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Saturday 21 July 2018

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Title: Deus Ex: Human Revolution Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC Rating: 16 Price: €50

The cyberpunk RPG series makes a big-budget return, but can it measure up to the current crop of genre giants?

It's 2027 and the world is changing -- biomechanical augmentation is the latest craze to sweep the globe, as people strive for cybernetic perfection. You take on the role of Adam Jensen, a former cop now providing security for Sarif Industries, who is wounded in a terrorist attack. He wakes six months later, more machine than man and determined to find the people responsible.

For all the sound and fury of the stylish, scene-setting introduction, the first full mission is a rather basic 'rescue the hostages' trudge that feels artificially constrained by the need for tutorials and meagre upgrades. Then it's time to roam the mean streets of Detroit.

It's here that Human Revolution really opens up; giving you the chance to roam freely through the city as you investigate leads to further the main plot.

As with so many RPGs, it's the secondary and tertiary material which creates and sustains this world. Soon the threads of primary and secondary objectives litter the map, drawing you from one end of the city to the other as you interrogate, infiltrate and sometimes obliterate in pursuit of your goals.

As you progress you'll earn abilities that make exploring more and more satisfying -- such as the indescribably cool Icarus landing system, which sheathes you in a glowing bubble and lets you fall safely from any height.

Side missions are often more compelling than the meta-narrative, which deals in shady conspiracies that are writ too large for any real emotional connection.

As in the original Deus Ex, stealth is highly recommended. Enemies are well-armed and armoured, they're rarely alone and are increasingly accompanied by robotic companions.

That said, should you have to take the fight to the enemy, the combat mechanics are better here than ever before. The cover system is robust and there's a range of weaponry for every need.

Melee combat is a fantastic addition and satisfying to boot -- just tap the melee button for a silent kill or hold it for some arm-blade virtuosity.

Close-quarters combat and other abilities use energy which can be replenished by consumables -- our favourite is the wall punch which can open new routes or pulverise an unsuspecting enemy.

Inevitably, such an ambitious game isn't without its flaws and we can't help feeling they are largely concessions to consoles. While the cinematics are filled with cyberpunk style, the transition to in-game can be jarring. Careful stylisation hides most of the flaws but detail is low on character models and the levels can be repetitive.

Those minor quibbles aside, Human Revolution is a cyberpunk RPG triumph, drawing on dense and dark themes of humanity and biotechnology to tell an overarching story that's relevant, exciting and compelling. It's a sprawling sci-fi epic that appropriates the latest innovations in the genre while avoiding the pitfalls of becoming yet another curtailed action RPG. Buy it now. 9/10

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