xbox 360

Dues Ex: Human Revolution – Directors Cut – Xbox 360 Edition – Spoilers

by Jon Michael May

2464567-dehrdcclean

There will come a day, perhaps in our lifetime, when science can build a better human, fixing the flaws of nature and enhancing abilities bordering on science fiction. That is the world presented in Dues Ex: Human Revolution, a game blending directed action and meticulous stealth, into the not so distant future of human augmentation.

Developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix, Human Revolution emerged from the shadows of obscurity, at least to me, with few expectations. Having never played the original title, to which HR is a prequel, I knew little of what to expect from the GameFly rental. Imagine then my surprise when I stumbled upon this sleeper hit and discovered something amazing.

Human Revolution puts you in the first person perspective of Adam Jensen, the head of security for Sarif Industries and the unwitting recipient for a host of cybernetic augmentations. Those augmentations are at the heart of what sets Dues Ex apart from other games. Instead of including the typical RPG element of upgradeable traits/skills, human augmentation is placed front and center as the catalyst for the next step in human evolution. It’s through this augmentation that Jensen’s abilities can be enhanced, as it’s as much a part of Jensen’s character as the world in which he inhabits. This is never more evident than in the way in which the story explores the ethical uncertainties inherit when science plays God and tries to make man, better.

Determined to find answers and justice for the death of key scientists at Sarif industries Jensen is led into the world of corporate espionage and a truth that reaches far beyond his employer. Jensen must now rely on his new augmentations to overcome a world of augmented mercenaries determined on stopping him.

Human Revolution was a game that I couldn’t put down, even when faced with a particularly difficult challenge or action sequence. Many games inevitably create a challenge that becomes frustrating to overcome, with no insensitive to keep coming back, because the only reward is the progression beyond the obstacle. Dues Ex, overcomes this with it’s story and the rich and vibrant world Eidos Montreal has created.

While not completely linear or open world, the locations where the action does occur, are developed into thriving vibrant worlds where more is going on than just the focus of the story. There are definite boundaries, but the environment is created to direct the gameplay in a manner that never feels constrained. Even while exploring, I don’t recall running up against the typical blank wall or edge of the world.

On several occasions I found myself wanting to stop and look around, not to see where the edge of the world might be, but to examine the minute details. That exploration is often rewarded with side quests, loot, and world supporting details that add a wealth of detail to the universe.

Ultimately, Human Revolution depicts a universe I want to revisit. With a variety of ways to play the game, from straight action shooter to hacking stealth mechanics, and in lack of a proper sequel, I can easily see myself replaying Human Revolution for a second (technically a third) time.

Initially, the game bugged out on me in the final mission and at the time, when I rented it back in 2011 and I was unable to complete the main campaign. The Directors Cut seeks to correct such issues and I experienced no further problems completing the game.

Additional flourishes promised improved boss battles, AI and graphics, and enhanced Wii U GamePad functionality. While I can’t speak to the latter, even with the inclusion of Second Screen Tablet and PS Vita support, due to my lack of a tablet, I did notice a refinement in the boss battle sequences. As for improved graphics, the game looked good to begin with and I couldn’t see any distinguishable increase in graphic fidelity, though that’s not to say it was lacking. I played on the highest difficulty setting and the action, both stealth and combat, presented challenging obstacles.

The Directors Cut promised to integrate The Missing Link DLC and as promised, played like an original part of the story, rather than another level tacked onto the end. The integration was so convincing, that I suspect the Missing Link content was part of the original game and removed so DLC would be available when the game launched. While I have no proof of this, I can’t escape the thought this was the case and done as a simple money grab. That’s too bad and remains the one downside I came away with from the entire game. It remains a minor qualm however.

The game fills tightly constructed, but never claustrophobic. Levels are intricately laid out to provide a wealth of game play and missions across a relatively small landscape while being detailed enough to never be boring. Combat, if you choose to engage, is quick and precise, while the stealth mechanics offer their own level of enjoyment. I found that for me a combination of both tactics worked well to overcome most situations. I could sneak through a room and hack various doors, terminals, and robots, but if detected, I had the capacity to fight my way out it. It does however take much of the game to build up this balance and the early stages of dealing with which augmentations to chose, can be overwhelming, particularly when early investments in a particular skill make later levels and boss fights, much easier to overcome.

I enjoyed the open ended nature of the game, as the build up to the conclusion originated from elements within the first moments of the story. The final moments never felt anticlimactic as though a shoehorned ending rolled into the credits without warning. The player is never asked to make a decision with little or no context as to why that decision matters or what effect it will have on the world. While it took time to make that final choice, I appreciated the chance to make a decision that actually had an impact on the world, albeit after the fact.

A time consuming game and one not picked up to quell a few minutes of boredom, Human Revolution rewards those willing to stick with the Science Fiction adventure it attempts to tell. Completing the full story and the variety of side quests takes a commitment and because of that, Human Revolution loses a degree of replayability. Given enough time, it’s definitely a game I intend to revisit.

I’m not sure how I feel about the concept of releasing a Directors Cut of a game, which essentially addresses issues which arise after the games release. I suppose that in many ways it’s not that different from periodic patches and updates that most games now receive, but that suggests a consumer willing to purchase a broken product and companies more than willing to sell us that broken product. While nothing can be entirely perfect and in many cases, testing before release, even Open Beta’s, won’t find every problem. The Directors Cut of Dues Ex: Human Revolution is an interesting case because it offers changes to actual gameplay in addition to the inclusion of DLC and bug fixes. Were it merely the latter, we could chalk it up to a fancy Game of the Year type release. Those are common these days, but few if any actually go back and tweak parts of the game in ways that alter the gameplay.

It helps that the Directors Cut was cheaper than the original game and in the end, Human Revolution is better for it. If you have the original version, it’s not worth another purchase unless you want a collectors item or plan to purchase it for the Wii U. If you’ve never played it before or like me, didn’t finish it the first time around, than give it another chance. It’s worth your time and money.

 

Xbox Live: Games with Gold – March

Xbox Live: Games with Gold – March

Starting March 1, Xbox Live Gold members will be able to download Civilization Revolution for free. Civilization Revolution is a turned based strategy game in the Civilization franchise of games from Sid Meier.

Civilization_Revolution_Game_Cover

Beginning March 15, Xbox Live Gold members will be able to download Dungeon Defenders for free. Dungeon Defender is a tower defense action RPG, developed by Trendy Entertainment.

Dungeon_Defenders_cover

While these games are older titles, it’s hard to argue against free games, particularly if you missed them the first time around. The Games with Gold program remains exclusive to the 360, having yet to transition to the Xbox One as promised by Microsoft. While it takes time to get things running on a new console, one would imagine that the desire to make as many games available for that new console would drive Microsoft to not only speed up the initiation of the Games with Gold program for the Xbox One, but also release some more recent titles. How about Halo 4 or Gears of War Judgment, the latest installments of the two Xbox flagship franchises.

Just a thought.

Another order of COD please…

call-of-duty-logo-e1280381258529So Call of Duty is transitioning into a three year development cycle, with three separate studios taking on the mantle of pushing out a new COD each year. Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and now Sledgehammer will be giving you that award winning COD experience that has come to feel as if you played something similar last year. Each studio will now have three years, instead of the usual two to work on their titles and while more time certainly doesn’t hurt, I’m not sure it helps either.

All sarcasm aside, I’m not going to be that guy on the internet that hates on something before it ever comes out. I hate those people. Those guys are dicks and I really do hope this allows them to improve and innovate. I doubt it will, but I hold out hope. A pure, singular hope that knows no bounds.

What I will say instead, is that I wish they were going in another direction. What direction would I like them to take, you ask? Well I’ll tell you internet friend. For a long time now, anyone you might have asked would tell you the COD single story campaign is nothing. It might as well not even be there. Epic knew this way back before Gears of War 3, when they wanted to make the campaign easier because their numbers were showing that a large percentage of players weren’t even completing the single player portion of the game. Much like Gears and Halo, COD is has always been a solid multiplayer game. *note: I’m one of those rare people who liked Gears of War for the story and didn’t care about the multiplayer. I generally don’t play multiplayer games at all and much prefer a single player experience.

Respawn Entertainment knows this now and that’s likely why Titanfall is an entirely multiplayer game. Forget the single player, people, (other people who aren’t me) want multiplayer. So that’s what they’re giving them. It should be noted however that Respawn is comprised of former Infinity Ward employees and were responsible for the first Modern Warfare game, which contains one of the best single player COD campaigns in the franchise.

Now you have the modern COD’s that are variations of a short single player campaign, with most of the focus on multiplayer. So why not cut out the fat and give people what they want. Or if you’re going to employee three separate studios, task one of them with creating a longer single story focused game and let the other studios focus on multiplayer content. Sell the basic multiplayer client, as if you were buying and playing an MMO, that could be patched and updated as needed. Once the player base has the basic client, you can then update it and add content as needed without having to release an entire new game each year. And there in lies the catch.

This hypothetical model cuts out the revenue from releasing multiple COD titles and updates every year. The strategy isn’t about making the best game possible, it’s about making the most money possible. Granted, I doubt anyone at Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and now Sledgehammer wakes up in the morning, trying to think of ways to make bad games or make Activision more money. That’s not how they look at it, I would imagine. They make the best of what they can, with what they have available.

At any rate, nothing lasts forever. I believe the recent performance of Ghosts has proven that they can’t simply continue with the status quo any longer. Whether or not Activision truly shakes things up, or simply adds one more COD title into the mix with an added year to make the games look and perform better, remains to be seen. There has to be a tipping point though, that high water mark that proves they can’t stick with the same old tired formula forever.