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Gaming: When humans turn into Cyborgs

Last updated on: October 7, 2011 13:52 IST

Gaming: When humans turn into Cyborgs

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Get Ahead reader Bhautik Joshi reviews two games: Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Gears of War 3 in response to our reader invite (below).

Bhautik, a commerce graduate from Mumbai University, currently works with Barclays Technology Center India, in Pune.

Developer: Square Enix and Eidos

Genre: Action role-play game

Platform: Xbox 360

It's year 2027. Like any popular sci-fi movie the plot for Deus Ex: Human Revolution revolves around humans turning into cyborgs which is referred to as mechanical augmentations in this game. The background to the plot is an on-going conflict between a Detroit-based conglomerate Sarif Industries which deals in manufacturing these mechanical augmentations and Purity First which is a pro-humanitarian group opposing conversion of humans into cyborgs that makes them survive on a drug for rest of their lives to keep their body mods functional.

You play as Adam Jensen, the main protagonist in the game, who is heading the security for Sarif Industries. He undergoes augmentation surgery post which he is badly injured in an invasive attack on Sarif Industries. Later, he embarks on a journey to find out the people behind the attack on Sarif Industries, who also killed his love interest Megan Reed employed in the same company.

A quest that begins on investigative mode, progresses further to take shape of a web of conspiracy and espionage adventure worth embarking on.

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Game Play

Deus EX: HR takes action RPG genre to a new level offering freedom of making choices within the game the way you want to play with it, deciding outcomes without bothering much about the right or wrong way of playing different scenarios. While it is good at providing an open world set up game, play is fast paced and does not tend to get boring.

You have option to play the game using stealth or aggression as your style of game play. This requires careful selection of your augmentation mods that can be brought from L.I.M.B clinics for virtual currency called PRAXIS points.

If you choose to go all guns blazing, make sure you load up enough firepower to cross through enemy waves. I have been using a mix of tactical stealth with aggressive mode isolating large enemy groups. In every combat setting there's lot to explore In terms of collectibles lying around different levels, hacking through computers, searching through pockets of goons you have taken down and sneaking through duct vents could be rewarding enough too.

Interacting with in game objects is easy, stealth cover is only foolproof behind walls and duct vents or any other solid surface/object, all other cover spots are subject to be blown off. Enemy AI is sharp.

What I liked about the game play was the option to cut short the chatter during conversations with in-game characters in case you are replaying the game from a certain point and get into the action fast.

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Graphics

Lights shining bright, hues of black and gold dominate the visual landscape of this game which is stunning during cut scenes and turns awkward sometimes with respect to facial expressions of in game characters.

You toggle between first person view and third person view while moving in and out of cover. Load times between levels and in certain parts of the game are slightly disappointing. Transition from cut scenes to game play is smooth; thankfully the game is low on bugs visually.

Audio

Michael McCann does an excellent job at delivering a fitting score for this game, pretty futuristic and techno and soothing background score which switches to fast paced score during combat matching the scenario, ambient sounds are sharp which complement your game play, running around would alert enemies pretty quickly, crouching is your best option for stealth. You can distract enemies by throwing objects from cover, luring them towards you and take them down silently.

Deus EX: HR would keep you busy for quite a while stretching more than 30 to 35 hours that you would take to complete on medium level difficulty. If you happen to complete a level you would still itch to go back at the start level with a different approach, exploring stuff which you may have probably missed in the heat of all the action.

I never felt so satisfied playing a RPG title before Deus EX: Human Revolution. It reminded me of the fun of playing with stealth in Splinter Cell Conviction and Batman Arkham Asylum, thankfully it cuts the pain of being too conversation oriented like Mass Effect which never made it to my favourite list.

I would rate this game 4/5 for its ability to pull off a good detox option for the FPS genre which most of the times pushes you into constant shooting and following a linear gameplay, this one liberates your game style. Go on it's time to get HUMAN!

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Gears of War 3: Review

After the fall of Jacinto in Gears of War 2, COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) gang led by the main protagonist Marcus Fenix returns to the third and final chapter of the Gears of War trilogy. The game starts off with a dream sequence which shows him fighting locusts and fails to save his Dad, Adam Fenix crushed under debris of a falling structure, and he wakes up on the Raven's nest carrier ship trying to avoid a new threat in this game: The Lambent Invasion.

It's mayhem and non-stop action right from the start of the game, for some lame reasons Marcus Fenix is seen carrying fire extinguisher around dousing fire on the carrier, it felt as if Marcus had still not woken up from his bad dreams!

Marcus Fenix looks better with a Lancer in his hand and not a fire extinguisher. You obviously cannot keep fighting Lambent and Locust Hordes without a reason so Chairman Prescott who has abandoned COG arrives on the ship to inform Marcus Fenix that his dad is still alive and confined to a secret research facility on Azura Island.

So Marcus Fenix sets off on his mission to rescue his dad who also has the solution to stop the lambent infection caused due to a chemical named Imulsion.

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Game play and story line

The cover based combat mechanism does not see much change in the third version of this title. It's fluid and complements well to the fast paced story. Squad based game tactics become more evident now since the game allows you to invite your friends to play along with you on the campaign mode. If you take more damage during a fight you can be revived by a squad member both human and in AI mode; the same applies to baddies also.

I found the game picking up on a dull note; all I was doing was running through waves of Lambent glowies (lots of gold-yellow shade blood) that keep popping out of Lambent pods emerging at any random stage during the game and Locust baddies that jump out of the ground as if they were springing up from some kind of underground trampoline.

Apart from playing as Marcus Fenix, you also get to play as Augustus Cole AKA Cole Train which was slightly irritating with some of his nagging narrative and a very funny and not so emotional dream sequence even which he has during one part of the campaign.

The other main GoW series character Dominic Santiago adds an emotional touch to the noisy and loud campaign of the entire game, 'Spoiler Alert' the way he meets his own end to rescue his friends was shot almost movie style and is one of the highlights of the game story.

I felt that game storyline picked up steam from Act 2 -- Chapter 2 when Marcus Fenix heads towards Anvil Gate to meet Colonel Hoffman post which you finally get to see lot of variety in game play that pumps some adrenaline to the story.

From this point in the game you would be on a roller coaster journey to confront the Locust queen Myrrah and save Marcus Fenix's dad, Adam Fenix, hijacking a Barge (Locust airlines) for you to get airborne, riding on a freeway escaping locust attack in Mercy town. The lambent infection has not just spread to locusts but to Human's as well who look like glowing zombies as they come attacking at you very quick, amongst the other enemy characters a lot of them return with an appearance in the third part mainly from the locust camp.

Gears of War series is also well known for its gruesome weapon based execution, which also made Lancer gun attached with a chainsaw quite popular amongst GoW fans. You have got four weapon slots which allow you to carry a melee weapon, two guns and explosives. Ammo supply is available in plenty scattered across all stages in the game so don't worry about emptying down Lancer mags. All weapons in the game have un-lockable special execution moves you can try out on a Locust or lambent who is hurt and crawling on the ground. Retro Lancer and Silverback are good addition to the weapons line up in my opinion. (Score: 3/5).

Enemy AI was observed to be dumb a lot of times in the game, a locust or lambent baddie would be trying to hide behind cover for no reason even if I would have just walked up close to them. There was no ominous character in the entire game which would have made me work hard bringing it down. Playing on normal difficulty level seemed like a cakewalk for me. If you expect this game to end with a bang be ready for a slight disappointment because it ends on a very meek note, no spoilers here.

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Multiplayer

A new addition to this category is the 'Beast' mode that allows you to play as Locust characters across 12 rounds, Horde and versus modes remain almost the same from previous versions. I could play just one Team Death match with unknown players on Xbox Live searching for a game in different modes across three days at different times which was very frustrating. Though the game has dedicated servers I don't know of its pairing up players only from same region and then checking for matches across the global servers if no local match is found. (Score: 1/5).

Graphics

Gears of War 3 is top notch in terms of graphics; it gets better in terms of environment rendering and delivering fluid visuals with close to no scene lag noticed while entering or exiting a cut scene.

Thankfully the brown and grey colour tones in the previous versions of the game settle down for some realistic colour pallet. You can see the tip of Lancer gun barrel red-hot smoking after firing few rounds; the only thing you cannot smell is the gunpowder! (Score: 5/5).

Sound

Gears of War 3 climbs above the previous versions in the audio department raising the decibel levels further, a lot of ambient sounds get repeated however with some modifications to the instrumental themes, it gets very noisy when bullets start flying around, while you can still hear the locusts grunting and moving around, the funniest one is to hear a Boomer laughing and saying 'Boom' amidst all the chaos, there is hardly a moment of silence in the game and Marcus Fenix not shouting in his barking tone, all we can say is it still sounds 'SWEET' enough for GoW fans. (Score: 4/5).

Conclusion

Do not expect too many changes in the final version of Gears of War 3; the story line fails to build up the campaign initially but compensates for it from Act 2 towards closing of the game. I felt Marcus Fenix was focused more on a 'Let's find my Dad' kind of mission rather than saving the humanity from Lambent invasion. It is not a very fitting end to the Gears of War series still pretty engaging for a Gears of War fan like me (Final Score – 3.5/5)

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