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Best Games Of 2011 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Best Games Of 2011 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

It had the best level of any game released this year.

The second level, where the action shifted to Shanghai, was a high point for Deus Ex: Human Revolution and for the FPS genre. An intricate patchwork of alleyways, tunnels, balconies and streets, Shanghai was rich with detail that ran from its seedy brothels through to its heavily-patrolled civilian districts. It put most game worlds to shame even before the side-quests, the NPCs and the drama was dropped in.

It looked stunning too. Not just in terms of look-how-many-polygons-your-PlayStation3-can-bleed but the visual aesthetic – The Hive looked better than any club today, Detroit’s police station was a dense maze and the glittery lights that pierced through the darkness of Montreal’s sky was beautiful. Art Director Jonathan Jacques-Belletete wasn’t just doing his job so much as he was auditioning for Architect of the Future. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a gorgeous game and there’s never a moment where the visual quality sags below jaw-dropping.

Bang bang

The gorgeous looks would be nothing without gameplay and it’s here that Deus Ex: Human Revolution really proved its worth. Every knew it was following in the footsteps of the original Deus Ex, which was an incredible game but also benefited, as most old games do, from rose-tinted spectacles and nostalgia. Human Revolution was competing with the memory of Deus Ex and burdened by the disappointment of its sequel, Invisible War. How would the development team pull it off?

The answer was by playing it incredibly safe. Human Revolution was almost a perfect replica of the original’s formula. You could develop your character any way you wanted with the game’s design encouraging a stealthy approach, levels were open-ended enough that you could tackle them different ways and feel a pang of regret when you saw a route you didn’t have the right skills to use, the game rewarded the curious with incidental details about the backstory and world while a futuristic dystopian vibe hung over proceedings like a dark cloud.

In some respects, it even bettered the original – the hacking mini-game is the only time anyone’s made a hacking mini-game enjoyable, the gunplay had a more satisfying punch to it and although this may be argued by some, the overall aesthetic of Human Revolution is much stronger.

Keeping it fresh

With Deus Ex: Human Revolution establishing the formula, with Adam Jensen stealthing his way past cameras, silently taking out guards and opening fire while running backwards when it all goes wrong, the only trick left was to stretch this out over an entire game and kept it feeling fresh. No easy task.

Fortunately, Human Revolution had plenty of tricks up its sleeve. The Detroit police station was an early highlight, as it could be approached with tact (talking your way in), stealth (sneaking through the back) or a head-on assault (a head-on assault).

Other levels placed you in an ambush where you had to quickly think on your feet and decide whether to fight or hide, a rescue mission where you were outmatched and outgunned but had the option of keeping your head low and surviving, talking someone out of a suicide attempt and even solving a murder mystery.

Bulletsponges

Human Revolution wasn’t perfect and enough has been written about the bosses that Square-Enix Montreal will likely never attempt them in the same format again, as we’ve already seen with the DLC. Having spent the first few hours of Human Revolution carefully constructing a formula that encourages you to find your own play style and opt for clean stealth over messy smashmouth combat, Square-Enix Montreal then smashed it with an arena fight against Bulletsponge Barrett (not his official name).

Every boss fight from that point on pulled you out of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and into something else that wasn’t Deus Ex. It was like an intruder from another game, an idea kicked around in early meetings that was never addressed until internet forums lit up with ‘HOW DO I BEAT BARRETT!11’ anger.

Funnily enough it was actually a slight balance issue that accidentally solved the problem, with Typhoon essentially serving as a skip-boss button, but it’s still galling that you had to craft a character around fixing a problem that never should have existed.

Another flaw – Praxis points are a little too easy to come by. In being so generous with Praxis points, you can easily fill up most of your development slots throughout Human Revolution. By the time Adam Jensen trotted off to the side-room with the ending choices, the ‘what if?’ possibilities of developing your character a different way had been replaced by a disappointing ‘oh’ of realising almost every option by the time the credits rolled.

Game of the Year?

Yet it wasn’t really the bosses that left the most lingering sense of frustration. They were so out-of-place and contrary to everything else in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it actually makes it easier to cut them out of respective lookbacks (plus packing Typhoon right from the outset ensures none of them are a problem). Rather, it was the way Deus Ex: Human Revolution put the finishing line a little further than what it could reasonably reach.

It felt like Deus Ex: Human Revolution pushed for one level too many, with the gameplay notably dragging even if the visual quality remained high. Early on, you were happy to absorb every detail, soak up the atmosphere and drink in the visual splendor of Human Revolution. By the time, the final level

Was it as good as the original Deus Ex? Not quite.

Was it the best game released in 2011? Probably not.

Does it have the best level in any game of 2011? Definitely. And scoff all you want at that seemingly trite honour but having the best two-hour run of any game in 2011 isn’t something to turn your nose up at…




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  • ant

    Deus ex was garbage, it didn’t look nice at all the AI was stupid really stupid and worst of all was the terrible pants control scheme. You guys got cought up into the Deus ex fanboy BS it must be the best game because its like the first 1, no denying how great it used to be, ps3 Deus ex felt old & dated to me living in the past is not what game developers should be doing.

  • Ian Dransfield

    I don’t deny the devs looked to the past for inspiration, but the fact that they produced something infinitely more interesting and inventive than most other FPS games released since the first Deus Ex came out by emulating past, half-forgotten techniques, rather than by copying this me-too bullshit that’s all too prevalent is… well, it’s something.

    Being derivative of something that came out 10+ years ago and doing it well is much more preferable than releasing something absolutely boring, which a lot of games this year were guilty of being.

  • Ryan King

    I forgot about the terrible pants control scheme

  • lenz byahurwa

    Deus Ex human revolution is undoubtedly the best PC game made in 2011.It not only has a nice story line but captivating action with revolutionized technological abilities in for of argumentation together with hacking.