***SPOILERS AHEAD. This post concerns, among other things, the ending of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and while I’m mostly focused on the form of the ending as opposed to the content, you should probably stay away until you’ve finished the game. Ordinarily I’d wait a few more weeks before posting, but I’m not sure I’ll remember what I have to say by then, so…***
I finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution over the weekend. In my last post I’d mentioned that I was stuck in a boss battle towards the end of the game and that, because of an action I’d inadvertently made 6 hours previous, I was more or less screwed. As it turned out, I wasn’t as screwed as I’d thought; my Typhoon weapon was still active even though my HUD was messed up, and three quick Typhoon shots put a quick end to a tough bastard.
From there, it was really just a few more hours worth of hacking, sneaking, and ultimately giving up on the non-lethal path and just flat-out murdering dudes until I came to the ending(s), which I won’t spoil, except to say that from an objective standpoint there’s really not all that much to spoil.
There are 4 endings in all, and the game makes it more or less clear that you should probably save at a certain point if you want to see them all, and, well, that almost tells you everything you need to know. It doesn’t matter how you’ve played the game for the previous 20-30 hours; after the final boss battle, you are presented with 4 buttons to press, and once you press one of them a short, vague montage is shown with some ponderous, monotone Adam Jensen monologue-ing, and then the credits roll, and then you can reload your save and try pressing a different button. That’s it.
And you’re only given the proper context for what these button presses actually represent about 30-60 minutes before you get to the button-pressin’ room – although that context is only given if you’re actually looking for it. (Before you reach the final boss area, 2 messages are played over the intercom – 2 major characters have barricaded themselves in rooms and require your assistance. The locations of those characters are only mentioned once; they don’t appear on your map or in your mission log, and I very nearly missed both of those encounters.)
I was a bit underwhelmed. My memory of the first Deus Ex is hazy at best, but I do seem to remember that in order to see one of the original game’s 3 endings, you had to commit to a course of action that was far more involved that merely pressing a button. Sure, you could save your game right before the decision, but you still had some more work to do.
I’ll be honest – the only reason why I watched all 4 of DXHR’s endings is because I got 50 Achievement Points out of it, and those may have been the easiest 50 points I’d ever gotten (well, besides the Avatar achievements). The movies themselves were simultaneously clumsy and pretentious, and didn’t really reflect on any of the 30 hours of work I’d put in. Ultimately, I couldn’t really tell you what happened even if I wanted to; none of them made any discernible impact on me. To be fair, I was at the end of a marathon gaming session and so maybe I wasn’t as awake and alert as I should’ve been, but still – I need more from an ending than a 3-minute student video from an “Intro to Montage” class, especially from a franchise that made its name on player choice.
At the end of the day, I suppose I’m a little down on the game. I’ll admit that maybe the reason why I’d enjoyed it as much as I did was because it was far better than I expected, and also because it was the first genuinely good game that had been released in months. When it comes time to compare it to the rest of the year’s best in December, though, I’m not sure it’ll fare all that well. It’s a welcome return to a much-loved franchise, and certainly I’d like to see more Deus Ex games in the near future; I just hope that these future titles aren’t afraid to carry a bit more weight.