Critical Reception: Eidos Montreal's Deus Ex: Human Revolution

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 "ambitious reminder of what a game can be when it's unafraid."
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 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 Ion’s 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 can’t 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 – you read that correctly, he stops for a snack – 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 don’t 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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