The "Deus Ex” series debuted in 2000 to universal critical acclaim for its extraordinarily well-realized cyberpunk atmosphere, and real sense of choice in the gameplay and story. Its sequel, "Invisible War,” was not as warmly received critically and angered many fans of the original for seemingly dumbing down many of the role-playing elements to appeal to a broader audience. "Human Revolution” developer Eidos Montreal sought to retain the excellent story and role-playing elements of the original while still streamlining the experience, and in this they have succeeded.
Eidos Montreal wisely sets "Human Revolution” as a prequel to the previous games in the series, so no prior knowledge is necessary coming in. The game is set in 2027 Detroit as humanity comes to an important turning point in history with the emergence of human augmentations that can give their owner super-human abilities. These augmentations are revolutionizing the medical field, but have sparked debate across the globe as they widen the gap between the rich and poor, and bring up philosophical questions on what it means to be human. You play as Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT member who has taken a security job with the biotech company Sarif Industries after refusing to follow a morally questionable order. The game opens with an attack on Sarif by a group of heavily augmented mercenaries right as Sarif is about to reveal a major breakthrough in their development of new augmentations. The attack leaves Adam with injuries so severe that his only chance for survival is an array of cutting-edge augmentations. The augmentations give him the powers necessary to fight the mercenaries, but cast him in a bad light for the many citizens who are anti-augmentation. The complex plot leads Adam across the world in his search for the truth about who attacked Sarif and why. This is where the strength of "Human Revolution” lies. The conspiracy filled story and stylish cyberpunk setting surrounding Adam are engaging enough to pull you all the way through this 30+ hour game, even when the gameplay sometimes becomes dull or frustrating.
At first glance "Human Revolution” may appear to be a first-person shooter with a cyberpunk aesthetic, but despite its first-person perspective the game is much closer to "Metal Gear Solid” than "Call of Duty.” While it can be played as a run-and-gun action game, using stealth is heavily encouraged. Adam does not last long in a firefight and ammunition is rare resource. The game even gives an experience bonus at the end of a mission if you manage to finish it without setting off an alarm or killing anyone. The lure of that experience bonus caused me to start playing the game using only non-lethal weapons like the tranquilizer rifle and restart from my last save whenever I set off an alarm. After around 10 hours of this slow and sometimes frustrating play style, I finally encountered a room filled to the brim with enemies that had an automated turret sitting in the middle. I stared through a window thinking about how much easier my life would be if I just hacked the turret from a nearby computer and turned it against its former masters. The temptation proved too great and once the turret mowed down each and every soldier in the room, I abandoned my pacifist play style for a much more enjoyable mixture of stealth and murder.
Experience points go toward opening up new augmentations that generally fall into two categories. Some give Adam additional options for tackling obstacles such as allowing him to breath poisonous gas or the ability to jump nine feet into the air. The rest generally make combat and stealth easier, like reducing recoil on weapons or makings your footsteps silent. The upgrade system gives a refreshing sense of freedom to missions, as there are always several different methods to handle an encounter depending on what augmentations you have invested in. One augmentation that most players will not want to invest in because much more interesting options exist but proves to be vital is an inventory space upgrade. The game annoyingly starts you off with very little inventory space, only enough to carry two or three guns and basic essentials. Inventory management is something that is in nearly all role-playing games, but as always it provides nothing but irritation.
The biggest strike against "Human Revolution” is the absolutely atrocious enemy A.I. Upon spotting you, which sometimes happens through walls, and sometimes won’t happen staring face-to-face with an enemy through a window, an enemy will give chase for a minute or so before deciding that you must have given up on trying to murder him and vacated the compound. He then resumes his pattern of walking back and forth down a tiny hallway, making sure to pause at each end for a good 10 seconds to give you ample time to sneak up behind him. Another gripe is, the voice-acting for some characters is simply laughable. Eventually I started to enjoy listening to Adam’s Christian Bale-as-Batman-influenced guttural mumblings while his boss, David Sarif, yelled at him with an exaggerated California surfer dude accent, but only for comedic purposes.
Eidos Montreal accomplished what he set out to do with "Human Revolution.” The great story and atmosphere of the series is preserved, and the gameplay systems have been modernized enough to satisfy modern audiences. If you can accept it for what it is, a stealth focused role-playing game not a shooter, "Human Revolution” is definitely worth a play-through.