Monday, September 24, 2012

Blog #1: A Review of "Deus Ex: Human Revolution"

A couple weeks ago, I finally finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution, per the recommendation by a friend. It was developed by Eidos Montreal and Square Enix and is a prequel to the original Deus Ex game that came out in 2002.

I was skeptical going in because I had heard very little about the this game upon its release in 2011. IGN gave it a 9.0, but IGN also gave a game called Orcs Must Die a 9.0. I trust you can guess the content of the game from its title. However, after just a couple minutes of play, I realized that this was one of the best games to come out in quite a while. It's so good that I have to wonder why it isn't more known in gaming circles. It is the best attempt to mix action and stealth that I have played. Unlike Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots or the Splinter Cell series (not including Splinter Cell: Conviction), the game actually moves smoothly between shooting and sneaking around. Even more impressive is that all of this is done from a first-person perspective.

The problem with most stealth-action games is that they usually force the player into either stealth or action-style gameplay for most of the gameplay, with an occasional dip into the other style of gameplay to mix it up. Metal Gear Solid 4 is a painful example of this. Every time I wanted to shoot someone, I had to press three buttons to get my gun out, aim, and fire, all of which took place at a snail's pace that you would expect from someone of Snake's advanced age. All of this, while under fire. Stealth, I quickly realized, was the only way to go. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Splinter Cell: Double Agent offers the user a choice of two different equipment setups (stealth or action) at the beginning of each level. However, the advantages of going quietly made choosing the stun gun over the shotgun no contest.  Deus Ex, on the other hand, streamlines the process and truly allows the player to alternate between play style at will. There are often times three or four different ways of tackling a given obstacle, each requiring a slightly different combination of shooting and going ninja.

The game also has what amounts to a decent story. While it's not a revelation, within the relative cesspool of video game narratives, Deus Ex comes out on top. It's a smart political thriller that's all about how cybernetic technology affects our notions of what is human.

A couple of final notes: it's set in a futuristic Detroit, so kudos for city pride, and the protagonist, Adam Jensen, sounds like a depressed version of Christian Bale playing Batman. That is to say, Keanu Reeves.

If anyone reading this enjoys first-person shooters, stealth games, or just killing gangsters in Detroit, this is the game for you.

1 comment:

  1. While I'm sure that the game is super duper awesome and a bag of chips - I haven't played it, but the IGN review makes it look good - I do take some issue with your line about killing gangsters in Detroit.

    I don't know your history with the city (hell, I don't even know who you are in the class), and I also don't know the extent to which the game spends time in this futuristic Detroit, but I personally am so sick of hearing Detroit and gun violence connected to one another as if that's the only thing that the city is good for or good at. I apologize that this makes me sound like I take offense to everything bad that has ever been said about Detroit, and I do not intend on trying to convince anybody that it is the safest, most magical place on earth, but I find that kind of hype to be insulting and detrimental to those who I know are doing good work there.

    So, in the interest of turning this from a rant to a discussion:

    a) Do you (or anybody else out there) know of any other games that involve shootings and other things that give cities/places a bad rap in the real world, that are named for real cities or places?

    b) Are you from or have you been to one of these real areas? Are they only alike in name, or do you see any parallels between the in-game and real-life versions?

    c) How do you keep the game universe separated from the real area that the game derives its inspiration from? That is, to say: Does Deus Ex's Detroit (or Singapore, or Montreal) have any bearing on what you think of the actual city or place when you are physically there?