Horrible Bosses & Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Can't kill progress. Not with those augments.

With Deus Ex: Mankind Divided fast approaching, I really couldn’t put it off for much longer. Having spent close to half a decade lying dormant on the shelf, I took my copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, dusted off my DualShock 3, and made a promise to there and then to wipe it from the backlog.

That was definitely easier said than done. Although a solid game all-round, Eidos Montreal’s hybrid shooter isn’t quite as timeless as some critics would have you believe. There’s definitely some intriguing systems at play but not all of them have aged particularly well. Then you have to consider the game’s shortcomings when it originally launched back 2011.

Chief among these – quite undeniably – were the boss fights. I can still remember, almost five years ago, taking a brand new copy to supermarket counter having read and watched a string of reviews the night before. If there was one negative point that kept recurring, it was those blasted boss fights.

Deus_Ex_Bosses

Predictably, these have only gotten worse with age. From that initial spar with Barrett to the game’s bizarre final encounter, they’re all rotten and feel completely out of place.

One of the features I really enjoyed in my belated playthrough was the freedom to customise Jensen as a I saw fit. Being the stealth action sucker that I am, naturally I opted to give him a spread of augments that would suit that playstyle, centred around hacking and giving myself a better view of the surrounding environment.

When it comes to boss battles however, each player is funneled down the same chute, into an arena where their preferred approach to gameplay is completely subverted. You can’t talk your way out of these, nor can you scout around for the perfect ambush spot or a terminal to hack. You’re simply forced to play by a different set of rules and that can be incredibly damaging.

Although I can see this being a very small minority, there were no doubt those who went full-on beast mode, fitting Jensen with only the baddest implants, from armour plating to the explosive “Typhoon” defence system. It’s these augments in particular that can help to stop bosses dead in their tracks.

For instance, levelling up your bodysuit grants you immunity to EMP blackouts, making one of the encounters almost laughable. If, like me, you had your points spent in hacking and other miscellaneous skills, that same fight became almost impossible.

The worst thing about these self-contained calamities is how they break the game’s illusion of freedom. The more bosses I came up against, the more I began to question whether Deus Ex favoured some loadouts as opposed to others. Of course, some playstyles help to make things that much more convenient, yet those geared towards non-combat functions are left in the cold as soon as the shit hits the fan.

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It’s not as if Square Montreal was completely blind to this issue. Anticipating that some players would be better equipped than others, the developer litters each of the boss encounters with a copious amount of guns, ammo, and other gadgets. These do little to account for the discrepancies between character builds, however. Having access to lethal weapons all of a sudden doesn’t put me on a level playing field if this is the first time I’ve been forced to use one.

This is, by far, the game’s biggest drawback, giving players the scope to customise yet failing to address the imbalance that comes as a result of players tailoring their own unique character.

Over time, some of Human Revolution’s lesser grievances have been allowed to ripen. Both the cover and shooter systems, while serviceable, are incredibly clumsy compared to modern standards. Scrolling your way through maps and menus can also be a pain but this is much easier to overlook considering how games like The Witcher III and Fallout 4 still haven’t quite nailed it.

Going back to the initial question I’d say that Deus Ex: Human Revolution has still aged well. Although some core gameplay elements are a little stiff and rusty, these do little to parry its sharp aesthetic and strong concepts. Hopefully, now – with a new generation of hardware to work with – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will continue to deliver the same brand of sci-fi soirée, minus the restrictions on player freedom.

4 Comments

  1. I went for a stealthy build but found the bosses relatively easy to kill. How? Mainly because I’d looked a couple of the encounters up online as I was stuck too. The developers had left a way for you to complete them but no sensible way for you to deduce this yourself (or at least not for the masses to deduce). Maybe I should have paid closer attention to the environment. Pity your character doesn’t give you some vocal clues as to what might or might not work with regards to the skills you have (or haven’t) chosen.

    Bad design.

  2. Same as Mike, I had no issue with the bosses and my build was very stealthy. But again, same as Mike, only because I had heard so many bad things about the bosses that I went in having watched youtube videos on how to do it. Pretty sure one was a complete cheat (like last night with Lazarevic on U2). Absolutely no way I’d have succeeded without knowledge.

    Such an odd design to implement. Here’s hoping the new one doesn’t go down the same route. Surely they’ve learned!?

  3. They outsourced the boss fights thus it ruining the playthrough of many stealth jensens. The Director’s Cut does rectify it but we should not need a director’s cut to fix boss fights! I have fought some bad and cheating arseholes that are bosses. I hate spam attacks, i hate teleport attacks that give you no way of guessing. I hate bosses that are bullet sponges. I mean, if i need an entire armoury to kill a boss and it is boring, i hate it. Bulletsponges are not a fun boss fight! Lazarevic on U2 is kinda crap. I mean, you literally have to run around in a circle, avoid his attacks and slowly weaken him. It works for the plot but it’s just a chore.

    Bosses that are done right tend to be fondly remembered and i love MGS because every boss up until PW where the franchise just gave up with boss fights, was rememberable. Sniper Wolf, Vulcan Raven, Psycho Mantis, Liquid Snake, they were all memorable and that’s one freaking game! QTE bosses just piss me off!

    It’s cheap, it comes down to timing and lazy and even then, the game can be an arsehole and change the buttons. Resident Evil 4 usually pisses me off with the krauser QTE. Shadow of Mordor crapped itself with it’s QTE final boss.

    QTE bosses should never exist and so far, the only franchise that i have seen handle them correctly is GOW and that’s mainly due to QTEs being used for flash yet effective parts of the boss fight.

    I hope this is a new regular feature as gaming has a lot of awful bosses.

    *insert joke about the TSA bosses being bad bosses here*

  4. The boss fights were outsourced to a third party, who didnt have a lot of detail to go on, which is why they clashed so much with the rest of the game. Did the console versions get the Directors Cut patch, which fixed them? On PC at least, it made the game much better..

    Still not as good as the original, but then a game like that probably wouldn’t get made today.

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