Six months after a very bad day at work, Adam Jensen is back at his job as security chief for Sarif Industries, a biotechnology company in “Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s” vision of 2027 Detroit.
On that very bad day, a squad of mercenaries infiltrated the company, killed all the staff working on a revolutionary project, burned their research and left Adam near death with a bullet wound to the head. While Adam was in surgery, his employer opted to fit him with top-of-the-line augmentations, replacing his legs and arms and installing other modifications throughout his body.
Adam’s reaction to having these new additions, and how he uses them, is up to you. Like the original “Deus Ex” in 2000, “Human Revolution” is about choosing or making a path, not following one. With the exception of boss fights, which force you into direct battles with powerful foes, you’re free to be as lethal or non-lethal and as covert or overt as you wish.
The first mission sets the tone — you’re given the option to have Adam take lethal or nonlethal weaponry along as he infiltrates a Sarif factory full of hostage-taking terrorists opposed to augmentation. When he encounters their leader, who’s holding a hostage at gunpoint, there are several ways to resolve the situation — both may survive, or one of them, or neither.
After this initial mission, Adam is set loose in Detroit (eventually he’ll travel to the double-decker city of Heng Sha in China, among other locations). The cities he explores hold many secrets and side missions, and Adam is free to pursue these — his primary assignment can be put off until you feel like tackling it.
While the game’s areas are large, this isn’t an open-world game like “Fallout 3,” and the boundaries of the areas you can explore are firm and they can feel a bit boxed in.
Adam is a skilled marksman and can use any weapon he finds, from stun guns and pistols to shotguns and tranquilizer rifles, as well as heavier stuff like a missile launcher and laser rifle. Whatever your preference, sticking to cover is a key aspect of the game’s combat and stealth—Adam is enhanced, not invincible.
Most weapons in the game can be upgraded with various attachments, such as silencers and laser sights. Some can be given specialized upgrades, like armor-piercing capability. Adam can carry as many weapons as he can fit in his inventory, but space is finite, so carrying lots of large guns will sharply limit the amount of ammunition, health packs, grenades and other items he can haul around.
Even without a gun in his hand, Adam is heavily armed. His implants contain a formidable array of built-in weapons and abilities. His new arms are powerful weapons in themselves, and house blades in the wrists and elbows. Implanted sunglasses display information about his surroundings and status. Cranial implants allow him to interface with security and computer systems so he can hack them.
But many of Adam’s upgrades are inactive when the game begins. By spending Praxis points (gained when Adam earns enough experience points, purchased at special stores or found) you can activate his latent abilities.
Some options increase his basic powers — improved hacking software allows Adam to hack harder systems, tweaking his legs lets him run faster and jump higher, and upgrading his arms can allow him to punch through walls or carry more stuff. Others grant him entirely new abilities, such as falling safely from any height, a cloaking device that hides him from view and a powerful weapon called the Typhoon that explodes out from his body. There’s even an upgrade to help Adam converse more effectively.
Players are free to add these abilities at any time, so long as they have the Praxis points for them — it can be helpful to keep a point or two in reserve for adapting to unexpected obstacles and situations.