It’s 2027 and the world is dominated by mega-corporations, shady organisations and crime syndicates. Biomechanical augmentations are a common sight, replacing lost limbs and damaged organs. With augmentations giving an edge in both business and crime to those who can afford them, a pro-human front calls for regulation measures to be placed on the corporations producing such technology. Sarif Industries is just one of the corporations leading the way in human augmentations, and protecting the company’s private security is ex-cop, and the game’s protagonist, Adam Jenson.
Events begin moments before an attack on Sarif Industries’ HQ in Detroit. Jenson is called into action but finds it’s more than a mere terrorist attack by the pro-human front. As the ex-cop faces his employer’s attackers, he is outmatched by their high-tech augmentations and is left for dead. Teetering between life and death, Jenson’s horrifically injured body is recovered and work begins to save his life. Six months pass and Jenson is back working for Sarif, only this time with a highly augmented body of his own. With a number of Sarif’s top scientists missing and presumed dead, including Megan Reed who serves as Adam’s love interest, Jenson sets about finding those responsible for the attack. What follows is a web of intrigue, deception and conspiracy in a story where the only person Jenson can trust is himself.
After the first couple of missions, which are designed to ease you into the world of Deus Ex, you’re pretty much free to explore the streets of Detroit. Progressing the story will haven you visiting other cities that include Shanghai and New Orleans. It’s during these hub-like areas that you’re free to take on side missions. Each of the locations you get to visit in Human Revolution have a current day ambiance, architecture and style about them blended in with a cyberpunk setting reminiscent of movies like Bladerunner. Although each of the city locations are far from the sprawling worlds seen in other RPG games, the compact nature and character of each feel more suited to the tense and claustrophobic nature of a world divided by the haves and have nots.
The side missions always feel very different to those that progress the main story, which make them all the more appealing to play. You’ll be carrying out tasks such as dealing with blackmail, corrupt police officers, extortion rackets, tracking down rogue augmented agents and many more. The way you go about these is entirely up to you. You could choose to help out from the kindness of your own heart, or just think of yourself, taking advantage of the situation. Either way, you’re not penalised for how you decide to go about business in the world of Deus Ex. The only other thing worth mentioning about the side missions is that some are easy to miss. If you move to the next chapter of the story any unfinished missions you may have cannot be returned to; meaning that if you want to unlock everything – including those all important Achievements and Trophies – then you need to play through the entire game again.
When it comes to the main story it’s intriguing enough to make you want to continue, even if a bit predictable at times, but it often lacks pace or variety. The main basis generally forms meeting a key character, infiltrating a building and then exfiltrating through heavily armed guards. The only variety comes in the form of how you tackle each of the situations, and this is where the game truly shines and sets it apart from other first person action-adventure games. Every environment offers more choice than a box of Quality Street. You can decide to go for the stealthy approach and vanish from the scene like a sneaky cybernetic ghost, pull out many of the game’s satisfying weapons and go in all guns and augmentations blazing, or use a combination of both. Even though the choice is there, each level feels to have been designed around stealth being the main option.
As you complete missions, stealth actions and take-downs, you’re awarded with XP, which in turn gives you a “Praxis” point. These can be spent on upgrading your existing augmentations or unlocking new ones. Augmentations are split up into seven key areas: cranium, torso, arms, eyes, back, skin and legs. Each of these are then split up into a number of upgrades; so cranium will see you upgrading hacking skills, arms offer strength, and skin makes you tougher. Early on in the game the temptation to spend Praxis points on upgrading Jenson to become more stealthy or an all out action hero is very tempting. However, the better plan is to keep your upgrades till you need them to get past any obstacles that might lay in your way during a particular mission.
Character models and animations sometimes look a bit wooden, and on occasion some locations are a bit on the bland side, but mostly it all looks very nice indeed – being suitably shiny or grimy when called for. The choice between action and stealth works perfectly, with it always feeling very satisfying to sneak past an entire level without ever being spotted. The interactions with the world around you and the game’s choice of arsenal constantly feels solid – just wait till you get your hands on the P.E.P Gun! Overall, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the game that the series has been crying out for since the original eleven years ago. If you’re into more than just the run-and-gun formula of certain other upcoming action games, or looking for a more cerebral slice of gaming, then you really do need to have this in your collection.