The Games Of Christmas ’11: Day 23

By RPS on December 23rd, 2011 at 2:00 pm.

It's Christmas Eve Eve!

I can already hear Horace’s giant claws tearing away at the fabric of reality, preparing for his grisly entry into our “Earth” on tomorrow’s tomorrow of Horacetide Day. Children will press their noses against the frosted panes, watching as he tears through the fragile frames of any too slow to avoid his infinite arrival. Ah, so lovely. But today there’s this:

It’s… Deus Ex: Human Revolution!


Jim: The abiding feeling that DXHR produced in me was one of relief. After all this worrying about whether the newly-forged Eidos Montreal could possibly put together something in the spirit of the original, we found out that okay, they actually could. Sure, there were some wrong moves along the way – and we all complained about them loudly – but the over-arching theme was right there. Bang on. We got the sprawling sci-fi plot and the multiple locations, but more importantly we got a genuine range of choice about how to attack the levels. Sticking to the route of non-lethality was by and large possible (apart from the disappointing boss fights) and it was the kind of game where you could feel your choices about how to play (and not just what to do) really had some consequence.

But going back to that feeling of relief: I think the success of DXHR confirmed that there are some developers out there, and even some publishers, who want to continue to explore the areas mapped out around a decade ago. There’s been a lot of defeatist talk over the past few years about how that era is “over” and that games which merge genres and expand their remit across action, stealth and RPG are basically not viable in the mainstream. DXHR has proven that they are viable, and that we do want to play them. It was a golden moment for gaming in 2011, and I cannot wait to see where the Eidos studio goes next. The idea of a fourth Thief game now fills me with optimism.

John: I’ve run out of things to say about Deus Ex 3. What does that mean? I think it’s suffering from BioShock syndrome. I absolutely bloody loved it when I was playing, and then sort of forgot why afterward. But I can remember what was wrong with it! Oh dear, I don’t think I do having a brain very well.

Focus. Stealth! Yes! My goodness, it got stealth right, didn’t it? Better than any game before, better than the Thief games (which bodes extremely well). I always felt enormously powerful, even when hiding in the shadows, and I finished the game without killing a single person. APART FROM THE BLOODY BOSS FIGHTS. Ah yes, there it is.

It really was tremendous, but it wasn’t tremendous for the same reasons as the original DX was, and I find it hard to reconcile that in my memory. I mean, it was certainly a far better executed game than DX, less flaky, far sleeker. And it didn’t have any greasels in it. But I didn’t learn anything from it, and I think that bothered me.

Kieron made an excellent point about that, as it happens. I was 22 when DX1 came out, and 33 when DX3 appeared. There’s a fair chance I’ve learned more stuff in the last 11 years, and had I encountered DX today I’d probably not find it quite the epiphany it was back then. Although I’d still ponder that DX3 would not have managed the same accolade in 2000. I found myself frustrated that it was obvious the developers had learned extraordinary amounts about transhumanism to make it, but didn’t feel they wanted to pass it on to me.

But games are not school, and you’d have to be a lunatic not to have thought this one of the best games of the year, and one of the better games of the last few years. It did what it did so supremely well (APART FROM THE BLOODY BOSS FIGHTS), and while it didn’t do things I wished it would have, it wasn’t nearly enough of a detriment to do anything other than celebrate a remarkable achievement.

Adam: If you’re not the kind of person who spends a massive amount of their leisure time staring at numbers slowly rising across a map of Europe, or clicking through the spreadsheets of a simulated football season, you may not understand how much it means to find those rare occasions that you enjoy something and can then lay it to rest.

Let me put it like this – when I skedaddle off this mortal coil, I’ll leave a Crusader Kings XXIV save game for my firstborn to continue in my absence. It’ll be like Brewster’s Millions, except he’ll have to conquer the world as an obscure Polish count to get his hands on three hundred quid in a savings account. Most of the monstrous creations that roam around the dark corners of my hard drives will probably outlive me, making a mockery of the very word ‘completion’.

Not so with Human Revolution. I played through twice and then I was happy to move on. Maybe I’ll revisit it over the years, as I have with the original, but I don’t feel compelled to yet.
What that means, among other things, is that Human Revolution is one of the most complete and satisfying games I’ve played in years. I was incredibly skeptical about it before I played, not just because I thought it might not capture the sense of freedom and improvisation that I remember from Deus Ex, but because deep down I feared that it might nail those things all too well and in doing so make me realise that my glasses were far more rose-tinted than I’d thought.

Needless concerns. Human Revolution’s blend of gadgetry, sci-fi, morality, choice and stealth is a joy to experience and, crucially, feels like a genuine sequel rather than some sort of revisitation or namecheck. Technology aside, it could have been released ten years ago because Eidos-Montreal seem to have played Deus Ex yesterday and still been amazed by the possibilities it offered to the industry. In the alternate reality I inhabit in my dreams, Looking Glass and Ion Storm stand astride gaming, making bundles of joy like Human Revolution the exception rather than the norm. It’s flawed (OBLIGATORY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF BOSS BATTLES) but we’d be mad to ask for perfection.

As I was writing this, I noticed that Jim has finished on the same note as I intended to. It’s an important note. Human Revolution did so much so right all on its own, but it also made me believe that the existence of Thief 4 might be reason for rabid anticipation. I love rabidly anticipating a new Thief game. It’s been too long. Human Revolution is a bridge between now and then, showing how much we can still learn from an era it sometimes feels like I never stop raving about.

Alec: There was light, then there was darkness and some boring Quake and Wolfenstein sequels, and then, years later, there was another light and now it seems as though there was never any darkness in the first place.

We went through years without hope, where it seemed that almost all the lessons of Deus Ex had been ignored and forgotten: the future was Halo sequels and Gears of War and billions of things starring shiny-muscled men called Jack. Now, things seem almost back on track: Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a relative smash hit, a sequel seems more than likely and we have proof positive that big audiences don’t run screaming from stuff that involves anything more than bangbangbang after all. It’s like Deus Ex never really went away.

For that, I will forgive DXHR its relatively constrained physics, its lack of hyper-crazy and its anti-climactic Deal or No Deal ending. It managed to recreate (and non-slavishly so) so much of what its precursor did – hell, it’s even given us a new catchphrase. “I never asked for this” is surely 2011′s “what a shame.”

I’d like it to have been wilder – it floated ideas like the two-tier city then didn’t show off more than a few streets and offices. I’d like it to have involved a little less hiding behind very similar desks. I’d like it to have offered more scope to be a dark, deadly robo-god. But this is like saying “I wish this amazing party also had three different flavours of Pringle and a wider selection of wine.” DXHR did skimp on a few snacks, sure, but it was – is – nonetheless an amazing party. A blockbuster through and through, but smart and subtle and adaptive.

Something that’s not quite so often noted about DXHR is that’s also very funny, on the quiet. The tale of Jensen’s broken mirror, Megan’s dog and Pritchard’s TV show pitch – underneath all that glowering the game isn’t afraid to laugh at its characters and their absurdities. That only made me like these guys all the more, knowing that beneath their set-jawed action posturing they were petty and hapless and human. Take the imperative to save the world away from Adam and Frank and God only knows what they’d do with all that time to kill and technology to tinker with. The bickering! The vengeful hacking with hilarious consequences! The clumsy trashing of furniture by malfunctioning metal arms! There’s a sitcom waiting to written there – I’d totally watch ‘One and a Half Men.’

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106 Comments »

  1. Echo Black says:

    So, Skyrim for #1, eh? Not surprised.

    DXHR is quite alright, though I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I wouldn’t put it past RPS to go with Frozen Synapse…

    • Commander Gun says:

      Yeah, i was quite surprised Frozen Synapse wasn’t in this series. No doubt It will Skyrim though.

    • Srethron says:

      I’m expecting Saints Row 3 #2 (because it’s too up to 11 not to win a double award), Skyrim #1. If I’m surprised, all the better though.

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      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Wasn’t Frozen Synapse in the list last year?

      Edit: no, I guess it wasn’t.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      I’m pretty sure the IGF Pirate Kart is going to be the #1.

    • Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

      I used to think Skyrim would be number one like you, until I took an arrow to the knee.

    • iasygyas says:

      They don’t seem to have the DLC listed though, but from memory it was a steamworks game so you could pick up the DLC from Steam / Gamersgate etc. http://yep.it/9487

  2. Moni says:

    My tip for new players: Get the Typhoon upgrades. They’re fairly cheap and you can two shot the bosses, get them over with in half a minute.

    Also, the Facepunch is the best melee animation in any game http://youtu.be/li2THewzxx8?t=14s

    • Zelius says:

      Also, invest in explosive rounds for the revolver. One or two rounds of a fully upgraded revolver also does the trick.

    • Gusj says:

      I felt that they kept punishing people for speccing into stealth (especially with the bloody boss battles) and awarding people for going full lethal.

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      Joshua says:

      Although I would say that that is not entirely true, the ending monologues (which change depending on how you play the game) are basically based on that premise.

    • Zelius says:

      @Gusj,

      It kind of felt like that on the boss fights, yes. I was also playing stealth and consequently didn’t put any points in Typhoon. Though I did always carry a revolver with the explosive upgrade with me at all times, specifically for the bossfights, which helped tremendously.

      To add: I always felt the reward for going full lethal was kind of an “easy way out”, and while stealth did feel like it was harder, they rewarded stealth players in the form of extra XP. This obviously excludes the boss fights, though. It’s unfortunate they didn’t include a stealth option for those, even if that would end up to be a more difficult route.

    • Psychopomp says:

      1)Dark Souls
      2)Dark Souls
      3)DX HR
      4)Dark Souls

      Edit:Reply failure :C

    • Phantoon says:

      ERROR: Dark Souls is not a PC game.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      It really ought to be.

  3. airtekh says:

    Very good indeed. My third favourite game this year, after Arkham City and Portal 2.

    Didn’t quite reach the heights of the first game, in my opinion, but Eidos Montreal still did a fantastic job with it.

    After playing Human Revolution, I’m confident that Thief 4 is in good hands.

    • Tuco says:

      Woah, Arkham City, Portal 2 and Deus Ex are exactly my first, second and third placed names for game of the year.

    • ThTa says:

      Since this appears to be the theme, I’ll name my three Goatees, as well:
      1. Bastion
      2. DX:HR
      3. To The Moon
      (4. Portal 2)

      (Shut up, four can be three as well. There’s no discussing that.)

    • Kaira- says:

      Did someone mention a list of goatees? I believe someone did, so here’s mine, because everyone should be interested in that. Of course you are.

      1. Dark Souls
      2. The Witcher 2
      3. Frozen Synapse

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      Stellar Duck says:

      Ooh! I want to make a Goatee list as well!

      Here goes, in no real order:

      The Witcher 2, which I enjoyed immesely. Vernon Roche stole the show for me though.

      Deus Ex Human Revolution, for allowing me to throw fridges and fall clumsily to my death when attempting to be clever and jump from building to building. Also cyborg arm stabs.

      Crusader Kings. Not from this year, I know, but I only got round to playing it over summer. What the hell was I thinking, waiting that long. Such an awesome game. Possibly the best I played in 2011.

    • CrookedLittleVein says:

      1) Portal 2
      2) Skyrim
      3) DX: HR

    • Zwebbie says:

      I think there’s only one proper list for an RPS comment thread:

      1. SpaceChem
      2. SpaceChem
      3. SpaceChem

      Edit: after thinking about it, SpaceChem is actually the only game I played from 2011 that I actually liked, so I suppose the above is my true, honest list.

  4. skinlo says:

    Skyrim tomorrow then? :P

    Deus Ex: Human Revolutions is a great game, I really enjoyed it, especially the atmosphere!

  5. Zaphid says:

    I never asked for an arrow to the knee.

  6. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    Not just a GOTY contender for myself but among the best games I’ve ever played. It must have been when I was crouched on a rooftop in Heng Sha, considering how to infiltrate an apartment, considering my options, the Deus Ex-style toolbelt, the awe-inspiring cityscape engulfing the sky as security guards pace below, that I just felt the game could not only be scarcely more like Deus Ex but that it was a standalone triumph. Another time I was riding and elevator and upon getting out I thought ‘Well, if it was a true Deus Ex there would be an accessible elevator shaft I cou- oh… there’s one right there‘.

    I suppose it’s the refinement, the incredible soundtrack, the virtually peerless art design and attention to detail (even the technical jargon and scenarios were incredibly researched), the atmosphere and the compelling side-quests that place it over the original in my eyes. I say that as someone who loved the original game more than any other and was initially hoping this would be quietly cancelled back in 2007 when announced, fearing embarrassment. Yet I could have never predicted the game would be as good as it was. The entire mis-en-scene of Jensen’s apartment also ranks among my favourite moments in a game I’ve experienced not to mention some of the best level design seen since the original game, especially the Detroit Convention Centre, Heng Sha, Singapore and the entirety of the Missing Link.

    I can’t fucking wait for Deus Ex 4 and Thief 4.

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      Rinox says:

      Agree on the apartment. If I ever win Euromillions, I’m getting me an apartment in a similar neo-renaissance style.

    • KenTWOu says:

      @Tyrone Slothrop

      Not just a GOTY contender for myself but among the best games I’ve ever played. It must have been when I was crouched on a rooftop in Heng Sha, considering how to infiltrate an apartment, considering my options, the Deus Ex-style toolbelt, the awe-inspiring cityscape engulfing the sky as security guards pace below, that I just felt the game could not only be scarcely more like Deus Ex but that it was a standalone triumph…

      Those are exactly my feelings, not to mention I adore The Missing Link too because of incredible level design. It’s a shame that TML art assets was slightly repetitive.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Agreed. As an armchair architect, I spent a huge portion of the game feverishly taking screenshots as if it was time-limited and going “wow…this shit is beautiful”. Never mind that the game itself was superb fun to play and had an engaging storyline and even, amazingly, a protagonist I had no say in designing but whom I liked anyway. The environments themselves are surely the unsung heroes of DXHR. I’ve been hoping that some sort of pack of leftover assets, like the Upper Hengsha hub location they supposedly finished but never used, or whatever they made for the cancelled Montreal hub, one day gets released, along with mod tools.

      Also with you on the mise-en-scene. I loved Adam’s place, but I thought the best for this was the FEMA internment camp at Highland Park. You enter the building unsure of what you’ll find, but once you’ve dealt with the guards, you start to look around. I went in via the outdoor sniper’s balcony, and went around the top popping the rest off from on high. Once I had, an untold story of utter despotic abuse of power and suffering of ordinary people started to become clear: the caged ramp, the painted outlines on the floor… Then later, there’s the open-topped, blank-walled interrogation cubefarm, the seried ranks of hundreds of Boxguard robots. It’s obvious that it’s the apparatus for oppressing a population, and It’s much, much more powerful to show it to us wordlessly than simply having a bunch of NPCs bemoaning their fates. Excellent design in every way.

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      Yeah, I had an astounding amount of steam screenshots on my old hard-drive. The small detail you bring to my attention of the fact the interrogation cells having no roofs just speaks to the small, yet eminently believable touches in the architecture and design of the locations. It’s clear that so much practical thought and reason was put into such things that many developers would just understandably miss.

      Even something like the fact the Alice Garden ‘apartments’ had an interior food court, because obviously there’s no room for a kitchen or space to comfortably digest food inside a coffin-type residence, so it naturally follows the establishment would have some kind of profitable arrangement or direct ownership of a place to eat and congregate in extremely close proximity.

      It’s truly a superlative union of function and form.

  7. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    *clears throat*

    What a game.

    • McDan says:

      Indeed, I never asked for something this good, but they give it anyway. A good show in all.

    • Grygus says:

      I heard a take on the game that was entirely negative, but as it turns out, the take is a lie.

  8. kyrieee says:

    As time goes on I like this game less. The story doesn’t come through, the final area is crap, the multi path level design doesn’t work nearly as well as in DX because it never matters which path you take (you never have a moment of “yay I found this hidden path so now I save three multitools” because everything can be hacked). The stealth gameplay was good, and the game as a whole was good but it’s not really the sequel to DX I wanted, it’s more like an IW that’s not rubbish.

  9. Jad says:

    “also very funny” and “tale of Jensen’s broken mirror” and “clumsy trashing of furniture by malfunctioning metal arms”

    Wow, we read that bit of incidental detail wildly differently. I thought that was one of the most poignant sights I’d seen in videogames in years — what I saw was a man who is full of steely resolve in public in regard to the all radical changes to his body, but at home he smashes his mirror in shame and disgust and anger. And then he has to sheepishly ask the front desk to have it fixed, where the receptionist will make snide comments.

    It was the kind of thing that when non-videogaming people ask me what I’ve been doing recently, instead of skipping all the games I’ve been playing and struggling to think of some TV show to talk to them about, I instead tell them “I’ve been playing this videogame, and let me tell you about this one moment of incredible world-building that could not have been done in any other medium”. My mom was very moved by it.

    I really hope I’m right about what that scene meant and you’re wrong, for otherwise you’ve just ruined one of my favorite parts of the game.

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      Stijn says:

      I don’t think you can be “right” about that scene, it’s a matter of interpretation. Exactly the reason it’s so powerful to some – the fact that there’s no exposition to go with it and spell its meaning out to you – makes it so that what it really “means” is all up to the player.

      I personally interpreted it like you did, though.

    • Wang Tang says:

      Apart from hating words like “right” or “wrong” when it comes to interpretation of books, movies, games…
      you’re right. This scene was deeply moving for me as well.

    • Jad says:

      I guess “wrong” was the incorrect word to use. I more was fearing that someone would respond to my comment with something like: “Oh you silly, there was this obvious clue (email or whatever) that clearly stated that the mirror was smashed by malfunctioning arms, and you’re reading way too much into this”. Since that has not happened, I am happy and relieved.

      Yay Deus Ex!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I read it as poignant too.

      KG

    • qrter says:

      I’m not entirely sure why that couldn’t have been done in any other medium – it is still a cutscene, really.

    • Zelius says:

      @qrter,

      It couldn’t have been done in any other medium, because you don’t explicitly see Jensen breaking the mirror, but instead you – the player – has to see this broken mirror, read the relevant e-mails and then put the pieces together yourself (slight pun intended).

      Either that, or I completely missed a cutscene.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      And when you get to the end, and there’s these three buttons you can press, that conveniently choose the fate of the world, I cried. It was like when the ghost walks into the corn field and says “No Ray, it was you.” I got to choose which big button to press before the cutscene and credits, me. I’ve never had a narrative end in such a moving way, like with these three fate buttons. Utterly brilliant. Like the boss battles, only more subtle.

    • Soon says:

      Oh, I wish I had that interpretation. But I saw it as a joke about an engine limitation regarding there being no reflections (were there any?) and didn’t even look beyond it being an excuse not to have the mirror.

    • Foob says:

      I just stabbed the nasty receptionist. In front of half a dozen people, at least one of whom knew me. And suffered zero consequences for the murder. Then I was disappointed.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Foob: On my second play through, I decided enough was enough with the receptionist and once she started being snide, I knocked her the hell out. Then suddenly everyone was cowering and afraid of me and stuff, so I had a good idea – I’ll hide her in my apartment! I dragged her into the lift, past the genial caretaker and onto my sofa. Yes, she can sleep it off there. Wake up with a splitting headache on my sofa. That’ll teach her. And off I went to right wrongs and stab people.

      Eventually I finished doing that for a while and decided to come home and empty out all the rubbish I’ve picked up on my coffee table. And she’s still there. With a little skull picture by her name, instead of a ‘Zz’. Oh shit.

      I have a dead woman on my sofa, a woman I punched for being snippy. And my boss will be over later. And the roof lift is broken. And the windows don’t open. And I can’t drag a body through a level change.

      So I chucked her on my bed. Because that looks much better.

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    sonofsanta says:

    Here’s hoping it’s in the sale this week…

    • Commander Gun says:

      I think it will be, as it was in the thanksgiving sales as well. I remember being surprised by the amount of discount it had then, as it was a recent and succesful game.

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      Thermal Ions says:

      If not in the Steam sale then it will be on sale at GetGames from 24th – 26th December at 70% off – which should put it somewhere around £6.75 – £9.00 given it’s presently listed on the site (pre-sale) as Getames price £22.49 (RRP £29.99).

      http://www.getgamesgo.com/product/deus-ex-human-revolution

      They don’t seem to have the DLC listed though, but from memory it was a steamworks game so you could pick up the DLC from Steam / Gamersgate etc.

    • KoenigNord says:

      It’s on sale at Gamersgate (or was in the last hours), I bought it for 17€, time wise (brief moment at the sale start) it went to 10,19€ but I missed that.

      I’m not so sure about Skyrim now, since there were much more interesting games with less focus on looking awesome but more on being replayable like hell: Frozen Synapse was the first game i liked multiplayer from the first moment until now and then there is Minecraft, which was the biggest time sink for me this year.

      EDIT: Deus Ex: HR and Missing Link are still there (16,98€ for me, don’t know the £)

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    Bluerps says:

    So. I’m curious. Will Horace slowly, but inexorably, fill the entire universe since he is infinite, and the universe is not? Or will he retreat from the world after some time, going back to wherever endless bears live?

    • Ross Angus says:

      He’ll come out the blue portal. We need to trick him into going into the orange portal.

    • Milos says:

      It’s all part of the traditional annual Horace Hunt. (Hint for the unbelievers – Horace hunts us.)

  12. d00d3n says:

    Well deserved placement for Human Revolution with solid reasoning such as how the game’s financial success has implications for the future of the games industry. I am fine with Skyrim winning tomorrow, but it is a bit sad to see HR lose one of the few opportunities it had for GOTY. Skyrim will obviously be the mainstream GOTY candidate this year.

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      drewski says:

      Depends how mainstream you’re talking…I bet CoD:MW3 takes out a LOT of fan voted GotYs.

      In any other year, HR would be the hands down thinking gamer’s GotY. I don’t feel sad it didn’t make it that far this year – rather I’m amazed this year has been so great for gaming that genuinely brilliant games like Portal 2 and HR aren’t going to get close to most critic’s awards.

      Not a golden age…but a golden year for gaming, I think.

  13. Dominic White says:

    I still find it baffling how people latched onto the boss fights so much. I’m fairly sure there’s been as much written by the RPS crew about that 2-3 minutes of gameplay (each fight is usually under a minute long) as the whole rest of the 20+ hour game as a whole.

    Yes, it’s a weak spot, but it’s a vanishingly small portion of the game.

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      Joshua says:

      “Come close to real greatness and your defects are illuminated by the heavenly glow.” — John Walker.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Because it’s literally impossible to continue for a fully stealth character focusing on non-lethal weapons. It’s the end of the game. A bad bossfight after a great start that screams at you to start over completely.

      Turns out people don’t like that.

    • qrter says:

      Because I lost about an hour of my life to that first bossfight (the others were much easier, in my experience). Some of that time can be attributed to my weak skillz, but most of it cannot.

    • Dominic White says:

      The first boss-fight – the one people claim an unarmed character cannot ever possibly beat – is beatable without ever drawing a weapon. You’re surrounded by explosive and stunning gas barrels that you can throw at him to win in under 30 seconds. Keep doing it and he won’t have time to even shoot back.

    • Phantoon says:

      Some of us aren’t terribly pro gamers like you, Dominic.

      Also some of us played on the hardest difficulty.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The only way the bosses are completely unbeatable on “Give Me Deus Ex” is if you have no weapons whatsoever. And I’m pretty sure the boss areas all have a mini-armory in them anyway.

      I just hit each one with stun darts about 15 times and moved on to enjoying the rest of the game.

  14. TooNu says:

    My favourite game of the year despite having over twice played hours in Skyrim. Anticipating this game was more exciting than Christmas, infact, it gave me the same sort of excitement as a childhood Christmas eve so it had to be doing something correctly.

    Also the best weapon is the standard 10mm pistol because it’s highly accurate, ammo is everywhere, it gets armor piercing rounds, a laser sight AND a silencer. While the Python, is only more powerfull, yet doesn’t allow you to be stealthy and has far less abundance of ammunition AND said ammo takes up more space per round.

    Though the Python is certainly awesomer :)

  15. JackDandy says:

    I really enjoyed this game.

    Pity about the final level and ending. What a blunder.

    That bothered me FAR more then the forced boss fights.

  16. The Pink Ninja says:

    An inferior successor but not an inadequate one.

    I have some hope the next DE will finally surpass the original but I’m not sure if they devs have learned what they did wrong.

    Certainly the most stylish game this year anyway.

  17. Will Tomas says:

    Genuinely great game. Loved playing it. Not better than Skyrim, so doesn’t deserve top spot, but brilliant.

    We went through years without hope, where it seemed that almost all the lessons of Deus Ex had been ignored and forgotten: the future was Halo sequels and Gears of War and billions of things starring shiny-muscled men called Jack. Now, things seem almost back on track.

    It does feel like this year has – a decade late – seen the fulfillment of the promise of the 2000 generation of immersive sims. The volume of sales for DX:HR and Skyrim finally gives Deus Ex and Morrowind the success they deserved, and that if they had had the last 10 years would have been markedly different. I can’t wait to see what happens next…

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    drewski says:

    I wish more games copied Halo and less copied GoW. In fact, I can’t really think of any big shooter that’s tried to ape Halo’s combat, whereas ‘most every console shooter on the planet is filled with sticky cover.

    Of course, I wish more games copied Deus Ex even more than I wish games copied Halo, so there’s your segue.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Except for the weapon limit and constant back tracking, Halo 1 wasn’t bad. Nothing revolutionary, but I enjoyed it when I played it on the PC.

      OT: Great choice, and Eidos Montreal has proven themselves to be quite something. Personally I like it more than Skyrim.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Huge armoured savant spesh mahrines and atrocious po-faced plotting?

      Dere’s been plenty of that around lately…

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      drewski says:

      Badger – that’s not what makes the Halo games special, though. That’s more the slightly manky icing on the delicious chocolate fudge cake.

      Halo – the first, second and Reach especially – are great because of the combat. The fast/slow, constantly moving, jumping, dodging, advancing, retreating, throwing grenades, in an open environment with enemies who’ll flank you, throw grenades, use special attacks, the risk/reward of the shield/health mechanic, the variety of enemies…

      Everything else Halo does is fluff. What it gets right is the shooting things. On legendary, Reach is still the most frustrating, intense, compelling shooter I’ve played. It might not get the things like atmosphere and world building and story right like Half Life 2 does (and HL2 is a better game overall), and it might not get the flexibility and freedom right like HR does (and HR is also a better game) but for sheer shooting pleasure, there’s nothing to beat a Halo game for me.

      There’s no comparison with the cover based yawn shooters like Gears of War, or first person followers like CoD and what Battlefield has become.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Reach never existed… on PC.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Which makes it even more of a shame that so many shooter designers are just blindly following (heh) the Call of Duty “big spectacle, no player agency” model rather than taking a lesson from Bungie.

  19. destx says:

    …and it’s only ten americabux on amazon right now, apologies if this has already been mentioned.

    It registers on steam, but is only available if you use an American address.

    • InternetBatman says:

      If you buy it can you just get the steam code? I’m not at home and can’t justifiably wreck my parents’ internet connection.

  20. StingingVelvet says:

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution is my game of the year. Skyrim was close, but DX wins it by a hair. Mostly because it’s such a faithful update to a rare formula, and also because I love me some cyberpunk.

  21. Premium User Badge

    Coccyx says:

    OH SAFETY DANCE! BECAUSE HE DOES IT WHEN HE’S BEHIND COVER! OHHH!

  22. thegooseking says:

    While I felt Deus Ex was a template from which other games should learn, I felt Human Revolution was a roadmap. It was no shoddy game in its own right, but where it was at its most exciting was in the things that it didn’t quite do, but that it hinted could be done in the future. Human Revolution wasn’t the first game to offer meaningful choice, but it hinted at another layer of ‘meaning’ in meaningful choices. It hinted (if not quite implemented) that choices could have a bearing on the actual thematic message of the game, rather than just changing surface details and the course of the literal plot. As it was, of course, it was more of a thematic questionnaire than a thematic dialogue, but it was an important step in the direction of the notion of ‘theme’ in games being dialectical (and therefore interactive) rather than rhetorical (and therefore making the player’s role receptive and spectatorial).

    But that’s just me.

  23. Srethron says:

    Any year that a new Deus Ex game comes out is a good year.

  24. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    One of the best games this year, but those boss fights – particularly the first one – are one of the ‘great misjudgements of gaming’ and seriously chip away at the game’s overall goodness. Amazing how they ended up going down that path.

    The boss fights killed any chance it had of being my GOTY the moment I came across them.

  25. DocSeuss says:

    Is Adam one and a half men, or is he just half a man?

  26. Vegard Pompey says:

    “What that means, among other things, is that Human Revolution is one of the most complete and satisfying games I’ve played in years.”

    Wait what? I liked Human Revolution too, but it was anything but complete. Areas cut from the game shine with their absence and the game ends with lots of plot threads and character arcs still up in the air.

  27. Wonko the Sane says:

    > It was a golden moment for gaming in 2011

    I see what you did there…

  28. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    “Focus. Stealth! Yes! My goodness, it got stealth right, didn’t it? Better than any game before, better than the Thief games (which bodes extremely well).”

    I didn’t know RPS was now a bastion of OUTRIGHT LYING.

    • KenTWOu says:

      This is definitely the most controversial and absurd RPS statement I’ve ever read. Even worse than “Rage is the best shooter”.

      I hope Eidos Montreal won’t read that silly statement and will improve Deus Ex/Thief 4 stealth mechanics next time, cause unfortunately it’s not so good and has few very important flaws and eases. While Thief series and Splinter Cell 3 Chaos Theory hasn’t.

      For the record, Deus Ex:Human Revolution is my GOTY, so I definitely know what I’m talking about.

  29. The Dark One says:

    Speaking of the game’s humour, as a Montrealer, I loved the digs at the Olympic Stadium.

  30. noobule says:

    Better stealth than Theif? Theif had fully simulated light and sound stealth in a simulationist world, peeking around corners, listening behind doors, was entirely dependant on the players awareness. Deus Ex 3 had automatic insta-invisible snap to crates and stealth was entirely executing movements along the obvious developer placed ‘stealth path’ of crates against the timed movements of the guards.

    Stealth in DXHR was a puzzle. Stealth in Theif was a game!

  31. vodkarn says:

    While I will definitely spend more time in Skyrim, the sheer amount of “oh man, that writing is hilarious”; “good GOD that level is beautiful”; and ‘Holy shit, I just punched that guy so hard my sympathetic nerve just twitched” Deus Ex 3 has utterly surpasses any other game I’ve played in ages. Boss battles shit? Absolutely. Terrible map system? Totally agree. Most gorgeous game I’ve ever played? A thousand times YES.

    And it isn’t just a technically beautiful game, it has a care of crafts(wo)manship I’ve seldom seen, an amazing attention to detail.

    I love Deus Ex, and it will remain one of my favourite games ever, and I was completely, utterly, Deer-In-Headlights SHOCKED at how much I loved Deus Ex: Human Revolution as a prequel.

  32. Man-E-Faces says:

    I think it’s going to go Arkham City and then Skyrim for the last two.

    • Man-E-Faces says:

      Whoops just realised Arkham City has already made the list!

  33. FunkyBadger3 says:

    YAY.

    Sarif is one of the best NPCs ever written.

    Moment of the gaming year for me was the first loko at Adam’s appartment, just beautiful.

    Also: the introduction and credit sequence are the start of the cyberpunk film I wish David Fincher would make…

  34. fgfdgfdh says:

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  35. John P says:

    If people enjoy the game, then, you know, okay.

    But what bothers me about this praise is that it seems people have forgotten what actually made Deus Ex memorable, what made it an extraordinary game, the likes of which we haven’t seen since (certainly not from HR).

    And what bothers me even more is that when you make this argument, HR’s defenders, even people who should know better like Gillen, break out the ‘rose-tinted glasses’ argument. Fuck off. Maybe you haven’t played Deus Ex for 10 years, but I have, many times, and it remains far superior to this pale imitation.

    Actually it’s not simply an imitation is it? There are some similarities, but HR is just as much a union of Metal Gear Solid and Mass Effect 2 as it is a followup to Deus Ex. I guess some people might actually like that. But not people who properly understand and love Deus Ex’s design.

    and it was the kind of game where you could feel your choices about how to play (and not just what to do) really had some consequence.

    How can you make such a statement? You must willingly ignore the reality that, for example, you can slaughter the entire Detroit police station and face no consequences whatsoever. I can’t understand how a game critic can continue to repeat something so patently false.

    There’s been a lot of defeatist talk over the past few years about how that era is “over” and that games which merge genres and expand their remit across action, stealth and RPG are basically not viable in the mainstream. DXHR has proven that they are viable, and that we do want to play them.

    And yet it’s a very different kind of game. Again, HR is more Metal Gear Solid than Deus Ex. It is not the very special immersive sim that the original was, and Eidos has happily admitted to not wanting to make that kind of game. That’s their choice; but why, then, do critics keep insisting HR is the ideal followup?

    My goodness, it got stealth right, didn’t it? Better than any game before, better than the Thief games (which bodes extremely well). I always felt enormously powerful, even when hiding in the shadows,

    What a preposterous statement. Calling HR’s stealth better than Thief’s is an extraordinary thing to say. And you are aware there’s no light-based stealth in HR, right? So what’s this ‘hiding in shadows’ rubbish? One of the Eidos designers even claimed that light-based stealth was ‘weird’. Still feeling confident about Thief 4? I doubt many genuine Thief fans are.

    I was 22 when DX1 came out, and 33 when DX3 appeared. There’s a fair chance I’ve learned more stuff in the last 11 years, and had I encountered DX today I’d probably not find it quite the epiphany it was back then.

    Bizarre argument. It’s okay for HR to be a dumb game because you’re more well read now than you were 11 years ago? Do you apply this logic to the books you read and the films you watch? I doubt it. You have many years left to live. If you’re satisfied with the level of knowledge you have accumulated in 33 years, the next 50 will be pretty unfulfilling. You’re a game critic. Demand more, for all of us.

    Besides, play Deus Ex 1 again now instead of making assumptions, and you’ll see it remains a far smarter game than HR.

    Look, the reason I react against all this praise is because Deus Ex was something very special: an immersive sim that gave players so much freedom of action, so much player agency. HR imitates this to some extent, but in Eidos’s attempt to imitate Metal Gear Solid at the same time, they abandoned what made Deus Ex so special. Deus Ex wasn’t engaging just because of the storyline, or the character writing, or the fucking art direction (all of which are boring in HR). It was engaging because it presented you with a map, gave you a set of tools, and let you go. Human Revolution doesn’t do that. It’s more linear, more directed, gives you less freedom, and takes control away from you routinely.

    Eidos themselves are happy to admit that they didn’t want to make HR just like Deus Ex. They think the industry has moved on, and they think Metal Gear Solid’s design is more relevant. I would be okay with that. I would deal with that and simply write off HR as boring and move on. Except that people like the RPS writers continue to insist that HR is a faithful followup, continue to insist that it’s a return to the glory days of Deus Ex. That notion is all the more absurd given that not even Eidos feels this way. It’s pissing on DX1′s memory. At least Eidos is somewhat honest about the differences in design. If only the critics were so honest.

    • noobule says:

      Holy crap what that guy said

    • Gira says:

      Ten thousand hosannas for this beautiful – and absolutely correct – man.

    • KenTWOu says:

      @John P says:
      Human Revolution doesn’t do that. It’s more linear, more directed, gives you less freedom, and takes control away from you routinely.

      You are asking too much from the game which was affected by console limitations. Just read part of this interview as an example
      http://www.pixologic.com/interview/deusex3/4/

      We had very hard technical constraints. We have quite expansive city streets where we can talk to any character. So we had to be able to display a lot of characters, which meant they should be optimised to the maximum amount possible.

      Main characters are rarely seen together in the game and usually in closed environments. This allowed us more freedom in terms of memory. They can be much more complex and unique.

      And that’s why we have bloody boss fights, that’s why we have such narrow level design and constrained physics, that’s why we doesn’t have lights and shadows stealth (although The Missing Link was improved visually and has incredible amount of shadows but still cover based stealth), and most importantly, that’s why nobody makes games like this. And that’s why Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a remarkable achievement. By the way Deus Ex also wasn’t ideal and has its own flaws.