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Critical Reception: Eidos Montreal's  Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Critical Reception: Eidos Montreal's Deus Ex: Human Revolution
August 24, 2011 | By Danny Cowan

August 24, 2011 | By Danny Cowan
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This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Eidos Montreal's Deus Ex series prequel Human Revolution, which reviewers describe as "an imperfect, complex and ambitious reminder of what a game can be when it's unafraid." Human Revolution currently earns a score of 89 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

Joystiq's Ludwig Kietzmann gives Human Revolution 4.5 out of 5 stars. "Deus Ex: Human Revolution isn't exempt from the clumsy tutorial crowd, but once it gets through the jarring video pop-ups, it quickly stops treating you like an imbecilic waypoint-marker addict," he writes. "This game thinks you're an adult and expects you to handle your shit."

Kietzmann praises Deus Ex's non-linearity. "How many games would allow you to complete mission objectives out of order, or even before they've been placed into the conspiracy plot's to-do list?" he asks.

"You'll discover a restrained sprawl of accessible apartments, sewers, slums and guarded targets of interest. These are not constructed to support individual missions exclusively. They exist long before you get there, and can offer side-quests, bonus experience points and -- yes -- objectives that may be crucial at a later stage. And the game won't break if you hop over a line, because there are no lines."

Kietzmann continues: "Human Revolution has too much integrity and subtlety to put a giant DANGER arrow over a hostile area. If you see gun-toting guards marching about, you should know to approach with a lower profile. Beyond some isolated, plot-specific locations, there are no demarcated levels and no sections that go 'Shush!' when it's time for stealth. Every element of the game is contiguous to the next and part of a fantastic, coherent whole."

"Newcomer Eidos Montreal flippantly barges onto the scene and hushes the crowd of streamlined, focus-tested roller coaster games," Kietzmann says. "Human Revolution is an imperfect, complex and ambitious reminder of what a game can be when it's unafraid."

Andrew Reiner at Game Informer scores Human Revolution at 8.5 out of 10. "Eidos sticks to Ionís original vision, offering a game that supports deep stealth, combat, exploration, and RPG-style upgrade and conversation systems," he notes. "Unfortunately, not all of these mechanics work as well as others, and your enjoyment is tied to how heavily you lean on the more polished portions."

Human Revolution's stealth mechanics are particularly well-implemented. "For most of my first of two complete playthroughs of Human Revolution I relied on stealth tactics to achieve my goals," Reiner recalls. "Sneaking through rival office spaces and biotechnology labs is an exhilarating experience. A fantastic cover mechanic and unpredictable enemy behavior enhance this approach, but it requires patience."

Reiner continues: "A character with state of the art metal arms canít choke or punch an enemy without cell energy. He just has to stand behind them and wait for 30 to 40 seconds (upgrades can reduce the time). If the enemy turns, Jensen can enter his inventory to consume an energy bar Ė you read that correctly, he stops for a snack Ė to restore energy instantly. The ridiculousness of this concept is blatant."

"Computer hacking also suffers from balance issues," Reiner says. "Once Jensen upgrades his hacking stealth to level three (which can be achieved within a matter of hours) he decreases the chance of detection by 45 percent and the thrill of hacking is lost until you come across the level five security rating terminals toward the end of the game."

However: "These flaws donít hold Human Revolution back from being an entertaining adventure through a riveting story and world," Reiner assures. "It rewards those who fight through it with a fantastic plot payoff and a great sense of character progression. The problematic gunplay and annoying stealth takedown mechanics keep the game from greatness, but if played a certain way, Human Revolution captures the spirit of its predecessors and can be a blast."

Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann gives Human Revolution 4 out of 5 stars. "The way the world is set up and how the story unfolds is the best part about Human Revolution," he writes. "Positioning itself around the rise of widespread human augmentation gives the story some moral and ethical weight on the subject of transhumanism, which makes for a fantastic backdrop for the rest of the game."

Gerstmann notes that the game's augmentation system lets players approach missions in many different ways. "Being able to lift heavy vending machines will often let you get to the ventilation ducts hidden behind them," he says. "Being able to fall any distance without taking damage lets you drop down deep shafts instead of taking the long way around. And turning invisible with your cloaking system, though limited by your energy reserves, lets you waltz right past security cameras, turrets, and hapless guards."

Gunplay proves less satisfying, however. "The shooting and enemy AI makes a lot of the action flat, with plenty of largely unsatisfying weapons that require you to pump most enemies full of lead," Gerstmann warns. "Speaking of lead, it's surprisingly limited, inviting you to spend too much time fiddling with your inventory and filling up your limited inventory space with too many bulky guns, just in case you find more ammo for that particular weapon."

In addition: "The enemies are pretty boneheaded by cover-based shooter standards, and their main tactic when not hiding behind cover themselves is to slowly step back and forth while constantly shooting at where they think you're currently hiding. They also, inexplicably, refuse to shoot through breakable glass in some cases, resulting in situations where you're staring at a room of enemies who activate and step back and forth like they're intending to gun you down, but never open fire."

"It has its issues, but it's the world, the setting, and the story that make Human Revolution great," Gerstmann concludes. "These aspects of the game are so solid that I happily waded through the game's low points in search of the next hackable terminal or other flavor-filled bit of dialogue or text. That stuff is so strong that, unless you're an extreme stickler for the above-mentioned problems, you'll more than likely be able to look past the game's weak points as well."


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Comments


Bart Stewart
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I'm still in the very early stages of DXHR, but I think the reviews have it about right. The gameplay mechanics (particularly weapon combat) feel a little simplistic relative to the attention paid to the world of the game.



I refused to let my expectations get too high for this game -- I'm a fan of the original PC game, warts and all -- but so far I'm amazed and gratified at the care that's gone into getting the little things (mostly) right. Listen to the music when you first enter your boss's office... it subtly shifts briefly into the "UNATCO Ambient" theme from Deus Ex. The story team even preserved the "first door-code number" joke from System Shock 1 & 2 and its Deus Ex and BioShock inheritors. These touches tell me that the gameworld team were allowed, maybe even encouraged, to try to get this aspect of DXHR right.



Which makes the contrast with the mechanics of the gameplay even more jarring. Ranged combat in particular feels console-standard; even the cover system gets in the way more than the original game's "leaning" capability. The care lavished on the rest of the game makes the uninspired combat even more frustrating than it otherwise would be. Even Invisible War's combat felt more organic to the rest of the game.



Again, though, I'm still barely past the initial sequence. Maybe the augmentations will provide the depth that the gimmicky basic combat mechanics don't.



Overall, the Metacritic numbers seem about right to me so far (for whatever that's worth).

A W
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I'm quite surprised that Gama failed to mention the reviews that took some issues with the "Boss encounters" One reviewer wrote that they didn't play for 2 days because they felt that the game only gave an illusion of choice and not real choice. This occurred when they encountered a boss and was treated to a cut scene that was not based on their methods of taking down the enemy. In other word he used not lethal methods, however the following cut scene was fixed so his method had no bearing on the outcome.



This person also when to mention that being a peaceful ninja, vs a battle hardened marine really had no varied outcome on how you where treated or how you where perceived later on in the game. It only came down to if story arc person or objective was handled this way or that way. So if you encountered hostages in an area and you decided to kill them all, no one really cares about that, they just care about if you got to that one guy and you made a choice of whether he should live or die.

Arnaud Clermontť
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" This person also when to mention that being a peaceful ninja, vs a battle hardened marine really had no varied outcome on how you where treated or how you where perceived later on in the game "



He lied.

A cop called me a murderer for killing most bad guys as soon as I reached the end of the 1st mission.

And some Sarif employees also made comments about my methods...

matthew diprinzio
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One Sarif employee told me I should take anger management classes after I killed everyone in the first mission.

Ali Afshari
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I heard about the complaint....The reviewer defeated the boss through non-lethal means and the cutscene shows the boss bloody and dying. Sure, there are some inconsistencies and minimal flaws...but I think most people can agree the game could have been much worse considering the hype and the expectation of players who've completed the first game numerous times. I'm very happy with the experience so far and I hope this title is successful enough to garner more Deus Ex games...

Christopher Enderle
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I noticed the same thing in Alpha Protocol. I think "cutscene with blood turned off" usually ends up pretty low on the priority list.

Jonathan Gilmore
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Agreed, the game clearly has some warts but considering the sky high amibitons of the game it is remarkable cohesive and I am loving it so far, despite some frustrations.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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Congrats to my friends @ Eidos Montreal, Im glad their first game is a such great one. Another success for the Montreal game industry :)

Kevin Patterson
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Yes, thank you Eidos Montreal, hopefully the care and vision you placed on this game will make the industry do better with their games all around. I absolutely cannot wait for Thief 4!!!

Nathan Cocks
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I just hope that, now the fans have access, they remember Deus Ex was not a perfect game either and give what Ubisoft Montreal has achieved with Human Revolution its proper due.


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