Rich gameplay and deep storytelling; but ultimately let down by its own attempts to seize greatness.
You play as Adam Jensen, head of security at Sarif Industries and a former Police Commander of SWAT. A well-developed strong character, Adam is someone you really enjoy playing as, especially considering his sarcastic wit and superhuman abilities. After an attack on Sarif Industries, Adam is left broken and close to death, his girlfriend Megan Reed kidnapped. Physical augmentation is the only way for him to survive and so he undergoes intense drawn out surgeries to fit him with the technology and the weapons that will become his tools of the trade.
Releasing you in the first of five distinct hub worlds for you to explore, it's an awesome moment when you realize just how much there is that you can do. Not just in side missions mind you, but real gameplay exploration. Using your extensive menu of upgradable augments, you might give Jensen the ability to lift heavy objects and jump higher, allowing you to move a dumpster next to a wall or fence and use that as a platform to jump over and venture beyond. You might upgrade your own ability to persuade people and another ability to reverse turrets; resulting in you gaining access to a restricted area and turning their own defence mechanisms against them. Or even upgrading cloaking and takedown, letting you walk easily between two conversing guards and takedown both at once. Things like this really show how much you can do in the game and that isn't even scratching the surface. There are multiple pathways to any mission objective and multiple tries or play throughs is a must.
Jensen is controlled through a first person view until you take cover against a wall, then it zooms out into third person, similar to the Rainbow Six Vegas games. You can choose what to say in any conversation and Jensen has a really cool, gravelly voice that really adds to his style.
Unfortunately the usual choice is rarely presented in the boss fights. These simply involve shooting the enemy until they are dead and are real shames considering their potential.
A few of the mini boss fights are the most intense experiences I've felt in a game however. These particular fights are battles of wit with your opponent, brain over brawn. You face them in real time, constantly assessing what you should say and reacting to their own words and attempts to best you. One incredible moment was when you call out a notable politician in the middle of his press conference (optional of course), trading accusations and political battle in full view of a crowd of the media. The absolute feeling of victory I felt when he stepped down and conceded defeat was and is still an unmatched moment in gaming for me today. Demonstrating effectively that you don't need to use violence and bloodshed to create gripping encounters.
On the downside though, Human Revolution stumbles right in the very core of its gameplay. Using any power or augmentation costs energy and that is only ever restored fully through consuming these "power bar" style things. The problem being that these are incredibly scarce in the game, only ever appearing once every two or three missions. Plenty of time for your batteries to run low whenever you attempt to enjoy the use of your powers. What's more is that these bars don't even rejuvenate your entire supply, instead only restoring a small section. A huge misstep for the game.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution does plenty of things right in its execution. Great leading character, intuitive gameplay and epic non-violent "boss" style encounters. But what it does wrong is so core to its very nature and freedoms that it is hard to recover from.
Human Revolution never really clicked with me, I loved the world and the characters and the 'conspiracy' story but it never really came together in the end. With only a few things holding it back from greatness it's frustrating to observe just how close it came in the end. You can clearly see the amount of effort and time that the developers put into the game.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution reaches for the stars, but it never quite gets there.