Deus Ex: Human Revolution Has Boss Battles. Problem?
(This is another edition of </RANT>, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)
Apparently, the fact that Deus Ex: Human Revolution has boss battles is a terrible, terrible thing. I was completely unaware of this fact until today, when I saw that some people were throwing a hissy fit over it. The game is pretty damn great, and critics almost universally agree, but that doesn’t matter because one negative aspect has been found. Let us all focus on that instead.
Nukezilla in particular stated that the Deus Ex: Human Revolution suffered due to a herd mentality. Its article headline reads: “On Putting Things Into Your Game Because You Think They Have To Be There,” which is a particularly stunning assumption (especially from someone who confesses to having not played the game and thus doesn’t have any context with which to make such a claim), and quotes a whole bunch of otherwise positive reviews that rag on the boss battles, essentially using thems to “prove” that the boss battles in Human Revolution are unnecessary and consequently harmful to the game’s overall quality.
Well, I feel I must join Ben Kuchera in voicing some support for the boss battles, as not only did I feel them necessary to the story the game was trying to tell, I also quite liked them.
I’ve played the game to completion and reviewed it on Destructoid. In conversation about it, I’ve made several references to Metal Gear Solid, which seems to be a clear inspiration for many aspects of Human Revolution. Due to the game’s prequel status, deep story, cast of characters and overall atmosphere (not to mention quality) I have named Human Revolution the Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater of this generation, and it’s a title I very staunchly believe in. As Snake Eater is one of my favorite games of all time, it’s not a comparison I make lightly, either. To me, the game’s boss fights are part of what makes that comparison truly resonate. After all, what’s a Metal Gear Solid game without a memorable boss or five?
While it’s true that Deus Ex’s first boss battle is a little lacking, I found the subsequent ones to be incredibly cool encounters. One involves battling a woman who would stalk you while cloaked in a Hologram’s A.I. hub, while the A.I itself would desperately try to help you track her. Another was a fight against a similarly Augmented man who wore a costume that made him look like one of the many animatronic statues littering a maze-like room. It was a rather tense, cat-and-mouse battle that I felt was incredibly well done, especially due to the fact that protagonist Adam Jensen was affected by [REDACTED DUE TO SPOILERS] at the time.
To some, however, it’s not the quality of the battles, but the involuntary nature of them. To this argument, I can’t help but wonder exactly how spoiled some gamers really have become. Yes, it’s true, the Deus Ex series has always put player choice on a rather high pedestal, and there are many gamers who enjoy “Pacifist Runs” where they don’t have to kill anybody. One can choose to undertake almost every mission without lethally dispatching an enemy, but there are a few moments where the player doesn’t have a choice. Welcome to real fucking life. Sometimes we don’t have a choice, and I’d say that when an enemy starts a fight to the death, one doesn’t really have to worry about tainting poor Adam’s soul by having him kill the jackass. I really don’t see what the big deal here is. You can still have your pacifist run — there are just moments where you’re going to have to lethally defend yourself, and it’s pretty much the other guy’s fault.
Let’s not forget that the first Deus Ex also does this. While many boss situations can be avoided or escaped, you at least have to kill Navarra before you can finish the game, and if you’re not hooked up to an FAQ, there are many situations that you wouldn’t even think could be solved non-violently. As far as I can tell, it’s never been possible to have a completely bloodless pacifist run in a Deus Ex game, at least not without modification or cheating.
To bring back Metal Gear Solid, the same is true here. You can have Snake go through the majority of the game without killing anybody … except for certain moments. During boss fights and other predetermined sequences, there are times when you have to bend to the game’s will in order for it to tell the story it wants to tell. I’m completely fine with that. Metal Gear Solid is primarily a stealth game, but there are plenty of action sequences that run contrary to whatever the player might want to do. When I play a game, I’m not expecting 100% freedom, even with games like Fallout or Deus Ex where player choice is important. When people complain because they’ve been given more free choice than usual and then expect more, the old adage of someone being given an inch and wanting a mile springs to mind.
That’s what this is really about, as far as I can see. A game like Deus Ex spoils players. It gives them more flexibility than other games, and as such, players get more uppity and snotty when they can’t have everything exactly their way. The amount of choice in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is truly inspiring and very impressive, so for people to get bitchy because of those few instances where the developers borrowed the steering wheel for a moment just smacks of Spoiled Gamer Syndrome. The game already lets you do more than most games … it seems incredibly bratty to get angry or upset because you can’t have even more.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to angrily tell SEGA that they suck because Sonic is a hedgehog and not a cat like I wanted!