With its cyber-punk world, free-form gameplay and conspiracy-heavy plot, the original Deus Ex is my favourite game of all time.
Whether you were turning security robots on the enemy, finding secret ways to enter buildings or reading emails on hacked computers, Deus Ex encouraged gamers to explore.
While the next title, Deus Ex: Invisible War, was a great game in its own right, it couldn't hold a candle to the first title. The combination of tiny levels, universal ammunition and dumbed-down gameplay mechanics meant that it wasn't the sequel fans were clamouring for.
So it's perhaps for this reason, that the next game in the series is a prequel.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes place over twenty years before the original, in the year 2027, a time when human augmentation has filtered down to the masses. However, not everyone is taking kindly to body modification, leading to tensions among the general population.
You play as Adam Jensen, the head of security for Sarif Industries, one of the world's leading augmentation firms. Things go awry however, when the company's research facility is attacked and you're left for dead.
Conveniently enough, human augmentation is what ends up saving your life.
Seeking answers, you'll need to find out who's responsible for the attack of course, and that's where the game begins proper.
An introduction to key mechanics
For gamers new to the franchise, the game can best be described as a first-person shooter/role-playing title, with players travelling to Shanghai, Montreal and many other places around the world.
The first level does a great job of introducing players to the various mechanics, such as takedowns and hacking.
Takedowns are simple affairs, with players approaching enemies and tapping/holding the B button for a non-lethal/lethal attack. This activates a neat cinematic, showing off the attack, with a few variations each time.
The hacking system is well thought out too, making for a great challenge while also being fun to play.
It's a complex mini-game of capturing "nodes", with each capture bringing with it the chance of being detected by the network. Once you're detected, a countdown timer starts, with players having to beat the clock to finish. However, players can also use viruses while hacking, making for a neat touch.
Play it your way
The combat system is arguably the most important part of the game however, facilitating a number of different playing styles. Eidos Montreal has seen it fit to implement a cover system, much like contemporary titles. This system allows you to stay out of sight for a stealthy approach or take cover during firefights.
In fact, freedom of choice is one of the tenets of the Deus Ex series, and this carries over to Human Revolution.
The levels, while not quite sandbox format, are pretty free-form anyway, with multiple ways to complete objectives and access areas.
For example, one level sees you having to enter a nightclub, with the bouncer demanding 1000 credits to gain access. However, you can visit a nearby hotel and steal a membership card or you can just sneak in through an air duct at the back.
Human Revolution rewards players for exploration as well, with credits and Praxis points being awarded for hacking, finding alternate routes and more.
The credits can be spent on a variety of things, such as weapons and ammunition, while the Praxis points are used for the all-important augmentations.
And there are plenty of "augs" to be had, catering for a variety of different playing styles. Stealthy players will want the silent running and invisibility cloak kits, hackers will gravitate towards hacking augmentations, while combat types will go for the explosive, wall-punch and bullet shield modifications.
You won't end the game with all augmentations however, giving you plenty of motivation to start a second or even third playthrough.
Crafting a believable future
Visually, Deus Ex: Human Revolution looks great, with orange and yellow lighting making for a unique yet beautiful style. Textures and animations aren't too shabby either, with the main characters looking great, although other characters and enemies could do with some more eye candy.
Developers Eidos Montreal have also paid plenty of attention to the game world itself, with Renaissance-like fashion themes all around, for example. There are plenty of notes, emails and news reports to read as well if you'd like to immerse yourself in the world.
Voice acting is pretty solid too, with Jensen, David Sarif, your colleagues and other people all doing a fantastic job.
The voice-work also comes into its own when engaged in key conversations with various characters, such as a hostage-taker or your boss. Here, you'll need to select your responses carefully, although there are no "wrong" options.
The artificial intelligence makes for a stiff challenge too, with enemies flinging grenades and using cover. There are loopholes to exploit however, such as using air ducts to slip away, with the enemy forgetting about you after a while.
However, by far the weakest part of the game are the boss battles, which would be fine in any other title. But forcing players to engage in gun fights with bosses goes against the freedom that the series is all about. For example, in the first game, it's possible to deal with bosses by using a "kill-phrase" or by simply running away.
Another point of note is that there's a game-breaking glitch near the end of the game, which sees the title freeze as you walk up to a set of double-doors. A quick look at forums reveals that I'm not alone, but it's possible to get past by walking backwards through the section.
Nevertheless, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an engaging experience, rewarding players for their actions. It's the kind of title that warrants multiple playthroughs, whether you'd like to see everything or because you'd like to tackle the game differently.
And with over 20 hours of gameplay, not counting the side-missions, it'll keep you busy for a while. This is a strong contender for game of the year - get it now.
Score: 9.3 out of 10