Monday, 29 August 2011

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - review

Softly softly...
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the third installment to the critically acclaimed FPS, action-RPG series by Eidos Interactive and Square Enix.

Set in the cyber-punk style future of 2027, you play Adam Jensen, an ex-cop turned head of security for Sarif Industries. Sarif specialize in human augmentation (genetic & mechanical enhancements) and weapon design.

The company comes under attack by a group of mercenaries early on who kill the top research scientists (including Jensen's ex-girlfriend) and demolish most of the complex, killing Jensen in the process.

Jensen then undergoes a series of extreme augmentations to bring him back and enhance his broken body. Once recovered, he sets out to find those responsible and bring them to justice.

Human Revolution is blessed with a tremendous narrative, rich in twists and many complex characters to keep you guessing. It explores a future where science has enabled mankind to break down the barriers between man and machine, taking a serious view on the problems that this presents.

The game looks fantastic in HD and the environment designers have done a brilliant job in creating a moody yet sleek vision of the future, which clearly pays homage to the film Blade Runner.

However, it's in the gameplay that Deus Ex really shines, giving you absolute freedom over how you play. Fans of gunplay and explosives can go wild - leaving a trail of death and destruction (great fun). For the more patient among you, try your hand at sneaking past enemies, performing silent take-downs, hacking security devices and crawling through air ducts. Whatever your style, Deus Ex will provide you with numerous upgrades and multiple paths to get the job done.
Not all negotiations end peacefully
Upgrades come in the form of body augmentations, which include abilities like temporary invisibility, x-ray vision, super strength (enabling you to punch through walls and throw refrigerators!) and enhanced hacking skills. These can either be bought from LIMB Clinics or gained through skill trees that are unlocked by gaining XP.

Perhaps one minor shortcoming is the lack of guidance or support when upgrading augmentations. This becomes particularly apparent in some of the later boss battles, which without the appropriate skills, can be power-sappingly mundane. These conflicts are also the most linear parts of the game and fly in the face of the flexible ethos that the rest of the game promotes. However, this fault is so insignificant in the scheme of things it's barely worth the mention.

With these minor issues aside, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an amazing game that I have found difficult to put down. With a story full of intrigue and visuals to die for, this truly is next generation gaming at its best. You owe it to yourself to buy Deus Ex. Do it now!

My top tip: Explore as much as you can. There are multiple routes for each mission and hide-y-holes everywhere with new items and upgrades. It is also advisable to complete all the side-quests in order to get your hands on as much XP as possible for augmentations.

My Score: 9/10

Game Reviewed On: XBOX 360 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Bastion - review

The Bastion cover-art
Bastion is the first title to be released as part of this years 'Xbox Live Summer of Arcade' and it's a real treat for arcade lovers. The game takes place in a world that has been ravaged by a cataclysmic event called the 'Calamity'. The Calamity has caused widespread destruction and unleashed a plague of hostile creatures into the world.

You take on the role of 'The Kid', a boy who has seemingly slept through this catastrophe and wakes up to find the world in pieces with many of his friends gone. Guided by a wise old stranger, the Kid sets off to find The 'Bastion' (a safe place where people agreed to meet in troubled times) and restore normality to the realm.

The Bastion acts as a hub where the player can upgrade weapons, swap load-outs and select levels. You can also take part in mini-games based around the many weapons and complete challenges for upgrades.

This is a very accessible RPG in the sense that the player does not have to concern them self with endless statistics, items and inventory management. Interaction with other characters is simple and adds value and insight into the world and recent events. As well as this, combat with the various weapons and combinations is a joy. The mechanics of battle are simple to get to grips with, but timing of attacks plays a key role, particularly if players have raised the games difficulty.

Vivid environments like this are plentiful
The game has a stunning art style and scenes throughout resemble a moving oil painting in which the world quite literally forms beneath the Kid's feet. It also features a fantastic musical score that complements the game's mood perfectly. However, what makes Bastion truly unique is the dynamic narration of events. Much like the film 'Stranger Than Fiction', the narrator comments on the players actions in real-time, often observing the players particular style or choice of weapon.

Bastion does a brilliant job of merging storytelling with action by allowing players to take part in a fable as it unfolds. I was entertained throughout as well as constantly surprised by the variety of weapons, enemies and environments.

SuperGiant Games have done a brilliant job with Bastion and truly started the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade with a bang. I urge you to give it a look. For 1200MP it would be rude not to.

My Top Tip: Experiment with lots of different weapon combinations and upgrade the ones you like. Don't be afraid to mix it up a little if you are finding a particular section difficult. 

My Score: 10/10

Game Reviewed On: XBOX 360

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