The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Final Reflection

“These past few months, I was challenged many times, but more often than not, didn’t I try to keep morality in mind, knowing that my actions didn’t have to harm others? Time and time again, didn’t I resist the urge to abuse power and resources simply to achieve my goals more swiftly? In the past we’ve had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few. But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again? What if the path Sarif wants us to take enables us to hold on to higher values with more stability?” —Adam Jensen

Previously, I left off in Montreal, having defeated Yelena Federova and was set to return to Detroit, where a riot was awaiting, plus the revelation that the Illuminati were behind a conspiracy to damage augmentations, citing it as a danger to humanity. As I continued digging to the bottom of this case and made my way to Panchaea, a massive artificial island in the Arctic that was designed to combat global warming. Through it all, Deus Ex: Human Revolution never loses any of its immersion; now that I’m fully aware of my preferred play style, a unique hybrid between making use of non-lethal take downs, silenced armour-piercing pistol shots and hacking, I’ve selected all of my augmentations to accommodate this particular approach. The remainder of the game was spent finishing any side quests, speaking with people and otherwise doing my best to get places without lighting anyone up. Once I reached Panchaea and listened to Darrow, Taggart and Sarif’s viewpoints, I was ready to make my final decision regarding which broadcast to make.

  • Upon returning to Detroit, I immediately went about selling my heavy rifle, sniper rifle and shotgun, which had hitherto been wasting previous inventory space and got a few credits out of it. By this point in time, I had the armour piercing upgrade for my pistol, and the explosive ammunition for the revolver. Besides the main quest, I also completed all of the side quests that were available (having missed Prichard’s), and on my return to Jensen’s penthouse, was surprised to find the machine pistol and stun gun still there from last time.

  • Having the CASIE augmentation makes conversations almost a little too easy, but also allows me to make choices about conversations without worrying that I’ll say the wrong thing. Such an augmentation would probably cause a lot of mistrust in real life, since it would enable the user to manipulate or exploit personality traits to their advantage, and although I did not use the CASIE mod on Malik back during my first trip to Hengsha, it turns out trying to use it is pretty amusing.

  • During my return to Hengsha, I found that a minimal arsenal (consisting of a pistol, revolver and combat rifle) was more than sufficient for most encounters. The pistol, now equipped with the armour piercing rounds, downed the Belltower guards in a single shot to the head, and even after they deployed a 80-X Boxguard, I merely switched to my revolver, and blew it away in six shots. These weapons, though basic, proved immensely effective, and I was able to save Malik without any difficulty at all.

  • After the events in Hengsha ended, Jensen finds himself at a facility in Singapore. This is where the Sarif Industries scientists are held, and by this point in the game, I’m forgoing stealth for combat efficiency. The armour-piercing and explosive rounds for the pistol and revolver really make a difference. There are some enemies that require two headshots to down even with the AP-rounds, but the pistol is sufficient for the job. In fact, I might forgo a combat rifle on my next play-through and only make use of the pistols.

  • By maxing out my hacking capture and stealth capabilities, every terminal in the game becomes child’s play to hack, and tougher terminals can be handled by making use of the stop worm or nuke virus, which stops the trace for a few moments or captures a node instantly, respectively. These items are remarkably easy to obtain, and even though there are a fewer number of them lying around in-game later on, they can still be acquired by capturing data stores while hacking.

  • Ultimately, I found that equipping every weapon I had with a laser sight, and then firing from cover, was the absolute best way to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution as a shooter: shotoing from the first person just wasn’t effective at all, while the precision afforded by making use of cover meant that even distant enemies could be downed quickly.

  • Against Jaron Namir, I made use of the laser rifle and the see-though-walls augmentation to wear down his health, before finishing him off using the Typhoon Explosive system. This is the fight that I had been preparing my loadout and augmentations for; it is imperative that players do not accept the biochip upgrade, otherwise, Zhao will be able to cripple Jensen by disabling it, making this fight significantly more difficult. Even though Namir is the individual who annihilates Jensen to begin with, defeating him does not feel particularly satisfying.

  • While players can opt to leave Malik after being shot down in Hengsha, I chose to save her because it’s what needs to be done, and also, because it offers a fine opportunity to test out my new weapon modifications. Malik’s death will not cause a game-over, but instead, an alternative pilot will later be dispatched to pick up the scientists. Having Malik pick them up is quite rewarding, though, showing that saving her is the only thing to do.

  • I’ve finally arrived in Panchaea, a vast installation that was designed to reverse the effects of global warming by means of regulating the ocean temperatures. It is named after a Greek Island of the same name, which was described to be a Utopia on the Indian Ocean. Despite set during the daytime, even Panchaea has a yellow tinge to things: the lighting is supposed to be evocative of old manuscripts from the Renaissance.

  • The EMP shielding augmentation is a necessity, alongside maxed-out hacking capture, strength augmentations and the Icarus landing system. I still recall playing Deus Ex: Human Revolutions for the first time, and encountered an electrified hallway in Detroit. The only way to traverse the room was to find a pair of crates and walk across on top of them to reach the other side. There’s a switch to turn the electricity off, although on my second trip to Detroit, I had the EMP shielding augmentation and decided to, for old times’ sake, turn the electricity back on and walk across the electrified floor with no consequence.

Of the four possible endings, I ultimately chose the Sarif ending: in this ending, Jensen places the blame on Humanity Front, a pro-human organisation led by Taggart, subsequently allowing human augmentation to go on unrestricted by regulation. This choice has several implications; the first is whether or not telling a lie at someone’s expense is justified if it can be shown that the lie is beneficial to society. Here, Taggart takes the fall, and as a result, humanity is able to make use of augmentation technology to push itself further than it did before, providing accessible augmentations for all people, regardless of social standing and economic background. This segues nicely into the next implication surrounding accessibility of new technologies: this is a major issue in real-world topics, such as personalised medicine or genetic modification. For instance, personalised genome sequencing for disease genotypes is still somewhat expensive, meaning that only the more affluent members of society would have access to them. If we extrapolate this, and suppose that personalised medicine based on genetic information is going to be an expensive procedure, then only wealthier people would be able to access these methods to improve their health, creating a gap in healthcare access. Similarly, if genetic enhancement is a costly process, only the wealthy would be able to improve their genes for desirable characteristics, resulting in a positive feedback loop as the unmodified humans find themselves increasingly disadvantaged. This disparity could eventually lead to discontent and even conflict: such a point was the driving force behind the war in Gundam SEED, and as such, by choosing Sarif’s ending, at the minimum, Jensen would avoid creating such a divide in human society for the future. Under the Sarif ending, augmentations are accessible, and people would retain the choice of whether or not they wish to make use of it. By giving the option to the people, the Sarif ending is by far the optimal choice. The next best option, though seen as cowardly in some circles, is to destroy the facility and prevent the truth from getting out, thereby allowing humanity to decide for itself whether or not augmentation is something they wish to pursue. I believe that people should be free to make its own choices, and in fact, become irritated by the fact that people are so easily swayed by those in influential positions (especially the media), accepting things without giving it further thought. My own desire is for people to think critically and determine what’s best for them, but on the flip side, sometimes, people might make decisions based on short-term gains, rather than the long term, and may require a guiding force to push them in a direction that encourages long-term benefits. This ending gives people so many options that they might not be able to choose a decision that’s best for them. Taggart’s ending pinpoints the problem as a result of faulty Neuropozyne and provide a partial truth. Prima facie, this would be a decision I might have gone with; whenever challenging issues arise, I feel that society, though deserving to know the truth, may not be ready to accept the whole truth. The best solution here would be to present the truth, but only disclose what people are ready to hear. The Taggart ending puts augmentation research under government regulation, but this regulation is stated to eventually create a gap in society: knowing that the “morally correct” action ultimately causes suffering, I would not choose this ending: the Taggart ending represents a choice that is moral in the short term, but ultimately causes more disparity. The Darrow ending is something that stifles progress, and as such, I would not pick this one out of principle. However, for the achievement’s sake, I’ll pick all four endings.

  • I was actually looking to get this review out sooner, but on Wednesday, I was quite busy: one of my friends was leaving town to complete his graduate studies elsewhere, and a bunch of us threw a surprise party for him at a pub. It was wings night (a pound of wings for $3.50), and after ordering the honey garlic wings, I also decide to have a Smoke House Burger (a behemoth of a charbroiled burger with maple smoked white cheddar, fried onion and fried egg, with a side of fries), which was substantial and impacted my decision not to order more wings. I generally prefer pubs to bars, as they serve a wider range of menu items.

  • Darrow was the one person who I was not able to persuade using the CASIE augmentation: from what I’ve heard, those who successfully persuade him will be granted the access codes to shut down the Hyron project. However, the lockdown is disengaged, and after speaking with him, I sought out Taggart and Sarif to further talk to them.

  • Here is a moment with me using the combat rifle’s target seeking mechanic. By this point in the game, Jensen’s actions are set in stone, and taking down the now-zombiefied staff at Panchaea via lethal or non-lethal means will not yield any experience. While their condition is pitiable, there’s no way to save them, and they will quickly make short work of Jensen with their numbers, so it’s wise to take them out from a long distance. EMP grenades will not work on them.

  • There is a LIMB clinic on Panchaea, allowing Jensen to purchase a handful of Praxis kits. Because I more or less had all of the augmentations that fit my play-style, I decided to spend the rest of my Praxis points on extra batteries and aim stabilisation. I’ve also downed all the alcoholic beverages and special health items to boost myself to maximum health.

  • Between Sarif, Darrow and Taggart, or blowing up the station, I wonder what other gamers have chosen; different individuals choose different endings for different reasons, and although I wound up watching all four of them, I personally picked the Sarif ending, as it best fit my world-views. Of course, there is no “best” ending, or “correct” ending, for that matter.

  • The Hi-NRG plasma rifle is a directed-energy weapon that fires plasma rounds. The weapon fires slowly and has a short range but does massive damage, although its usefulness is quite limited owing to the fact that it appears so late in the game. It is first picked up from Namir, although ammunition for it isn’t found in great abundance until Panchaea is reached. Because the plasma rifle has a limited amount of splash damage, it is quite useful against the crowds of zombies later on.

  • I come to it at last: the fight with the Hyron project. Equipped with dermal armour, a maxed-out Typhoon system and an inventory filled with ammunition, this fight was a joke: I alternated between using the laser rifle to blast the turrets, the Typhoon system for the robots and the plasma rifle for anything that moves. With the right augmentations, this fight isn’t even a challenge.

  • In a manner reminiscent of older games, where one has to open something and then blast it; the plasma rifle is quite effective for this sort of thing. If I were to go back and play Deus Ex: Human Revolution again, I would probably do so with a much greater eye for exploration. I was seeking to finish the campaign by July’s end so I could get a start on Borderlands 2, but instead, I got to the Hyron project and stopped playing for a few weeks owing to various circumstances.

  • There isn’t another way, and even though it is immoral to do so, one needs to wipe floor with Zhao in order to finish the game. Those seeking to play for efficiency can supposedly finish the fight by using the laser rifle and fire through the glass protecting Zhao, by passing all of the other sections. Deus Ex: Human Revolutions was said to have a 25-hour campaign, and I finished it, plus most of the side-quests, within 27 hours over the space of a month-and-a-half. I thoroughly enjoyed all 27 hours of it.

  • For posterity’s sake, I’ve taken a screenshot of me about to select the Sarif ending. I realise that this post is one long spoiler, but given that it’s been almost three years since Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released, all the discussions would have calmed by this point in time; I might be late to the party, but the experience remains as exhilarating. If I were to summarise this lengthy read into a single sentence, I would say that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is probably one of most enjoyable games I have experienced, and that it is definitely worth trying out.

With the Sarif ending selected, it turns out that my own actions in Deus Ex: Human Revolution produced the good ending variations, regardless of ending I chose. Contrasting Metro: Last Light, it seems that the choices I made were the ones that lead to a good ending. Such an ending suggests that Adam Jensen, though resentful of his resurrection, can nonetheless make the most of things and turn his newfound powers towards helping people. Of course, other players may opt to shoot through the campaign or else brutalise anything that moves. The single most solid element in Deus Ex: Human Revolution lies not with the gameplay or graphics, but rather, just how significant choice is relative to the story; decisions that players make can have far reaching consequences later on, affecting the story. However, there is no such thing as a “bad” choice (in the sense that picking it ends the game); things simply progress differently, as they do in real life. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is, once everything is said and done, perhaps one of, if not the best games I’ve ever completed: the only complaint I can think of, besides the boss fights, is the fact that shooting in the first person is unintuitive, and aiming down the sights doesn’t improve accuracy. Having died frequently early in the game, when I was playing through it like a traditional shooter, I eventually decided to shoot from cover only and wound up with perfect accuracy. A game that only has two downsides is a game worth playing; Deus Ex: Human Revolution comes close to being a perfect game. Featuring a story that immerses players through a combination of decision-making, dialogue, various news articles and eBooks scattered throughout the settings, a combat system that emphasises choice (players can even opt to use stealth throughout the entire game and not kill anyone save bosses), level designs that feel futuristic, yet familiar and a brooding soundtrack, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game that does so many things correctly, making it a meaningful experience for anyone who considers themselves to be a gamer.

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