I love stealth games. Something about them just strikes a cord with me. There is no feeling like entering a building full of guards, doing whatever you have to do, and leaving without being noticed. Yet somehow I missed the release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Now, two years later, I finally got around to going back and playing it. I didn’t know anything about it going in, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
I’ll start with what I didn’t like about this game, because I can’t get over this. Long story short, you control Adam Jensen, a private security officer with Sarif Industries. Sarif makes its money mainly by making Human Augmentations – basically robotic parts to replace people’s normal body parts. For the first mission Jensen is just a regular human, but after almost dying, he gets military-grade augmentations that turn him into a badass cyborg. He can do everything you’d imagine he should: punch through walls, survive falls from any height, turn invisible and so on and so forth. But this feeling of being a badass is all taken away by Jensen’s energy cells.
Jensen has energy cells that are limited, and certain actions drain them. If they run out, you just can’t perform those actions. Some of these actions make sense, like activating stealth. Sure, if I’m turning invisible, make a gauge of some sort so I don’t abuse it. Otherwise it would be just too cheap. But other actions shouldn’t drain your energy cells, like goddamn physical attacks. I could probably choke out more than three people without needing to rest, so why can’t this awesome cyborg? How old is Solid Snake’s body in Metal Gear Solid 4? 60? 70? He can do as many goddamn physical attacks in a row as he wants, so why can’t the badass cyborg in his 30s? By all means he should be able to do physical attacks forever without needing this rest. Oh well.
As much as that constantly bothered me, Human Revolution is a really good game. At its core, this game is a lot like any other stealth game. You largely sneak around to get things done. The stealth is smooth and feels good. For most of the game you control from the first-person perspective, which adds to the realism and makes it more fun. Only seeing what is in front of you makes it a lot easier to get caught; no more just spinning the camera to see where all the enemies around you are. There is also a good cover system that did change the perspective to third-person. This allows you to look around when you really have to as well as jump from behind one thing to another very quickly and quietly.
But Jensen’s ever-expanding cyborg powers added a few elements not seen in most other stealth games. As you level up, you’ll eventually be able to turn invisible, run through EMP grenades unharmed, or run silently. You can also gain the ability to hack any door or computer you come across. This mostly lets you read the boring e-mails of random employees, but there are better uses. My favorite was hacking security terminals. Once you have control of one of these computers, you can turn a building’s security system against your enemies. This gave me one of my fondest memories of the game. There is a point where you have to survive a constant onslaught of enemies for a couple of minutes but, lucky for me, there was a turret right there. So I just hacked it, and watched with glee as every enemy blindly ran to his death. Not exactly my stealthiest moment, but it was damn fun.
Aside from your main missions, there are times when you are free to just explore an area. There is a lot to do in these areas when given a little freedom. You can talk to random folks hoping for a side missio, or go hack every door and terminal in an apartment building. There is just a lot of fun stuff to do.
Overall, this is a very fun stealth game. I hate that it took me two years to get to it. So much great stealth action, a great story (that I’m not spoiling) and challenging boss battles. If you like anything even remotely stealthy, you are doing yourself a disservice by not playing this game. Go find yourself a cheap copy someplace.