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Deja Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut

S. Prell, @SamPrell

This is a Deja Review: A quick, unscored look at the new features and relative agelessness of a remade, revived or re-released game.

Two years ago, we called Deus Ex: Human Revolution an "imperfect, complex and ambitious reminder of what a game can be when it's unafraid." Eidos Montreal didn't hold our hands, didn't string us from Waypoint A to Waypoint B so we could kill Bad Guy C. It trusted players to be intelligent and curious, and constructed a bleak, fascinating world that needed to be explored.

Now, in 2013, with a "Director's Cut" of Human Revolution available for Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, most of its "imperfect" aspects have been smoothed over, improving what was already a great experience. Even so, the addition of second screen features introduce a handful of new, albeit smaller, problems.

Gallery: Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut (E3 2013) | 7 Photos

What's new this time around?

Every version of the Director's Cut includes the "Missing Link" DLC, which has been incorporated into the main story as opposed to the standalone episode it was upon release. Director's Cut also offers several additional features and improvements over the original Human Revolution, not least of which is new lighting and re-worked textures. These new graphical enhancements make NPC faces in particular pop more than before. Those you interact with, be they augmented combat cyborgs or just everyday gun runners in the back alleys of Detroit, feel more human, and the experience is better for it.

I played the Wii U version, and the GamePad is incorporated well, for the most part. Instead of a radar that only displays enemies and the direction they face – as was the case in the original Human Revolution – the Director's Cut offers a full 2D map on the GamePad screen that shows enemies and their environment. You can even use the stylus to write notes or otherwise mark the map. This isn't a groundbreaking change, but it is nonetheless a huge boon for all types of players. Those who want to go in guns blazing can plan their attack and take note of enemy positions and cover. Stealth-inclined players can draw patrol routes or mark hidden passages. Completionists can mark the locations of side-quests and item stashes. (Incidentally, many of the second screen features in Director's Cut are also available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 via SmartGlass and the PS Vita, respectively.)

Environmental interactions, like looting bodies and logging onto computers, have also been moved to the GamePad screen, as has character and inventory management. This doesn't really change the flow or feel of Deus Ex, as there's nothing here that couldn't have been done on the television. Hacking, however, stands out. The hacking mini-game works exactly the same as it did prior to the Director's Cut, but the feeling of tapping a touchscreen to capture nodes on a computer network is far more satisfying than using thumbsticks and button presses. You'll never want to play the part of an action-movie hacker as badly as you will once you've completed your first security breach using the GamePad touchscreen.

Not every GamePad function works as well, though. Using the iron sights of a rifle, shotgun or pistol works normally, pulling your weapon closer to the camera on the television. Using a long-range weapon such as the tranquilizer rifle, however, will cause the aiming reticle to appear on the GamePad, and there doesn't seem to be an option to turn this feature off. This was a particular nuisance for me, as I preferred to sneak past enemies, and constantly switching focus between the controller in my hands and the enemies on the TV made quick elimination of targets a hassle.

There's also an upgrade to the Smart Vision augmentation that allows you to see detailed information about your enemies. This is activated and controlled using the GamePad's screen and gyroscope. You're expected to hold the controller up as though you're using the screen as a window. It's neat the first time you use it, but it quickly becomes tiresome to hold the controller straight in front of your face. While you can return the controller to a more comfortable position and use the thumbstick to look back up, this wastes time that drains away your energy, and it's time that could've been saved by just having the augmentation work without requiring the gyroscope.

You can also connect to Miiverse and share Infologs with other players. Infologs work like player messages in Dark Souls: Take a screenshot of whatever you'd like other players to see, record your voice, and activate your message. Players can then view your Infolog and gain any secrets contained within. Perhaps you'll leave tips on how to handle the redesigned boss fights?

Deja Review Deus Ex Human Revolution Director's Cut
Yes, the awful boss fights of yesteryear are gone. No longer is the explosive power of the Typhoon augmentation all but necessary. No longer must you stockpile grenades like some sort of mad squirrel. Whether you choose to play Human Revolution as a stealthy ninja, a computer-science nerd or a walking tank, all options are now viable thanks to the remodeled arenas in which you fight.

While the first boss fight in the original Human Revolution was a single-level square room with a little cover, it's now a two-floor playground that accommodates multiple styles of play. It has secret vents to sneak through, computers to hack and hallways that let you break the enemy's line of sight. I personally took down the first boss without firing a single bullet by hacking the room's turrets and turning them on my foe.

If you're still having trouble, you can consult the official strategy guide from Future Press, which is available as long as you're not using the off-TV play feature of the Wii U. The strategy guide is a neat addition, but you can't use it and play at the same time, which means you'll have to frequently switch between gameplay and studying the guide if you want to use it for, say, collecting every hidden item.

It wouldn't be a director's cut without commentary, and Human Revolution offers this in cybernetic spades. New players should probably avoid it, as it wanders into spoiler territory from time to time, but those returning to Deus Ex should enjoy the behind-the-curtains peek at how the game was made.

How does it hold up?

Deja Review Deus Ex Human Revolution Director's Cut
Human Revolution itself is still the fun, multi-layered adventure it always was. The noir-flavored story of cybernetic evolution is still as finely-crafted, and the gameplay as well-tuned as ever. Choice is often touted by modern games as a defining feature, but few games execute it as well as Deus Ex: Human Revolution. "Choice," in this context, isn't about being good or evil, it's about knowing your objective, and choosing how to complete it.

The changes and additions in Director's Cut probably aren't enough to entice those who've already played the original, but it's the ideal version for first-timers.

This review is based on an eShop download of the Wii U version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director's Cut, provided by Square Enix. Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director's Cut is also available on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Mac version is also planned.

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