Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut Review
Reviewed on Nintendo Wii-UAlso available on Microsoft Xbox 360, PC and Sony PlayStation 3
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of the most impressive titles of 2011, crafting one of the most densely atmospheric science fiction titles since Metroid Prime over a decade ago. It was however a game not without certain glaring issues, mainly in the form of its boss battles which entirely went against the grain of the rest of the experience. Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut somewhat rectifies these issues while also managing to effectively utilise the Wii U's unique hardware to streamline the experience as well.
Adam Jensen is the Head of Security for an organisation that produces augmented body organs and limbs, who are attacked by presumed anti-augmentation terrorists. After the attack, Adam is left for dead and his boss restores his health with heavy use of these advanced augments. Jensen is then sent by his boss around the world looking for the culprits behind the attacks and the murder of his ex-fiancée. As with any good cyberpunk story there are numerous plot twists and developments as secrets are rife in this bleak Blade Runner-esque world.
The first mission of the game eases you into the main gameplay mechanics as Sarif Industries is under siege. This linear beginning is very limited in comparison to what players are able to achieve in subsequent missions, as they are left to either sneak around the invaders or take them on in a more confrontational manner. After Adam is brought back from the brink of death complete with a newly enhanced body, the game becomes a lot more interesting as players are offered a greater degree of freedom in their actions. In between the major infiltrations that Adam is sent on it's possible to explore the current city where players can participate in side quests or just explore and soak in the atmosphere, hacking into co-workers’ computers and spying on all the office gossip and accusations.
Players wishing to play the game purely as a first person shooter in the vein of Call of Duty are likely to get frustrated quite quickly as bursting into a strong enemy presence is sure to end with a very quick game over, as even with his newly-strengthened body Jensen can't seem to take too many bullets. You can further enhance Jensen's health and strength to slightly overcome the difficulty of using brute strength, making it possible to stick to gunplay, especially with effective use of the third-person cover mechanics in place. It can be difficult to be consistently accurate in heated gun battles however, as the aiming controls aren't as smooth and responsive as a traditional shooter but instead feel a little more stiff as with trying to aim manually in Fallout 3.
For many it will be more rewarding to mix up their approach to each new situation in different stealthy ways. Using the cover system makes it easier to visually identify where potential threats are. Sneaking up behind an enemy gives Jensen the option to either knock them out quietly or use his retractable blades and kill them in a more grisly fashion, potentially attracting more attention. To avoid other enemies getting suspicious, the bodies will need to be hidden away from patrol routes. Jensen can upgrade his abilities to make stealthy runs easier such as a temporary invisibility cloak or enhanced radar capabilities showing which noises will alert troops to a player's presence.
Each environment has a variety of different routes to an objective. The most direct route will often be filled with enemies, forcing players to either confront them or be very careful when sneaking past them. By exploring it's possible to find alternate routes through vents or by stacking up items and climbing onto higher ground to make progressing without detection much easier. Everything that's locked, be it a computer or a door, also has several methods of being unlocked. Jensen can hack into computers forcefully, or by exploring he may find a memo or email on an unlocked computer with the correct passcode to gain access to new areas.
The hacking itself takes the form of a short minigame in which Jensen must capture a number of different nodes from the entrance to the capture point along different routes. There may be other bonus nodes that can be captured, rewarding players with new items that aid in the hacking process. Each node has a different level which determines how long they take to capture and the chances of setting off the trace program. Once the trace program is initiated the player must reach the goal before the trace is complete by quickly moving along towards the end and fortifying the nodes that have already been captured. If a player fails a certain amount of times they will be locked out of hacking the system again, also alerting any guards in the vicinity.
At some points in the game Jensen may be locked into a conversation where he has to convince them to let him pass, make them see reason or simply give up some information. Each character responds differently to Jensen's different methods of probing them, some of them buckling under threats while others must be reasoned with more intelligently. 'Failing' these conversations doesn't mean that players have to replay the section as with everything else there's another option if a player doesn’t persuade certain characters to be cooperative.
As Jensen completes different tasks such as taking down an enemy, whether lethally or not, sneaking past guards without being noticed or simply completing objectives, he gains experience points that eventually build up and become Praxis Kits, which can be used to enhance Adam's different augments. Many of the skills that can be upgraded will be useful for much of the game, such as an increased size Resident Evil 4 -style inventory, cloaking abilities and improved hacking skills. Some however are quite useless such as a skill that lets Jensen examine the different nodes when hacking, which simply isn't needed.
Even if players choose to use all their Praxis Kits to max out a certain skill tree early on the game doesn't lock you into only playing with that particular skill-set. Unlike the original Deus Ex where skill upgrades had to be thought about at the very beginning of the game and stuck with, Human Revolution essentially allows Jensen to upgrade several of his different augments to their maximum potential. It almost makes the game too easy in the later stages of the game with all of Jensen's upgrades in place as he can turn invisible, hack everything, ,sweet-talk anyone he can, and still be able to activate a temporary strengthened resistance to bullets in combat. It should be noted that players don't have to use any of their Praxis Kits to upgrade anything and it is possible to finish the game with the standard upgrades Jensen has from the beginning.
This Director's Cut version of Human Revolution includes The Missing Link downloadable content from the previous version seamlessly integrated into the narrative of the core game. The new graphical and lighting effects from the DLC have also been implemented across the entire game. The signature gold hue from the original has been toned down slightly but is still largely prevalent throughout the experience.
Boss battles have been improved quite a bit from the original Human Revolution. Previously players would be forced to use brute force to take down each boss regardless of what strategies and upgrades they had implemented at that point. While they haven't been completely overhauled, the additions to the battle environments do allow for actual stealth and other strategies to be implemented. For example, in the first battle with Barrett the player was confined to a relatively small space with the enemy constantly throwing grenades if he lost track of Jensen. Now the room has been expanded with a second level and small corridors around the perimeter of the room which allows players to get a bit of breathing room with access to hackable turrets and more places to hide away. These additions are more than welcome as it doesn't punish players who aren't carrying around a rocket launcher at all times. Disappointingly there’s still no other options around killing each opponent in these one-on-one battles which can still lead to many frustrating deaths for players who haven’t invested in more confrontational skills.
With this Wii U version Straight Right have utilised the console's different abilities in effective ways. Controlling the game with the GamePad feels very natural with most of the actual combat and movement traditionally controlled as with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions. While exploring the environments the touch screen presents a map of the local area that's much more helpful than the tiny mini-map that is available in the other versions.
The hacking, looting and inventory management are also handled on the touch screen which is also much smoother than navigating with the analogue sticks and traditional buttons. Overall the GamePad use is among the best that is available on the Wii U as other developers have struggled to make use of the two screen approach of Nintendo's newest console. In addition the game can also be played solely on the GamePad without the TV being used. The only minor nit-pick in regards to the GamePad use is the ZombiU-style use of a scoped weapon only being seen on the touch screen without the option to be able to set it to the TV.
It's also possible to make and share infologs among friends through Miiverse. Players can take screenshots, annotate them directly and attach a short voice clip, in addition to the standard Miiverse community features of sharing screenshots with a short description or doodle. Although achievements are not a system-wide feature on the Wii U, Straight Right have added a system in which, when players unlock the different achievements, they are posted on the user's Activity Log on Miiverse. While this is a nice little feature it does show how primitive these features are on Nintendo's Network in comparison to the competition as the achievements here are displayed like an annoying friend on Facebook who keeps posting their high score on Bejeweled. Fortunately the automatic Miiverse posting isn't compulsory if you want your personal page to look a little bit tidier. The achievements themselves are also accessible in-game like other Wii U titles such as The Wonderful 101 so players can still attempt to complete them all without the need to share each new accomplishment.
The audiovisual design of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is arguably one of the strongest of any game of this console generation. Each location is dripping with atmosphere and little details that greatly enhance the gameplay experience, while Michael McCann's electronic score perfectly fits the mood throughout. There are a few nitpicks with the animations when conversing with characters as many of them feature awkward recycled body gestures whether they're casually chatting or supposedly traumatised. The performance is mostly smooth on the Wii U, keeping at a steady thirty frames per second most of the time although it can significantly dip during more demanding sequences. The pre-rendered cinematics are sometimes a little choppy which is disappointing and the colour grading does seem a little too dark when compared to the in-game look. Loading screens between areas and when retrying a failed section can also be quite long, often lasting up to thirty seconds.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut is a great adaptation of a stunning game for the Wii U hardware, making effective use of the console's distinct features. It was one of the best games of 2011 and it remains a highly atmospheric, engaging experience even if some of the game's more glaring issues haven't been more radically changed. Overall, this Director's Cut is the definitive console version of Eidos Montreal's modern classic.