Deus Ex: What To Fix For The Sequel
Let there be zero confusion about one simple fact: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” is one of the best games of the year. Some dude from Bungie once said that the art of game design is nailing five seconds of fun, then repeating it over and over. DE found its five seconds, and then some. Still, I do think there are a few flaws that keep the game from the kind of classic status I would afford “Mass Effect 2.” It’s nothing to sweat about, Square Enix, the original ME wasn’t a classic either. You guys got a hit here, but next time let’s have a home run.
I think if you fix the following simple but important issues, you’ll have a classic on your hands whenever you drop the next one on us. Hit the jump!
1. Choice But Not Really. DE does a superior job of creating true tactical freedom. In “Mass Effect,” you’re free to be a nice guy or a jerk, but there’s very little question about what’s going to happen to a room full of hostiles. Not so in “Human Revolution,” where confrontation is a choice instead of a mandate. And yet, this open style breaks down repeatedly. There are some dialog scenes you have zero control over, and more than a few cut-scenes where Adam Jensen says/does things that I don’t feel reflect the narrative I’m constructing. This stings all the more because most of the time, DE is so good about truly letting you play your way.
And then there’s the bosses. Oh, the bosses. For a game that all but orders you to roll stealth, DE is surprisingly uncompromising with its boss encounters. What, pray tell, is a hacker/cat burglar supposed to do when locked in a room alone with a really tall guy who has a minigun for a hand? Did I mention it’s nigh impossible to stealth him? This is just ridiculous, you’re punishing the player for exercising the very freedom of choice you’re supposed to encourage.
2. Voice “Acting.” Adam Jensen’s voice acting sucks. Let me repeat that in no uncertain terms: it sucks. He sounds like he’s doing a bad Christian Bale impression the entire bloody game, it could not possibly be more ruinous to my story immersion. If this was the best you could do, I sincerely wish to God you had left him completely silent, FFVII style. And while we’re on the subject of bad voice acting, who thought this was appropriate?
3. Wardrobe Malfunction. I recognize this is completely a matter of taste, but I find Jensen’s surgically implanted shades to be really dumb. They’re distracting as hell, they make him look like a dead-eyed mannequin with no soul. Sunglasses are cool enough on their own, we really don’t need this “oh hey look at me!” grab for attention. The original had it right on: cool trench coats, nice shades, and a few silvery lines near your temple for good measure.
Oh, speaking of coats, can we discuss the one you put Jensen in? It’s dorky, under-textured, and it hangs off of him as if it were frozen taffy, not fabric. Next time, why don’t you give me the option to take it off and just sport his pimping, cybernetic arms instead? Now those were cool. Too bad you never see them.
4. Radial Frustration. You know you’re in trouble when you have to press down on the right control stick to not consume every moderately edible item you own. Radial menus exist for rapid access, and neither forcing me to try and avoid my candy-bar nor invoking an extra button-press is appropriate for them. I know that sounds picky, but it’s literally called a “Fast Menu.” It should be as fast as possible.
5. Navigation. You were so close to having a good navigation system, but you fumbled on the goal line. For reasons passing understanding, destinations that fall outside of discovered space simply refuse to present themselves as an “X” on my map. Until you go to that new place, DE will not tell you where anything is in it, even if a current objective is in said area (and it often is). What Square Enix doesn’t seem to understand is that this defeats the entire purpose of a map and/or cartography. Very few people buy a GPS to better understand their own freaking neighborhood, they’re assuming they might need to know their way around unfamiliar territory at some point. That DE sees fit to punish you for a lack of ambitious, explorer spirit is ridiculous. And, given the level of technological sophistication in “Human Revolution’s” world, it makes no sense. I can get a Google Earth rendering of every inch of Sheboygan in two seconds, right now, in the un-future. Do you really think Adam Jensen, future guy from the future, can’t get walking directions for Detroit?
Also, DE employs the old “walk towards the vague hieroglyph on your screen” thing. So of course, you try to take the most direct route, and end up down a lot of blind alleys, or trying to jump over walls. What in the hell is so wrong with a “Dead Space”-style line on the ground that leads you straight to your destination? Is there some fun you’re imagining I’m having trying to parse out the Byzantine contortions of your little rat’s maze? You guys aren’t city planners, you can’t design a city worth actually decoding, so just tell me the fastest way to anywhere, at any time. Believe me, I’ll still wander and explore; in fact, I’ll probably do so more. GTA gives me bright-colored lines leading anywhere I want, and yet in the 30 hours I’ve put into the game I’ve probably finished half of the story.
Look, I’m not trying to be harsh here. I love “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” long time. But just like the original “Mass Effect,” it’s a good game with a vision of a true classic embedded in its DNA. I want the boys and girls over at Square Enix to build a genre-defining masterpiece here, and I think they have the raw ingredients to do it.
you think this is the real Quaid? It is.