Sunday, August 28, 2011

No More Swaddling - Deus Ex: Human Revolution Impressions

So while everyone else is basking the glory of this game via their wretched digital distribution outlets which is making me feel like an increasingly large idiot for presuming to feel fantastic about getting this title for slightly fewer bucks than those wretched cyberpunks via an online-only brick-n-mortar retailer, I sit here now free of my dissatisfaction and reaffirmed in my acquisitory wisdom: I have received two copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the price of one.


Before I continue with my rather ranty approach to my impressions, let me first give you an incentive for reading through it: The OnLive copy of the game I received (and that was removed by GameStop in their boxed copies) will be given away the day after the review is published. Between now and then, all commenters on the blog will be eligible for the drawing. I have no desire to have two copies of this game, nor do I need to worry about having access to it via some kind of cool and rather innovative cloud service gaming, so I think it'd be awesome if I can give somebody else a chance to play through this game as well, even if it is through OnLive and not in a "proper" sense. Hell, I know I'd take anything that's even remotely free, and as awesome as a video game to boot.

So now that I've got your attention let me first say this: Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a not a new game. Of course, I'm only basing this off about 3 hours of play, but so far its been a rather...archaic experience. This isn't a bad thing. It's unfortunate that that word has taken on a sort of a negative connotation in regards to evaluating games because it's a rather descriptive word what definition has now been trumped by a simple "that's bad". It's archaic in the sense that it's complicated and not transparent, and perhaps not simple to navigate. It's archaic in the sense that it comes from a time that is unlike our own and therefore can't be viewed or played in the ways we're presently accustomed to. It's archaic in that it is a representative for a bygone time that no longer has a representative in the present.

It's possible that some of what Deus Ex: Human Revolution is does indeed exist in some form in the Now, but what is completely true is that what Deus Ex as a game is is something wholly alone in its approach and philosophy of how one plays a first-person role-playing dialogue-based stealth-or-shoot game. It isn't its efforts in homologating the genre (as it isn't the first game of this kind) nor is it its admirable attempt at making such a game accessible to a larger audience. No, so far Deus Ex: Human Revolution's strongest asset is its unapologetic consistency and aforementioned unabashed archaeology. Most games say "you are The Man who does His Thing and will Win This Game" whereas Deus Ex: Human Revolution says "you are Adam Jensen in Detroit circa 20XX and amidst the ethical ruins of a world not unlike ours but faced with a crisis of biological proportions have rather peculiar skills in which to handle various situations. Good luck."

As long as Deus Ex: Human Revolution can maintain this sensibility, I see it only getting better. Even as I trounce yet another unwitting Detroid PD Officer in order to hack his likely useless email inbox, I have yet to find any behavior, whether self-imposed or otherwise, meaningless. And that is rather refreshing.

Rather refreshing, indeed.