Aftershock: What Is Bob Page Really Doing in Deus Ex: Human Revolution?
“Aftershock” is a recurring feature column on Game Front. We take games we’ve already reviewed, and give them a sober second look once the post-launch dust has settled.
This editorial contains spoilers for Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. If you read this despite that warning, you aren’t allowed to complain about spoilers.
I like Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I don’t love it. I don’t love it because, in the end, the plot falls apart. And it’s all because of Bob Page.
You might remember Bob Page as the main villain of the original Deus Ex. In that game, he ran Majestic-12, which had forcibly taken over the Illuminati. Bob Page was pulling the strings behind the entire conspiracy in that game to unite the world under a single government using the Grey Death to beat the public into submission.
Bob Page is also pulling the strings in Human Revolution, but the game is afraid to make that clear. It is clear, though, as Page is the first character we see in the game and the last voice we hear at the end.
Otherwise, though, Page is utterly absent from the game, and his presence isn’t really felt in it aside from a handful of emails addressed to him popping up here and there.
Late in the game, we learn that the Illuminati intend to use augmentation biochips to gain control over all augmented humans. This puts them at the heart of the game’s conspiracy, although the apparent architects of this plan are a bunch of folks who do not appear in the original game. This gives the appearance that very little of what is going on in Human Revolution ties in directly to Deus Ex aside from simple world building.
But Page is there, on the periphery, doing something. And, on top of that, we presume by reading emails that Joseph Manderley, head of Deus Ex’s UNATCO, is orchestrating the actions of the Tyrants, otherwise known as those annoying bosses we have to fight during the game.
Because these characters are so important to the greater Deus Ex canon, you have to wonder why they aren’t actually in the game while being in the game, and their existence on the periphery implies that there is more going on than we are ever told. Yes, we uncover the Illuminati’s plot, but what the f–k is Bob Page doing there?
We see him interacting with what we assume are other members of the Illuminati early in the game, but we can’t easily forget that his ultimate goal is to seize control of the group for himself, as he does in Deus Ex. So is the plot really what it seems or is there another layer we don’t see?
The first, easy conclusion I can come to is that Eidos wants to give themselves room for a sequel, and that’s why the events of Human Revolution don’t directly set up those of Deus Ex. And it would be simple for the next game to reveal more about Page’s machinations, or even for them to show us more in the upcoming Missing Link DLC. But for now I’m simply left wondering, and that, I feel, is a problem.
If Eidos Montreal had simply left Page out of the game, I would accept the game as it is and be mostly happy. But Page is too important and his ultimate motivations too clear for that. And so, as it stands, Deus Ex: Human Revolution feels like an incomplete story, even within the context of the franchise as a whole. And it’s all because Bob Page had to show up for two scenes.