Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut | Principal Platforms: Wii U (version tested), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC | Developer: Eidos Montréal | Publisher: Square Enix | Genre: First-person Shooter | Year: 2012
Port-begging is dangerous. As with many exclusives announced for the Wii U, the Director’s Cut of Deus Ex 3 was quick to capture everyone’s attention with players calling for a wider release almost immediately.
Publisher Square Enix seemed happy with the demand and they confirmed that versions for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 would be made available in due time.
However, the validity of these non Wii U ports would be called into question as a high volume of negative Amazon reviews and angry forum threads suggested something was seriously wrong with this new edition.
Reports of texture problems, freezing woes, and other glitches were common which was strange considering how tight the original release had been. Some players identified bugs that had already been fixed in previous patches. Could it be that an outdated build was used?
As tends to be the case with Deus Ex; it’s probably a conspiracy that runs deeper than we all think! But despite the tarnish that those ports may (or may not) have added, this Wii U edition is much closer in quality to the original game and is the real article as far as the Director’s Cut goes.
There are plenty of bonus features including a “Making Of” video, an integrated strategy guide, and nearly 8 hours of director’s commentaries. The game engine has also been updated with sharper textures and perhaps most importantly of all: the boss battles have been tweaked to cater for characters who favour stealth and hacking.
Straight Right (the developer of this particular port) has done a great job integrating the Wii U Gamepad controller too. Practically every menu screen you could ever need whilst playing is available without pausing the action. All the crucial options, maps, and upgrade screens can be quickly accessed on the Gamepad’s second screen and that’s without mentioning the hacking minigame.
Hacking was a nicely implemented feature in Human Revolution, but game controllers always struggled when interacting with nodes and power-ups. By comparison, the Gamepad’s touch screen is a perfect fit for these segments because of the accuracy afforded by the stylus. The difference in enjoyment here is significant to say the least.
Seeing as this was going to be my third playthrough of Adam Jensen’s saga, I decided to activate the developer commentary to gain more insight into the world of Deus Ex. The commentary plays during cutscenes and can also be heard in optional snippets that are activated at certain locations. Walk up to an interesting NPC or landmark for instance and you can be fairly sure that a commentary prompt will be there waiting for you.
This proves difficult in the beginning because of how the sound bites effect the pace of game. All commentary plays in real-time so if you wander into a new area then the audio may suddenly cut off. There are no playback controls either which means that you’ll have to listen all over again should you accidentally walk out of range.
Luckily the commentary itself is good enough to make up for these shortcomings. The many different voices including Game Director Jean-François Dugas and Lead Writer Mary DeMerle, offer plenty of insight. These opinions often reveal fascinating little details about the world of Deus Ex and fill in gaps in the story.
It’s a shame that the boss fights – a widely criticized area of the original game – aren’t treated with quite the same scrutiny. I would have liked to hear more about what the developers thought of these controversial encounters, but their coverage on this matter sounds a little evasive.
However, those same boss battles were treated to an overhaul in this edition and the results are a bit more interesting. Each boss now comes with a visible health bar and expanded arenas featuring hackable computer terminals and other bonuses that help a non-combat specialist.
Most reviews I’ve read have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic about these changes. My view is not as clear-cut.
The expansion to each arena certainly does give stealth specialists more room to manoeuvre, but it comes at the expense of drama. In the original game the boss fights were intended to round out an entire level’s worth of exploration with a tense battle at the climax. For better or worse, these moments were meant to engage the player in something not stealthy for the purposes of drama and furthering the story.
As they stand now, the added rooms in these fights allow Jensen to completely escape detection and put the action on hold. You can hack turrets, collect items, and even stop to read the odd eBook! During this time the boss will wander around aimlessly or stand motionless as they wait for you to return to the main battlefield. It still doesn’t work very well.
The one exception has always been in the Missing Link; the DLC episode that has now been integrated into the main game. The boss to this mission is a much better effort with an expansive arena filled to the brim with options that don’t feel forced and don’t detract from your objective.
The Missing Link DLC is pretty good on the whole and I found myself enjoying it a bit more than I did my first time around. You meet some really good NPCs here including the zany Quinn, baddie Burke, and Netanya Keitner; a superb female character in a game that has precious few of them.
Part of me does think that this episode worked better as a standalone adventure as the main plot derails to feature it. Luckily the new shaders and lighting tools that Eidos developed here make Rifleman Bank Station look rather cool and the story is dependably strong too.
If it wasn’t for those tedious area transitions then the Missing Link might even have been an essential chapter in the Deus Ex universe, but as it stands it’s merely a good one that looks pretty.
The Wii U once again underperforms when it comes to frame rate though and you can expect some long loading times between areas. It’s a problem in a reload-heavy game like this, but the lightning-fast speed of saving data might make up for it.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is still as immersive as ever and it’s great to see so many side quests of worth. Each one ties into the main plot and the game feels leaner and more meaningful than your typically bloated open world RPG.
There are so many concessions to good storytelling and even on your third playthrough you can catch little details that you didn’t see before.
Ever notice that Jensen is a breakfast cereal addict? Neither did I!
That calamitous final act is still a darn shame though. Fighting past zombified crazy people aboard an out-of-place oil rig set piece is bad enough, but the ‘choose your own ending’ scenario hardly helps matters either.
Overall though this Wii U version is impressive. A quick glance at the menus will reveal many impressive extras including an on-board achievement system (the Wii U doesn’t have one of its own), Miiverse data logs, and even a new game+ option for those looking to play through again with their augmentations intact.
Is this the definitive version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution?
The typical performance concerns and lack of pro controller support would suggest that it isn’t, but the wealth of bonus content is hard to ignore.
For any Wii U owner that has yet to sample the delights of Adam Jensen’s wacky first outing, the Director’s Cut is a must-try at the very least. And even if you’re a seasoned Deus Ex fan, this Wii U edition is brimming with value and enough gameplay hours to make a return trip well worth it.