Corpse Party

Sunday, October 2, 2011

DX3: Human Revolution – Review

The long awaited sequel or rather prequel to the first two games, a title I was hesitant to play. One reason was that I am by no means an Eidos fan and the second that … it’s published by SquareEnix.
The reasons I decided to review all this were also two. The good scores it managed to achieve in every magazine or site there is and the point that my co-worker DarkChaplain stopped playing it for a while. *g*

Some of you might have played it already, finished the game, congratulations for that feat since this one has a pretty healthy gameplay counter.
If the explanation of every detail is too long to bear for you, please feel free to jump to the "conclusion part".

Story of the beginning of a Revolution

The year 2027 Sarif industries is one of the most successful biotechnological companies in the world. Specialized in designing and manufacturing advanced mechanical augmentations for human implantations. The player takes of the role of Adam Jensen as private security service in Sarif for the upcoming augmentation hearing. Sadly after a short briefing everything goes wrong and Sarif industries is attacked by terrorists. Jensen who tries to stop the attack gets injured pretty badly so to save his life Sarif Industries in cooperation with the LIMB clinic force an augmentation implantation on him.

Next we see a really good animated cutscene which immediately reminds the players of movies like Wolverine, Robocop or the Animation Ghost in the Shell. It’s also fairly easy to spot the difference between game graphics and GC sequences. The in-game ones are a lot crisper and sharper while the facial expressions are much better in the cutscenes.
The story starts six months after the incident Adams first mission is to retrieve the prototype of the typhoon explosive system. It will also serve as an advanced tutorial for the game mechanics (since you didn’t have enough of that at Sarif). Once you learned everything there is to do in this game, back to Sarif.
This will be the kick start for your travels and investigations throughout the game, since it is the first clue the player will get to research what actually happened during the attack and everything else.
At the beginning the game makes you feel like it is up to something great, a story worth telling, since at the start of it all you really feel like Adam. Sadly that will change over time.

Main Characters and NPCs
The Game will feature a bunch of characters but only a few are important.

Our main character guy, Adam Jensen aka "X" who's currently employed by Sarif Industries and is also the guy the player will control throughout the game. The only times you'll be able to see him is either through cutscenes, dialoge sequences or when the player climbs up and down on a ladder. Other than that you're able to play through his eyes.

There’s David Sarif, founder and CEO of the company and basically the man you will work for. His arm is augmented as well and he believes that augmentations made this world a much better place. He's also the author of "Building Wings: A Better Tomorrow" an E-Book series which you can find throughout the game.

Hugh Darrow, founder of the augmentation technology and mentor of David Sarif. He created augmentation to help mankind in pursuing greater goals and the main inspiration for David and his company.

Frank Pritchard Sarifs cyber security devision and is responsible for the overall "digital" well-being and security of the company.
"His performance evaluations have noted him to be remarkable at "thinking outside the box" when it comes to his work ethic, but his ineffectual behaviour towards co-workers has been under evaluation. "

Megan Reed head of the technical engineering & science department. She's also more or less a damsel in distress for Jensen, even though she's just a sacrificial lamb for the story to progress further.

Faridah Malik the VOTL pilot of the game, she takes you anywhere but sadly not at any time. That outstanding pilot also gives you a very fun and entertaining quest in the game. She's a great asset in the team and also has a very sharp mind and good intuition.

Jaron Namir, seemingly the main antagonist of the game, the guy who did all this to Jenson and was the leader during the attack on Sarif. A man the player does not know much about until later in the game but it is implied that he is one of the hurdles Jenson must overcome to reach his goals.

Eliza Cassan, the news Lady of Picus TV. Basically your source of information throughout the game and about events on the outside. This handsome lady is also the surce of the famous quote:
“It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from here....”

William Taggart is the founder of Humantiy front and also appears in DeusEx Icarus Effect, the novel based on DeusEx from the famous script writer and author James Swallow. He is a highly successful psychiatrist and anti-augmentation activist and speaker, well known for his charisma and oratorical abilities.

Those are basically the main characters; the Story revolves around them, as does everything that happens in the game. One definite positive point of the game also is that there are no real bad characters despite the crazy final boss of the game. Most of them have two faces, which is usually also the case if you deal with someone in the real world.
Even completely ruining a conversation is not really punishing in the game, you can always reach the end one way or another. This can be a plus but it takes apart the challenge of the game, especially if you are used to shooters or stealth games and RPG’s or Novel games.

Which leads us to the NPCs.
Every side quest or mission you receive in the game is completely optional, which is a nice touch but most of those find you.
Sadly you don’t even have to actually search for them in the game. Once you’re on your way to a main mission of the game there just might pop up an NPC asking for help. This makes things extremely simple and also less tedious for the player, but most of the time lessens the urge to explore something.
Up to that I noticed that you do not really need the extra xp or money they give you, but it’s always nice to have it.
There are lots of different side quests and the player is able to approach them in very different ways, sneaking, barging in with blazing guns, through hacking and even a mixture of everything. It’s good to see that they let the players find their own way throughout DX:HR.
Most of those story branches sadly end in nothingness, since you do not need to follow them to know everything you need to know or see. This once more might take a lot of incentive away from the player, especially if you read a lot of e-books while progressing through the story since their value is also very questionable.

The other NPCs give of the impression that they are only there to fill otherwise empty space, since you can’t call them very distinctive. Every NPC you encounter has more than 10 clone characters walking around on the streets, even if it’s a more important quest person. Be it arms dealer, LIMB Clinic supply agents, harvesters, Belltower watchmen or just simple bodyguards. Mostly the only difference might be the color of the hair or face and sunglasses. Even augmentation parts are the same, most of the time.

Another reason to be discouraged by the game is that they do not react on their environment very well. If something happens, side quest related, let’s say an explosion or exploitation of a person nothing will happen unless YOU the player shoot or take someone down. It’s rather disappointing to see that nothing in the game really prompts them to do something.
It’s the same in every version of the game, be it PC, Playstation3 or X360.

The Mechanics

of the game are rather simple.
While you progress through Deus Ex:HR you might want to use “stealth” more than aggression, since it rewards you with much more higher rates of XP, that is basically all. Those of you who play might want to prove that they are very good at stealth, even in first person view, will quickly notice that there are only two ways to distract an enemy. And even then it is high likely that they will sound the alarm.
1. Throw a box somewhere
2. Shoot at a fire extinguisher.
So it is highly suggested just to watch the enemy for a while that you are able to learn their pattern or just shoot your way through or avoid them at all, if possible, especially in the last fifth of the game.

Take down, avoid or kill is not much of a question in this game.
Jensen performing a simple takedown

As soon as Adam is near an opponent; you’re able to perform a takedown by pressing the “Q” Button on the keyboard. This will either result in a kill by pressing it for a while or taping it for a simple stun, actually the latter looks more hurtful. When performing such an action time stops, which gives you the opportunity to watch the action with ease instead of watching Adams back and fearing for an enemy. But it also makes room for a “back-step” glitch. 60% of the time when pressing back and then cover behind a wall, the enemy won’t see you even if Adam was right in front of his nose while stunning the other watchman
Such “take down” actions drain your batteries, in the beginning you have only two, you can get up to five by sacrificing/using praxis kits/points.

There’s a “Diablo” and Resident Evil styled inventory for the player which you can expand by spending the necessary praxis kits for it, but this also is optional.
Sneaking or “stealth” is possible as well as gunning everything down, the latter is the less tedious option, especially if you reach a point in the game where you basically don’t care anymore. So it might even be something for the more impatient players or people who do not value much experience points.

Hacking is a very good method to get everything done rather quickly, if you’re good at it that is. In my play through I found it rather unnecessary to forfeit points but my co-reviewer had a much different opinion in that matter. The hack system is very simple, you, the player is able to progress or capture folders and boxes. Every one of those points have a risk of alarming the terminal/security system and urge it to send out a virus. If that program reaches your basis point it’s basically over, so you can ensure your safety once more with spending praxis kit points or search for an auto hack device.
That mini-game is more about luck than it is about skill but it’s also not very punishing if you fail, since it will only trigger the alarm if you do.

With praxis kits or points it’s rather easy to discover different approaches in a building structure. Like jumping over a fence, sneaking in through an ventilation shaft, stacking crates to go in through a window or simply just ready your weapons and walk in. This gives a lot of variety and might even trigger the urge to play the game once more... some time.

Sadly stealth really fails in being stealthy, especially since you’re not really able to hide. Everything from hiding to dodging or taking cover is triggered by the “cover mechanic” in the game. But they covered that by explaining that every Person in Deus Ex:HR you encounter is augmented, which basically means the consistence of light never affects their vision.
Take cover behind a corner and most of the time they won’t even see you - even if they look for you.
The guards in Metal Gear Solid 1 had better and more believable AI than this, which is a huge downer for every player I encountered so far. Especially because one enemy isn’t really dangerous, only if there are more than 5 enemies you might get into trouble, but even then there’s a huge chance of you getting out alive there.

DX:HR - Visuals & Design choices
are unique, defined but overall they don’t go well with the lighting and the NPCs, most of them seem to be out of place.
The environment is a bit of a different matter.
Everything seems structured, perfect, even the smallest notes on bulletin boards are present. You can't read them most of the time but that's okay, they are still there and it gives the game a nice feeling. Offices are well made, there are books on the shelves as well es cups, magazines, pencils, computers. Here and there is always something to see and to look around for and it's quite enjoyable to do so for some time.

Still, after a while everything looks the same because they used the same items over and over, even colors do not vary much. So most of it also feels like a simple copy-pasted mess. It's most likely that - after some time- you won't even pay much attention to it anymore since it's very easy to spot the few objects you can interact with.The game or rather Adams Augmented vision will renter those objects once more bright yellow.

Accessible computers all look the same, so do drawers, lockers, televisions, fridges and boxes. If I remember correctly there are only four or five different kinds of crates you can move around in the whole game.
The Artbook seemed different there, everything was colorful, looked kind of space-y and sleek. The overall visuals were stunning. As I looked through the document I immediately noticed that most of the environment in the game couldn't hold up to the sketches at all. Even the characters looked much different, much more beautiful and unique. So the only possible conclusion is the bad lighting ruins most of the atmosphere.
Other then that objects are cleverly placed and well structured, even though the textures are really disappointing at times. It's good to see that the designers put the infrastructure into consideration and were able to built in many different routes. Some players might be able to get used to it more quickly than others so they'll be able to spot the different possibilities with much more ease.
Most of the time it will result in: "oh god damn it I could've gone that way and then up there to avoid those guys instead of knocking them out!"
The Soundtrack

Which is composed by Michael McCann is fitting the game very well but it doesn't really stand out, that was basically my biggest problem. The soundtrack that comes with the augmented edition is "only" 12 Tracks strong, not really much but enough for a promotion of what it can do.
The whole Soundtrack might include around 50 more or less different tracks.
Most of them are remixes of the main themes of Deus Ex/3HR, which might be a treat for a fan but can get boring if the third installment of the series is your startingpoint.
»Aug. Edition OST Tracks«

The voiceacting is hard to rate, because for some stupid reason Square Enix chose to seperate Germany, France, Italy from the US/English voicedub of the game. So you can't get those in the other ones.
But that's not the only problem, I listend and saw every single one of those and was rather unimpressed if not taken abback by those sheer unbearable voices. Not only that the lip-synch doesn't really match in any version, the voiceactors are a joke in german and french, unimpressed emotionless most of the time, especially in the german ones. PS3 gamers if you have the chance gods heavens buy the english one.

While the english voiceacting is very good, the faces and expressions as well as the gestures don't match up just like in the german one. They don't even come close to the voice cast. Where you look... other games who are much older did a much better job. Every charactermodel seems kind of wooden, unrealistic especially when they speak, augmented or not the future doesn't seem to have emotions.
Which brings us to the fact that there are only a few different voice actors for the NPCs in the game. And they don't do a pretty good job in disguising their voices. Every second woman in Hengsha has the same voice, you'll notice this especially when they panic. Same goes for their male counterparts.

DeusEx:Human Revolution is by no means a bad game, in fact it's pretty good but it tries to juggle between far too many things at once. There is neither a beginning nor an real end to this since it leaves so much open end desired throughout the game.

Abbandoned Quest NPCs or characters overall, half-hearted story branches that lead into a dead end. It could have been so much more yet failes to convert the little things to the players. If an NPC dies, even if Jensen knew that person, there's no reaction from him, no comment, no regret, nothing. Not much reaction to his past or what happend after everything is revealed and all endings are quite poetical but a huge disappointment gaming-wise.

The Story
Is barely intersting because of the rather bland gestures and the wooden expressions, in a whole everything misses a lot of emotion and feeling. DX:HR wishes to be so much more but it only manages to keep the player going for so long until he or she reaches the end. Since the game is all about darkness, technology and dramatic events with nearly no "jokes" or good references it won’t keep most of you from making a much longer break than you usually do.

The Gameplay
Seems solid because it's basically the thing the game does right. The different solutions will encourage most of the players to think before they act and it is kind of fun to try things out. Sadly some things will be left out and the player is never able to do much more than he's already able to in the beginning of the game. No climbing, Jensen can't grab a ledge so the stealth option is very limited to basic things and "taking cover". For most stealth ninjas among us this might be one of the biggest disappointments.
Up until now there isn't even a New Game+ option, so that it's easier to get some of the achievments. All of this can make DeusEx:HR a regrettable experience.

The Design&Visuals:
This might not be our future but it is definitely one where even none asian people are yellow. No matter where you go that color will be your traveling companion through DeusEx. Most of the design choices are consistent, surprisingly fun even. Especially so when you noticed that they were able to enhance human bodies but old style cooking on a gas stove and our average beverage dispensers are still present.
Sadly there are no real plants, no animals, everything seems lifeless even though they put so much detail in it.
In contrary to that the backgrounds are stunning, beyond amazing but they are just that, backgrounds. You will never be able to go to the park or river neither in Detroit nor Hengsha. Even though there are large scale environments they do not feel that way, especially the cities the player has to visit in this game.

Soundtrack &Voices:
The OST fits the game well but I never got affected by it in dire situations, combat or sneaking. There are games out there that can do all that with one or two tracks, DeusEx cannot, even truly sad moments leave you unimpressed most of the time.

The voice acting is very good in the english version of the game, but the NPCs have the same ones most of the time. It's a deplorable affair you will never get used of, more often just annoyed. But the fact that the characters don't really react with their expressions or bodies makes it all seem a bit futile in the end.
The german and french versions on the other hand are unbearable, it's hard to compare it with something else since it doesn't even fit the characters. The motions do not fit in the slightest and most of the time it seems to be out of line.

The Entertainment Value
is just above average since the game feels troublesome, even frustrating at times. Most things are more based on luck than they are on skill and the higher difficulties do not really change things much. A real challange is scarce. It's not as engrossing as it should be and it makes the player prone to take longer brakes than usual and not just because of the motion blur, which can't be turned off on consoles as far as I've heared. In the PS3 and X360 there's a high chance that some of you might get headaches or feel dizziness due to the effects of the game. The motion blur is really very annoying, especially through fpv and it seems like the player can't turn it off like in the PC counterpart.

It’ll keep you busy for quite some time, sadly motivation falls by the wayside fast.
More often than not you might need a breather from this revolution even though you’ve not even seen a tenth of it. The ridiculously underwhelming AI won’t help matters much, it’s not as challenging or refined as it could’ve been. The fact that the player is not able to influence the game in any way, what they do decide simply doesn't change the outcome. This puts a harsh stop in the fun and especially the replay value.
No matter how you skill your augmented man, you will definitely see the end of Human Revolution. But at the end of the day DeusEx: Human Revolution is definitely more a halfhearted chimera than a shooter or stealth game and even less an RPG.


»Aug. Edition Artbook pieces«

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