I just finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Light spoilers follow.
I understand all the complaints I heard about being forced into boss fights. You really are just thrown into a room with someone who wants you dead, and forced to shoot your way out.
The setup of these fights didn’t really bother me – Jensen’s in a dangerous line of work, and when a crazy mercenary wants you dead, you have to fight back. I think what really bothered people about these fights is that they’re hard. They test skills you haven’t been encouraged to develop – outguessing and outthinking enemies, tracking invisible targets, accurate shooting on the run, etc. They’re very interesting fights, but a big departure from the rest of the gameplay.
I do find Deus Ex impressive for having social boss fights. There are a number of opportunities during the game to argue with targets, to read their emotions and to respond where they’re weakest. It might not be recognizable due to the lack of special effects and explosions, but these are boss fights: trials that require you to take the skills you’ve developed and prove your mastery.
After finishing the game, it’s interesting to recognize the difficult situation Human Revolution is in, being a prequel. The game gives you opportunities to make grand choices that will shape the evolution of humanity for centuries…except not, really, since the original Deus Ex will start the same way regardless of what you chose. I’m not sure if any of the possible endings is the ‘canon’ ending, although I think any of them could work. The ending that removes Jensen from the equation is probably the most likely; otherwise, it seems like Adam Jensen would be a major player that JC Denton would end up interacting with.
Finally, from what I understand, the Missing Link DLC will feature Adam with his augmentations disabled and his weapons missing. I’m a little disappointed at the amount of DLC that takes this path. The Jedi Temple in The Force Unleashed, Big Surf Island in Burnout Paradise, Demons of the Badlands in Red Faction: Guerrilla…all these DLC are separate from the main game, forcing the player to start again at the beginning of their progression, or accept a default loadout. (Well, Burnout’s a little different, but still, Big Surf has its own license and own challenges.)
When I buy DLC to extend the game, I want to bring my character and my gameplay. I want my upgraded guns that reflect my play style. I want my efforts to impact the story, even if it’s just a brief mention at the end.
Listening to the Gamers With Jobs podcast today, and they’re talking about Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and the compression of city space. In Detroit, you have a massive skyscraper, homeless projects, markets, and your apartment all within a block or two of each other.
It reminded me of the original Deus Ex, where apparently several corporations, secret societies, and Tong headquarters are all in the same 1/10 mile block of Hong Kong.
Once you’re aware of the compression of space, it’s fun to observe it in games. Like how rival military bases always seem to be built a few hundred yards from each other.
I always thought the first area of Borderlands did this brilliantly – the Arid Badlands had a full town, several NPCs, huge explorable areas, terrain features, side areas to discover, and tons of quests. It was really a great start to the game, and gave it a very open world feel. Borderlands loses that feel pretty quickly – the Dahl Headlands are open, but mostly dull featureless terrain. And once you get to New Haven, it’s time to get used to changing zones two or three times to finish quest. But they really knocked it out of the park for the first zone of the game.
Did you realize you can start in Fyrestone, jump Piss Gulch, battle through Titan’s End, then do a few rounds in the Circle of Death, all without ever hitting a loading screen? That’s good stuff.