Roundtable: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Since we’ve all played Deus Ex Human Revolution and it was a tug of war on who’d review the game we’re doing a roundtable instead. Since this is a Roundtable instead that means isn’t so much a review as a breakdown of the game; our thoughts, experiences, etc. Beware, there will be spoilers.

Dean: So, firstly, to get an idea of where we’re coming from: who’s already had experience with the series , and what platforms did we play Human Revolution on? For myself, I’ve played a chunk of the first Deus Ex to get a taste of the series, and played I played DXHR on PC.

Gregg: I’d heard very good things about the first one, and tried playing it a few years back, but got bored and overwhelmed with information during the tutorial (sorry!). Since completing Human Revolution I did watch a whole Let’s Play of the first game (and read up a whole bunch on it) to get a good sense of how it compares. PC was my choice of platform.

Johnny: I played very little of the original and have never played the sequel, Invisible War. I played Human Revolution on PC and was surprised that it ran on the crappy one I keep around.

Connor: I played the first game shortly before the release of Human Revolution. I had difficulty getting into it, the first mission is definitely not a strong start, but I loved it despite playing it years after release. I played Human Revolution on the PC.

Dave: I played the original Deus Ex earlier this year and saw all the endings, never played Invisible War. I wasn’t sure about Human Revolution at first but after a while I decided to give it a try since I could get it for £14 on PC.

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Dean: A big part of Deus Ex is the many ways you can complete an objective. Eidos called this “The Four Pillars”: lethal, stealth, hacking and exploration. I went for a mixed approach. Usually evolving into doing everything I could. Though I never went all out gunning commando-style. My favourite was certainly hacking a computer and having a turret or robot clear out the area for you.

Gregg: Yeah, I did everything but lethal, except for ‘that bit’ and the boss fights. For the most part, I didn’t feel the enemies were deserving of ‘termination’. I don’t think ‘just lethal’ is a viable option though. Because of how they reward XP and limit ammo, as well as how tough enemies can be, I don’t think you could get by just running-and-gunning. You have to be smart about when and where you start shooting, mixing in some stealth and exploration beforehand.

Connor: On my first playthrough, I tried my hardest to be as non-lethal as possible. I managed to stick to that until the last couple of missions, in which I found myself pretty much stuck, through no fault of the game… I just wasted non-lethal ammo and wasn’t being stealthy enough…

Dean: The XP system did favour certain styles. Hacking every PC in sight was certainly a good way to get tons of Praxis Points fast. So while lethal, all-out-gunning was an option, it wasn’t favourable in any way except to masochists.

Connor: Indeed, I found that regardless of whether or not I had the passcode or password for whatever I was trying to hack, I’d just hack it anyway for the bonuses. I feel they could have rewarded you for taking the time to find the code as much as hacking it.

Dave: I tried to go for a totally non-lethal playthrough. It did get hard at a lot of points there, since I didn’t find enough ammo for the stun gun or the P.E.P.S. Definitely favoured stealth, but it was challenging trying to stick to non-lethal when you’re being shot at.

Johnny: I tried to ignore all the ways to ‘powergame’ it, and just went for what felt right/fun for the situation. This ended up being stealthy most of the time, but sometimes I would just apply lethal force to everything and everyone until it breaks.

Dean: How would you say the mechanics played out? I felt it all went together very well. Including the boss fights, but more on those later. My major complaint would be that even putting Praxis Points into recharging only ever gained you a single bar of power unless you ate chocolate bars. I’m still unsure if that was a bug or some weird intentional balancing. So, you’d punch a guy, eat chocolate, stealth creep behind someone, eat chocolate, strangle the guy. It was a tad jarring and really broke the flow in some parts. The third-person cover worked pretty well, and the various skills were all quite neat. I never used the Typhoon though. Seemed redundant what with my 10mm gun of doom. Any experiences with that?

Connor: The typhoon came in real handy for the boss fights I wasn’t prepared for. Since I was going non-lethal, I often found myself walking into boss fights with nothing but a stun gun and tranq rifle, so I’d launch a Typhoon or two before finding weapons in the room.

Gregg: Overall, I think the mechanics meshed well. You can tell a lot of work went into fine-tuning and balancing it a little. That power recharge thing did bug me. But, like a few things in the game, I felt it was more how they implemented it. Like you said, the chocolate/energy bar thing was jarring, especially when the first game used ‘bioelectric cells’; I probably would’ve been fine with that element if they’d gone with those. Barring one occasion, I did actually limit myself to using just one power cell consecutively because, at times, the cloak felt a bit too much like a cheat.
The third-person cover I felt was great. I tend to prefer third-person games, and I can see why the designers did it. Explanation here.

Dean: Yeah, in the original you basically hid in shadows to be in stealth. Of course with Human Revolution it can get a bit kludgy with the AI being inches away but not spotting your augmented hair-do sticking above the filing cabinets.

Johnny: Apart from the energy regeneration thing, and takedowns using an entire battery (what? I’m PUNCHING him!) I liked the mechanics. Oh, I did hate not being able to climb onto ledges. Maybe I’m spoiled by Assassin’s Creed, but I’m an expert at marksmanship and melee combat, an overall augmented badass…that can’t use my arms to climb on top of a ledge.

Connor: I think the mechanics worked pretty well. I’d echo what people are saying about the bioelectric cells thing…especially when there are so many other augmentations to take that I didn’t much feel like investing points in more cells when they ran out so fast anyway. I thought the hacking mini-game was good fun, compared to any other game I’ve played with one.

Dave: I did like the mechanics but I definitely agree with energy regeneration thing. It would have made sense to have an augmentation that recharged more bars with each upgrade. I didn’t get the Typhoon; it seemed pretty pointless even if I weren’t doing a non-lethal playthrough. I never really found myself in a situation where I would be able to use it effectively.

Dean: So, those bossfights. I said I’d get to them later and I won’t keep you long, as I know some of you guys have a few things to say about them. Personally, I didn’t struggle with them, this is on “Give me a Challenge” AKA Normal difficulty. As long as you didn’t rely purely on stealth-ey weapons, and I had an Assault rifle ‘cause I would occasionally mess up and just need to go all out  “get out of my face” mode, they went down quite quickly, and their “I’m going to walk in a straight line” AI made them easy enough to aim and shoot at. But it seems some of you disliked them. There is now news that the boss fights themselves were outsourced. Which would lead to some of the disjointedness.

Johnny: I played on “Give Me Deus Ex” and they took about ten minutes of constant bullets to the face to kill for me. That wasn’t the problem, though. The problem was that they, unlike the rest of the game, forced you into one single approach to the problem. It felt jarring and dumb, especially as the original game actually let you run away from boss fights. A proper boss fight in DE:HR would have involved using all your skills in different ways to incapacitate, run away from, sneak past, kill, or persuade the boss character. They are supposed to be the highlight – a sort of test of everything you’ve been through so far – not the worst bit.

Dave: I played on the “Give me a Challenge” difficulty. I struggled with the bosses quite a bit, there was a pretty specific method to beating some of them. I wouldn’t have gotten past the third boss if I hadn’t gone all the way back to get the turret. The bosses were one of the few things I really disliked about the game, so much so that I got frustrated before the fight even began.

Gregg: I did not like them at all. The first one took me about five or six tries for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I am completely cackhanded at using WASD to navigate; throw in the E and Shift keys, as well as numbers for swapping weapons, and I am lost. Secondly, I hadn’t actually decided on my playstyle at that moment so had only really put Praxis Points into unhelpful things like hacking and increasing inventory space. Come the second boss fight I was well prepared and had a revolver with explosive rounds (that I loved).

But, like you’ve been saying, I think the biggest problem was that they never gave you much input as to how you dealt with them. In the first game you could avoid them or find out ‘killphrases’ to completely bypass any fighting. You could even kill one character earlier in the story, avoiding a boss encounter because of it.

Dean: I do agree that they could have been dealt with in a more fitting manner. It was suggested something likely the ability to hack turrets before hand, or stealth right past them. The boss fights also lack continuity. Apart from having them kick your ass right at the start of the game there’s not really much story in why you’re having these boss fights. Compared to the “dialogue boss fights” with Sarif and Darrow.

Connor: Like everyone I’ve spoken to, the boss fights were the low point of the game for me, and low it was. They were horrible, and since I was going in there with non-lethal weapons like I mentioned before, it was very trial-and-error.

Gregg: I like that people did discover different, easier ways to defeat the bosses. For the third boss, I believe you could take a turret down into the room and the final boss can be beaten in seconds via the laser rifle’s ability to shoot through walls. I’m just wondering if they actually considered that possibility in the last fight.

Dean: What did everyone think of the story? If you know Deus Ex, even the tiniest bit, the fact it was all a conspiracy should have been right there at the start, so it was a bit “well durr” for parts. One issue I took was that a large part of your motivation is discovering what happened to your ex-girlfriend Megan. It took a while before I even knew she was presumed dead (until I talked to her mum I thought she was on vacation like Jensen). And as a character I also felt a stronger bond to Malik, the pilot, reinforced even further by the events of your second visit to Hengsha.

Johnny: The thing with Megan is a classic mistake in videogames. Aside from it being completely obvious she wasn’t dead, the game assumed the player cared about her. Just because our main character has a bond with another character, that doesn’t mean the player is motivated to save her. It works in movies, not games. Aside from that, I actually quite hated the story in the later parts of the main quest. Every side was retarded in some way, whether for or against augmentations, nobody felt like they had a balanced viewpoint at all and it broke the immersion at more than one point for me. The ending, in particular, had me up in arms. Telling the world the truth would have humanity abandon science itself altogether? What the fuck?! I loved the setting in general though, and the sidequests were all great. It just fell apart a bit at the end, which feels like a huge shame to me.

Dave: I had the same problem, I wasn’t really sure what happened to Megan until speaking to her mum. I did sometimes forget about Megan entirely, you don’t really get told much about her and I didn’t feel all that motivated to save her. Saving Megan wasn’t what I focused on when playing.

Gregg: I never, for a second, thought Megan was dead. But I think, without caring about finding her, the player still had motivation in the form of finding out why it all happened. Although it was a bit odd that when you did finally meet her again, the characters made almost nothing of it.

Dean: Oh, and the start cutscene showing the Tyrants carrying a scientist over their shoulder kinda gave away they weren’t dead. And, yeah, without Megan there was still motivation to find out who was behind it all. My favourite part with uncovering part of the conspiracy was on your visit to Picus TV and meeting with Eliza Cassan. Was a neat twist.

Gregg: I liked the story, for the most part, I think it captured the spirit of the older games without some of the clunky writing. Not that it was perfect, but it really focused on its chosen theme and stuck to that. I think pretty much every sidequest somehow related to either the main plot or the influence that augmentation technology was having on the world. Really drew you into the various issues at play.

Dean: Overall, for the story, I really liked the fact that it was very real. I truly believe in 20-odd years “augments” as seen in Human Revolution are a possibility, and with that the strife and social change shown via events in the game. Made it quite real and also a good proper use of the sci-fi genre that I’ve not seen in games for a while (most of the time sci-fi is just “space ships in the future” as a setting); making a “what if” scenario and playing it outl. The sidequests worked quite well; nothing really wasted or much fluff for the sake of fluff.

Gregg: I think the plot and story-telling were rather good. Besides the ‘environmental-storytelling’ that game designers are always after, it really got you involved and seeing all the key characters. I mean, compared to the first game where a lot of plot was relayed via various people talking in your ear, it was a step-up.

Connor: I liked the story for the most part but what Johnny says of the endings is pretty correct. I didn’t like the way they were handled, with a nice convenient “ending-o-matic” with just a few buttons ready to start the ending FMV you wanted. That being said, the endings themselves weren’t that bad, if being a little heavy-handed. I liked the way that a lot more of the story could be found through E-mails and pocket secretaries, fleshing out characters or even explaining things about characters that you would never meet, making the world feel even bigger than what you’re seeing, as opposed to having limited scope.

Dean: So, what of the endings? I felt the ending is where the game had its biggest low point. You guys may dislike the boss fights but for me the ending was extremely lacklustre. It felt as if it were meant to have a single true ending but then a higher-up said “no, it must have multiple endings. It’s all the rage” and so we got the four buttons. Personally, I’m not stupid so I saved before the end and sat through all four. Not much changed between them, that I could tell. And the voice-over on images of history seemed rather bland. You don’t get to see the repercussions of your actions. Given the events of Deus Ex presumably happen regardless of your choice, it did constrict them in that sense.

Johnny: I thought all the endings were lacklustre, for the reasons you mentioned, and the reasoning behind them didn’t make much sense to me. The whole part with having to find David Sarif and Taggart to unlock two of the endings was just annoying. As I raged above, telling people the truth gets them to abandon science itself? How does that work?

Connor: Like I said above, I liked the endings themselves for the most part, but how they were handled was pretty poor with the convenient ending-machine that just handily had those news stories ready to send out and like Johnny said above, the consequences of the ending you choose seemed a little heavy. I can understand them maybe scrapping augmentation science (even that seems like a bit of a stretch) but science altogether? I kinda chose to ignore that part and pretend that it was just talking about augmentation technology. However, I did like the endings themselves, Adam’s little speech about the choice was neat.

Gregg: I actually liked the endings and how they were given some historic precedents. But, again, it was more how it was implemented that ruined it. Because I was just trying to finish the game the first time, I rushed and did not bother finding Sarif and Taggart, so already that cuts off half my options and the fact it just gives you buttons to choose from just felt strange.

I liked that it got you thinking about the themes and situations the game had been presenting you with the whole game. I don’t know if you guys were aware of this but the game actually tracks how you’ve been playing and tailors the voiceover to suit the particular ending you’ve chosen.

See them here.

I’m not sure if they did feel connected for everyone (a friend said he felt his did not) but I was torn between the decisions because of what I felt the repercussions were, regardless of Adam’s particular situation or my playstyle. I’m not sure I’d call that a complete flaw in the design because it can lead to interesting discussion but I can see how it creates dissonance.

For the main part of the story, I never saw Taggart’s idea of regulation as a problem. Perhaps I was missing something in the game or it just keeps you with Sarif’s perspective since you’re a company man. But it’s only the very end where he admits he’s Illuminati and the whole thing is a powergrab that you think “Oh, there’s the catch.”

Johnny: No, I think Taggart is the only one in the entire Deus Ex universe with a brain in his skull. His followers all seemed batshit crazy though.

Dave: The endings were done in a similar way to the original, three different people gave you choices that were all radically different.

Gregg: Yeah, that probably explains why some of it feels a bit forced, since some of the outcomes were mimicking the first game. But I think in the original’s favour it didn’t just go ‘pick a button’. And I know I criticised the first game’s reliance on people talking in your ear but I don’t think Human Revolution needed each individual telling you their plans and then an AI predicting the outcomes (even if she could effectively predict and control them herself).

Dave: Yeah, I did like the way the original presented the endings to you, Human Revolution’s were a bit of a let down.

Dean: If Human Revolution were to act like the first Deus Ex in regards to its endings your choices would be something like: Kill Darrow, use the Hyron compurer for your own purposes, destroy the Panchaea project, or do bugger all.

Dean: Since I played it on PC I’d just like to spend a moment and praise Nixxes on their pretty damn decent work with the PC version of Deus Ex. When I first heard the news that the PC version would be outsourced I was a bit apprehensive. But those all melted away within moments of booting up the game. It was tailored to PC fabulously. Publishers: Take note.

Gregg: On the whole, they did a great job. My only gripe was the slight mouse ‘lag’ you’d get when hovering over buttons. I think that could be fixed via fiddling with the FOV or somesuch but it never became too big a problem. That they gave you so many options was the big plus. There was no hidden mouse acceleration, or simple sensitivity options for ‘low, medium or high’.

Playing the PC version was the optimal way for me though. I couldn’t imagine hacking using a gamepad and quicksave/load was a must for me. That the patch drastically reduced loading time compared to a video I had seen was wonderful as well.

Connor: Absolutely, you can see the great work they’ve done on the port when you look at both versions. I also played on PC, but if anyone watched the quick look on Giantbomb, they’ll know how each version works on its platform. Very nice work, and I hope the trend continues in the future.

Dave: I’m a bit new to PC gaming since this is the first time I’ve had a computer capable of playing newer games. I do think they did a fantastic job though, never encountered any problems when playing.

Johnny: Decent? The port is amazing, in general. It ran so well on my old PC I was amazed. Most ports don’t bother with optimization at all, and this ran better than most native PC games.

Dean: My favourite part was right at the start when Sarif tells you his lift code.  I tried typing it in with my numpad and it worked. How many games have Numpad input, huh? It’s the small things that lead to the greatest pleasure. [That’s what she said! – Gregg]

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Dean: I’ve probably missed stuff out. Any general things people wish to bring up and discuss? I suppose there is the adverts and Missing Link DLC that’s upcoming. I’ve not touched much of the game since the adverts came out so I’ve not seen them, though I do think they’re a bit shady and I’m not at all pleased with their sudden and unannounced inclusion. As for the Missing Link DLC, I’m massively confused. While with stuff like Assasssin’s Creed you have a randomly missing memory link and you can go “Oh, that’s where the DLC goes”, it hadn’t crossed my mind that anything had happened on Jensen’s journey to the WHO centre near the end. I guess we’ll wait and see how that fits in.

Johnny: Yeah, that’s really jarring to me, the main game made it seem like the trip was entirely uneventful and he just hid there the entire time. It just feels weird to slot in story there. I agree with what you said on the adverts. The main problem with them is that they tried to hide it by patching it in later. I’d have been more fine with it if consumers knew they were purchasing an ad-supported product.

Gregg: I doubt I’ll be purchasing the DLC. I think the story was long and complete enough, and since it takes away your augmentations, I can’t see it being an enjoyable thing to play. It might be a ‘thematic’ choice of ‘being human’ again but I’d probably just rather watch it than play it.

The adverts, I’m not too bothered by. I’ve not experienced them first-hand but since the game supposedly took four years to make and went over-budget I can understand why adverts, that only appear on loading screens, might have been a required measure. The developers did a great job and I’d hate to see them hamstrung by financial issues, especially considering the extra effort that went into the PC port. Like Johnny said though, they could’ve been a bit more upfront about it.

Dave: I’m looking forward to the DLC but, yeah, I’m not sure where it’ll fit into the game’s story. I haven’t seen any adverts yet but I have only played it again once since they were added but I’m sure I heard something about adverts before the game was released.

Dean: Yeah, taking out the augments, while making the DLC easier to be able to be played on its own, does kinda remove the whole point of Deus Ex a bit. I hear it allows you to re-spec after the DLC is done, but given by that point you have nearly all augments anyway I can’t see that being much of a bonus.

Connor: I’m gonna wait and see on the DLC. If it looks interesting enough then sure, I’ll get it. Right now I’ve not heard anything that’s making me really need it but, hey, I loved the game itself and more of it could be good.

Gregg: Haha. I spent the whole time ‘power-gaming’ it and had about 4-6 Praxis Points spare at all times ‘in case of emergencies’ (of which where was only one big one). Definitely no need for a re-spec for me. It does speak for how significant some of the upgrades were though. They could drastically change your paths through levels.

Dave: I always spent my Praxis Points as soon as I got them and I often regretted my choices. Will have to think about it more next time.

Gregg: As far as other topics go, what did everyone think about the conversation system? As a writer that stuff always interests me, especially if the dialogue is terrible. I think Eidos Montréal did a great job with it. Some of the dialogue was a bit on the nose (Taggart hammering on about ‘reputation’ springs to mind) but how it functioned really did work rather well. I went through the whole game without the CASIE aug and succeeded at every conversation I could. I felt there were enough clues to get you through, while keeping you on the edge of your seat. It was only later that I discovered the aug would’ve opened up other options during different situations (convincing a thug to tell you a location rather than bribing him, for example) that I realised maybe I should’ve purchased it.

Johnny: I loved it, thoroughly. Got the speech augmentation with my first Praxis Points, and the conversation trying to get into the police station was brilliant. The conversations were one of my favourite parts of the whole game, even though the script felt a bit stale in some of your conversations; particularly the ones with Sarif.

Dave: I highly enjoyed the conversations, I didn’t get the speech augmentation until a bit later into the game but I did alright without it. One of the problems I’ve had with games is that the conversations often just come down to having a high enough skill in speech, I liked the approach that Human Revolution took a lot.

Dean: I had the CASIE early on. So early I thought I’d always had it until I went through again. It took me a while to understand the Beta/Alpha/Omega thing. It all worked out quite well. There were no “I’m an asshole” or “I donate all my earnings to orphans” moments which is always good. The options were very contextual and fit the moment. Sometimes you could charm, others pressure, other times disagree. The police station was one of the best, though as mentioned up top I like how there were “dialogue boss battles” in the form of Sarif and Darrow. Not many games do you argue with the boss. Normally it’s “aggressive negotiations”. Oh, as far as the police receptionist is concerned, I was a bit of a jerk to him. I blackmailed him the second time which led to his unfortunate demise later on (he didn’t even get to fire back, poor guy). I feel bad for the people who thought you had to gun and/or sneak your way in.

Gregg: Oh, yeah, that police station bit was a real eye-opener for me. After playing games like Mass Effect, you just get used to being really nice or really intimidating, with either way getting you what you want, but with that guy I was just thinking “Quit whining. It’s not my fault your life sucks.” and it worked! And then there’s the fact that letting you in gets him fired (presumably because I looted the entire building), which you discover later on, that really adds to it. Of course, I gave him a job at Sarif Industries…although, given past events, maybe that won’t end well.

Dean: You could get him a job? The first time around he was, like, “You lost my job” and I said “Well, sucks to be you” or something similar, so he pulled out his gun so I tased him. Second time, I had wall vision on and since I had no taser, and no speech option came up this time, I just kinda shot him before we even got to do anything. Heheh. I was more ruthless in the second playthrough. I believe how he reacts depends on how you play your way into the police station.

Gregg: Haha. Yeah, he approached me in the lobby of Jensen’s apartment building and I guess you chose the ‘be a jerk’ option on your first go whereas I felt he deserved a break and placated him.

Dean: I didn’t like him much personally. He was a bit mopey. I guess I was also frustrated by all these references and out-the-corner-of-your-eye moments regarding “that augmented kid in the Mexicotown massacre” and he was at the centre. So, when he comes up to me all “You lost me my job” I felt “Well, I didn’t let the guy who lost you your last job just waltz into a morgue and steal a guy’s brain. Sucks to be you”. I now realise I may have developed a bit too much personal feeling towards some of the NPCs.

Gregg: Ah, but did you manipulate him with the CASIE aug the first time?

Johnny: There’s no wrong way to enjoy the game, Dean. :P

Dean: I may have CASIE’d him. Still. Dude was whiney.

Gregg: So, in a sense, you brainwashed him. Shame on you!

Johnny: I brainwashed everyone. If the game gave me the popup to activate it, I was hammering that button.

Connor: Absolutely with you guys on the conversation with Haas in the police station. It really showed the extent of how the conversations could go. I reloaded a few times to see how the conversation could go and I never got past him, it was crazy and it was very, very impressive. They were made much easier with the social augmentation, but I didn’t have that for the encounter with Zeke and the one with Haas and I failed them both, having to find other ways to my goal, which I really liked.

Dean: I think the only guy I never CASIE’d was the super-solider that it didn’t work on. He got what he wanted. Turns out Jensen is a bit of a pushover when you’re made mostly of steel and I can’t pheromone you to do my bidding. I’m amazed Sarif, head of a giant organisation, wasn’t protected from it too.

Gregg: Do we think the game will appeal to fans of the original? From what I’ve seen of  the original I think Human Revolution still captures a lot of the main elements. In broad terms, I think its main story and themes are far more engaging and well-presented but the original did some of the gameplay elements a little ‘better’.

Human Revolution is clearly keener to keep players on a more defined path. Each section acts as a sort of puzzle with alternate ways through and there is a flow to everything. You never have to sneak/fight into and back out of an area. It is always one-way. Either the place is unoccupied/neutral and then enemies arrive, or you infiltrate an area to then find Malik will pick you up or, even more conveniently, a door opens out to where you started. It’s an infinitely more accessible approach and removes the constant back-tracking or occasional confusion the first game had. But I think it does make the locations seem a little less ‘real’ or organically-designed.

On another note, while watching the Let’s Play of Deus Ex, I could see how Eidos Montréal had ‘borrowed’ certain scenarios and situations from it; perhaps as a subtle form of appealing to those original fans. Malik is clearly a parallel to Jock, and even her fate is dependent on your actions. And there’s the fact that saving her is very much like saving Paul in the original: you might think it impossible, but if you really try you can succeed.

Connor: I think it did a great job of catering to the fans of Deus Ex. Possibly a better job than Invisible War, which I really didn’t enjoy. It captured the spirit of the original in the expansiveness of the world, the conspiracies, the different choices. Of course, it did trip up in places like the boss battles, but you can see where the developers have taken their cues from. Even the voice actor for Jensen says he took some inspiration from JC Denton; I presume in the gruff, monotonous voice.

Dean: Best way to make sure it’s like the first game and thus not upsetting anyone much is to nick parts of the first game. I will say compared to the first game it is tastefully updated. The regenerating health was new and I think from a game play perspective it helped, even if they then ballsed it up by putting in chocolate energy bars breaking the damn reason they didn’t have it health-kit based. The hacking mini-game was pretty nifty. Anyone on console able to say if it’s changed for console. (Mass Effect has slightly different hacking mini-games depending on your platform). Regarding the backtracking, while I’ve not done this myself, you can go all the way back to the start of a level and things can change. e.g. SWAT looking over the suicide hacker in the early level. As for the voice, you have seen The Dark Knight right? Adam Jensen’s gruff voice is just the right level of gruffness.

Connor: I’ve not played the console version but the only way in which it has changed is you have to use the analogue stick to move between nodes rather than having the speed of the mouse, or so it would seem from the videos I have watched. And yeah, I liked the voice-acting too, for the most part. I mean, Sarif’s sounded a bit…odd at times but for the most part I enjoyed it. Jensen’s voice never grated on me like I hear it did for some others.

Connor: Yeah, Malik was definitely very clearly inspired by Jock, and I don’t think that’s a bad
thing at all. I didn’t even try and save her though. I was fairly sure there was a possibility of saving her, but not with my weapons… When that happened, as with the boss fights, I had all non-lethal weapons on me (this is something I’m really going to have to stop doing in my second playthrough) so I just snuck out of there and let Malik die…

Dean: The first time I played I lost her so many times I assumed it was one of those “you have to lose, but you still have the illusion of being able to win” type RPG fights you occasionally get (even if it’s more of a JRPG trope than one seen in western games). Then I found out you could win. My second play-through I had a sniper gun, quite well-powered and I had the rage of the memories of losing Malik a previous 6-7 times. I didn’t even have to go for headshots it was that strong at this point. No stealth mind, but it was satisfying to zoom, shoot, zoom, shoot.

Gregg: Personally, that fight to save Malik was one of the most exhilarating gaming moments this year. It was the first time I’d really let loose in combat, after restraining from killing for so long (outside of the tutorial section), and it felt good. Man, I loved that revolver. I particularly liked the section after that too. Where they turned what was previously a hub into something you had to sneak through as well. Or at least, there were guards…do what you wish. I thought that was a nice subversion in the same way Arkham Asylum managed to slightly ‘alter’ its scenery to keep things fresh. I wound up learning routes through the sewers and across rooftops. The Icarus landing system certainly came in handy.

Dean: You mean when they turned Hengsha into an armoury on legs? Certainly helped stock my 10mm up. And I got the Opportunist achievement too. Hengsha was pretty pretty. Shame it was split in two, that got a tad annoying. It was much better hub than Detroit though. I accidentally walked out of a vent and was at my mission the first time I was in Hengsha. Mission structure dictated I fought my way into the building. I had to do it in reverse.

Connor: Yeah, I liked that too. I mean it got a little frustrating at times because I’d just end up walking right into a Belltower soldier, but for the most part it was pretty neat, it was just my fault for not being more careful.

Gregg: So, I guess that leads us into the convenient segue…what did you guys think to the hubs and environments? As far as the art-style went, it was nice. It captured the Blade Runner feel without going overboard. I also liked the amount of exploration and ‘secrets’ to be found. Like a few people, I think I did manage to get a jump on a few of the sidequests too.

Connor: I thought the hubs were very well done. I’d have loved for there to have been another one, but I think what they did give us was very impressive and much bigger and fleshed out than the hub worlds of the original. There was always stuff to hack and more stuff to find. Of course, if you were not that way inclined and merely wanted to get on with your business, you could just walk straight through the hub worlds to your goals, but if you were more obliged to explore, there was an awful lot to see and read, and I really enjoyed that. I love that it also rewarded you for exploring with the occasional XP bonus or ammunition/credits/other assorted loot.

Johnny: The hubs felt like Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, but with five times the content. In one word: awesome.

Dean: The fact I went randomly exploring and accidentally ended up stumbling into a mission was enough to make me a happy bunny. There was much to explore despite thier seemingly small size. It was on all kinds of levels too, very much a 3D maze. I did get a slight edge with side-missions later though when I’d already broken into a gang hideout, or smashed down all their walls. The Sewers in both hubs were a bit…ehhhh. Quick but samey. I hear there was meant to be a Montréal Hub, but it was cut due to feeling too much like Detroit. Would have been neat to see, I don’t think Montréal has been in a game before. Personally, the worst area was Panchaea. Very linear for the most part. The end was overall meh on many levels for me.

Connor: I feel like the linearity of Panchaea was kinda justified with the situation but, yeah, I see what you’re getting at.

Gregg: I liked one part of Panchaea. It was the big warehouse bit with the deactivated robot. Going through the first time, I’d explored the hell out of there and so when the ‘zombies’ were there on my way back out I had a whole route to bypass them already in my head. The first time through, it created an eerie atmosphere as well, since you spend the whole time freely wandering through deserted areas whereas usually you’d be sneaking. A complete reversal of the usual process for me.

Dave: I liked the hubs, I like exploring a lot and there was certainly plenty to find. The side-missions were pretty good too, they were scattered around nicely and were just the right length.

Gregg: I’ve seen complaints that a lot of the environments were too similar. I know I did spend an inordinate amount of time in offices, labs and warehouses, which I guess makes sense in story terms, but you do have a few other locations and interesting environments. That ‘hotel’ for Tai Yong workers, for example.

Dean: The two city hubs, minus the sewers, had quite a nice breakdown of areas within, to not just make it one bland area. There are a few office areas but they’re spaced out enough, and with secret basements, that you’re not dying from boredom of scenery.

Gregg: I did spend a lot of time in vents. They were cosy.

Connor: There was enough variety in the scenery to please me.

Dean: The vents were a really weird oversight in the AI for me. I think only once did an NPC crouch down to have a look in a vent. He didn’t do it again. The AI was pretty dumb. The invisible ones later on were scary though.

Gregg: Oh, god. As if this wasn’t long enough, you had to bring up the AI. I think it was probably just smart enough. The game probably would’ve been incredibly tricky if it were too smart. It is odd that they don’t wonder why a door is now open or whatever happened to that other guard they kept bumping into on patrol but I think the alternative might’ve been too detrimental to any enjoyment. Being able to distract them with *ahem* deliberately misplaced *cough* tranq rifle shots was a nice touch though.

Connor: Yeah, the AI wasn’t amazing by any stretch of the imagination but I felt it served its purpose well enough. By that, I mean, like Gregg says, if it were too clever, your life would be made very difficult.

Dean: I wouldn’t want it smarter, but I’d want it slightly less predicable. Too many AI were killed by lining up their heads with my bullets when they went to stare at the dead body of their comrade. They always went to where the disturbance was, not where it might have come from. Sometimes, they were on such strict paths I’d have to pull out my assault rifle and fire enough so its sound would give my location away.

Connor: While I did find them predictable, there were times when I thought it’d be safe because they’re walking in a straight line, and then suddenly they’d start walking sideways looking at the place I’m just running past. I thought that was pretty neat.

Dean: Oh, yeah, I know one thing. They never really got spooked by dead bodies much. You’re taught in the tutorial to hide dead bodies, but 95% of the time it neither matters nor do you have much time to drag them away, or somewhere to drag them to.

Gregg: I did have to move them on quite a few occasions. Usually just to be safe though.

Connor: I always moved them unless the room was otherwise empty. Generally, I’d just drag them a few clicks from where they dropped, just enough so their buddies couldn’t see before I also took them out.

Dean: Connor I’m unsure if anyone has told you before, but you’ve just said you moved the bodies a few kilometres away.

Connor: Huh. Well, not kilometres, heh. Not far, basically!

Gregg: Nuh uh. That’s a ‘klick’. You can thank Gears of War 3 for teaching me that one!

Dean: So, to wrap up, Human Revolution is a pretty decent continuation of the Deus Ex franchise. It has its issues as with all games but I, for one, look forward to any potential news of another. I can definitely see myself playing though Human Revolution many times in the future. My congratulations to Eidos Montréal for their debut game, it was a tough act to follow.

Johnny: I loved the game, despite its flaws. I’m excited that apparently this studio is also supposed to develop the new Thief game with the stupid name.

Gregg: I would say it manages to update the core elements of Deus Ex for a larger audience. It does have some glaring faults but I’m looking forward to seeing what the developers have instore, whether it’s a new Thief game or something else. The game is probably my favourite so far this year and that’s high praise considering I’m not a fan of stealth games or the majority of FPSs (obviously, Human Revolution is neither). I would recommend it to fans of the series as well as anyone wanting a decent blend of sneaking and shooting.

Connor: I was very impressed overall. Of course, it had problems. The boss fights and the strange way of handling the endings, but the amazing attention to detail and great world just made it a great game for me. It’s definitely one of my favourite games this year, and I can see it remaining among them when the year closes.

Dave: I really enjoyed it, I’m looking forward to the DLC and whatever comes in the future. Definitely one of my candidates for Game of the Year.

And that I think wraps this extremely long roundtable. Feel free to put your thoughts in the comments below or on the forum.

Further reading:

On some of the bigger departures from the original Deus Ex:

On why stealth was made more rewarding:

On the decision to reduce the ammo counts:

By Group Post

Occasionally we combine our powers for something a little special.

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