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Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Many games provide the illusion of it; fewer deliver it in any meaningful way. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one of those few: a first-person shooter/stealth/espionage/role-playing hybrid that allows you to overcome obstacles as you see fit. Let's say you require access to a guarded apartment building. You can shoot your way past the patrolling sentries. But maybe you'd rather sneak past them unnoticed, silently knocking them out as you go; hack an electronic lock on a side entrance; or find a hidden vent and shimmy your way inside. Play the way you want: It's up to you. In Human Revolution, this kind of flexibility can be awe inspiring, but like with many ambitious games, the individual parts and pieces aren't always satisfying on their own terms. Neither the shooting nor the stealth is best in class, and a number of flaws disrupt your suspension of disbelief. But even if the details don't stand up to scrutiny, taken as a whole, Human Revolution is an excellent game with an unsettling vision of the future we face. 
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Dxhr box.jpg
Nixxes Software (PC)
Publisher(s) Square Enix
Designer(s) Jean-Fran├žois Dugas
David Anfossi
Composer(s) Michael McCann
Series Deus Ex
Engine Modified Crystal Dynamics Crystal engine
Version 1.0.618.8
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release date(s) NA August 23, 2011
AU August 25, 2011

EU August 26, 2011

JP September 8, 2011

Genre(s) Cyberpunk Action RPG
Mode(s) Single-player
  • BBFC: 15
  • ESRB: M
  • PEGI: 18
  • USK: 18
Media/distribution Optical disc, Download, Cloud computing
System requirements

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the third game in the Deus Ex first-person role-playing video game series, and a prequel to the original game. It was developed by Eidos Montreal.

In that future, human augmentation has changed the way we live. Augmentation technology makes the more fortunate among us stronger, faster, and hardier--for a cost, of course. It's the year 2027, and the world is divided. Some believe that augmentation is the next step in evolution; others think it strips us of our humanity. Sarif Industries is one of several companies that research and manufacture such technology, and you play as Adam Jensen, Sarif's security expert. Scientists are on the verge of a mysterious breakthrough when high-tech soldiers ransack Sarif's headquarters, making off with important info, apparently murdering scientists and leaving Adam for dead. Sarif rehabilitates Adam with the help of augmentations, turning Adam into both man and machine: something beyond human. As Adam, you set off to discover who was behind the attack and what, exactly, they were trying to find.  You explore Shanghai and your home city of Detroit, along with other locales, to piece together clues. Some of them illuminate plot elements; others flesh out the world as a whole; while still others provide unexpected personal data and set the stage for a surprising turn of events. In this grim vision of the future, anti-aug demonstrators hang on their prophet's every word; sexual deviants seek augmented prostitutes for extra thrills. Human Revolution explores the symbiotic relationships binding the press, the government, and big business--a modern, relevant theme that gives the story an air of disturbing authenticity. If you played the original Deus Ex, you will appreciate seeing the origins of the turmoil to come, before nanotechnology further revolutionized the human condition. Electronic books you stumble upon hint at the coming innovation; newspapers document increasing social tensions (and, cleverly, refer to how you completed your most recent mission); and emails and PDAs provide insight into the minds of the game's key figures. 

 The visual design does a great job of setting the stage for those tensions. Human Revolution's color palette makes frequent use of gold and black, which results in eye-catching visual contrasts. Take, for example, a nightclub in Shanghai called The Hive. The honeycomb design stretching across its neon yellow exterior is not only striking, but also similar to interface elements associated with augmentations. This kind of thematic and visual consistency is common and makes for a cohesive atmosphere even when trotting across the globe. Human Revolution takes great pains to be believable and immerse you in its world, which makes its technical deficiencies all the more noticeable. The city districts you explore are good sized but not enormous, which makes the extended loading times between them seem drastic. You spend minutes at a time in lengthy conversations, staring at the dated, mechanical facial animations. On the Xbox 360 in particular, the frame rate can take a hit as you pan the camera around--a distraction in any case and a greater annoyance during firefights. On consoles, it feels like developer Eidos Montreal tried to squeeze a bit more out of its graphics engine than it could handle. On the PC, the game performs adequately but still looks slightly dated. But this is a case in which good art design overcomes the technology that renders it.


The different "pillars of gameplay", as called by the developers, are "Combat", "Stealth", "Hacking", and "Social". Players can switch between these gameplay types whenever they please, and certain pillars may flow into others. For example, a failed hack may sound an alarm and start a fight, and exploration might lead to the discovery of a stealthy way past the area's enemies.
In the series, Augmentations are technological modifications to the body that allow the user to use superhuman abilities. While augmentations in the first two games were nanotech, Human Revolution is set prior to both and instead features mechanical augmentations. These Augmentations cater to each of the four gameplay types. While the player character is highly capable of bringing death on his enemies, the player is never forced into acts of lethal violence, except during certain special encounters (e.g. boss fights). Augmentations, while enhancing the player's performance in each of the gameplay types, also allow players to craft their own methods of play should they see fit.
Every enemy squad will have an identifiable squad leader who will direct the team's actions. If the leader is killed, the squad falls into disarray. Enemies will also react to subtle player decisions, such as a change in behaviour or weapons, etc. Unlike in Invisible War, weapons will fire distinct ammunition types instead of depleting a unified pool. They can also be upgraded to better suit the player.
Deviating from previous titles in the series, Human Revolution will use a regenerating health model. This change was made because the developers did not want players to get into a situation where they were unable to progress due to low health, and would be forced to "scrounge for med packs" and food. They see this scrounging behavior as breaking the flow of the game when one retreats to search the entire level for medical supplies. They believe their regenerating health model will still encourage tactical and strategy forming retreats, but not to the extent where the tension and flow of the game is disrupted. Despite using a regenerating health model, the game will still include health restoring consumables, such as food.
Another major change seen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the highlighting of objects a player can interact with, explained via the in-game plot as tactical vision Augmentation. This feature can be seen in the game play preview released in March 2011.This highlighting of objects can be turned off in the game options. Human Revolution is primarily a first-person game, but will switch to a contextual third-person viewpoint when using the cover system, certain Augmentations, or for melee combat.

And so you perform story missions and side quests in these cities, where hobos huddle around flaming barrels for warmth and private security firms intimidate the locals. You find answers for a grieving mother, publicly humiliate a cowardly murderer, and seek a dangerous hacker. And in most cases, how you accomplish your tasks depends on how you wish to play. Let's say you must make your way through a heavily guarded facility. If you prefer the direct approach, you could shoot your way through. During the course of the game, you find or purchase pistols, revolvers, combat rifles, shotguns, and more--and you gain access to augmentations that further support your violent tendencies. As you play, you earn experience; in turn, you then earn praxis points used to unlock new skills and enhancements. Players into bloodshed should appreciate the dermal augmentations that increase your armor, reduce weapon recoil, increase inventory space, and improve resistance to concussion grenades.  


The game takes place during the year 2027, 25 years before Deus Ex. Nanotechnological augmentations have yet to be developed and biomechanical augmentations are the current state of the art. The main protagonist, Adam Jensen (voiced by Elias Toufexis), is a private security officer with Sarif Industries, a leading company that specializes in human augmentations. After he witnesses a chilling attack on his company which leaves him horrifically injured and forced to undergo augmentation to survive, "the conspiracy begins." The player will visit five cities over the course of the game, including Detroit, Shanghai and Montreal. In addition, the protagonist will have his own apartment where he may store his secrets and collected information. The events in the game will lead to the formation of UNATCO from the original game.


Human Revolution deals with the ethics of transhumanism, and carries an overarching message of humanity's reach exceeding its grasp. "Mankind is using mechanical augmentations," director Jean-Francois Dugas said before the game's release, "but there is still much to be determined in terms of their effect on society and the ultimate direction it will lead us in." The Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus appears in Adam Jensen's dreams as an allegory to this thought, and also—given that both Daedalus and Icarus were the names of artificial intelligences in Deus Ex—an intellectual bridge to the original game. The pace of technological development is reflected visually by a Renaissance theme. Characters who support the advances of human augmentation dress themselves and decorate their homes in reinterpreted late-medieval Italian style, and the game as a whole has a sepia-tinted colour palette reminiscent of historic manuscripts. In contrast, characters who oppose or are of neutral opinion to augmentations wear clothing that is more or less current-day. As was the case in Deus Ex, conspiracy theories and immensely powerful corporations feature strongly, but nothing is currently known about them.


  • Adam Jensen - The central protagonist, Adam was a SWAT commander in the Detroit Police, but his career came to an end when he refused to follow a questionable order. Subsequently, Adam became a private security specialist for Sarif Industries, assigned to protect scientists on the edge of cutting edge breakthroughs. During what should have been a routine security detail, an ambush by a rogue black ops team, Belltower, leaves Adam critically injured and his charges dead. Adam awakens with cybernetic augmentations, and begins a relentless search for the truth behind the attack.
  • Dr. Megan Reed - One of the lead researchers at Sarif Industries, Dr. Reed is considered a pioneer in the field of human enhancement technologies. Her dedication to her research, and her aloof demeanor, has made it difficult for her to cultivate lasting interpersonal relationships.
  • David Sarif - The founder and CEO of Sarif Industries, David is a futurist who developed an interest in machines at an early age. He is known for his forward, honest demeanor, though he has no aversion to keeping secrets when appropriate.
  • Jaron Namir - A cybernetically enhanced mercenary working for Belltower Associates, a private military corporation. A merciless combatant, yet also a devoted family man, he has had numerous cybernetic enhancements to compensate for the decline associated with advanced age. Inconclusive encounters with Adam have caused him to fear he is losing his edge.
  • Lawrence Barrett- A former marine turned mercenary, Barrett is a Belltower mercenary under Namir's command. Like Namir, he has augmented his already impressive physique with numerous cybernetic upgrades. He lives for the moment when he's beaten his enemy into submission, and Adam Jensen is his next target.
  • Yelena Federova- A statuesque, athletic woman of Afro-Russian descent, Yelena is one of Belltower's most elite assasins. Unlike Barrett, she favors stealth over brute force. Being one of few women in a male-dominated profession has strongly influenced her worldview, making her cautious of everthing around her.


Deus Ex 3 was announced on May 17, 2007, in an interview with Patrick Melchior, the director of Eidos France, on the French-Canadian television show M. Net. An initial teaser trailer was released on November 26, 2007, and around one year later PC Zone ran a first preview which detailed some of the game's mechanics and setting and provided the first true artwork and screenshots. Several of the design decisions mentioned, most notably the introduction of regenerating health, precipitated an initial backlash amongst many fans of the original Deus Ex. In November 2009 it was announced that Square Enix was to publish the game, and that the CGI sequences were to be created at its Japanese Visual Works studio with direction from Goldtooth Creative in Canada. The results of this international partnership were first seen in the teaser trailer shown at the 2010 Game Developers Conference (by which point the game's subtitle had changed to Human Revolution and its release pushed back to "early 2011"), which was expanded to a three-minute trailer at E3 2010. E3 2010 also saw a second major preview of the game, this time in PC Gamer UK, which provided engine-rendered screenshots and gameplay details.

Don't let these imperfections dissuade you from playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution if you're so inclined. This is an extensive (20-plus hours) game that by the very nature of its complexity invites replay. It is true that many of its individual elements don't withstand close inspection. But those elements add up to an impressive and absorbing adventure that invites you to improvise. You glide from rooftops like a cyberpunk angel in a world on the brink of technological breakthroughs and socioeconomic disaster, and uncover conspiracies in the unlikeliest of places. The longer you play, the more the story grabs you and the more you appreciate the customizability of the game. Hybrid games like this are uncommon. Even more uncommon are games with Human Revolution's power to eclipse its quirks with such enthralling atmosphere and exciting adaptability. 

Watch Deus Ex: Human Revolution  game trailer for more details.


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