Adam Jensen was hand-picked to safeguard the secrets of America's top biotech firm. But when a black ops team breaks in and kills the scientists he was hired to protect, using a security plan he developed, he is thrust into a conspiracy shrouding mankind's future evolution.
Revolution or De-volution? A lengthy review about the latest game in the Deus-Ex franchise.
Posted by Dragonlord on Sep 8th, 2011
Page 1: Introduction, Story, Emails, Ebooks and NewsPads
Page 2: The Game World, Vertical Design and Map-View, Hacking
Page 3: Augmentations, Energy, Experience and Praxis points
Page 4: Combat, Stealth, Cover and Take-Down, Weapons and Skills
Page 5: Conversations, Animations, Physics, Post Processing, Inventory
Page 6: Boss Fights, Choice, Summary
(Usually I would show screenshots but since this is broken in this game or rather said in Steam no dice. So this review has to do without it)
The name „Deus-Ex" is something most gamers have already heard one way or the other. In general it stands for a game that stood out of the crowd redefining the FPS genre in a way no other game redefined it up to today. The main focus had been on freedom of choice to handle the missions given to you the way you see fit. Equipped with an interesting skill and augmentation system as well as large selection of weapons and objects to interact with (either first hand or by frobbing them) it ensured there are various different ways to handle a situation. Then after a couple of years a first contender stepped up: Deus-Ex Invisible Wars. In general this game had been considered a step backwards and failed to convince many fans of the original game. Again a couple of years later the last contender stepped into the ring: Deus-Ex Human Revolution. Backed up by the largest PR any Deus-Ex game has ever seen so far it tries to sneak up on the original game in the hope of pulling of a lethal take-down.
A word before you start reading further. This review is going to contain spoilers as it is otherwise not really possible to cover what is good and what is bad. So you have been warned. Turn away now if you don't want to get spoiled. That said there is not much to be spoiled in the story to begin with so if you are still with me read on.
As with the previous titles the player takes control of an augmented guy hunting down a conspiracy. You are Adam Jensen the chief of security at Sarif Industries, a bio-tech company specialized in mechanical augmentations or rather set prosthesis. Just before the great day of a major break-through in science Megan and her team is assaulted in the very own building they work in... by augs, how the game calls augmented people. Trying to safe their butt Adam gets worked over hard ending himself being turned into an aug himself. In contrary to people with simple prosthesis your augmented limbs are quite something else not to say military grade. Trying to figure out who has assaulted Megan and here team you are setting off for your journey.
Whereas DX:IW had been a continuation of the original game DX:HR is a prequel. Prequels are always a dangerous sword to wield. On one side you have better engine technology at your disposal so you can do more advanced stuff while on the other side according to the background story the player should not have that many possibilities as in the original game. Finding the middle ground in this catch-22 is not simple and most prequels failed. DX:HR does an acceptable job in this situation although the average mech is better equipped than Gunther. Compared to Deus-Ex there are definitely too many people around with mechanic limbs. There augmented people had been not a common sight which emails found on UNATCO computers or Gunther show. In DX:HR mechs are common place and roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the people you see are augmented in one way or the other. Also whereas in Deus-Ex mechs could not conceal their modifications (and thus get dissed for being mechs) in DX:HR Jensen and others can easily conceal their augmented limbs under clothing and gloves. While not fitting well into the later taking place Deus-Ex it works fine enough if looked at independent of the first game.
The story itself is rather shallow. You are most of the time running through maps just to find that one ebook or email to read and then you are send to another location. You are not doing anything interesting like infiltration jobs, messing with something or even rescue operations as the original game provided. At last some of the side quests themselves are more interesting than the main story providing some of the varied goals that the original game had and that the main story utterly lacks. The factions in the game are generic and can be replaced with any corporation or gang and you get the same boring story. A conspiracy is also not really existing at all more opportunistic actions of individuals from different factions. The original game had a large conspiracy going mixing together various secret societies, corrupt governments and monopolistic corporations plotting to rule the world while DX:HR sports a boring Frankenstein story. It gets even as boring as pulling out zombies towards the end. One can say a lot of things about the story in DX:HR but you can't call it engaging or interesting by any stretch of the imagination.
To top this off the engine is no where as it had been in the original game. There you had to do different tasks for the different engines including ending up in different parts of the facility. In DX:HR the ending composes of walking up to a PC with a bunch of buttons each triggering a different ending. More cheap than that is just not possible. There is no choice, no different tasks to get endings and especially no consequences since the endings are incoherently cut together real world news footage with a cheesy commentary of Jensen himself. The only good thing is the philosophical thinking expressed through the monologue. This though doesn't save the endings from not telling at all how your decision changed the world. You could stop right after the final boss battle and not missing much... except a hidden Bob-Page (voice) appearance and the Deus-Ex tune at the end but that's hardly rewarding in any way.
What's also lacking are philosophical conversations like with the AI in the original game or the bar keeper. The topic of prosthesis is closer to our current time than nano-tech augmentations of the make of JC Denton are yet except for a cheesy ending monologue this entire philosophical debate is left blank. The few one-liners by civilians on the streets does not really help that. This is something where DX:HR really had a chance to shine and where it wasted the opportunity.
There are lots of emails and ebooks to read scattered all around the game world. Some of them reference characters from the original game while others give information about the world itself. Reading emails on a computer can be a nuisance since the controls for scrolling longer emails is broken. In general you are better off to just hack the computer and switch it immediately off since emails are copied to your history immediately. Reading emails there is much better not only because the controls are better but also because in the inventory screen the game is frozen which is not the case reading on a computer. In general computers are handled without a GUI overlay as it had been the case in the original game. Reading ebooks brings up a GUI overlay designed like the 3D model you just picked up. Scrolling is confusing first as this is done using the mouse wheel. Depending on the mouse configuration this can backfire on you. The over-sized font is also a nuisance since only a few lines of text can be shown before scrolling is required. News pads work similar to Ebooks in that they show as a GUI overlay. The flying-in motion is irritating and should have been cut out. News pads are always larger than the screen and requires thus scrolling in which case the entire news pad moves up or down on the screen. While a nice idea it is a nuisance to have to scroll a new pad with over-sized font on a 1680x1050 monitor whereas the entire news pad would have fit 4 times into the screen space. The font problem existed already in DX:IW thus it is no excuse to have the same problem repeated in DX:HR too. While it is nice to have a console version of the game it is not nice to dumb down the PC version for it. A problem that killed DX:IW already. While there are a lot of emails and ebooks around their content is very short barely filling 2 pages of over-sized text. This doesn't animate the player much to read them especially since most of them are not very interesting to read.
In addition to the news pads there exist tv screens showing news reports. They can be compared with the news terminals in the original game. All tv screens play the same news report which gets boring quickly especially since the news change only after major missions have been accomplished and you leave city hubs. The news pads are not any different in this regard. The original game had though also not that much of variety in news. Due to the lack of other interesting things to do and the prominent placement of the news tv screens and news pads this lacking is quite obvious making the game more artificial and annoying than it already is.
DX:HR takes place most of the time in city hubs. This is the developers terms for large areas in the game where the player can freely roam parts of cities. These are Detroit and Shanghai. These hubs are broken down into smaller areas similar to the original game connected with loading zones. Loading times are one major source of annoyance as they can take up to half a minute without a problem. This is especially a nuisance for side missions requiring you to switch forth and back between different parts of the city hub, preferably more than one part of it to maximize the nuisance.
The city hub maps are densely populated with all sort of clutter on the streets and inside the buildings that you are allowed to enter. Actually they are too densely cluttered. The artists seem to have tried to fill ever corner with as much useless clutter as they could fit in. This especially makes the cities artificial and uninteresting as they are just a pile of junk. This is a pity since the architecture of the maps themselves is good and would be interesting if the there would be not tons of clutter taking away from it. In all city hubs there are various people roaming the streets and buildings. Roaming is though the wrong word. Except a few police officers and people all others are standing, sitting or lying in the same place all the time. In the original game there had been at least some movement by having the people roam around even if only in a tiny area. The lack of movement is though not the only thing lacking in the maps. You will not find any children or even animals on the streets. There is no kid asking you for a chocolate bar as in the original game. This is especially astonishing seeing how Adam drives one of the cops into the ground due to an incident with a 15 old kid some time ago. There is no bum's dog or cat although in one place in a street a cat's noise is played. Even in Shanghai fast-food places no chickens are hanging around and there are no kitchens with mundanes that tell a story by itself. This might not sound like a major issue but the lack of anything that is not an adult man or women makes the maps artificial and unbelievable. There's nothing wrong with sterile maps. In the case of Portal this had been the plan to begin with. In DX:HR though sterility is wrong though outside labs. They should have ripped out a lot of clutter and instead insert these things that make a map vivid. The way it is right now it's graphically nice architecture with tons of stuff scattered around but uninteresting and boring to roam through.
Maps in DX:HR are very vertical. There is no map where there is not at least two levels the player can roam. In some maps this is up to 6 levels. This includes usually 1 or 2 sub-terrain levels, a ground level and up to 4 levels above ground. Especially in Shanghai the city live seems to take place on a roof level in addition to the street level. The last time I've been hunting over roof tops has been in Thief 3 so this is a welcome change. To help you navigate there is a multi-level map at your disposal. Your HUD shows your close surroundings on the current level. People above or below your current level are drawn shaded making it easy to know what is a direct danger to you or not. In the map view the current level is shown as a floor map with a level stack on the right side to switch between levels. Controls in the map view are a nuisance though. Clicking on a level in the level stack tends to enable any possible layer but not the one you intend. Also scrolling the map can be a challenge with large maps if you like to see them more in detail. Pulling a layer into the right direction to see parts of it has the tendency of them snapping back to some arbitrary old position once you let go of them. Furthermore there is no support for writing down notes on the map itself which would have been welcomed in a lot of cases where for example to write down names of places (streets, buildings) or you don't have yet a code for a place you like to revisit some time later. Last but not least the quest markers can be a nuisance too. On the layer stack there is shown on which layer a quest marker is. This is a highly welcomed feature. Unfortunately on the layer view itself markers can overlap at times making it impossible to tell where a marker is hidden underneath.
While the zooming in and out, the layer stack, the dragging of the map and the markers is a good idea the missing of notes, the volatile controls and the hidden markers on the layer view make it a nuisance to use.
In the original game hacking had been a one-button action. Your skill level decided how fast you can hack and how long you can stay in the system before you had to get out. In DX:HR hacking has been cranked up a notch or two. Hacking is now done using a mini-game. The player has to capture nodes to make a path to one or more target nodes. Once these are captured the hack is successful. This alone would be too easy if there would be not detection chance. Nodes have a number from 1 to 5 indicating how hard it is to capture them and thus how likely it is the get noticed doing so. If you get detected you have a certain amount of time to finish your hack or dropping the ball before ever man and his dog (I know, there are none) is put into hostile mode and the system is temporarily unavailable for hacking. To make it more interesting there are special nodes. Cube nodes contain some reward which you get only if you succeed with the hack. Cogs apply some help to you by either messing with the node rating or slowing down tracing once detected. Should this still be a problem you can use nuke and stop software. Nukes capture a node without detection and stop stops the tracing for a couple of seconds. There is a large array of augmentations dedicated to hacking although most of them are quite useless. The only one you need is the level upgrades as you can only hack systems having not a higher level than your augmentation is. Once hacked you can stay in and especially revisit a system indefinitely. This makes hacking way too easy especially since you can hack multiple nodes at the same time and seeing on how you get lots of experience points for hacking but none if you find the code/password otherwise. All in all the hacking is a good idea but should have been made more difficult or less common. The first couple of times it is interesting but then you just spam the system.
Obviously augmentations are the selling point of this game. Deus-Ex without augmentation is simply not possible. For this the game comes with the promise of 40 augmentations the player can use. Sounds like a lot but there are catches to it. First off the player starts out with an interesting amount of augmentations already pre-installed. Now if you think the 40 augmentations are on top of this you are mislead. The 40 augmentations include those pre-installed. To make things worse many of the pre-installed ones are pre-requisite augmentations. In a nutshell your augmentation rig comes with a bunch of sockets like for example an eye-augmentation socket or a prosthetic leg. To install an augmentation you need the appropriate socket already installed (which by itself gives no enhancements) and optionally some other augmentations first. So as an example to jump high you need the prosthetic leg implant enabled first. And to walk silently you need first the jump-high implant. As you can see this ends up with an augmentation-tree. Thus the number of actually useful augmentations is less.
Furthermore many of the augmentations are not really useful. The entire stealh-hacking for example is useless since the strength of a node is equal to the detection chance. Also previewing storage nodes is not useful at all since you are in front of the final node anyways before you arrive at storage nodes. Then the entire stealth augmentation tree is also quite useless. In your HUD you see already all enemies as arrows and it also shows where the look. This cuts already more than 10 augmentations away from the promised 40. There are more augmentations just filling up slots without much use which is a major let-down for the game in general. To drive the final nail into the coffin augmentations are not mutually exclusive as in the original game. There is those no choice and thus no character diversification. You can be a master of all trades which lines up with typical FPS design but has not really anything to do with what make the original game what it is. If you played the game once there is no reason to do it a second time as, unless you deliberately skipped installing augmentations.
And then there is this auto-heal. For some reason modern games tend to throw this into the mix without a second thought and without realizing how much it kills the game. Especially in Deus-Ex this is a problem. Of course the original game had a healing augmentation. But this augmentation required energy. You could go around and let yourself wound and heal all the time but only if you are willing to spend the energy on healing instead of other augmentations. In DX:HR though healing consumes no energy at all and is automatic. You can't even argue that this is due to the player easily dying with one head-shot since in the original game this had been the case too and there you had no auto-heal. To top this off you can even use health stimulants to boost your health to 200 percent. Granted all health above 100 can not be regenerated but in Deus-Ex health above 100 is silly. Your body cells can not really be more healthy than 100% unless we start operating in the 4th dimension and with bending space. That though would at best make Einstein happy but not a Deus-Ex player.
Another game breaking problem are the EMP and gas augmentations. They render the player immune against any EMP grenades, electricity, gas grenades and other kind of hazardous gases. With other words the player can just walk through electrified water taking no damage (tip second boss) or walk through tons of gas mines without any energy consumption. He could even pick-nick in a gas filled room. This totally breaks the design of obstacles to overcome since you are god and immune to anything. In the original game the EMP and environmental protection augmentation could only reduce damage to 25% if fully augmented and required energy to operate. There you had to think hard if you want to spent 6 upgrade canisters in addition to loosing two possible other augmentations to get as resilient as you can while in DX:HR 3 praxis point spent renders you totally immune to everything while loosing nothing. And sooner or later you will have these augmentations as you are literally swimming in praxis points and this on the hardest difficulty level.
Nearly all augmentations are either always enabled or enabled on demand consuming no energy. Four of them are enabled upon demand. These are walking silently, the typhoon attack, cloaking and smart vision. It takes no genius to realize this cutting down to 4 active augmentations is due to consoles. In the original game all augmentations you installed required energy. This required the player to judge by himself when to use an augmentation and when not. In DX:HR everything is enabled all the time. There is house-holding with energy nor anticipating what you get into. As an example in the original game dermal plating had to be enabled consuming energy. You had to decide before engaging if you need the plating enabled or not (and potentially getting killed if you though you don't). In DX:HR it is always enabled.
Nevertheless there are a few augmentations requiring energy besides the ones you need to activate. A prominent example are the take-down which are going to be talked about later. Activating this one consumed an entire energy cells. The player is equipped from the word go with 2 energy cells. Using augmentations he can increase this up to 5 which are 3 different augmentations out of the 40. As you can guess from this most augmentations are just upgrades of one and the same augmentation not really 40 different ones (not counting the pre-installed ones). If you would apply this silly logic to the original game you would have had 81 augmentations (9 slots, 18 augmentations, 17 augmentations with 3 upgrade levels, 3 pre-installed ones). The problem now is that only partially empty cells are refilled (down to 20 seconds with all augmentations installed) except the last one which always refills. The others you can only refill using nutrients which you have to buy or find. The energy cell upgrades are thus totally useless as you are using only the last energy cell except for mass-take-downs. But for those two energy cells are enough that you refill using your inventory. It would have been better to make one energy cell to start with and one or two to add on top of it and refill them all. The way it stands right now the energy system is useless and a broken feature.
Another feature are praxis points. Typically sockets need 2 praxis points to unlock while augmentations down the tree need one. Praxis points is a fancy name for upgrade points the game awards the player with when he gets enough experience points. Furthermore he can find praxis kits (2 or 3 in the entire game) as well as buy them at LIMB clinics (2 per city hub per visit plus last map 2 hence a total of 10). Experience points are awarded for a lot of things and this is one of the main problems of the game. Knocking somebody unconscious nets lots of experience points. Killing the same person gives a lot less experience points. And being stealthy skulking your way to the goal gives you no experience points at all that is except the ghost and smooth operator bonus which though all variations get. Hence the game favors the take-down while totally disfavoring any stealth player. In the original game all play styles had more or less the same benefit. Of course with some it has been easier to play than with others but in general you the gained experience points came from completing missions not if you stun, kill or let live. DX:HR though clearly favors one play style and totally throws all others out of the window. Whereas in the original game you had a lot of various ways to get the job done DX:HR more or less allows only one. This obviously does not yield any replay value like the original game had. Eventually the game throws so many praxis points after you that any kind of character build is non-existent as after the first or the second city hub you have all the augmentations you need and some more to sell to the poor. Once you are there there's really nothing more to see in contrary to the original game.
Combat is one possible way to deal with your problems in the original game. In DX:HR it's your only option to deal with problems. The only variation is if you sneak around and kill silently or if you do it out loud. As mentioned above this all gives experience points and everything else (including ghosting) gives none at all except the final bonus which though is laughable compared on what you earn gunning/stunning your way through. Now I'm the total non-lethal player myself. Nevertheless Deus-Ex is about choice and this means the choice to be a Terminator or a Saint. DX:HR though takes the choice for you so there exists actually no real choice anymore despite what is written on the box.
Combat and/or stealth leads us then to another modern abomination which finds its way into more and more games. DX:HR has a cover system in contrary to the original game. The main problem with cover systems is that they are the total cheat. You can not be damaged behind cover except an AI manages to once upon time actually throw a grenade behind cover instead of at the cover blowing themselves up. And even then unless it is a fragmentation grenade you are immune to the rest. Furthermore you see everything due to the game switching to a 3rd person camera. There is no chance the player gets surprised or sits behind cover guessing what happens on the other side as in the original game. Also sneaking around is way too easy since you see everything. It's one of the many auto-win features this game has that break the game. Getting in and out of cover as well as shooting can be a pain though due to broken controls. It is not uncommon to have to hammer the cover key and direction keys multiple times until the game actually recognizes the commands. In general you don't die due to the difficulty but due to the broken controls.
Another prominent feature is the take-down system which is another auto-win system. When the player is close enough (and this is remarkably a large distance) take-down markers appear and the player can press a key to do a take-down. Depending on how long the key is pressed this is either non-lethal or lethal. Doing so consumes one energy cell and thus you can't spam this attack at last. Otherwise this is an auto-win since as soon as you press the button it's all over for the opponent. Even if he is shooting you once you press the button a cut-scene is played and you take no more damage neither from him nor from other opponents since the game is frozen until you are done with your circus act. With the right augmentation upgrade you can even take down two opponents at the same time. It doesn't matter where you are standing, if there is anything in between or if the opponents a fully hostile and shooting you as long as you are in reach it connects. More cheap than that is not possible. In the original game you had to sneak up on an opponent and whack them at the right place. If the opponent is alert or you don't aim well or you are not skilled enough in close combat you failed. The same goes for the stun gun DX:HR features. No matter where you stand, no matter what is in between and no matter if they are hostile or not one shot and they are unconscious. Again in the original game if not hitting from the right direction and hitting them while unaware you needed quite a few shots to take them down. All this makes the take-down system one of the biggest let-downs in the entire game.
In DX:HR there are a less weapons available than in the original game some of them you will recognize. As with the original game you can upgrade the weapons dealing more damage, having larger clips, reloading faster or having various attachments like laser pointers, silencers and weapon specific upgrades. You can though not put a scope on a pistol for example or silence a sniper. Furthermore each weapon uses only one ammunition type in contrary to the original game. This is not a problem though as different ammunition you used back then really only on the assault rifle. This has been compensated by a dedicated grenade launcher. Thus weapons are one of the most solid parts in the game. They are different enough, have a good range of upgrades and attachments and they their handling is good. In contrary to the original game you have now traders you can buy to and even sell from them ammunition, upgrades, weapons and other stuff. It's definitely a welcome change to the original game. Funny that it's weapons DX:HR shines with and not what it should really shine with. Better than nothing though.
A negative point is the lack of skills. In the original game trying to use a weapon you are not proficient with resulted in quite the poor aim and lack luster damage output whereas using a mastered weapon type made you pin-point accurate and dealing high damage. Granted the damage output modification due to proficiency is far fetched but it worked. In DX:HR you shoot every weapon like you are a master of it. This takes again away from the ability to choose and producing individual character builds. You can use a pistol for all the time and if needed pick up a rocket launcher and shoot it like it's a pistol (so no slowing you down for example). DX:HR dropped the skill system entirely out of the window in favor of augmentations. Hacking for example is not an augmentation not a skill. Without the skill system though an important choice part is missing and thus one more reason why one should want to play this game again.
Another negative point has to be attributed to the AI in the game. To say it is bad would be quite an overestimation. While relaxed AI follows a predefined path. These are in most times a couple of steps in one direction then the same backwards. Sometimes the routes are longer and in a rectangular area but most of the time very static and unsatisfying. Along these path the AI is scripted to turn around at certain points or look into vents if alerted. This is though all scripted and not dynamic so even if you put an object in front of the vents they look in there which looks silly with their head straight in front of a box hoping to see the light. Their AI routine is also not very varied. Just pop out from a corner and stand there until they get alerted then go back behind the corner. Little bob is then coming to the corner trying to see what happened. Doing so though he stops right behind the corner and stands there like an idiot waiting for you to take-down him. When a group is alert they tend to either wander aimlessly around or standing still in a group waiting for God occasionally sending a Bob your way just to get him whacked unconscious. The end result is a room full of Bobs piled up. The AI really is poor. Even seeing how their Bob is bitch-slapped doesn't alter their AI routine. Even worse it is with combat. The AI does now how to use cover, which is good, but it doesn't know at all how to fight. They just spam bullets aimlessly at your cover. With that many ammunition to carry they would look like pack mules. And if this would not be enough the AI always tells you verbally when they have to reload even if there is nobody else around then you two. Granted AI never had been the strongest part of the original game either but in DX:HR it is even more poor than there.
Now we get to something more interesting. Conversations is something the game developer boasted about before releasing the game. It's not ground breaking but that's not required. The original game had a rather simple conversation system so it should be not difficult to improve. In DX:HR conversations work basically the same as in the original game. With non-important characters you trigger a short monologue each time you frob them. In contrary to the original game though most characters have only 2 different set of lines they play. Also you can walk up to a group of characters overhearing their conversation if you want. Here too this is nothing new compared to the original game and works equally well. Where the game shines is clearly with the important conversations. As with the original game these take place in 3rd person view most of the time. What is new is that your conversation partner often moves around and acts. In contrary Jensen is most of the time immobile which clashes with the otherwise acting conversation partners. The camera shots are well chosen although the animations are really poor. The depth of field is definitely on the over-done part and ruins the otherwise good camera shots. If one overlooks these problems you get a solid conversation experience where you can choose at times from up to 4 conversation options each of them altering the course of conversation. In contrary to the original game you get not only the text you are going to say next but also what kind of attitude/stance your character is going to follow when choosing this branch. This extra information is not really required and can be funny sometimes to read but it definitely adds to the system. The voice-over in general is good except a few cases where they are very cheesy.
In certain situation you end up in what they call "social combat". It's a fancy word for a tricky conversation. In these situations the conversation takes place in a 1st person view. The same rules apply concerning the conversation options but there are a lot more of them and you can easily mess it up if you choose the wrong option. Most of the time you get 3 options and sometimes 2 so it's not too difficult. Should this still be a problem for you there is help in form of the CASIE augmentation. This augmentation provides you with two features one of which is good and the other bad. The first is a monitoring system which shows you how convinced your conversation partner is. In layman's terms this means how close you are to winning as it shows a dot line on a color background ranging from green (you win) to red (you fail). Furthermore you get a profile of the conversation partner which is useful to figure out what to say. This system is a welcome addition to the conventional conversation system but is definitely not requirement. The only negative point is the pheromones which are the second feature the CASIE provides you with. At a certain point (which is usually rather early) you get a huge button to apply pheromones on your conversation partner. Doing so you have to choose one of three options labeled alpha, beta and omega. These correspond with the display on the top left which shows the three personality types. While taking (up to that point) individual points flash up. What you have to do is simply choose the type which had the most points shown. Since this is piss easy the pheromones are an instant win button killing anything the conversation system has to offer. It's definitely not recommended to be used. Nevertheless this is a blotch on the otherwise interesting conversation system.
What goes for the conversation lines they are good and often give you a smile as some lines are well done and funny. The big negative point is that there is next to no conversation in this game where the system is put to use. Most of the conversation is briefing and debriefing and neither of those are that interesting or need such a system. Interesting it gets in the few cases you have to verbally work somebody over which in some case you really do.
Animations in this game are kinda poor. The characters move blocky and the limbs jitter while standing still or talking. How one can mess up animations like this is beyond me. Movement is also jerky for civilians. Enemies for some reason have better animations. Facial animation exists in the game but is hardly visible. Most of the time the poor lighting setup over-shadows (literally) any facial motion that might exist. Otherwise the faces are bland and react poorly to the conversation in contrary to the otherwise good acting. The game also has huge troubles with attached objects. To see this simple find a civilian playing on his hand-held console or phone or whatever it is they game with. Not only moves the object relative to the hand incorrectly it also suddenly flips around in the hands while playing ending up with the player looking upside down at the device. While not game breaking these are quite obvious bugs which a quality title simply should not have been shipped with. On the other hand the physics implementation is something else. This is the first game I've seen where ragdolls to not jitter around or look lie sex dolls. Just a pity that physics are not the selling point of this game as it really shines there.
Post processing is really a problem in this game. The first thing one should do is deactivating the object highlighting. It breaks the mood of the game a lot if every item you can interact with is highlighted. It also takes away any sense of exploration as everything shines into your face. Another problem is the color scheme. For some reason they love this golden tint which looks ugly. Furthermore the game switches the color correction from golden to a more blueish tone depending on where you are. In some areas you can see this well looking at a wall and moving forward and backward. The wall suddenly changes color from ugly golden to a more agreeable blueish tone. Most probably this is supposed to signal dangerous and save zones but it totally makes no sense and simply looks crap. Due to this the visual look of the game is inconsistent. Unfortunately you can't simply deactivate post processing as then other effects drop out too which are welcomed. You get used to the color scheme after some time but it still doesn't look good. As a side effect lighting is poor due to the color scheme clashing with proper lighting resulting in poor contrast scenes which are also desaturated. It would have been better if they chose lighting over color correction.
With DX:HR the jigsaw inventory is back from the original game. Proven to work well then it also works well in this game. The automatic sorting functionality though is not really working at all you have to sort things on your own which though as a Deus-Ex player of the first hour you should be accustomed to. In contrary to the first game though you can now enlarge the inventory size using augmentations up to double the initial size. This is something you should do rather early since in DX:HR ammunition no more is stored in a special area outside of the inventory but it is now stored in the inventory itself. Ammunition uses 2 slots for small arms clips all the way up to 6 and more slots for rockets and arrows. Furthermore the stacking ability is very low. You can stack for example 50 assault rifle bullets in one 2 slot clip which is a bit more than a clip of a fully upgraded assault rifle. This makes carrying (and using) more than one weapon a major pain. Even worse you can not stack grenades.
Each grenade consumes one slot. To add insult to injury you can stack 3 mines in 2 slots giving you an extra grenade if you turn them into a mine instead of storing them alone. This is also something different than in the original game. There a LAM could be thrown or planted on a wall. In DX:HR though you have to use a mine template first to convert a grenade into a mine of the same type. You can still throw a mine though which makes grenades totally superfluous. Defusing mines requires now no more an explosive skill but can be done at all times. Important is though that you have to bind the walk/run toggle key. Crouching is not enough to defuse them. You have to switch to walking otherwise the mine blows up although your speed is neglectfully slower. There are also bugged mines which blow up no matter how slow you are. These bugged mines are though only found in one place luckily. Otherwise, and especially due to the immunity due to augmentations, grenades barely see a use in this game except for the boss fights.
For some reason many games have to totally mess up in one area although they have shining points. In DX:HR these are the boss fights. In the original game there had been boss fights too but they fit into the game. If you specialized on weapons you could try to gun them down. If you specialized in knocking people out you could try that and actually knock them unconscious stealing their possessions. Or you could give a rats ass about them and run away entirely skipping the boss battle to have some of them show up later on for another round in the ring. There had been even choice involved like with Navarre and Lebedev where running or fighting not only decided over your fate but also over the one of Lebedev. In DX:HR though the boss fights are mandatory and not only that it's also mandatory to kill them. Even if you magically manage to tranquilize them they covered in blood. This is though very unlikely since the boss fights all happen in a small room with the bosses dealing nearly 100% damage to you while eating more bullets than you eat cereals for breakfast. If you are not equipped with lethal weapons, while you are a pacifistic guy, then you see the loading screen faster than you can say "f*** ***". Luckily there are only 3 boss fights to be endured but these alone can make you hate the game forever. More there is not to be said especially since boss fights have been the most talked about topic concerning DX:HR so far.
To end this up we get to the choice part. What made Deus-Ex great is the amount of choice you had. And this is the major problem of DX:HR, there is none. You can play this game really only one way, as a stealthy take-down lover hacking anything left and right. Of course you can shoot but this gives less experience points leaving you out in the rain. Of course you can sneak around enemies not touching them at all but then you get even less experience points. And of course you could collect codes and passwords instead of hacking but this gives you no experience points at all. The main problem is that this game had everything it needed to do the choice part right but ruined it entirely with a broken experience point system rewarding "how" you do something not "that" you do it. Another problem is the augmentation system where you have also no choices but only the question what you get "first" not what you get "at all". While done well conversations also give no real choice except messing up or not. This is quite an important problem this game has especially seeing as how it wears the Deus-Ex name tag.
As you can see from the many pages of text this review has giving an appropriate opinion about DX:HR is not that easy. It has good points like the weapons, the conversation system, traders, the hacking system and the city hubs but then again it lacks in places original game shined like the lack of choice, cranked up boss fights, lackluster story and ending as well as modern abominations like auto-healing or cover system. Nevertheless a game is more than the sum of its parts. It has good moments and bad moments and chances are no game will ever have only good moments. Even the original Deus-Ex had shortcoming which though had been by far outweighed by what it did gloriously well. What goes for DX:HR it is solid game that is riddled by design mistakes and that did not fully get what the original game has been all about. It's nothing outstanding and for sure can not reach the level of the original game but it is definitely an improvement over Deus-Ex Invisible Wars and it is definitely a step back into the right direction. With the lack of SDK, no real replay value unless you skipped half of the game on purpose and parts of the game ripped apart by DLC, I can't really recommend as must play. If you don't play this you are not going to miss much, especially not story wise. If you have the choice between this game and TNM better go play TNM instead. It has more Deus-Ex in it than DX:HR does.
Let's see how the next game turns out. The course is right. They just have to get the dirt out their engines and they have a good chance to hit again the sweet spot Deus-Ex did back then. DX:HR isn't there yet. But one can learn from mistakes... hopefully.
Final Score: Good 7.5 / 10 (10 is excellent, 5 mediocre, 1 horrible)