Few games have captured the real cyberpunk ‘high tec – low life’ feeling like the “Deus Ex” series. We just finished “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”, almost simultaneously.
Here are our highly subjective impressions. We don’t want to go into detail about the story-line and the universe etc. here, because only every gaming magazine on the planet got that covered. This is just a longish way of saying: We loved it.

Get it. Play it. Immerse.

The Wait

Thias: When I saw the first trailer for the long-awaited third installment of one of my most favorite games ever, I thought, f**k it, who cares about the game, make this a damn movie. I was blown away by the visuals and the settings,  and I just couldn’t imagine this would somehow be transformed into a game.

I’ve seen so many great render trailers for shitty games… Thank Eidos they didn’t listen to me.

Lene: Same here. I started drooling once I saw the first trailer. But I kept my hopes ‘low’, expecting the game to look nothing like it.

Thias: I loved the first “Deus Ex” (if you can’t get past the first level: you’re playing it wrong. Think outside the box, it gets MUCH better once you get the hang of it.  And I really liked the second one, too. Yes, that’s right. Did the garbage control system in Grim Fandango ruin the game? No? Right, same goes for “Deus Ex: Invisible War”.
The third one is the best of both worlds and then some. The look, the gameplay, the voice-acting…. great gaming moments. Of course there ARE some minus points, but honestly – they don’t matter at all to me.

The gut(ter) feeling

Lene: Detroit 2027 is just as down and dirty as it needs to get: the skyrises of the ultimate coporations, glowing like luminous bee hives in the night sky, and, below, the second class citizens, the scum, the non-augmented humans – left behind. I really dig the atmosphere in the streets and sewers of Detroit. A funny side wink: You can a hear a punk, spraying the walls in an alley, whistle the title melody of the first “Deus Ex” game. Hengsha, the second city you get to go to, was also a kick-ass ‘Bladerunner’-esque setting I had lots of fun exploring, especially the shady sides of the Kuigan and Daigong District. Alice Pod Gardens, the coffin hotel, is something straight out of the Sprawl trilogy.

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Mechanics

Lene: We both played the non-lethal variety. I only shot people if they really pissed me off. It took quite some getting used to ‘thinking outside the box’ again, being accomodated to tube levels from most other games. I mostly skilled stealth and hacking. This becomes rather problematic when it comes to boss fights, because nothing but brute force (and some thinking, timing and speed) will do the trick. So you do need weapons either way, even if you are not going to use them. At least, the boss kills do not count as real kills in your statistics. Also, I thought the boss fights had almost no connection the the rest of the game and were disproportionately difficult. I read they were outsourced, too.

Thias: In every “Deus Ex” game, I tried to find the most clever way to solve a problem. “Human Revolution” is in no way different. I usually end up doing things the non-lethal way – crawling through ventilation shafts, talking people into decisions, finding hidden routes, hacking computers… but there were parts in the game where I REALLY enjoyed reprogramming turrets and robots to fight against their owners (aka the real bad guys ;-)). As Lene said, the boss fights are a bit of a let-down, Eidos even apologized for them already.  What bugged me a bit about them is that they sometimes feel like they were taken from an entirely different game – gameplay-wise. There are no real alternative “clever” ways for most of them, most of the time it’s a question of timing and knowing where to stand in relation to the boss. Not very “Deus Ex”-like. I have to disagree with Lene on one thing though, I think they were connected to the game storywise and, except for one, didn’t find them especially difficult.

Hey babe, my augmented chest is so huge I can hardly reach my own elbows. See?

There is one more thing I could criticize – and THIS being the only “other” minor flaw for me should give you a pretty good idea how much I liked this game. In every second dialogue, the camera will switch to Jensen crossing his arms in front of him. No matter what he’s talking about. Totally random. You tell a woman her husband just died, and he suddenly goes into his “don’t give me shit, I’m in charge here”-stance while telling her how sorry he is. Actually, this gets pretty funny from a certain point on.

Lene: I think we’re mostly spoiled by “Mass Effect” character animations. Bioware does dialogues a little better.

Bugs

Lene: During the riots in Detroit, I had serious difficulties getting to the LIMB clinic-area and the convention center on the Taggart quest. It started as a sound bug, and then the game crashed. I do not know if this was a hardware-related problem or if the riot action just fucked up the game. But it was frustrating nonetheless.

Thias: I think I actually had no bugs or crashes at all. There were some clippings now and then, but nothing I found annoying.

The End(ings)

Thias: I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll try to keep this short. Of course there are different endings. I chose a different one than Lene. So I will go back to my PC RIGHT NOW and take a look at the other ones.

Lene: I am very happy with the ending I chose. It just felt right, and screw all the parties who tried to manipulate me into being their puppet, too. Overall, the game had a lot of subliminal political implications which are existential schisms of humanity – or soon will be. Are we flying into the sun too fast? Are cybernetic enhancements or medical progress a good or a bad thing? And which parties control the distribution of science? What is already possible today?

This is the kind of game you can explain to non-gamers and convince them that there is indeed a sort of intellectual approach. A radio station in Germany, DLF, for example, reported about it in relation to the recent riots and occupations, and they usually do not review games. You can listen to it here (in German, of course).

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