Developer: Eidos Montréal
Genre: cyberpunk, sci-fi, noir
Deus Ex HR is one of the most mature, adult and complex mainstream game that i have played. Obviously it has to be judged in relation with the release date and mainstream landscape, it cannot be compared to today titles and authorial indie productions. You know, HR has an illustrious predecessor, the innovative Deus Ex first chapter by Warren Spector (2000); there is also a second chapter, Invisible War (2004), but it is a forgettable game; you can play HR without knowing the first two chapters because it has to be considered a prequel. HR is not exclusively centered around action and entertainment, although they are present in significant quantities and quality. Purpose of the game is to deepen contents, express thoughts, tell stories, analyze characters psychology, create atmospheres, not only propose challenges and fightings.
He succeeds holistically in this aim, by integrating all this factors with excellent and varied gameplay, superb cinematographic cut scenes and a wonderful soundtrack.
Difficult and perhaps futile to sum up in a few lines the load of contents and thoughts the player is confronted to, expressed with a degree of detail worthy of the best science fiction novels in the cyberpunk genre; however, it is worth making a brief:
– Technological society, human ecological footprint, global warming and ecological catastrophes;
– Ethical dilemmas on biomechanical implants and neurotoxins that enhance the human being at physical and mental level (a future already in place ….); hence the subtitle “Human Revolution”;
– Focus on evolved AI impact in human society.
– Thoughts about society dominated by corporations that produce and sell such upgrades, which only the wealthiest people can benefit of: is it speculation, a new form of power, subjection and inequality, or do corporations create progress and well being for community benefit?
– Relationships between governments and corporations ;
– Role of the media in the geography and sociology of power;
– Gap between rich and poor, between the suburbs and the center of the metropolis of the future (or present …?);
– Relationship between science and faith in a technological and futuristic society where religious sects are multiplying, advocating or fighting bold unions between man and machine, natural and artificial.
– Classical mythology about Dedalus and Icarus as metaphor of the new transhumanistic era.
– What is the role of the individuals in a technological mass society in which we are increasingly crammed into crowded cities, anthropologically altered by technology and where the interests of the market and few rich people dominate on the community interest?
Surely our avatar Adam Jensen will prove to be the Deus Ex Machina of the situation, hence the title. He is not the traditional hero, it’s up to the players choices to define his moral profile. You can make him a boy scout or a bastard! He works for a multinational producing and sustaining research about biomechanical prothesis, whose boss is named Sarif: are you so sure Jensen is on the “right” side? The game is full of ethical dilemmas and the intricate plot pushes you to be suspicious of everything and everyone. Jensen has an ambiguos past, he has several dilemmas about implants, he doesn’t feel so confortable with his new life as a sort of cyborg; he seems a character from a noir movie. The whole game has a noirish atmosphere, there are also a few “femme fatales” giving some heartbreak to our hero!
At this point someone might suspect that the game is didascalic, wordy, with pages and pages to read. No, the topics will be suggested and discussed in a very complex, dynamic and non-linear manner, in symbiosis with the gameplay: through the cyberpunk scenarios of the Blade Runner-like metropolis, a precise characterization of geopolitics in a future world where Asian countries have a central role, the perfect multiple-choice dialogues, several monitors in the streets and houses conveying spots and news, some e-magazine that we find from time to time with lots of pictures and a few text lines, e -mail on hackered computers, short e-book, main characters thoughts, cinematic cut scenes, etc. etc.
The characters, even the supporting ones, are perfectly depicted on the psychological and existential point of view, with particular attention to personal relationships and daily environment in which they are immersed, from home to workplace. Even characters suspected to be your “enemies” are complex and ambigous, especially the female characters, resembling the “femme fatale” of the noir movies. It seems no one is really guilty or innocent, there is not so defined wrong or right side!
Cut scenes provide excellent direction and a deep and impeccable acting.
Game mechanics are extremely various and flexible. Levels can be approached in several ways: shooting, stealth, hacking or a mix of them. Dialogues are one of the main features of the game, characterized by a strong psychological approach; they allow for multiple choices, and, depending on the questions we ask and the answers we give, we can get people to confide information that otherwise we should get in any other way, e.g. hacking computer or security systems. The persuasion skills can be enhanced, e.g. using pherhomones, as well as other skills: there are physical upgrades (strength, jumping, breathing, speed, invisibility, etc.) or mental upgrades( hacking skills). And obviously you can enhance your arsenal, including a taser for stealth approach. Depending on the playing style , the gaming experience varies greatly, you can also decide to kill no one. In addition, there are different endings with different moral consequences.
It doesn’t lack action moments, in particular we must face different bosses, not easy to defeat. In the first version of the game the bosses could only be addressed frontally, by fighting; in the director’s cut version (2013), stealth variants have been added.
Something is not good?
Characters animation, with rigid movements and “mannequin-like” expressions. A graphic style not so enthusiastic, but cyberpunk scenarios are very good. Yes, it’s not lacking of free violence and ordinary fightings, which are in contrast with the psychological profile of the characters and with the storytelling; but for being a 2011 mainstream game, it is really mature title.
Rating: 92/100 (Info about Rating)