Deus Ex vs. Human Revolution
I’ve read people’s thoughts of Human Revolution all over the ‘net. The resounding opinion seems to be that it’s a fantastic game, slightly marred by the horribly atrocious boss battles. Exact same opinion as mine, coincidentally.
Isn’t that nice? It’s always refreshing to get a game whose level of quality is almost unanimously agreed upon, unlike games with polarizing opinions and mixed reviews like Bulletstorm or Dragon Age 2. We can all play the game, look at each other and agree that it’s great or that it sucks. No flame wars, no rage. We can all shake hands and be friends.
But that just wouldn’t work for me, would it? No, I had to go and make the outrageous claim that Human Revolution is actually better than Deus Ex 1. How ridiculous is that? This new game is better than the timeless classic of 2000, the revolutionary action-RPG hailed commonly as the Greatest PC Game Of All Time? Bah. Kids these days.
Honestly, by now half of you probably think I just say whatever controversial statement will get me more views. I’ve never thought about it before, but looking back on it I lambasted an age-old sacred cow, I directed bitterly negative criticism toward several relics of the Church of Shooter RPGs, and now this. If it’s any consolation, I can say with all the honesty in my heart that flame baiting was never a motivating factor for anything I’ve written. I’ve always meant what I’ve said.
Anyway, some people objected and offered some valid reasons for why they think Deus Ex 1 is better. This caused me to look back and analyze the games further.
First off, I’ve heard complaints that Human Revolution doesn’t tend to be very receptive to your in-game actions. This sounds outrageous at first, since that was one aspect of Deus Ex that I absolutely loved, but you’ll really only notice problems in extreme cases, i.e. if you rampage through the streets gunning everybody down, people won’t call you a horrible sociopath later on.
This is very unfortunate, but to be fair, Deus Ex wasn’t very receptive of that sort of behavior either. You’ll notice comments about it in the first few missions (particularly from your brother Paul), but after that you’d be hard-pressed to find many remarks from NPCs about it, especially in the late-game. It was more receptive than Human Revolution, but not by that much.
Another complaint I’ve heard is that the game favors stealth over direct combat. You get more skill points for dispatching a guard with a non-lethal, silent takedown than with a shotgun blast. You also get bonus points for completing an objective without being detected, and another bonus for making it through without triggering an alarm. The bonuses aren’t huge, per se, but they do help.
Now, on one hand I can see why this bothers some people, because it technically does favor one play style over another. But to me it makes perfect sense. Stealth is generally far more challenging and risky than combat. If you get caught trying to sneak past a guard, you’re probably going to die quickly. Especially in hard mode. If you’re going for a shooter approach, you can just hide behind cover and carefully place your shots. Death is far less likely.
It’s higher risk, higher reward. That seems fair to me.
It’s also worth noting that a stealth build demands far more skill point allocations than a combat build. There aren’t many augmentations that directly support you in combat. If you get the armor upgrades you’re pretty much good to go. But there are many upgrades that support stealth, some of which are practically required if you want to make it through some of those late-game areas without being detected. So in a way it makes sense to say that stealth players would need more points.
I suppose people who want to play shooter-style and want to powergame will probably be irked by the game’s stealth rewards. It doesn’t bother me, since 1, I don’t particularly care for powergaming, and 2, I find sneaking past a platoon of guards far more satisfying and engaging than gunning them all down.
I think the main reason I find Human Revolution better than Deus Ex Vanilla is because HR is just more functional. Babitz said in the comments that DX1’s combat is more versatile, and while that is true, the combat in that game was also horribly dysfunctional in many ways.
The tranquilizer gun is a prime example. In DX1 shooting a guard with a tranq dart causes him to run around screaming for a good half-minute or so before he finally collapses and falls asleep. It’s meant for stealthy approaches, but the result is anything but stealthy.
In HR a headshot with the tranq gun will instantly knock out a guard, while a body shot will cause the guard to flinch, remain standing for several seconds, and then pass out and fall over. Not only does that work far better from a gameplay perspective, it also makes much more sense. It’s just better.
This is by no means an isolated example. I love Deus Ex, but the game is extremely unrefined. They had too many things they wanted to do, and it just ended up being very rough around the edges. Human Revolution had a far larger budget and a more focused, prepared studio, and they were able to polish the game to a mirror shine.
Except, you know, boss fights.
I enjoyed Human Revolution more than Deus Ex 1, and I’m still ranking it higher on my Best Games Evarr list. But I can see why others would consider the first game better. It’s not exactly clear-cut.