Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Directors Cut
Posted 30 Oct 2013 at 16:13 by Jonathan Stanley
Having never played Deus Ex Human Revolution when it was originally released on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in 2011, I found myself in an interesting position writing this review. On the one hand I am not able to compare it to the first iteration of the game, what it does differently, any minor improvements in game play or how similar it is either. However, and much more importantly for a Nintendo website, having missed the boat last time around means I had the opportunity to approach this with a fresh mindset and no preconceptions. In fact if I had no knowledge of this game already existing, and you had told me this game (sub titled the Director's Cut) was an original Wii U exclusive from Square Enix I wouldn't have batted an eye lid at all, such is the fantastic integration of the Wii U's game pad and Miiverse features. This game feels like it was made with the Wii U in mind all along, and while there are some flaws, this is a fantastic experience and an important addition to the Wii U's gaming library.
The game's story is one of corporate espionage, intrigue, and choices, all set against the futuristic back drop of 2027, where humans are able to buy body enhancements, or augmentations as they are called in the game, similar to say plastic surgery which we are more familiar with now. Replace fake breasts with some robotic arms and you get the idea. What's interesting about this is that, through many conversations you overhear and the story thread running through, what sounds like it was initially an idea to help soldiers and people crippled by disease and left without limbs to recover their former identities has been jumped upon by the masses, with people choosing to have fake arms, legs and whatever else the huge companies will offer them, again drawing some parallels with today's society. In the middle of this futuristic but relevant narrative we find our hero, Adam Jensen. Jensen starts the game as head of security for Sariff Industries, one of these augmentation companies, who insist they are on the verge of a huge break through for mankind with their research. One incident later and Jensen finds himself with almost an entirely new body, some of which he didn't need, at the behest of his boss, David Sariff. It's from here the story really kicks into action, and Jensen is sent around the globe to take names and kick some ass.
The gameplay itself is a mixture of first and third person, with more emphasis placed on the former. Only when you're in cover or perform a hand to hand takedown will the perspective switch to third person, showing Jensen in all his moody glory as he gives someone a swift right hook to knock them unconscious. Apart from that you're constantly placed behind his cool looking shades, and while I have no technical gripe with this system at all, personal preference would have loved to see this be a fully third person game, constantly seeing what Jensen is up to, how he moves across buildings and struts around Detroit. But as I say that's purely personal and the dual system does work well in the game, especially if you choose to use weaponry as opposed to your fists.
Choice plays a huge factor in Deus Ex too. You can choose to play as an all out gun toting action hero, or as a super stealthy knock outs only type of guy, which ever suits your style. Although if you're anything like me you will probably end up using a bit of both to get yourself through each mission. You also get plenty of choice as to how you talk to other characters in the game world and this effects responses and story lines as well. The game is populated with so many sub missions and extras which aren't necessary but enrich the world which Eidos Montreal originally created and Straight Right have brushed up for this release. For example I found myself in China agreeing to do some debt collecting for some Triad gangs who were running an augmentation scam. I found the woman they were after, who owed them money, but a conversation with her ended with me going back to the gangs and paying them out of my own pocket to get her off the hook. She may have been spinning me a yarn, but I believed what she said and the compassionate choice I was allowed to make rewarded me. Having said that, I'm quite sure I would have received a reward had I taken any means necessary to get that money from her. The game doesn't judge you, there is no right or wrong, just your own way of getting the job done.
Doing these side and main missions will earn you XP, resulting in you getting a 'Praxis', which is the games form of upgrading your character and his augmentation abilities. Things like hacking terminals, increasing body armour, cloaking devices and the ability to control remote gun turrets are all abilities which can enhance the experience and reward you for carrying out side missions and exploring the world. And what a world it is, a vibrant, full of life game where every character talks to you, atmosphere is in abundance and you genuinely don't mind getting lost within it because there is so much to see and do. Indeed I had to remind myself on a few occasions to get on with the main meat of the mission, and save the extra stuff for my personal play through.
There are some discrepancies with this though. The aforementioned Chinese setting could just as well be anywhere, save for a few neons lights and Chinese writing in posters. The colour scheme and lay out/building structure is almost identical to the games Detroit 'hub' setting. And strangely the background characters talk in Mandarin with sub titles underneath, but anyone involved in the main story speaks perfect English. While only small, and in the grand scheme of things you can understand the developers decision, it slightly takes away from the overall experience.
The voice acting in the game can be hit and miss, especially miss when concerning some of the minor characters and civilians. However this is overshadowed by the man who brings Adam Jensen to life so wonderfully. Sounding a lot like Christian Bale's Batman, Elias Toufexis brings a gravelly, determined and powerful energy to the role, seeming both world weary, confused, and completely bad ass, often all at the same time. Sometimes in games if you come across poor voice acting you accept it an move on, much like my review of the latest Splinter Cell (ironically Toufexis voiced Kobin in that) where I felt Sam Fisher was voiced satisfactorily but certainly not memorably. Here however Jensen stands out from identikit, or should that be augmented, gaming hero's almost purely through his voice. You just feel safe with this character, knowing he will never miss a beat, and he doesn't disappoint. The audio as a whole is very impressive, mixing in dark and brooding music with atmospheric touches. Again while sometimes you just accept when something isn't there, when it is, like in this case, it just makes the whole experience that much more grander.
Gamepad functionality is sublime in Deus Ex, boasting ideas which put some first party Nintendo games to shame. On the surface having the map always displayed is nice if not spectacular. You can interchange the levels of the area you are currently in, and dragging your finger around will show you different parts of your current climate. (I must admit, especially with the black and orange colours of the map and menu screen, it did make me think of how an entry into the Metroid Prime series might work on Wii U) You then get full access to your menu system through the game pad, saving any need to pause the game,although in some instances it will do this for you automatically to save you getting killed while trying to take painkillers. Praxis upgrades, weapon selection and inventory management are all handled by the game pad's touchscreen, which for me is treated as a serious tool rather than a gimmick for one of the first times on Wii U. Computer hacking is also done through the pad, which is sharp and intuitive once you get to grips with it, as is email or ebook reading. Using your thermal imaging upgrade allows you to move the game pad around to focus on targets and get a better reading on them, if they're calm or volatile, what weapon they are currently holding and so forth.
Off TV play is also fully supported (you then have to pause the game to have access to the menu systems usually on the game pad) and also the included strategy guide is given as an option to explain certain things at the start of the game, and is then there should you want to read more deeply into it, easily accessible through the pad. Miiverse integration is great. Allowing you to automatically send your 'achievements' to Miiverse, you can see how people are getting on with the game and which side quests they have done or how far into the main game they are. It also has it's own in game page on the game pad, so instead of exiting the game you can see what your friends have posted about or what silly pictures they have taken straight away. Another really cool feature which I hope other developers pick up on is the ability to leave voice notes anywhere you like. If you come across a particularly tricky bit which you then complete and want to help others, you can take a picture of the brain scratch inducing puzzle, and through the game pad's microphone record a quick 5 second clip of you explaining what to do. Or you could just boast that you worked it out. Again choice is paramount but this is the sort of feature that should be trumpeting what Wii U can do and would have been a great addition to any of the launch line up games.
The devil is really in the detail here and Deus Ex Human Revolution is an immersive experience and a real labour of love from all the teams involved in its development. Boss fights which have multiple routes to victory are a nice touch, allowing you to make the most of your stealth or action approach to the game. And even inconsequential things just enhance the experience no end. For example, after one early set piece in an office, I was left in said room with the persons computer and their dead body. I accessed their emails, hoping to find a clue to further the game, and I did. However underneath the 'important' email, I found one from a Nigerian businessman saying he needed to transfer $47 million out of the country and "that's where you come in", in a carbon copy of all those scam emails we often receive. I'll grant you it's not much, but it makes a rich experience that much more richer.
As unlikely as this remake perhaps was, I really hope it finds an audience on Wii U. Both for the developers who have put so much time into this labour of love, but also to show the industry that if you really get to grips with the Wii U hardware you can create something really special and worthwhile. Throw in a slightly reduced price point as well, £29.99 rrp, and you have a fantastic deal with this title. Whether this happens or not remains to be seen, but I encourage anyone on the fence to pick this game up. You won't be disappointed.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Not the game we ever expected but certainly one we deserve, Deus Ex Human Revolution: Director's Cut is a real treat, utilising the Wii U's features in exciting and important ways. This a showcase for what Wii U can do and shows that with effort Nintendo's console can be a home to some technically impressive and large scale games. Not to be missed.
Brilliant use of game pad and Miiverse.
Great performance from Elias Toufexis as Adam Jensen.
Fully realised and immersive world.
Some poor voice acting.
Some locales look too similar.
16GB file size to download from eshop.