We can rebuild him.

Modern-day technological advancements occur at a remarkable and often frightening rate. Technology has revolutionised the world we live in today, from the way we interact with each other (be it through the world of social medial), how we go about our daily routines (Internet, personal computers, smart phones) to simply finding out where we need to go (via GPS). It has transformed the lives of billions of people, whilst undeniably evolving into an essential foundation on which civilisation is built upon. Slowly but surely, humanity is progressively becoming dependent on technology. One couldn’t possibly begin to fathom an existence without the Internet for example.

Historically of course, humanity has valiantly coped without the modern-day tech we’ve all become accustomed to, yet, it is increasingly clear that a new era is dawning. An amalgamation of science, ambition, intellectual genius and tangible futuristic-technology is spearheading a bold approach, set to redefine what the human body is capable of.

Technological advancements in the fields of medicine and science have granted certain individuals a means to overcome their disabilities or physical limitations by means of prosthetic limbs or surgical implants. What may have once been thought as an audacious idea reserved for the scripts of Hollywood, nowadays, the unthinkable union between man and machine is slowly developing into the norm. The evidence is already out there. Look no further than the Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorious. Heralded by the media as ‘blade runner’, Oscar was allowed to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games, a 100m runner who relies on prosthetic blades. Presumably, and maybe inevitably, the boundaries between man and machine will continue to merge. A future depicted in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

The blades are used to overcome a disability. Maybe one day they could be used to enhance an individual’s performance.

Rage Against The Machines

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is set in the year 2027, a mere 15 years from now. Serif Industries has established itself as one of the global leaders in human augmentation, a process which involves grafting biomechanical enhancements onto the human body. The study and practice of augmentations is a contentious subject. ‘Futurists’, such as David Serif (CEO of Serif Industries), believe that augmentations are essential to the evolution of the human race. Others, such as the rebel organisation ‘Purity First’, strongly oppose the practice of augmentations on the basis that ‘physical limitations are what makes us human’.

Protagonist Adam Jensen is employed as the Security Chief at Serif Industries. Serif Industries are on the verge of a significant breakthrough, when suddenly they’re hit by an unprovoked and devastating attack. Tasked with protecting the valuable assets and confidential information of the corporation, Adam is assigned to investigate the disturbance; the consequence of which results in the loss of his girlfriend and valued scientist, Megan Reed.

So I’m mechanical, and that sprinklers on…

Adam suffers unthinkable injuries, miraculously surviving due to radical surgery which replaces many of his limbs and organs with mechanical augmentations. Adam is transformed into a living showcase for augmentations, a symbol of a new era created by cyber-genetics and flesh. Adam is driven to unravelling the conspiracy surrounding the incident, determined to avenge the death of his girlfriend. However, he soon finds himself entangled in a web of conspiracies spun from an unknown source’s desire for more powerful augmentation technology.

My Robot Friend

Donned in a bizarre, floral adorned, leather trench coat – with shoulder pads from the 80’s – and a pair of poker face shades; Adam Jensen is an aloof, mysterious, yet intriguing individual.

Adam Jensen isn’t particularly charismatic, speaking with husky, dominant tones. Thankfully, Adam’s personality works well, owing to the fact he can sound bad ass (if you choose to be a jerk) and still sounds bad ass (if you choose to be nice). It admittedly takes time to warm to the protagonist; however, the player will naturally begin to appreciate the delivery of Adam’s responses after they have become more acquainted with his distinct ‘style’.

Adam Jensen’s glasses have built in Twitter and Facebook applications.

Freedom! Freedom!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution may feel overwhelming at first. In fact, for the first couple of hours, I was left overawed by the sheer magnitude of the game, which may initially deter impatient players. This had nothing to do with the scale of the levels or the hub-worlds, though they are substantial. It had nothing to do with the countless side missions and in-depth, fascinating story arch. It’s down to the fact that you have an unprecedented amount of freedom at your disposal. And I mean freedom. Frankly, a concept that many gamers aren’t used to.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution laughs in the face of the oft linear experiences provided by the majority of games. It’s a game which thrives on player choice. It urges the player to experiment. If the game could speak I’d guarantee it would say, ‘Hey, want to try that? Go on, do it.’ Take your own path, complete missions your way, and interact with people the way you want. Kill people, don’t kill people; save people; don’t save people. Be a jerk; don’t be a jerk; act completely neutral.

I cunningly hid this body in an air vent. Genius I know!

It’s a humbling feeling knowing that each player’s experience will undoubtedly differ from another’s. It’s also satisfying to know that no matter what you attempt, the game never feels like it’s punishing you for going against the norm, instead it rewards you for doing so.

One of the areas that unfortunately bucks the trend of player freedom is the generic and dull ‘boss battles’. Adam will encounter some traditional style game bosses which involve learning their sequence of moves and pumping them full of bullets until their scripted pursuit ends. Overall, the boss battles are a minor stain on the glorious fabric which represents Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a fabric woven by player freedom.

Praxis Makes Perfect

Hidden away behind the intuitive third-person cover system, solid FPS gameplay and stealth espionage mechanics lays the beating heart of an RPG. The player is peppered with experience points, awarded for completing a variety of tasks such as progressing the story or disposing of enemies. Special bonuses can be earned through exploration or completing a mission without detection. The culmination of these points act as Deus Ex’s level-up system called Praxis points.

Praxis points can be used to upgrade Adam’s augmentations and unlock new abilities, offering the player a chance to customise Adam’s strengths to how they see fit. If you prefer to go in guns blazing then armour upgrades and combat upgrades may be your priorities. If you prefer to sneak through an establishment like a ghost, then stealth options are available. Maybe you fancy yourself as a hacker and want to disable cameras, security beams or commandeer robots to do your bidding? Or maybe you just want to be a jack of all trades. The choices are there; another opportunity to craft your own personal experience.

Adam Jensen is thankfully odour free.

Once you begin to understand the gameplay mechanics available to you, the world of Deus Ex transforms into a futuristic playground. For example, I needed to make my way past a guard who was demanding a pass (locked away in a security room). I entered a storage room, moving a heavy crate (thanks to a praxis upgrade) which revealed an air vent. I entered the vent, dropped down into the security room, obtained the card and entered through the door. An alternative would have been to hack the door to the security room. Naively, I thought this was about the only possible two solutions available. However, once I had actually entered the facility I came across a balcony which looked down upon the route I had first entered. I realised that with the right praxis upgrade, I could have just leapt up onto the ledge and bypassed the whole debacle all together!

Un-predictive Text

Conversation ‘trees’ or ‘wheels’ are common place nowadays, used as an effective tool to provide the player with a feeling of choice into how they progress the story. Usually the available responses either hinge on acting neutral, good or bad. The same familiar system can be found in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, however, it’s a much a deeper and richer experience.

Talk your way out of this one!

The player will encounter conversations which require an NPC to be persuaded if you’re to get the information or favour you want. These scenarios test your ability to read a character’s personality and are thoroughly captivating.

Mechanical Make-Up

Deus Ex: Human Revolution isn’t the prettiest game on the market. The visuals are crisp, clinical, and almost sterile at times. However, there’s a strong sense of direction and purpose in the visual representation, remaining faithful to a neo-modern art style. Unfortunately, Deus Ex: Human Revolution suffers from frame rate issues when exploring the more open hub-worlds, though thankfully, the frame rate is generally stable. It can feel rather jarring due to the fact that Deus Ex: Human Revolution strives on presenting an immersive experience.

Exploration time.

Character models are generally rather hit and miss in terms of graphical fidelity. Story based characters are naturally lavished with extra detail, whilst generic NPC’s are strikingly ugly. They appear to have a featureless face, complemented by a lack of polygons and stiff facial animation.

Techno Techno

The world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is suitably accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack. Symphonic tones, subtle rises in pitch and tempo enrich the futuristic art style and stealth/combat gameplay.  The quality of the voice acting is also solid throughout. Character’s seem believable, engaging and – although the facial animations are lacking – portray a genuine sense of emotion. 

In regards to the question of longevity, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is quite simply mammoth. Blitzing through the game took me at least 28 hours. I barely scraped the surface of what’s available. Importantly, it isn’t just the length of the experience that will have players returning to Adam Jensen’s robotic embrace, it’s the hindsight of knowing that each play through can potentially offer an entirely different experience second or third time around.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was reviewed on PC.

Cyborg Sensation