For many video games, the main focus is usually on the actual gameplay and while the story could be complex, social issues are not something normally featured. However, it seems more and more games these days are putting players in charge of making some difficult decisions that have far-reaching consequences with the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series being prime examples of this trend. One game that deals with complex social issues while having players make far-reaching decisions is Deus Ex: Human Revolution from Eidos Montreal and Square Enix, which combines elements of role-playing, action adventure and science fiction into an immensely enjoyable game that is not to be missed.

Set in the not-too-distant future, Deus Ex’s world centers on the emerging technology of human cybernetic augmentations and the issues surrounding it. It permeates the entire game, even when it’s not being directly discussed. That’s due to Adam Jensen, the protagonist, who is the newly hired head of security for Sarif Industries, a leader in augmentation technology. On the eve of a very important presentation before the government, Sarif HQ is attacked, several people killed and Jensen left near death. He is only saved by being pumped full of augmentations, making him more machine then man and his struggle to come to terms with what he has become is highlighted constantly. The plot of the game deals with Jensen trying to unravel the mystery of that attack that becomes part of a global conspiracy.

The game takes Jensen to Detroit, location of Sarif HQ, Montreal, Singapore and fictional locations in China and the Arctic. Some of these locations serve as hubs that allow the player free roam of the city. While there is always a main plot thread to follow, there are also a number of side quests. These aren’t typical RPG quests where you try to find a key or item, but actually tie into the main storyline, such as one where Jensen tries to figure out the real reasons behind the initial attack on Sarif HQ. There are several layers to each quest and how you go about them open of different avenues and consequences and thus affect the overall flow of the story.

The gameplay is divided into several components and allows for seamless transition between each of them. The player can shoot their way through a situation, stick to the shadows to slip by or a combination of both. Each of the two are rewarding in their right, as fooling guards by getting by them without a sound is as fun as using the game’s various weapons to lay waste. You can pop out of hiding to take out a few guards and then disappear just as quickly into hiding. In this way, practically everything in the game has some sort of incentive and rewards experimentation. While exploring areas the camera is in a first person perspective, but when Jensen crouches behind cover or climbs a ladder, it pulls back to the third person and go into a RE4-style over the shoulder perspective when aiming a weapon. This constant switching can take a bit getting used to, but when that happens it becomes as natural as anything in the game. Two other components of gameplay are hacking and social interaction. Hacking is a minigame that pops up when Jensen trys to get into computers or doors that are locked. It never becomes boring and is a nice change of pace from the combat/stealth that takes up most of the game. Social interaction provides the chance to learn more about the world of Deus Ex and allows the player to mold Jensen in whatever way they want. He can be a cold-hearted cyborg or a sympathetic figure. Depending on how you interact with people, different plot branches are opened up, adding to the replay value.

The RPG aspect that is most prominent is the augmentation system whereby the player can customize Jensen to their liking, making him more resistant to damaghe, give him the ability to punch through walls or even jump higher. Several actions get the player experience points that build up and earn Praxis points which can be used to unlock these abilities. The game never penalizes you for making the ‘wrong’ choices in regards to which abilities you choose and there are advantages as well as disadvantages to every choice you make. However, you’re always given a way to succeed and it’s up to the player to find such a way.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a superbly crafted game that never disappoints and hooks you in to continue playing. Everything is done in great detail from the architecture to the texture of Jensen’s augmented limbs. This is only one of the many things that pulls the player into the game’s world and keeps you there for a surprisingly lengthy adventure. These positives far outweigh the few blemishes such as some bad dialogue and the boss battles pretty much being the same. When Jensen reaches the end he is given a monumental decision to make that will affect the course of the world’s history. This is a weighty moral choice that is given to the player and will cause a difficult internal struggle that one doesn’t normally confront on a regular basis. This is just the icing on the cake and something that is exciting to see in today’s games.