Ion Storm’s original title Deus Ex in 2000 was much more than a first person shooter – it was a game that symbiotically blended shooter action and role-playing mechanics to become not only an all-time favourite for PC gamers, but a defining title of ‘action RPGs’ that has influenced countless games since.
Despite a fairly disappointing sequel and a change in developer, Deus Ex returns with the full force of the original, a staggeringly deep plot and the best example yet of this generation’s ‘thinking man’s shooter’.
As a prequel to the first game, Human Revolution is set in the not-too-distant future of 2027. Western capitalism has not so much collapsed as gone into overdrive, with corporations having more sway over the public and legislation than the government, and fierce economic competition leading to corruption and underhand tactics amongst the highest echelons of the business world.
You play as Adam Jensen, head of security for Sarif Industries, a highly controversial company that deals in mechanical augmentations for the human body; a dangerous job indeed, as he is to find out. As the player is dragged into a web of conspiracies, terrorist attacks and betrayal, the sheer dimensions of the plot becomes clear, and this alone is a colossal achievement for Eidos Montreal.
Even with the brilliant Metal Gear Solid-style stealth and hugely diverse skill trees aside, the writing behind every moment of Human Revolution is absolutely top-notch, its fiction compelling me to read every document I found, hack into every computer and listen to every passer-by’s conversation.
For RPG-lovers, Deus Ex delivers with both hands full. The ‘dialogue-wheel’ popularized by Bioware games makes an appearance, often turning conversation into an intense battle of wits to extract information from NPCs. The aforementioned skill trees are plentiful with incredible augmentations, such as the ability to turn temporarily invisible, throw huge objects, see through walls – or even blast through them with your mechanical fist.
Adam Jensen is exactly the kind of agent you want him to be; stealthy, sly or strong. Human Revolution is a 25-hour long journey through one of the most eerily believable depictions of the future ever shown, and one that shows how a video game can transcend itself and become a masterpiece of writing and design.
This, like the original title, does what Blade Runner did for cinema; put across a fascinating sci-fi tale, whilst asking some of the most important questions of all, in an excellently entertaining package.