Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

jueves, 1 de diciembre de 2011 , Posted by admin at 1:29

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

Make no mistake; Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an RPG – or at least, it wants to be.

Modern first-person shooters tend to funnel us along a singular path, a fact that has more to do with technical

limitations than it does creative inadequacy. They (and when we say they, we mean ‘The Man’) don’t want us to go through any door we like, use whatever weapons we please or outsmart, rather than outshoot, the AI, because they are (The Man is) too busy spending all our console’s resources on flashy graphics that are microscopically superior to the competition. No, you’ll go through that door, holding that gun, and you’ll shoot them while collecting bullets with your insta-healing face.

There’s nothing wrong with that, we suppose. Like watching a summer blockbuster, the parts of the brain that cost energy, the problem solving parts, shut down. We run along with the right trigger held down, everything dies, we win. Applause.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution resolutely hates the notion that this formula constitutes gameplay. While the frontal assault technique is there should we want to turn it into every other shooter we’ve ever played, we can also keep a low profile, take down bad guys with either lethal or non-lethal force, stay out of sight completely, or we can hack every part of the enemy’s security, even turning automated defences against them.

Human Revolution purports choice in much the same way as BioShock did. Players unlock gradual upgrades

that can be customised to varying effect. In place of
Plasmids are Praxis points. During the opening scenes, player-character Adam Jensen is injured in an attack on Sarif Industries, the biotech giant that employs him as its chief of security. After the obligatory reconstruction montage (which had us humming the A-Team theme tune – you didn’t need to know that, but there it is), Jensen is informed that most of his augmentations are currently switched off, to be brought online gradually so that his body doesn’t reject the implants. Convenient, sure, but also one of the better excuses offered for the gradual unlocking of powers that’s staple to the RPG genre.

And make no mistake; Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an RPG, or at least, it wants to be.

We’re told that if we earn, buy, or find Praxis points, we can unlock our dormant abilities at a faster rate. We’re also warned that we’ll need to specialise, because there won’t be enough Praxis to unlock every one of Jensen’s abilities. Probably what Eidos Montreal needed to make a little clearer was just how much we’d need to specialise. By the time the end credits rolled, we’d unlocked around half of the total number available. We advise you give some serious thought to the type of approach you want to take before you get stuck into it.

Many of the problems we have with Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s choices are related to this limited levelling concept. We chose stealth and hacking as our specialities and ploughed most of our Praxis into the attributes associated with them: hacking of cameras, robots, safes, doors, emails and so on, as well as soundless

walking and temporary adaptive camouflage. But in doing so, we cut ourselves off from taking on each situation in a different way.

Choice is a good thing for two reasons: for one, it’s more involving, but more importantly it allows us to vary the way we play. If there are four ways to accomplish an objective, chances are we only have the attributes to make use of one or two of them, so despite Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s purported sense of freedom, its upgrade system rather than any artificial or geographical borders, is the primary device at work limiting it. Increasing our powers doesn’t open up the game world, instead it paints us into a corner. Our Jensen may be the best hacker out there, but he can’t shift that heavy wheelie bin out of our way when we really need him to.

There’s this guy we know in real life; he’s a microbiologist (for the purposes of this review, we’ll call him ‘Jack’, because his name is Jack). In his chosen field, specialisation is the only way forward. One microorganism would be researched and understood, then some small part of that microorganism, then some small part of that part and so on. “Every microbiologist in the world is the foremost authority on something,” he says, “trouble is, when I apply for a job, it’s a million-to-one shot that it’ll be the thing they’re looking for.”

And that’s exactly how Deus Ex: Human Revolution feels. Levelling is a case of catching up with whatever the game’s increasingly unwelcoming environments throw at us. ‘Robot hacking… we really need robot hacking

here. Note to self; upgrade it when we get some Praxis so that next time we’re in this situation we won’t be short of the skills we need.’ Trouble is, next time we don’t need robot hacking, we need strength, or slow-fall, or social augmentation, or more battery power. There’s always something, and that has a mildly detrimental effect on the gameplay. We’re always on the lookout for games that treat us like intelligent human beings, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s approach is one of the best we’ve come across. There are no reams of text to wade through, no tiresome ‘VR’ levels to train in. Instead, situations of complexity offer the option to sit back and watch a short, narrated video on the subject. If we want to learn by stubborn trial and error (and we live for that shit) that option is there for us too.

The game’s propensity to let us off the leash runs to every part of it. Shortly after the game begins, we’re set loose in downtown Detroit. It’s a relatively small area when set alongside the likes of GTA IV or Just Cause 2 – very small, in fact. But it’s bursting with stuff and begging to be explored. Take a look around and you’ll find NPCs offering side-quests, street rabble discussing the state of the world, hobos camped around burning oil barrels, the members of various gangs eyeing us from shadowy doorways.

It’s clear that Blade Runner has been an inspiration here: the way the hazy streets are furnished in neon, technology and sweat, how the hard orange light pours in through oversized corporate windows just a little too often for thematic coincidence. But there are other influences to be seen here, too. The author William Gibson, a man charged with the invention of cyberpunk has a hand, as do any number of anime. Ghost In The Shell, Cyber City Oedo 808 and Appleseed all feel as if they’re playing some small part in its design.
These influences have shaped the hacking system in Deus Ex: Human Revolution to feel how it appears in most ‘good’ science fiction; like a war between mind and machine.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s hacking mini-game is superior to every other; it’s deep and takes time to master. We could go into a page or two on how it all works and how our various upgrades affect each facet of it, but such details are better left to the discovery of its players. Suffice to say that, while initially bewildering, in the longer term it satisfies deeply.

Brownie points are also won through clever use of atmospherics. When the game is quiet, it’s really quiet, but as tension mounts, it uses a series of increasingly pressing audio and musical cues to add urgency where needed and calm where not.

Our list of minor gripes, however – while none prevent Deus Ex: Human Revolution from being, overall, a very decent game – is extensive.

There is a problem with the game’s character animation. From what we can tell, the majority have been animated by hand rather than motion capture. This lends the NPCs – as well as Jensen himself when we’re looking at him rather than through him – an awkward, Marcel Marceau quality, every gesture overstated, every subtlety misjudged.

Worse are the facial animations. Rather than hand-animate, or performance capture each speech, Eidos Montreal has instead employed a middleware package called FaceFX. Although the software allows comprehensive tweaking, we get the feeling that little of this was applied. The lip synch is like a dubbed Seventies kung fu movie; The Return Of The Five Deadly Venoms perhaps, or Fake White Panto Beards Of Fury. Truly, we have not seen a triple-A game this generation with facial movement that’s less realistic.
The dialogue leaves a lot to be desired too.

It’s functional, sure, but it comes across neither naturalistic, nor as proper drama should. This, plus the shonky facial animation, limited our ability to empathise with the characters in any meaningful way, which is why our usual ‘second time through, be an arsehole to everybody’, became the MO for our first run instead.

Once upgraded, Jensen’s social skills receive a pheromone ejection system that allows him to cleverly manipulate NPCs. It’s paper, scissors, stone. There are three discrete personality types – alpha, beta and omega – split into a three-row readout. As they speak, bars register in each personality type. When it comes time to persuade them, we can use this information to choose the correct dialogue option. Most NPCs are a mixture of personality types and all answers will please one type, while angering another, so the trick is to pick the rock to blunt the scissors, just not the rock that angers the paper.

Any game that offers its players a special power or two tends to rely on that empowerment to keep them interested. The thought of experiencing Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s violent future world through the eyes of a special operations security enforcer crammed with more sci-fi juju than the starship Enterprise is an appealing one. Adam Jensen should have been unique, almost superhero-like. But he’s not the only one with superhuman implants. From your average NPC on the street, through urban gang members, all the way to the game’s ‘boss’ characters, every sap, hobo, and counter clerk has something enhanced. It should be great fun being Superman, but if everyone else is also Superman, what’s the point?

This is quite off-putting. We found ourselves asking just how many amputees we’d see in real life on the street in, say, a year? One? Two maybe? In Deus Ex, most people have robot arms, legs or both. But ‘Ah!’ you say, ‘if those limbs are stronger and better then it makes sense that everyone will want them.’ What we say to that is. Here’s the offer: we’re going to saw off your arms and legs and replace them with clunky-looking bits of machinery that are – a bit – stronger than the ones you have. Would anyone in their right mind say yes to this proposal? No, it’s a lot of sci-fi for sci-fi’s sake. Most certainly, parts of Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s world are highly unconvincing.

It may seem that we’ve been a little harsh with our criticism of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but it’s a complex game and its minor faults take column inches to properly explain. Make no mistake, this is an excellent game, but it’s some way off perfect. Choice is an addictive drug. Where Deus Ex: Human Revolution offers us a little, we take it, we try it, we’re hooked and we’re back for more. When there is no more to give, however, there begins to creep regret.

Whether the prison walls are far distant or close by, you’re fenced-in either way, and in some small way at least, we’d have rather Eidos saved us the long walk, pleasant though it was.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review


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Article,photographs and video taken entirely from the web http://www.360magazine.co.uk/