Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review ★★★★★

No Spy Drone? Really, Eidos? My favorite weapon of any game, ever, and you left it out of Deus Ex 3? Other than Metal Gear Solid 4's Metal Gear Mk. II, Deus Ex's Spy Drone is the only weapon I've used that allows me to complete objectives while stealthily, smugly, and safely tucked away from danger. The feeling of subterfuge is unmatched by any tactic I've played as a gamer. And what was added? Get ready for it -- a Gears-of-War-like cover system! Yes, thick-necked grunts everywhere can now run-and-gun with greater protection thanks to map designs pregnant with waste-high barriers. This is not Deus Ex.

The removal of choice (with a tilt away from stealth) continues with Human Revolution's addition of combat-dependent boss fights. No, you can't tranquilize, stun, persuade, out-think or out-maneuver these bosses. You have to kill them, Quake style. The original Deus Ex could be completed with only a single kill and Deus Ex: Invisible War reached even farther, providing non-combat options for all objectives and allowing the gamer to complete the entire storyline without a single kill. Again, not very Deus Ex-like.

What is very Deus Ex-like include a pair of qualities I'd rather had been left behind -- unspectacular graphics and bumbling AI. While Human Revolution's graphics aren't quite as far behind-the-times as the original's were back in 2000, they're clearly not in the same league as the aforementioned Metal Gear Solid 4. Admittedly, MGS4 was optimized for the PS3, while Human Revolution was additionally released on the Xbox 360 and PC. Still, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released cross-platform yet manages breathtaking outdoor vistas and atmospheric dungeons that make me marvel even after 200 hours of gameplay. Human Revolution's AI disappoints even in the simplest of scenarios. For example, hacking into offices is one of Human Revolution's core elements, yet the inhabitants of those offices raise nary an eyebrow when greeting you behind their now-unlocked doors.

The good news is that the RPG core is still intact. Choosing which upgrades to purchase with your Praxis points is central to Human Revolution, and these choices have significant impact on how the game is played. Explorers will benefit from the Jump Enhancement and the Move Heavy Objects Enhancement. Stealth players will want to purchase the Cloaking System, and the Typhoon Explosive System is sure to please those who like to blow things up real good. Universal ammunition is thankfully gone, having come under heavy criticism for its introduction in Invisible War.

You won't be revisiting (or pre-visiting) sites in the way Invisible War did, nor will there be much revealed about significant players such as Maggi Chow. Your actions will have very limited impact on the story. In fact, the multiple endings in Human Revolution essentially boil down to this: press a different button; see a different movie. Sad.

If my criticisms seem excessively harsh it is only because I am such a fan of the previous games, and I feel strongly that by 2011 we as gamers should expect that a higher bar be set for our premiere titles. One that requires more innovation and less-formulaic repetition, while still holding true to the core elements that sparked our initial interest. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a good game; it just doesn't live up to those ideals.

- Review by Mike Mangold, walkthrough by Eric Fortier, Last Update 01/02/2012