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Best RPG 2011

Posted on Monday, December 19 @ 19:02:22 PST by

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Publisher: Square Enix

Developer(s): Eidos Montreal, Nixxes Software (PC)

"But, wait!", you might exclaim, "Why didn't Skyrim win? How can it not win... and then Dark Souls... uh... WHAT?!!!"

The answer: For RPGs, narrative is as important as gameplay. I admit that Deus Ex: Human Revolution has its faults when it comes to the weapon-intensive boss fights, the sometimes strange AI, and the choice of endings that's far too freely made. Comparatively, however, the other four nominees are deficient in this category: Skyrim's story is bare-bones compared to the vastness of its open world, Dark Souls' narrative is almost non-existent and more directed by symbols and set pieces, Yakuza 4's four-character plotline is strong but its beat-'em-up gameplay is repetitive, and Catherine's block puzzles couldn't be more disjointed with its story (and Vincent is whiny and wimpish).

Where Deus Ex separates itself from its peers is in the thorough development of its theme, which in this case is the bioethics of human augmentation. It challenges and questions the responsibility of biotech corporations, political extremes, public animosity, economic inequality, and Adam Jensen's role as a vessel and agent who must cope with these forces while being already saddled by his personal quest for revenge and truth behind his lover's death. At the same time, the game easily establishes Adam Jensen as a stealthy cyborg badass, yet it's also clear that he can't just enter a crowded room and expect to survive. Apart from the boss fights, the gameplay emphasizes the fact that there are numerous ways to complete a level and finish one of the many relevant side quests. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the kind of game, the most of its kind this year, where you want more of the storyworld and thus a sequel to see what it has to say about games as well as humanity.

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