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Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Trust no one.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a role-playing, first-person-shooting stealth thriller set in the year 2027. You play the role of Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT cop turned security specialist for Sarif Industries. The game begins on the eve of a historical government hearing which will be presented by Megan Reed, a scientist who also happens to be your girlfriend. Of course, things go wrong and the Sarif building is invaded by terrorists who kill the scientists and almost wipe out our protagonist.

Six months later and Jensen is now equipped with an array of cybernetic implants which can be upgraded depending on how you want to play the game.

If you want arcade action then upgrade Jensen’s legs so you can jump nine metres in the air and pair that with the wonderful Icarus landing system which creates a spectacular glowing energy field around our hero before he hits the ground, allowing him to jump off buildings. If you want to fight, upgrade your arms to steady your aim and pair that with dermal armour. Perhaps you want to sweet-talk your way through the game? In which case, implant a Social Enhancer which analyses other characters and allows you to emit pheromones to help you get what you want. Those who like to head into the shadows will find a cloaking system and hacking skills available.

Takedowns are brutal and stylish affairs.
You may think this vast array of choices could be overwhelming but your choices are what make Human Revolution special. Who you talk to, how you solve a puzzle and how you complete a mission all have a subtle effect on the story. For example, at the end of the first mission you get to talk to your target. If you shoot him that’s the mission finished, but you also have the option to let him escape. By doing so you’ll incur the wrath of your boss, David Sarif, but later on in the game the escapee might show up with some interesting news which leads the plot in a slightly different direction.

The structure of the story is created in a similar way to Heavy Rain in that you can take different paths but you always finish with the Deus Ex equivalent of a kid stuck in a drain. My first play through took almost twenty hours and, judging by my trophy count, I had completed about 25% of the side quests. There is no multiplayer option, which is a shame as the level design and augmentation mechanic could be perfect for some online action but as you can replay the game many times over, using different augmentations, it still seems to offer great value for money.

The plot twists and turns. The raid on Sarif Industries is just the starting point for a tale of conspiracy, espionage and murder. You never know who to trust and it’s not always clear just who the bad guys are. As one character says: “Remember, everybody lies.”

Side missions expand on the backgrounds of characters (there is a particularly sad email for Jensen) and these don’t shy away from serious topics. In one, a prostitute explained how the younger girls we being forced to get augmentations for “customers’ pleasure” and later on in the game the story takes a very dark turn.

The main character, Adam Jensen, may be half robot but his personality is that of an average Joe and it’s nice to find this kind of character who — just for once — isn’t voiced by Nolan North. He also has a very dry sense of humour and this, combined with the excellent voice acting, creates a believable character.

As mentioned previously, there are a number of ways to play the game. Although those who favour stealth, crawling through vents and silently taking down enemies, are treated to more experience points than those who go in with all guns blazing. All the missions have multiple solutions and it takes a while to get used to this multifaceted approach to level design.

It's a near future world oozing believability.
At one point I had to hack a terminal but it was out of reach. Obviously, I needed the bionic leg implants to allow me to leap up. I had spent my experience points on hacking, so how could I get to it? It seemed impossible at first but that’s because I was still thinking there was only one solution. In the end, I found an apartment, hacked the door, casually stole someone’s fridge and used it as a step to reach the terminal.

When you are drawn into a fire fight, the cover mechanic works very smoothly and weapons can be quickly selected using a weapon wheel. All the weapons can be upgraded and you can create some really interesting combinations, my favourite was a Combat Rifle that I had upgraded so it functioned much like the Bulls-eye gun from the Resistance franchise.

Jensen and his cybernetic enhancements are the star of the show but coming a close second is the world of Deus Ex. Taking its cues from Blade Runner and the old Bullfrog game, Syndicate, it mixes neon-lit buildings with renaissance themes and the gold and black colour palette is rather unique. It’s not just the massive cityscapes in the background that set the tone, there are a multitude of small details that bring the world to life.

On one hacked terminal I found a riff on the Nigerian bank scam email. Another message I read contained typos with the word ‘the’ typed as ‘teh’. It’s a little thing but, as I regularly make that mistake myself, it made the world seem more believable. When the game moves to China, any locals you encounter will speak in Chinese but the game displays English subtitles. Another nice touch.

I could go on for hours about the little things that make the world of Human Revolution come alive. I had some hands on time with RAGE recently and, like Fallout, when you talk to a character they just stand still. In Deus Ex they move about and use their hands to express themselves which makes a huge difference to how natural it all feels.

As well as sumptuous graphics, Human Revolution has one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in a game. Composer, Michael McCann, has done for Human Revolution what Vangelis did for Blade Runner. The moment the slow, orchestral chords strike up on the menu screen it immediately evokes the film and sets the whole tone of near future conspiracies and cybernetics.

Check out the UK TV advert for the game.
In compliment to the music, we also have some of the best sound design since Dead Space. There must be hours of incidental dialogue which you can hear as you walk past members of the public and it’s worth eavesdropping now and then as they can reveal the location of secret passageways or information relevant to a side mission. Once again, it’s the little things that make a difference. For example, a bystander sneezed at one point and in other games it would probably mean he had a biological super weapon up his sleeve. In Human Revolution, he had sneezed because people occasionally have colds.

There are a few issues with Deus Ex Human Revolution but they really are minor annoyances rather than game breakers. The facial animation is rather stiff, making certain characters look like Thunderbird puppets and, at one point, I encountered a small bug when a mech dropped from a helicopter and the graphics engine couldn’t decide where the robot hand landed so it flickered about a bit.

My biggest problem with the game concerns the ending, specifically the last level. It feels a little barren and seems to reuse locations from earlier in the game. It seems as though it was intended to feel unnerving due to the isolation but in practice, the emptiness just made it feel slightly unfinished. I also found it far too easy to defeat the final boss but that was more to do with the way I approached it than any real flaws in design. As with the rest of Human Revolution, the final boss can be approached in a number of different ways. That said, the final monologue is punctuated with real video footage from famines, wars and riots and this makes for an incredibly moving finale.


  • A sumptuous, believable near future world to immerse yourself in.
  • Excellent plot and acting.
  • Can be replayed many times.
  • RPG, FPS and stealth all in one game.


  • Stiff facial animations.
  • Ammo and energy supplies are rather sparse.
  • Boss battles unbalanced, either way to easy or very hard.

It’s obvious how much time Eidos Montreal has spent on Deus Ex: Human Revolution and behind the wonderful design is a solid game with a plot that will keep you guessing. This is a quality product in the same class as Dead Space 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and I’m sure it will be in many of the 2011 awards lists.

Score: 9/10

Reviewed from the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

  1. Delriach
    Since: Jul 2009

    I want this game so badly now :(

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:04.
    • Foxhound_Solid
      Is a smart cookie.
      Since: Dec 2009

      I am with you there. Has a metal gear feel to it. Cant wait….

      Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 20:43.
  2. Rocket_345
    Since: May 2010

    Sounds brilliant although i don’t have the funds to get this right now as i want to renew my Plus subscription. Will definately get it at some point though.

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:09.
    • Rocket_345
      Since: May 2010

      Whats the release date for this as i could ask for it as a present if i pass my exams.

      Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:26.
      • FalconRedux
        Since: May 2011

        This Friday (26th August) in the UK.

        Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:50.
  3. FalconRedux
    Since: May 2011

    Great review, haven’t been this excited about a game for a long time.

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:09.
  4. Huddy
    Since: Mar 2011

    Good review. Cyberpunk is back baby!

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:10.
  5. yogdog
    Since: Feb 2010

    Right…. Gonna have to find some extra pennies, as this a must buy now.
    Ace review, TC! :)

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:10.
    • yogdog
      Since: Feb 2010

      Although, I just feel that if there’s one series that *doesn’t* need multiplayer, it’s the Deus Ex series. It’s about slowly uncovering a global conspiracy and believable worlds, not shooting other people in the face. I don’t really think co-op would be suited as it would detract from the game world, for me.

      Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:16.
      • FalconRedux
        Since: May 2011

        I agree completely with this. I admire them for not trying to force multiplayer into a game that should stand without it (looking at you, Dead Space 2).

        Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:53.
      • xdarkmagician
        Since: May 2009

        Agreed. I also love eidos honestly about not having MP, simply saying that theres alot of great FPS MP games and unless your going to invest enough into MP to take on the CoDs and Battlefields it doesn’t pay to just tack on an MP mode and that it would be better to use those resources to improve the story mode. I personally would rather have one incredible mode instead of two halfed-assed modes.

        Comment posted on 23/08/2011 at 01:09.
  6. GTRsannin
    Since: Nov 2010

    Sounds good can’t wait till Friday

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:12.
  7. Kevatron400
    Drake, baby.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Wow, great and glowing review – I’d not even read anything about this game before and now it may have to be bumped up to the top of my must buys. Sounds amazing, thanks for reviewing.

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:14.
    • beeje13
      Since: Jan 2010

      Same, this review has put it on my radar.

      Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 19:46.
    • Roynaldo
      Since: Nov 2008

      absolutely the same as you kev, suddenly jumped from nothing to “F**k, thats another £40 gone”

      Comment posted on 23/08/2011 at 14:36.
  8. job
    Since: Jun 2010

    good review . will pick this up as soon as i finish the splinter cell trilogy.

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:15.
  9. threelions_66
    Since: Feb 2011

    The Missus is treating me with this for my Birthday (few days after release), I’ve been looking forward to it for ages now.

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:19.
  10. skibadee
    Since: Oct 2009

    great review was hoping my copy got sent today no luck.

    Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:22.
    • skibadee
      Since: Oct 2009

      nice it is the PS3 version as well TC.

      Comment posted on 22/08/2011 at 17:23.