Because it messes up the clockwork.
I planned on writing more on ABSWRPG earlier this week, but then I decided to try out the new Deus Ex. Suddenly I finished the game and two days had passed. And just as I was starting to write the rest, one of the creators of Bliaron came by. We talked about ABSWRPG and now I’m redesigning it in my mind. Great. So instead, I’ll write about uman Revolution.
First of all, I’d classify Deus Ex as a good game on the sole merit that I could play it in a marathon session. Unlike a certain other roleplaying game that I have yet to finish, I never got frustrated with anything in Human Revolution. I never had to enter a fight without my consent (except in bossfights which were manageable and one that I could have avoided had I used my eyes). Exposition was given in manageable chunks, sneaking was not too reliant on perfect timing and hacking was fun. In whole, it was a sleek, functioning game. But let’s look at the components a bit closer.
Combat. I really never fought any real combats, except for the aforementioned bossfights. Those were of the usual modern cover-based kind. I mostly snuck around and eliminated opponents with the satisfying instant-kill-button. Or rather, instant-stun-button. I’m a sucker for cool animations, it seems. Sneaking past enemies is both my preferred method of conflict resolution, and it fits the main character. So about combat I cannot say much.
On the other hand, the game environments are created for sneaking, and it shows. There is always an obvious stealth route (what?) in a mission area. Air ducts, conveniently arranged furniture, ubiquitous cardboard boxes and stupid patrol routes make sneaking easy. Add the momentary invisibility and cone of vision upgrades and it is even easier. Although it might be a bit too easy and straightforward for someone is looking for patrol route optimization and planning, it confers the essence of stealth inflitration well enough.
There are few parts in the game where you need to persuade someone to do something. These parts are quite fun; You need to make a quick analysis on what the person is like and select one of the three possible answers to his ranting. I think the Social Pheromone Upgrade (which was my first augmentation) helps too much by making the analysis for you. The first persuasion situation in the game (a hostage situation) where I did not have the upgrade was more exhilarating than anything else in the game. There are also minor persuasion situations where you need to pay attention to a blinking meter while talking and select the appropriate choice when prompted. These are a nice add-on, but do not add anything substantial.
The plot and theme of the game are slightly… off. As the game has ties to both our modern world and the previous Deus Ex-game, I couldn’t look at it without taking those to account. And compared to Deus Ex, the game looks too futuristic, although that might have something to do with the graphical limitations. But the city-on-a-city, the religious fanatics of Humanity First, the grande conspiracies, they all feel too off amongs the very realistic representation of a near future. Also, there are four endings which can be described as ‘Reasonable’, ‘Slightly less reasonable’, ‘Why would anyone want this’ and ‘Why am I even given this option?’. The boss fights also stood out like an ancient bronze sword amongst modern assault rifles.
I categorized upgrades in two categories: Enablers and Helpers. Enablers enable you to go to places and access equipment. Hacking level upgrades, the go-through-walls-upgrade, jumpgrade and heavy lifting are enablers. These are no-brainers: With them you can experience the full content of the game. The helpers help you do stuff, like sneak, shoot or survive bullets. After upgrading the enablers and hacking-associated helpers, I ran out of things to upgrade. Everything else was useless to me. Hitting level cap is an unfortunate experience. At this point I will mention that you can purchase inventory space, but that might not be necessary because the pick-upable objects are quite limited. There is minimal inventory management.
Hacking. Oh, hacking. There is a ton of things to hack. Terminals, doors, safes… Hacking gives one experience, so I naturally took every opportunity to hack. But the act itself is quite repetitious. And I never did anything with the rewards. Money is irrelevant as long as you can afford the useless upgrades and the endless amount of email text is, well, endless. Had I read them all, I would still be playing the game, and wouldn’t stop anytime soon. So actually my dislike of hacking came from the fact that I couldn’t stop. I might need professional help.
But in the end, Human Revolution is a good game. It is possibly too nostalgic for my taste, but it does not screw up anything. And in the end of the day, isn’t that all we can ask for?
The answer is no.