Along with a handful of single-visit mission levels, there are two main hubs in Human Revolution
, both of a very respectable size. You’re free to explore these open areas, as well as their connected minor zones, throughout the game as the story takes you back and forth between them a couple times each. Subsequent trips open up more side quests and the opportunity to revisit some spots you weren’t able to access before due to insufficient lifting strength, jumping ability, hacking skill, and the like. Scattered around the world are eBooks and digital newspapers that fill in backstory and recount events that you may have influenced, not to mention the hundreds of emails you can look through if you spend enough time forcibly logging into computers. They’re a great source of insight to the owner’s life or job, plus they provide levity in the form of stereotypical spam email, self-aware commentary on game design, and private conversations.
Though you are able to zip through the story missions one after the other, it’s in your best interest to take your time and explore everything you can. Aside from soaking in the scenery and basking in its cyberpunk glow, there are a ton of things to discover, including opportunities to score some bonus experience, credits, or items. The most major of these is, of course, the completely-optional secondary missions. These take place in and around the hubs and serve to expand upon the backstory, as well as lead you to interesting areas you may not have found before. The availability of some of them will depend on choices you’ve made earlier in the game, whether you saved the life of a very grateful hostage or you investigated a lead your techie associate Pritchard gave you.
Consequences of your actions are not limited to the availability of extra missions, either. Though it seems you cannot influence the primary storyline much at all, you can affect the lives of some of the named characters you encounter to various extents, as well as your own experience in carrying out certain tasks. I want to give some examples of really awesome things that can happen -- well, it’s awesome for a game to have these things happen, even if they’re not always good -- but I don’t want to spoil it for people that haven’t played yet… Suffice it to say that coming to the realization that something happened directly because of something you did or didn’t do is definitely one of those moments that makes you think, “Wow!”
If I had to nitpick, I’d say one weakness of the game is its flawed AI. I mean, it’s good enough -- enemies will use cover, flank you, respond to noises, and all of that -- but it can be exploited. I found that attempting a Pacifist run, where it’s in your best interest to avoid conflict altogether, taught me a whole lot about their quirks. The AI is apparently unable to crouch underneath obstacles, so if you can find a half-open garage door to hide behind, you’re untouchable. A silenced weapon will confuse the hell out of them if you’re far enough away so that they won’t hear you discharge it; if they witness an ally being mysteriously struck dead, they’ll cautiously move over to the body to investigate, only to be shot themselves. They also seem to be hardcoded to ignore you if you’re in cover and they’re on the opposite side of the object than you. If they’re really close or positioned at an angle that should allow them to see you, they will stare directly at you but won’t react.
Most of these complaints have to do with how the game handles stealth, and though that’s definitely how it’s meant to be played, it’s a mechanic that is very difficult to pull off in a game. There’s a fine balance that must be kept so that the enemy is aware enough to pose a threat, but not so aware that it’s overly difficult for the player to sneak by. I can tell that Eidos Montreal decided to err on the side that will prevent excess frustration, which is probably the better decision considering DXHR on the whole is already more difficult than the average game. Stealth is still very satisfying and rewarding, even if enemies won’t be suspicious of an open door, disabled camera, or abandoned weapon lying on the floor. A lot of you may not even notice these things about the AI, but I felt it was worth mentioning as they become quite obvious after you’ve been playing for a while.
There’s been a lot of hub-bub about the inclusion of mandatory boss fights in Human Revolution
, as well, but I don’t take much issue with them. Yes, they interrupt the regular flow of the game somewhat in that you’re forced to battle to the death, but it fits perfectly well into the story that is being told. Jensen has ample motivation to want to kill these guys, as opposed to talk them into submission or run away, as was possible with some bosses in the original Deus Ex
. It’s true that they could have provided a number of more creative ways to deal with them, but I think the problem most people are having is that they’re not prepared for head-on combat if they’ve spec’ed out a sneaky hacker type. You’re immediately given the impression that you have to
get into an open shootout, but the fact is, there are ways to use stealth, traps, and environmental hazards to your advantage. Even if you bring nothing with you, the boss arena itself provides you with ample opportunity for victory in the form of various weapons and items lying around. If all else fails, quick-save often.