Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) is a global conspiracy thriller set in a near future world where replacing human body parts with high-tech prosthetics is a violently controversial new trend. A first-person shooter role-playing game that lets you approach objectives as you please, its key theme is that human advancement will widen the gap between haves and have-nots.
The year is 2027 and you play as Adam Jensen, security chief at Sarif Industries, a biotech firm that specialises in the field of human augmentation. Just hours before researchers plan to announce a breakthrough which would allow access to augmentation technology for everyone and not just the super-rich, a shadowy organisation attacks Sarif, killing the majority of its researchers and leaving Jensen broken and dying. However, he soon rebuilt with military-grade augmentation technology and sets off on a mission to track down those responsible for the attack.
Stretching across two open world playgrounds, the world of Deus Ex is undoubtedly one of its many high points. Detroit is a seedy, crumbling industrial city subject to violent protests against augmentation, while Heng Sha, an island off the coast of Shanghai, is a smog and neon-infused Chinese metropolis which sees the poor live in the shadow of the powerful who have built another city on top of ground level. They might not be the largest free roaming locations, but Human Revolution environments are fantastically realised. Theye beautifully drawn, peopled by colourful characters and richly layered with things to do and find.
Sneak or shoot
Human Revolution is all about player choice, allowing you to approach your objectives in the way that suits you. If you want to play stealthily without killing opponents to achieve your objectives, you can. If you prefer going in all guns blazing, that option's open too, and either way you'll acquire a range of new augmentations that boost your abilities. If you opt to stick to the shadows, you might want to install a cloaking system, unlock the ability to look through walls or dampen the sound of footsteps to sneak around like a ghost. You'll look for vents to travel through rather than doors, disable cameras, send guards to sleep with tranquiliser darts, and hack terminals to discover computer logins and door codes.
Take a more hands-on approach and the game becomes a great cover-based shooter. You can blind-fire or peer out for an accurate shot and each fully upgradeable weapon packs a satisfying punch. You can turn the odds in your favour by augmenting your combat abilities and armour, by planting mines and turrets, or by boosting your melee ability to take down two enemies at a time. As powerful as you are though, you never feel totally safe because augmentations can only be used for a short period each time.
Filled with branching paths, every mission features a multitude of ways to complete your goals, giving the game great replay value. You could probably blast through the primary objectives in 15 hours or so, but exploring the world and engaging in the dozen or so optional side-missions will double your play time.
Unfortunately, despite there being an achievement for completing the game without killing anyone, you are actually forced to eliminate four bosses. These unavoidable combat sections feel a little out of place in a title so rich with freedom, especially if you're taking a stealth approach to the wider game, although those who choose to play with a focus on action won mind one bit. Similarly, some lengthy loading times jar a little, and the hacking mini-game, while inspired, can be a little fiddly to execute.
The game's not perfect, then, but it is mighty close. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a great stealth title, a fantastic shooter, and both combine to create a superb role-playing experience that without doubt a Game of the Year contender.
+ Gameplay freedom of choice.
+ Wonderfully realised world.
+ Deep, immersive story.
- Longish loading times.
- Boss battles won be to everyone taste.
- Hacking mini-game can be fiddly.