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22 Reviews

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Time to get reacquainted with your Ex

That's it, we've played too many videogames.

We can see through the Matrix. All of our decisions are now run through a filter based on years of shooting men, racing cars and flying spaceships. Second guessing game design and using it to our advantage has become natural. So when we're told early in Deus Ex: Human Revolution to hotfoot it to our boss David Sarif's office, there's no actual timer on the screen so we're confident that we can spend a bit of time rearranging the pencil pot in our office, repeatedly flushing toilets in the bathroom and hoovering up some gossip before we swing by the head honcho's lair. Except we can't. After mere minutes of dalliance we get another call through: Sarif is narked that we've been so tardy and "the situation has worsened". Whoops.

It's an early lesson that Deus Ex clobbers you over the head with - this is a world where everything has consequences. Things change not just to reflect action, but inaction as well. While early in the game the stakes are usually relatively low, by the end, some 25 to 30 hours later, you'll be making decisions that affect the whole of humanity. No pressure then.

Trench warfare
Human Revolution sticks you in the trenchcoat and integrated sunnies of Sarif Industries security chief Adam Jensen. In the prologue, an attack on Sarif HQ leaves Jensen mortally injured and he's unwillingly augmented with bionic enhancements in order to save his life.

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This thrusts him, and you, into the centre of one of the most intelligently written Xbox 360 games yet. Human Revolution's near-future world is teeming with political intrigue, corruption, power battles and hidden motives. There's so much fiction to pore over, not just in the thousands of lines of dialogue, but also in collectible books, newspapers and hackable email inboxes.

If you want context - the game is set against a backdrop of a major scrap between pro- and anti-augmentation movements - it's there in incidental details found in every city hub and mission. Optional side quests won't push the main plot forward, but they invariably add nuance and background detail to the global machinations that you're wrestling with.

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Deus Ex is played from a first-person perspective, but it's a game where you'll spend as much time exploring and interrogating as you do gunning people down. This is definitely more Mass Effect than Call of Duty, and there is no correct way to play the game. There are multiple routes through areas; enemies can be killed, stunned or often avoided altogether. Security systems can be hacked, hidden from or destroyed with good old-fashioned force.

Throughout the game you'll unlock or purchase Praxis, which allows you to add a new augmentation to complement your play style. If you're regularly getting shot to bits, you'll want to opt for sub-dermal armour early on, whereas if you're spending all your time hiding you'll want the sound-deadened footsteps. Struggling with juicing vital information out of your contacts? You'll want the social enhancement upgrade section. It's a tech tree, though, and initial unlocks can be expensive, so you can't just impulse buy your way through the upgrades unless you're extremely naturally capable.

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Of course, the upshot of this is that you'll be surprisingly weedy initially. A dozen meathead thugs in a warehouse pose a genuine challenge in the first mission, whereas by the end you'll be flattening an entire phalanx of special ops soldiers with Batman-style efficiency. Human Revolution is absolutely a slow burner - it won't grab you by the cherries immediately and initial, pre-upgrade combat feels clumsy. A few hours in, though, and it's wormed its way under your skin like Jensen's own tech tendrils and you'll be utterly gripped.

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