Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

In a dark world filled with generic corridor shooters, can the new Deus Ex title revolutionize the genre? 

By Sean Sayers – Editor, TGB team

The original Deus Ex brought about a great change in the way you play first person shooters. Rather than mimic the linear shooters that came before it, Ion Storm gave players a  plethora of options as to how they played the game. Players could sneak, hack, fight, or explore  their way through a  dark, fascinating world, free to handle objectives however they pleased. You’d think the shooters that succeeded it in the following  years would have taken  after such a fantastic game, however eleven years have passed and only a handful of quality shooters have taken note of Deus Ex’s scope of player freedom. Luckily, Eidos Montreal has awoken a sleeping giant, and opens new doors to what’s possible in an first person shooter.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes place in a futuristic, cyber punk world where humans are presented with the ability to alter themselves both physically and mentally via augmentation. This revolutionary technology does not come without its cost, as one might imagine. It brings about a whole new era of chaos as there are many looking to exploit the tech. Security officer Adam Jensen unwillingly finds himself in the middle of a violent conspiracy to which he and his fellow employees fall victim to during a vicious terrorist attack on an augmentation corporation named Sarif Industries. Adam is shot and severely injured during the attack. He awakens much later to find that he’s been severely augmented, and is now somewhat of a cyborg super soldier. The story kept me engaged due to it’s good pacing  and consistency throughout. It also has a collection of colorful characters as well as  a couple of well executed plot twists.

Adam’s quest to unravel the reasoning behind the terrorist intrusion will take players to many locations all around the world.  Each of these hubs are filled with hidden areas to explore, and a handful of optional side missions to complete. These side quests are very enjoyable and amount to more than the usual kill X or fetch Y quests that are tacked on simply to provide more game time. Instead, these missions will have you solving murder mysteries, taking down crime rigs, and some even tie in with the main  plot. They add hours of content to the main mission, which alone is will take you around 25 hours to beat. You’re also greatly rewarded  for your troubles with money, and more importantly, praxis points.

Praxis points are the equivalent of experience points. They’re used for augmenting Adam to fit your play style. You can level up Adams long range and close range combat abilities, his stealth and sneaking abilities, his hacking and security abilities, and many other utilities that will improve various things from inventory capacity or armor strength. By the second half of the game you’ll feel like an unstoppable bad ass who can rip through walls, jump atop buildings, and take down multiple opponents at once. How you augment your character will directly affect how you play the game, and believe me when I say there’s quite a lot of ways to play the game.

Melee take downs are incredibly satisfying. 

Of course you will be able to fight through encounters if you chose, but don’t expect it to be a cakewalk. The AI is  smart and relentless and can quickly close in, surround, and out flank you. You’ll have to make proper use of the solid cover and blind firing mechanics if you want to last more than thirty seconds in a fire fight. In fact, should you chose, it’s entirely possible to play through Deus Ex: Human Revolution without killing anyone (aside from the mandatory boss fights). However, Taking the stealthy approach  isn’t exactly easy either. You will have to take note of where each individual enemy is looking before you make a move. If you use your wits and take time to carefully observe your surroundings, you may be able to spot an alternate path such as a ventilation shaft to sneak by undetected.

If you can’t find an alternate path into a locked room, then you can always hack your way to where you want to go. Hacking works by playing an addictive little mini game in which you capture  nodes with the goal being to work your way to a green pearl shaped node.  As you work your way through, depending on the notes security ratings and your own hacking skill, you have the chance to trip the system alarm. If this happens, you will have to quickly fortify your current nodes in order to slow the process of being discovered. You will have to analyze each layout well before you begin, and make tactical decisions as to whether or not you should play offensively or defensively, and whether or not you should use some of the numerous pieces of software you’ll gain to better the odds. Even though I saw this mini game over 100 times before the credits rolled, I never grew tired of it.

You’ll have to hide corpses from patrolling guards.

For those who are a bit more creative, there are even scenarios in which you can create your own path. You can move or stack objects around to reach otherwise inaccessible areas, and if that doesn’t work then you can always try busting down walls. Even skills that you wouldn’t expect to be useful outside of combat such as immunity to toxic gasses can be used to access locations that would otherwise kill you. Eidos Montreal gives you so many options on how to approach a situation it’s almost overwhelming. That’s Human Revolution’s biggest feat; it welcomes and encourages all different kinds of play styles. It’s all very well balanced and I never got the feeling that playing a certain way would make my experience any easier; it’s completely up to you how you want to play.

A bit of this freedom is lost however during the rather dull boss battles. If you feel you are about to encounter a boss, then you’d better stock up on as much ammo as you can get your hands on and be prepared to run and gun for the next couple of minutes, as that’s the only way to defeat them. There’s nothing unique or special about  any of the boss fights, nor are they memorable in any way. It feels like a missed opportunity when compared to the abundance of options you’re presented with for the rest of the game.

Human Revolution also manages to impress with its slick presentation. It has a very distinct look to it and a style that links a dark cyberpunk vibe with an elegant art style reminiscent of the renaissance. This  approach to visual flair combined with some excellent hi-res textures and lighting keeps Deus Ex looking sleek throughout. The presentation is far from perfect however. Some impoverished character models and poor animations keep this from being an A in the graphics department.  That being said, it’s easy to overlook these short comings as Human Revolutions art Style provides an incredibly immersive atmosphere to get lost in.

The game’s sound design further compliments this feeling of immersion with all around good sound effects and memorable sound tracks, some which may sound a little familiar. The voice acting is strong for the most part aside from a few iffy’ voice actors, though there are admittedly a few moments which even the main characters voice actors don’t sound like they’re giving it their best performance.

The Verdict:

Deus Ex: Human Revolution accomplishes everything it sets out to do. It throws players into a believable world troubled by the problems of an ever changing human society. It gives players the ability to go about doing things however they desire. It’s of course not without its flaws, repetitive interiors, sub-par boss battles, and clunky animations slow the game down, but aren’t enough to stop the revolution. Just like it’s predecessor, Human Revolution is a game designed to be replayed, and you will need to do so in order to see everything. If you’ve been craving a deep shooter that does more than provide a shooting gallery, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a must own.

Final Score: A-


Bastion Review

Proper reviews supposed to start at the beginning, ain’t so simple with this one…

By Ryan Cross – Editor, TGB Team

Let me start off by saying Bastion is unique. It’s a game that will suck into its world as you play and keep you there until the job is done and sometime after that too. With Bastion, Developer SuperGiant Games has miraculously and meticulously crafted an experience that takes you in with its fantastic art-style, tight combat and fresh take on storytelling.

Bastion’s story starts out simple enough. Similar to many other RPGS, the player (known to us only as “The Kid”) wakes up in his small, comfy home ready for adventure. The problem is that it seems the world went to pieces while the kid was sleeping, almost completely destroyed by something called the “Calamity”. Now the kid’s only hope is to find the Bastion, a safe haven where all survivors were supposed to meet in case such a catastrophe occurred.

What follows is the story of a boy who’s trying to piece together a world that’s broken, shattered into pieces by the Great Calamity.  The only way to do that is to restore the Bastion by finding cores.  The story that unfolds touches on themes like love, friendship, betrayal and even loss. It’s an interesting spin on the old “Boy saves the land” story thats been done many a times. Still, the writing isn’t always strong. There are times in Bastion’s tale where intense or sad moments can seem flat, or the plot weakens. Thankfully, Bastion’s story is a much richer experience thanks to its narrator, Rucks. A fancy moustached man who narrates every action, every plot twist, every new site and every feeling. I know it might sound annoying, but Supergiant Games meant for him to be an integral and meaningful part of Bastion’s tale and for the most part they succeeded. The narrator’s voice only brought on minor twitches of annoyance in a few, brief circumstances where he narrated meaningless actions repeatedly.

The presentation here is also quite impressive. The art style is striking to say the least, a blend of beautiful watercolor painted backgrounds and hand drawn world that forms under your feet as you walk by. It’s gorgeous work, and for such a small development team it really is quite the achievement.

The game is also accompanied by an original soundtrack composed by Darren Korb. The music is an impressive score of mostly acoustic tracks that really grew on me as I played Bastion. Not all of the songs are winners, but the best pieces I found were the compositions that had some connection to the story. Those select few were truly memorable, fantastic pieces of music. There was even a moment where I stopped what I was doing just to listen a whole song. Seriously, it was that good.

The art style is simply gorgeous.

Of course good looks and an interesting story won’t keep me glued to the controller if the gameplay isn’t there to back it up. Thankfully, Supergiant delivers on this front as well.  The combat is tight and fun.  With the ability to dodge, block, and counter with a variety of cool weapons to choose from. (My personal favorite being a rather large, destructive hammer.) You are allowed two weapons with you per mission, along with your trust shield, and a special ability of your choice. While two weapons may seem limiting,  the missions are kept short, lasting around 10-15 minutes tops, and you’ll often find new weapons and abilities along the way. Meaning that combat manages to stay fresh an fun throughout the entire 5-6 it’ll take you to beat Bastion.

That is assuming of course, that you don’t delve into all the other optional content Bastion has to offer.  You could easily double you playtime mastering weapons at proving grounds, chasing after weapon upgrades, or even learning bits of lore as you fend off foes in several wave attack mini-games. Then there’s New Game +, where you go back and do it all again, only this time with all your weapons, abilities and experience that you gained from your first run. Whatever you decide, Bastion has tons of content to offer and some good replay value to boot.

However, as great as a game as Bastion may be, it’s not without its flaws. The game has an irregular difficulty curve.  Most of the challenge, if any will occur during the begnning segments. The game only gets easier from there as you upgrade your weapons and gain experience. There were only a few odd times later on in the game when the difficulty would spike. In fact, I played through the entire game and only had to restart a mission once due to a complete death. It’s a good thing you can choose to up the difficulty yourself using what is called a shrine. Which will invoke the gods wrath upon yee! In exchange for better rewards of course. Still, It would have been nice for Bastion to have a gradual rise in difficulty instead of the opposite.

The only other minor qualm I have with Bastion is with its enemy variety. Specifically in the beginning. Expect to spend a good chunk of your time fighting a lot of Windbags and turrets. Thankfully, Bastion’s bag of monsters graciously expands after the first hour or two. Which saves this tale from becoming a repitious or tedious endeavor.

Expect to fight a lot of these guys early on.

 The Verdict:

At 15$ Bastion’s purchase should be an easy decision for any action-RPG fan, the games world is a splendid one to explore and any fans of video game storytelling should give this one a go. Bastion is available for both PC and Xbox 360 and even ran fine on my ancient laptop. So do yourself a favor and pick this gem up. The Bastion ain’t gonna build itself after all…well, not entirely.

Final Score: A