Deus Ex: Human Revolution
A review of the cyberpunk RPG sequel.
Another impressive mechanic is the persuasion system. Unlike the Mass Effect system where you simply have to pass a level check, or the wheel mini-game in Oblivion, here you have to listen to what characters are saying and choose the response that the character will respond best to. There’s an augmentation you can take to make it easier, but honestly as long as you’re listening it’s not too hard and far more realistic than most games’ attempts. The conversations themselves are impressive too: in one scene you have a debate with a rival company leader in a conference, and in another, particularly moving one, you need to persuade someone out of committing suicide. It’s an engaging scene and I really felt an obligation to the character to get it right! Scenes like this really make up for the over-the-top and somewhat old-fashioned cutscenes. There are human details scattered around the world that have a real emotional punch: the clutter and neglect of Adam’s apartment, a post-it note with a phone number and a “forever alone” doodle in a hacker’s hideout, or the Chinese beggar who thanks you for speaking to him. These little details, pieced into a world that feels real and looks stunning, lend an immersive atmosphere so strong I found myself wandering around in my day-to-day life looking for air vents to escape through.
Sometimes these gameplay choices get a bit strange, though. As there are multiple ways into somewhere, I often found it easier to persuade someone to let me into an area, then to stealth about stealing things, finding secret areas and hacking computers to get all of the experience and goodies on offer while NPCs stare blankly at me. You can also hack your way through your own office, if you want, which feels a bit strange. Equally strange is the fact that that NPCs will attack you for hacking or walking too close, but will stare blankly at you as you run around stealing all their belongings.
Other flaws come with the jerky animation in cut scenes (and I’ll never get tired of Adam putting his hand on his hip and gesticulating like the campest cyborg you ever saw) and some of the voice acting could really do with some work, especially when it comes to accents. But the real low point comes with the absolutely dreadful boss battles. Now, considering this is a game that is built largely on choice, you’d think there would be more to a boss battle than circle-strafing an augmented marine with your biggest gun. Unfortunately the developers made the frankly foolish choice to outsource these segments to another company, and it shows. They not only feel like they’re dragged into from another game altogether, they also undermine the freedom of the game. When I came to the first boss battle, I’d been stealthing my way around the first few levels. I’d not killed a single enemy and thanks to some augmentations, I’d only been seen once. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was forced into a room where I couldn’t stealth away into a hidden air vent or hack a terminal to make things easier. I was trapped with a powerful enemy, a handful of guns and a bit of cover. My character just wasn’t levelled up in a way that could defeat that enemy and I felt decidedly cheated that I had to kill something.