Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Story and Choice

There is a lot to say about this game. It's so full of good content, yet flawed in enough places to rag on it a bit. This might stretch out over 2-4 posts. What can I say? There hasn't been a good Cyberpunk game in awhile.

I'm going to jump into the story of this game first. One choice I loved, was when they had about half of the intro be in gameplay. Of course, I hated the first-person invisible train track bit, but it didn't last long. Anyway, you play Adam Jenson who works as security chief at Sarif Industries. Megan Reed (your wife? Girlfriend? I dunno.) works at Sarif as well, developing new human augmentation technology and planning on presenting about it at a soon to occur UN meeting.

The security system goes off, and Sarif(your boss) sends you down to the location of the breach to see what's going on. You see a bunch of heavily augmented mercenary dudes killing all the scientist and destroying all the research. You look for Megan, who is in that very section of the building, and probably in danger. Then some big mercenary dude shows up, punches a hole in your stomach, throws you through a wall, chokes you half to death, and then shoots you in the face.

The evil mercenary dudes leave you for dead. Of course, in game intros where the player gets shot in the face, it's never fatal. Sarif pushes what's left of your body to the limit, installing as many of the most advanced cyebrnetic augmentations as possible. After a six month recovery period, you come back to work. And so begins an extremely cyberpunk story where you start by setting off looking for answers about this random massacre where Megan and all her fellow scientists were burned beyond recognition along with their research.

As far as introductions go, this games is not the most creative. However, it does an excellent job of giving the context, setting the atmosphere, and actually immersing the player. The best touch was when you went through the labs looking for Megan before you got augmented. In FPS games, you're probably used to being a super-soldier who can jump 2 meters high and take several bullets before you have to recharge your health. In the beginning of this game however, you play a normal, un-augmented person who is weak compared to the augmented mercs you're up against. This is in contrast to you once you've been augmented. You experience the transformation Adam goes through first hand.

I have to talk about the choice and the endings. First off, your choices have no effect on the plot of the game until the very end. When I got to the end, I had 4 buttons to push, each of which represented a different choice. This ruined everything for me. I knew I was essentially just selecting from 4 different ending cutscenes, so I chose each one and watched each ending. This is NOT how player choice should work. This is worsened by the fact that the only selection that didn't paint you as a liar or someone who gives a slant on the truth painted you as mentally unstable.

On the gameplay choices side however, this game is almost stainless. Almost. We've probably all heard reviewers raging on this game for the mandatory boss fights, so I won't spend your time criticizing something which has already been criticized by everybody else. It was a stupid, bad decision. All the other choices work pretty solidly though. The game does an excellent job holding up a number of different ways to handle each situation, each one having different consequences and outcomes. The game will be worth playing through multiple times for most, just because of all the different ways things can be done.

Another good aspect of the game's story is non-vilification of the player. Many games will impose a set of morals on you, judging your choices as either good or evil. In this game however, the moral dilemma is spun to match your perspective.

That's another thing. When I started this game, I was of the opinion that there was no dilemma. This game convinced me otherwise, although leaving my perspective the same. I'm personally pro human augmentation and enhancements. IRL.

The story really isn't air tight, it's just a few levels above what we've come to expect. I think the story here is a step in the right direction. I would definitely like to see more games with stories like these.

Wow. I spent this entire post just talking a little bit about the story. This serves to exemplify how much there is to say about this game. Assuming the reason I go on isn't just that I'm obsessed with Cyberpunk.


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