Deus Ex: Human Revolution rant

Posted on June 30, 2012

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This is not a review, it’s just a rant on DX:HR by Yours Truly. Just Cause, I like it. Why else would it be called Media Viking RANTS?

It’s already been a while since I played the game actively, but I’m yet to finish The Missing Link so I will be going back to that game, eventually. Not just right now, I’ve been too bogged down with work and studies to play anything properly. Though I did finish Arkham City 100% once, which has a cover system not that far removed from HR… Anyway, back to Human Revolution.

I’ve been waiting for games to go back towards the way they were before, as going forward does not always mean progress. I’ve found linearity to have been a very common ailment in the games of late. Well, the past ten years, to be honest; remember Final Fantasy X, anyone? Forgive me for my tangent again, but I find it beyond reasoning as to why they would want to remake (or remaster, whatever the heck they’ll actually do with the game eventually) X? The game looks good enough as-is, surprisingly, and unless they redo the voice acting and revamp the ‘world’ map, it’s not going to do much good. The game isn’t even amongst the best Final Fantasies, at least not for me.

Where was I? Ah yes, linearity. COD (or any other modern shooter except Crysis), Final Fantasies X and XIII, even Portals are linear, no matter how lauded they are, and I like them myself too. But nevermind the favouritism, there’s still a point to be made here. The alternative to linearity in modern games has seemed to be a sandbox. Saints Row, GTA, Assassin’s Creed… Even from a single series you can find examples of both ends: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. AA was a very closed, but brilliantly realised funhouse for every Batman freak who plays video games. It followed a strict narrative course and the map didn’t leave the player too much space for exploration. AC, on the other hand, had a fairly big, open section of Gotham City, dubbed Arkham City, that the player could explore and featured a vast array of sidequests for the player to complete. A sandbox, in essence.
But what happened to the middle ground?

This is the part where Deus Ex: Human Revolution comes crashing in through the skylight to save the day, like Batman if it were. DX:HR, or HR for short, features several moderately sized maps with the actual, strictly plot-relevant missions and a fair share of sidequests and, as the cherry on top of the sundae that is the cherry on top of the sundae that is gaming, several options for the player to choose in which way to approach any given mission! Viva la revolucion, the revolution is he – oh wait, it’s been done before?
I miss games having options and different ways to deal with any given situation. In HR, first off, you can pick whether you play lethally or non-lethally, or as a mixture of both; you can mind your surroundings and usually to any given situation you can find several paths to approach a target (or evade, if that’s your cup of tea) and how to take them on; and lastly, you can pick a either the straight, no-nonsense way through or explore a bit, read a few emails every now and then and gain some good experience by hacking anything that’s either stationary or roams around. Oh the joy of trying different tactics and plotting how to best screw with the sentries and patrols.

Now, at this point I’ve already been drafting this piece for at least six months and I seem to have lost my point so I may just move ahead.

I thoroughly enjoyed Human Revolution and The Missing Link (as by now I’ve actually finished it – I WANT MORE DLC!), as it felt like a fresh breeze in gaming after a long haul of simple and easy games of running in enclosed tubes from point A to B. I welcome with open arms more variety to gaming than just simple COD-copies almost bi-weekly now, it seems. I want to explore, I want to carve my own path and gaming experience in a single game, no more glorified shooting galleries of stationary targets in what feels like an evolutionary misstep from old Arcade on-rails shooters.

Of course one cannot expect all games to be like Deus Ex, obviously. If everything was even nearly as good as this game is, then no one would appreciate its sweet goodness with multiple experiences to a single game. Luckily though, I am sensing some of that in other new games as well, like Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (Golly, what a name), with different ways of approaching different objectives although the end result is always the same. I do want to call out for more of the non-lethal option, of which there are none in TCGR:FS except in online multiplayer (which reminds me a great deal of the not-long-gone MGO [R.I.P.]). Human Revolution gives non-lethal options, which is one of the best features any action game can give.  I keep hearing that Spec Ops: The Line is going to challenge the player by making them think about their actions and the ‘people’ they kill in the game and other games – why not give them the option to not kill them then?! At least there isn’t one based on the gameplay demo. Seriously, developers: This year’s E3 was ripe with violence and murder, which there have been many blogs and features and opinions of, so why not react and add variety to gameplay?

One more point I want to make about DX:HR is the fact that while I do appreciate the fact that they tried to expand the story outside just the game medium, they could have put more oomph into telling us so. Only thanks to the fact that I spend a lot of my time reading about stuff I like online I came across the fact that there is a book that’s set in the same universe that is set partially before, partially at the same time as HR that opens up some of the sidestories, for example Janus from The Missing Link and some of the background for Barrett and Co. I enjoyed reading it, as it was written by one of the writers of the game, and I’m glad I read it before I got into the Missing Link.

In any case, as I said , this is not a review of the game in anyway, just the ramblings of a guy who really enjoyed Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the thoughts and ideas the superbly crafted universe formed in me. I guess I am a bit of a conspiracy-nut, but hey, can you blame me? I love Metal Gears for Christ’s sakes!

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