Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Deus Ex Human Revolution

The first was a masterpiece, the second simply couldn't live up to its predecessor the third... is flawed, but only in small ways. It's like a perfect diamond that has one small crack in the middle of it; if you weren't looking for it you wouldn't notice. That's Human Revolution to me; having played the first game in so many different ways all I can see is where this lets me down.

On its own merits it's a great game and like the first can be said to return the richness of story that normally appears only in the RPG genre to the more action-based games. Oh sure such games try to produce a back-story but they make the mistake of force-feeding it to you; a 'true' game story is one you can uncover for yourself and Deus Ex did that producing a true interactive story in which your actions had a measurable consequence not only in the end seuqence, but throughout the entire game itself. Deus Ex Human Revolution doesn't quite succeed.

Sadly it seems to have been infected with the movie virus; or perhaps the developers got cold feet at the last minute and decided they just had to appeal to the mass demographic. Either way this resulted in two things that stand completely against the primary principle laid down by the first game - the player has control.

Firstly non-interactive cut-scenes. Now memory may be blurring here but I don't recall any scene in the first game when I had zero control (except perhaps at the very beginning and the very end). Even when something was deemed necessary I still had control over my verbal responses and that would shape the progression of the story. Human Revolution takes that away from me and that means it's not 'me' in the game it's him and at times 'he' is quite stupid.

Secondly the forced fights. I've only had to endure one at the moment, but that was bad enough. Penny Arcade sums it up for me nicely. I couldn't sneak around him; I couldn't talk him out of his actions; I could only kill him. Given that he was immune to non-lethal weaponry and that's all I had that would prove difficult. Annoyingly the developers (or at least the play-testers) realised this situation could arise and rather than re-work the concept so as to give the player a choice they chose to cheat. They did this by stashing weapon caches in the locked room. Needless to say after having spent almost the entire first half of the game not even being seen let alone having to take out any enemies forcing me into this style of play did not feel fun; it felt frustrating.

Ignoring those two major flaws I'm enjoying playing it and it's one I will be returning just to play it in different ways and to see what I've missed. It's just a shame really but for those two points this would be a game up there at the top of the gaming tree. Don't get me wrong it's still great, but it could have been spectacular so so easily.

[Update - So now I'm facing off against someone invisible who runs at me and explodes. At least I can use my elite hacking skills to control all the turrets and robo-sentries then use my strength to shift some of the large crates allowing me to use my jump ability to climb up to the ducts. Oh wait no hackables, no crates, no hiding places. Once again it's locked me in a room with a maniac for which the skills I've acquired have no use - thanks for that]

[Update - And now my first glitch with the side-quest Talion A.D. It won't update beyond "Read the Pocket Secretary" despite me picking up the damn thing and reading it. It's still completable though]


LazerFX said...

He's not actually immune to non-lethal weapons, as such - it just takes a lot of hits to take him down (I took him down with the stun gun alone after about 14 hits - fortunately, there were plenty of cartridges around for me to use). That was on a 'normal' difficulty playthrough, so might not be possible on the harder levels, I admit. However, I do agree that this forced combat was sort-of out of person; the forced combat in Deus Ex was, at least, avoidable (If you had the master code words, for instance). Still, both games are similar in that you have a couple of non-avoidable combat sequences which result in the death of your opponents, even if you're playing as a complete pacifist.

FlipC said...

Well I tried hitting him with tranq darts and the PEPs and the former did nothing while the latter just staggered him.

After multiple deaths I ended up throwing a gas canister at him and then dropped three UR-DED's at his feet and detonated them. Took him out in about a minute.

I don't recall any forced combat in the first. There were some forced conversations, but running away or talking worked in. I'm sure there are no-death guides out there that don't rely on the (except for bosses) exemption.

Orphi said...

Thanks for the Penny Arcade quote. I LOLd. Almost as fun as Zero Punctuation explaining about “Jew sex”.

OK, so this is definitely a game to avoid at all costs then. Also, I might have to go play Dues Ex. (If I can work out how to utter it…)

FlipC said...

"OK, so this is definitely a game to avoid at all costs then."

As I said it's a flawed diamond, but you'd still want the diamond wouldn't you? It's just a shame it's not as good as Day-oos Ex.

Having finished it, even the story isn't quite well as told. The incidentals from reading emails etc. don't flesh it out as much and the end sequence is pathetic compared to the original.

Without spoilers. In the original you get a choice of three options and you have to battle your way to their conclusions while fighting off the proponents of the other two. In the sequel you get to choose one from up to four buttons depending on who you've spoken to.