Developer: Eidos Montreal
by: Jason "OrigamiPanther" Love
At its core, the RPG genre is all about the choices a player makes. Whether it’s choosing how to level your character, or choosing to save the village or let it burn whilst in pursuit of the villain, the choice is yours. As time has gone on, much of this choice has slowly been taken away in favor of flashier animation or more outlandish abilities. While Deus Ex: Human Revolution certainly doesn’t return to the roots of the original D&D progenitor in a cyberpunk setting [Ed. Note: See Shadowrun], it does restore much of that choice to the player.
Deus Ex: HR is actually a prequel to the events of the original Deus Ex, despite being the third entry in the Deus Ex series and arriving eight years after the last one was made. Set in the not too distant year of 2027 in the city of Detroit, Deus Ex: HR centers on the latest technological development that has the world talking: augmentation, or the replacement of body parts with mechanical ones that provide enhanced ability. This augmentation is also the center of a much heated debate about whether or not it should even be used and into the midst of this debate comes the game’s protagonist, Adam Jensen. Due to what appears to be a terrorist attack on his company, Adam involuntarily finds himself on the receiving end of this augmentation technology. How he uses it, though, is up to you.
With his augmented abilities, Adam can run faster, leap higher, punch through walls, and even fire out a deadly barrage of bullets in a 360-degree arc. Alternatively, he could be a stealthy hacker that sees through walls and marks his attackers in order to avoid them (there’s an achievement for not killing anyone). The choice entirely comes down to how you want to play the game and there are enough abilities present that you are free to find the style that works for you. The choice even extends to how you decide to handle some of the missions and side missions you come across.
All that choice, though, comes to a grinding halt at the game’s four boss encounters. These fixed points are where all those choices become rather meaningless as you feel like there really are only a few good choices to make when it comes to the augmentations. Once you hammer your way through, though, that joy of choosing whether or not you silently take down a group of foes one at a time, go in guns blazing, or bypass them altogether returns. Fans of the series will also find plenty of nods as to what’s to come and some interesting backstory on some characters, and even a few references to other classic sci-fi/cyberpunk titles.
Fans of RPGs that are fed up with the ever-expansive, yet extremely restrictive (from a player choice point of view), jRPG, or the seemingly too vast Western RPG may find a good balance with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The game even has appeal to non-RPG fans as it works as a competent first-person shooter and brings with it an interesting story that raises some very intriguing questions about where the line between man and machine should be drawn. For fans of the series, we’ve waited 8 years and finally gotten the sequel we deserve.