Game of the Week: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The future's orange.

And we're off to the races. From now until Christmas, barely a week should elapse without at least a couple of huge games going head to head in the battle for what's left of our pocket money and paycheques. (I don't really still get pocket money, incidentally, although given that my mum and stepdad only got hitched when I was 21 maybe I should be hitting that guy up for back taxes?)

Either way, you're going to need a lot of spare cash to keep up. September alone is flush with the likes of Driver: San Francisco, Bodycount, Resistance 3, Space Marine, Starfox 64 3D, Trackmania 2: Canyon, Gears of War 3, F1 2011, FIFA 12 and the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. Even if half of those are unexpectedly rubbish, we're going to be busy.

There's a well-worn drum in the back of virtually every games editorial office around the world that's beaten during the dry summer months - a drum that's designed to draw attention to the unspent money lurking in our pockets. The games industry could have plenty of that if it wanted, but instead it goes on summer films, music festivals and holidays because it's there to be spent and we're poor savers. All of which means that when Q4 is over again, someone will have lost out.

Oh well. To the business at hand.

There isn't much debate around our Game of the Week, as it happens, but that's not to say there's nothing else out there worth considering. For example, we usually greet the arrival at the office of envelopes from PC publisher Lace Mamba with a degree of wariness and suspicion, but Super Meat Boy Ultra Edition is a fine way to spend 15 quid - a squidgy, gloriously harsh 2D platform game that will leave you hungry for more every time you play it (or perhaps just hungry).

Then there's Tropico 4. Sadly it's not much of an update on Tropico 3, failing to bypass the cigar-clogged arteries at the heart of Haemimont Games' colourful management simulation and resolve the game's inherent issues, but it's bright, colourful and entertaining enough to keep you pecking away for many hours until the oceans surrounding your cute little banana republic start to feel more like prison walls.

A goodish week for the PC in particular, then, although thanks to our Game of the Week it's a good week for all the big platforms.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

As I sit here typing, there's a 70-page magazine sat next to my monitor called Humanity+. It's a mixture of articles and illustrations discussing transhumanism, bionics, conspiracies, mega corporations and cyberpunk, subtitled The Roots of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

It's perfectly pitched. Deus Ex is a series that invites players to hurl themselves upon web after web of interwoven mystery and back-story as they work to resolve its central crises. The fact that even the people making its promotional materials seem to get this is probably one key to why the game itself has turned out so well.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution video talkthrough.

Another is that while Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game where you can chart your own path through its many levels and hub cities according to your own gaming preferences, it is not the sort of rigidly compartmentalised and fractured series of make-a-decision chokepoints that some of its generic contemporaries have become.

As I wrote when I gave it 9/10 in our Deus Ex: Human Revolution review earlier this week, "You can still save the world by crouching behind desks and hacking into people's email if you want, but the game doesn't judge you if you want to do something else for a bit. There is no wrong kind of progress, there's just success. It would be nice if more of the games that wished they were Deus Ex treated us like that."

One benefit of that welcoming approach is that you tend to write your own stories through the gameplay decisions you make. While a lot of games are about which guy you shoot first and which of two staircases you descend, Human Revolution can be a game where you're seen as a stunning one-man army or a game where you're simply never seen. Its augmentations - the upgrades that let you jump higher, punch harder or think smarter - all support multiple styles of play, and the way you complete a level will invariably differ to the way your friend did it.

All of which makes it the perfect start to the season. And hey, if by some miracle everything in September turns you off, you can always play Deus Ex again completely differently.

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