Tuesday, 3 January 2012

My Personal Games of 2011: Part 2

1st Runner Up: Deus Ex Human Revolution

Riots, global recession, media manipulation, civil wars, and a growing disquiet at emerging influence of technology on society, that's the 2027 of DXHR, did you think I was talking about some other year?

Although it was sold as a cross between a FPS and a RPG DXHR was for me at its heart a puzzle game. The game's developers may have Created a meticulously balanced stealth mechanic and gone to painstaking lengths to give you a multitude of options whenever your plans went awry, but I found it time after time that the one I reached for was reload.
It wasn't enough just to get through a level undetected, every guard had to taken out in the most efficient way possible, every terminal had to be hacked, every doorway unlocked, every secret found. DXHR Inspired OCD in me like no other game I have ever played.

Mr Tyrell? nope? hmm sorry wrong office

The e-mails back and forth between characters, the chatter between guards just out of earshot, the small fragments of newspapers and books left around the world, all of them combined to provide some the best environmental storytelling I have seen for a long time. DXHR provided a world which Although lacking in the possibilities for the creation of emergent events had a incredible fidelity, if you could interact with an object that object mattered. This level of detail meant my subjective experience of time passing in the game took on a slow pace where it felt I was moving from moment to moment.Games are so often about the grand arc of a story, DXHR was like a scrapbook of anecdotes, and small moments of insights into the lives of its characters.

Hello UPS? we seem to have had allot of cardboard boxes delivered

Science fiction has always been a very fast-paced genre, and it speaks volume of what DXHR accomplished that I have to think back to The Handmaid's Tale's for another example of a Sci-fi narrative which gave such insight to the miniature of its protagonists lives.

It also featured what in any other year would have been the outstanding musical score. The influence of Vangelis classic Blade runner soundtrack is obvious, but frankly composer Michael McCann did such a good job its near impossible to hold it against him(go on treat yourself & have a listen).

All this praise is not to say DXHR is a flawless game by any measure, the insertion of three boss fights, and a incredibly contrived final scene both were bad enough to jolt me out of my immersion in the game and will forever be blots on its record.

In the end though DXHR proved that a high budget, high fidelity, high concept games could still succeed, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

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