too much talking for my tastes. I've recently started the Mass Effect series, which also features alot of narrative and decision-making elements. It is much more seamless in that game experience, though. My main problem with that kind of interactivity is that I sit there trying to think of all the possible outcomes for any given choice of dialogue. Pondering these choices, combined with taking my time to look at all the visual elements, results in this kind of game taking me forever to play!

The setting of this game features futuristic locations such as Hengsha (Shanghai), where an upper metropolis level called "The Pangu" towers over the lower city. There is a predictable class division that results from this physical separation of the population.

Although the sci-fi look of the game is cool, the amber color that dominates most of the environments makes everything feel very bland & monotone overall. The city areas are much more open & engaging than the levels that are indoor corridors. The last level is an anti-climatic Arctic base that is mostly hallways. The enemies and firefights are pretty intense in those close quarters, though.

The main character is Adam Jensen, a security officer who got injured in a terrorist ambush. When he came out of his coma, he was augmented with military-grade cybernetic enhancements. He was given these implants & prosthetics by his employer, the biotech company Sarif Industries.

The character of Jensen is basically a clone of Neo from The Matrix- from his look to his voice. It's not too annoying, just not very original. He has all kinds of awesome powers to upgrade throughout the game resulting from his cyber-enhancements. He can increase his physical abilities, such as jumping over 9 ft. high, lifting heavy objects, and sprinting faster. There are also many sensory upgrades like being able to see through walls, targeting improvements, and stealth capabilities like cloaking.

My biggest criticism is one that applies to many games- even ones I really enjoy, like Assassin's Creed. By the time you have your character anywhere near to being fully leveled up... the game is over!!! Deus Ex has all these awesome augmented abilities for your character, but most of them aren't unlocked until the final chapters. Just as you are getting to enjoy these kick-ass superpowers, you realize there's not much game time left to use them.

Overall, it's a good game whose thought-provoking content & ideas about the future of humanity held my attention more than the mediocre game play or its spotty action.

• The Monkey Buddha's official rating: 7.5

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