Skills are improved by spending Praxis points, which are awarded when Jensen has earned enough experience.  They can also be found and bought on certain occasions.  There are several aspects to focus on, such as physical strength, cloaking, and energy levels. Many of these abilities are dormant at first and will require several points to unlock the tree. Once opened, these augmentations will either branch off into two different specialties, or progress in a linear fashion. While this system isn’t so unique as to offer countless permutations of the ideal augmented man, it provides just enough customization to provide players with the means to satisfy their needs.

Your Augmentations = Your Life

Hacking plays an integral part in all this.  If you’re diligent enough to turn over every box, you might find that much-needed pass code for a door or safe.  Yet, you’ll be more likely to just slice your way through the computer or keypad by capturing nodes on your way to the hub in Deus Ex’s hacking minigame.  In said game, each time you attempt to hack a node, you risk being detected by the system, which will attempt to block you out.  As you level up this hacking skill, your odds of detection decrease. You can even score experience bonuses or credits by capturing special nodes.  Safes, doors, and computers all use this hacking system, so you’ll want to level the augmentations that help with it rather quickly.

Hacking - It's Important

There’s just so much to do in Human Revolution that you might find yourself miles away from plot. Indulge your curiosity.  I wandered around in a sewer, shot some hobos, got electrocuted, climbed a building, hacked a bedroom with a hooker in it, invaded a broom closet, and made a tower of cardboard boxes.  Yet, it all matters.  Explore “hidden” areas and you’ll be awarded with experience points. Continue to practice your one button knock-outs and you’ll have a handful of achievements in no time.

As you progress through the plot, you’ll start to discover just what sort of fighter you are. Various augmentations offer perks and grant you inhuman abilities. Focus on your ocular implants and you’ll be seeing through walls. Or, upgrade your arm augmentations to break on through to the other side of walls to find secrets and snap necks.  Perhaps one of the most interesting elements is the social augmentation, technology that allows you to release pheromones in order to sway a conversation in your favor. Watch a set  of meters to gauge a subject’s personality, and then choose a response that best satisfies the alpha, beta, or omega archetype. Unfortunately, this isn’t a very prominent feature early on in the game, despite the fact that it’s one of the most intriguing to play with and adds an entirely new level to the gameplay.

Watch here as Dave lets his emotions get the best of him and fails to get what he wants out of this cop:

He really did blow his last chance.  That’s it – you can’t talk to him anymore.  You will have to find another way to solve your objectives now, even if that means resorting to brute force.  Choice and consequence.

Even With All This Information, Getting Your Way Won't Be Easy

My only technical gripe on the Xbox 360 lies with character animations used during conversations.  Some of these interactive dialog sessions are preceded by absolutely stunning full-motion videos, which create a jarring effect when you’re suddenly thrust into real-time and the models’ heads are bobbling like Bollywood dance queens. Characters’ faces are bereft of expression and their bodies jerk back and forth awkwardly as they speak. When speaking to Sarif’s pilot, Malik, this was exceptionally obvious. Most of the time, I was able to focus on the voice overs and ignore these strange interactions, but I always left these scenes with a lingering sense of disappointment. There was an exception: in scenes that required negotiating, characters actually offered facial clues with their response. Shock someone and their eyebrows raise, their eyes widen.  It’s not as deep as L.A Noire, but it certainly adds to the gameplay.  However,  Dave was happy to let me know that these issues did not exist in the PC version and that in fact, on PC, the in-game scenes looked better than the cutscenes.

Human Revolution prides itself on offering you multiple paths through a scenario, but on occasion, it will dictate that there’s only one way to resolve your conflict.  This is more often than not caused by realism. If there’s only one staircase and one door, you’re probably staring at the only path to completion. What’s refreshing about these missions is that, while there may not be five hundred ways meet an objective, you at least can choose whether or not you’ll fight with lethal force.  It is entirely possible to finish this game without killing a single person (excluding boss fights). In fact, there’s an achievement for you in it. This not only offers you a significant challenge, but it allows you to actually act on the morals you’ve developed.  If you’re like me and you harbor some reservations about laying waste to an organization fighting to preserve humanity, then you don’t actually have to kill a single one of them.

As a side note, I want to personally coordinate a standing ovation for Human Revolution’s composer, Michael McCann. You’ll remember the track Icarus from the reveal trailer. Y’know, the one that pretty much sent everyone’s jaws to the floor? Well, every second of this score can measure up the the excellence of that single song. It’s so appropriate for this eerily-plausible dystopian future and creates a haunting ambiance that no amount of gunfire can exorcize.

In The Future - Gang Members Will Have Robotic Limbs

Despite all my personal shortcomings and gaming preferences, this game soared high above my expectations.  I ended each session with an unshakable craving for more, yearning to discover the next piece of the puzzle.  So very little stood between Human Revolution and perfection.  However, I did install the game and run it off the 360′s hard drive but while load times weren’t long, they weren’t exactly short either.

Not to gush, but Eidos nailed it.  They absolutely nailed it.  You need to experience this world for yourselves.  There’s a story here that rivals every single game we’ve touched this year and if you appreciate a challenge and want something more than a first person killfest, this is a must-have.  Hell, if you’ve watched Blade Runner at least once, pick this up from Gamefly or a Red Box at least.

If you’re one of the masses yearning for substance in the sea of carbon copy shooters and spy thrillers, stop what you’re doing– this is the game you’ve been waiting for all these years.  Let this pass, and you’ll miss out on one of the defining games of the current generation.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Here’s the Rundown:

+ Deep and branching story that is very well told
+ Gameplay is polished, satisfying and challenging
+ Beautiful, haunting score
– Load times are not short
– I’m not Adam Jensen

 Learn more about the RipTen scoring system and what this score means. Visit our review scoring page

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix.  PC and Xbox 360 copies were provided to us by the publisher.  At first Stephanie was all like … because she couldn’t run around and kill everyone, but then she was all like !!! because the game is amazing.