Possibly the best SCI FI Cyberpunk game created
The review deck says it all, if you're a fan of Bladerunner, Ghost in the Shell, Battle Angel Alita, A.D Police, Cyber City Oedo808.. etc. Then this game was made for you.
Why is this a good Cyberpunk game? well first and for most, there hasn't been very many good Cyberpunk video-games created - so that alone elevates DE:HR into the top tier. The presentation is extremely well done. And it seems like everything Eidos were aiming for they mostly achieved with this title.
To many people it will become obvious Eidos had much inspiration from Bladerunner in a lot of the art design and also the story elements. There's a very strong sense of Adam Jensen (the games protagonist) being a private detective on his own, in a run down cyber future Detroit, the same way Deckard is in L.A hunting fugitives in BR. Heng Sha is one area in the game the player will visit and this is a densely populated cyber-future slum, with a futuristic city in the sky above the slum. This brought back many memories of Battle Angels Alita "Scrapyard", a degraded scrap heap city with a futuristic dyspotian city "also" in the sky which lands all it's waste onto the city underneath. I think many people may see a lot of the inspiration in DE:HR as "copying", personally I was just glad to see so many elements I knew from previous pieces of fiction seen all in one very well done video game package.
The gameplay, is pretty much Deus Ex 1.There are certain elements of the gameplay which fell short, for starters the gunplay was incredibly easy from the beginning. There are skills such as aim stabilization which are just not needed. In fact I felt no need to spend any leveling points on gunplay skills at all.
The same goes for the stealth. It's possible to accomplish stealth from the get go in the game without taking abilities such as active camo. Levelling makes gameplay slightly easier but is was not fundamental enough for a RPG game.
The gunplay in general is not that satisfying, enemies show no visual signs that they're taking damage, If you blow someone up with a rocket launcher they should probably be disintegrated into gibs. If you riddle someone with bullets from a upgraded UZI, their should be signs that this is happening, maybe some armor and prosthetic limbs breaking off for example. In terms of enemies they're all mostly stale and don't require any tactics. A part from Boss battles don't expect any fully shielded augmented opponents who can take bullets head on and must be flanked. No active camo enemies who must be brought out of hiding with gas or some other element. It's basic run of the mill soldiers with poor Ai scripting who can be killed by just point and click game mechanic from any weapon in your arsenal.
And it's not like Eidos doesn't have plenty of content to inspire them, this is the SCI-FI genre and it's full of interesting action elements already seen in past movie, comic and anime creations which can be mimic'd and taken advantage of, and the very nature of the genre gives much freedom in what can be done with the action elements that it was disappointing to not have more creativity in some of the gameplay.
Other factors which hinder the action element of the gameplay is also the Battery system and the experience points system. The battery system is very strict which is fair enough, but problems arise when you want to be creative with the battery system. I found it was difficult and often not rewarding to engage enemies head on using augments such as Stealth, and Typhoon (Area of effect attack) to take on groups of opponents. Because you would be out of battery before you know it, and back to chomping on cyberboooster to replenish the energy. Cyberboooster is in short supply so playing the game in this fashion is a uphill battle. It's much better to just play a stealth type, and use the stun gun and silenced weapons to pick off enemies. You don't waste any battery and the experience system actually rewards you better for not engaging enemies head on so there's no logical game design reason to play the game all guns blazing.
Hacking, it's a lot of fun but it's also forced down the players necks. I would say the player is at a big disadvantage if they do not go with hacking, each terminal you hack nets you experience just for hacking it.
But that's not all....
There's also "extra rewards" to be had for conquering certain terminal nodes with in the hacking minigame. These rewards can give anything from additional hacking software to credits or even "more experience". You can leave one simple computer terminal with 300 experience which is the same as knocking out six guards undetected. The game world is completely littered with computers and terminals to hack meaning that being able to hack is the most lucrative and overpowered ability in the game.
All said and done, the positive...
This may be seem like a overly negative review, but this is only so because Eidos came so close to hitting all nails on the head, that it makes their misses stand out more and become more obvious.
Even with these minuses it's still a "very" good game. The shooting elements work but they're the weakest element of the game, but there are other elements of the game which are far and ahead of other titles in this genre.
The exploration and design of the city hubs are extremely well done, you can spend hours exploring Detriot and Heng Sha, breaking into apartments and reading emails and hacking safes . Even on my second play through I still have not completely memorized some of the environment of Heng Sha, it's a matrix in its own right of lower floors, sewer systems, rooftops and allies and in-door city lhubs .
The stealth is well done for a RPG/FPS, possibly it's too well done and rewarding that it over-takes the shooting element of the game.
The characters are memorable, Sarif (your boss) seemingly installs loyalty from the outset. Frank Prichtard, the annoying head of the cyber- security team at Sarif Industries is also very well created and seems to instantly conjure up hate and malice with his wiseass remarks. Malik the female helicopter pilot at Sarif who escorts Jensen through the city hubs and mission in the game, is also a very well created character with a instantly likeable personality. The game from the out-set seems to make the player create a attachment to Sarif Industries, I wanted to complete missions - not just because I wanted to finish the game but also I was immersed enough in the game and the story that I wanted to finish the game to see what happens in the story and to the characters. Very few RPGs achieve this.
Deus:HR for this day and age is a very good successor to the original Deus Ex. The gameplay is mostly left in tact, with the RPG stat building elements slightly watered down and the gameplay is a bit easier. But the exploration and general world and story telling design are some of the best I've seen. And although the gameplay is not all it could be, it's still very damn good.
Eidos has created a game and environment which is almost alive. I haven't played a RPG or video game which felt as surrealistically real as visiting Heng Sha in DX:HR for the first time and then gazing to the sky to see it filled with a futuristic cyber city. Walking down slum roads condensed with NPCs and shop owners, alley ways running off on every corner and rooftops accessible above. If you're a fan of the scifi/rpg genre you should probably definitely buy the game for that alone.
Gameplay - 85
Graphics - 85
Sound - 85
story - 87
Design - 10