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Deus-Ex Human Revolution: REFRESHED!

By Neil Schneider

AMD HD3D - REFRESHED!

Please note that the HD3D image captures in this review are a little blurry because of how we captured the images.  This is only intended as a sampling of the 3D implementation, and is not reflective of the game's potential clarity.  While much of the original Deus-Ex review is intact, this is a refreshed version that includes updated findings for HD3D, and a new section for Nvidia's GeForce 3D Vision as a result of their latest game patch.

Introduction
General Review
AMD's HD3D
Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision
Stereoscopic 3D Driver Support
Conclusion


Introduction

The original Deus Ex was released in 2000, and earned critical acclaim for combining first person shooters and role playing character growth.  Named the "Best PC Game of All Time" in PC Gamer's Top 100 PC games, it frequently ranked high in "game of the year" candidates.  Deus-Ex: Invisible War was also successful, but didn't get as much critical acclaim as the original.

Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision Native Support

Eight years later, Eidos Montreal is taking another stab at the Deus-Ex franchise with Deus-Ex: Human Revolution.  Continuing the tradition of mixing role-play and FPS action, Human Revolution is also boasting native stereoscopic 3D support.  Has Eidos successfully upped the ante?

Today we find out!


General Review

Deus-Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel to the original Deus-Ex.  The story takes place in 2027, and you are Adam Jenson, a private security officer working for Sarif Industries.  You live in a world where traditional plastic surgery has gone the way of the dodo bird, and has been replaced by robotics and augmentations.  In place of bigger genitals, people want stronger limbs, digital radio implants, new levels of dexterity, and all kinds of special abilities. 

AMD HD3D - REFRESHED!

There is no subtlety in this new world as augmentations are rarely hidden.  The warm touch of a mother's hand is easily replaced with cold metal terminator claws, and once handsome faces look like jigsaw mixes of man and machine.  Sadly, this hunger for human implant gadgetry has a dangerous trade-off...rejection.  It turns out that the same way the body will reject a new heart or a new liver, it is equally resistant to getting a new arm or a new chest piece.  The solution is anti-rejection drugs, but they are expensive and aren't easy to come by.

Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision Native Support

The good news is your ex-girlfriend, Megan Reed, has discovered a breakthrough!  She found a way for the gadget guzzlers to keep their toys and not have to buy the anti-rejection meds that go with them.  Sadly, a hostage crisis breaks out, some nasty dudes kick your butt, and Megan has gone missing.  Facing near-death, Sarif Industries gets you fixed up with an augmented body so you can get out there and figure out what the heck is going on.

DDD TriDef Ignition 3.3.19 Beta Profile

While your new body comes with batteries included, it's not all it can be.  With time and experience, you get "praxis" points that are used to activate new augments and special abilities that will make all the difference.  While expensive, you can also buy praxis points to accelerate your growth.

There are three main components to the game.  The first is talking and personality.  You will be interacting with those around you, and what you say can decide whether you will easily walk into a fortress, or be forced to sneak and fight your way to your next destination.  This is a skill that can be augmented to make you more effective, and it may be worth it.  Yes, scientists in the future have come up with a way to make you a more effective talker!

The second component is hacking.  This was more complex and creatively developed than anything I have seen before.  Computers are all over the place, and they can either store information that will further your mission and help you along, or they are security panels that can turn off alarms or help use the environment to your advantage.

DDD TriDef Ignition 3.3.19 Beta Profile

Different computers have different levels of hackability, and will require increased skill as the game progresses.  It’s not just about grabbing a password, though!  You need to break in, avoid detection, and if you are really sharp, pick up a few bonuses on the side.  Hacking is a very important skill to have, so don’t let it go unnoticed.

Something I learned while deep in the game is that as you pick up passwords, the system automatically stores them for you to make life easier.  So when you are hacking a machine, pay attention to the screen to see if the password is waiting for you before unnecessarily breaking in.  Sure you get experience points for going the hacking route, but a password is much easier!

AMD HD3D - REFRESHED!

When you have enough hacking skill, you can have the turrets and robots attack their own security guards (lots of fun!).  In some cases, you don’t get to see it! One time, I hacked the robots, and only found out later after walking in a room filled with corpses that it really worked.

The last component of the game is the action itself.  Are you a cold blooded killer?  Or is it better to knock your opponents out with stun guns and sucker punches?  Being the good guy isn't easy because limp corpses can be woken up by fellow enemies.

This isn't a traditional shoot'em up though.  You can pick up some brawn here and there, but even when you are loaded to the hilt, you're never going to be a human tank.  It's always better to sneak around and go unnoticed rather than trying to blast your way through the front door.

Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision Native Support

The environments are usually designed for this purpose and you get experience bonuses if you can get in and out without being noticed.  You can move crates around to be better hidden, you can walk through vents and ductwork, and if you really need to take someone out, you can knock them out and move their body so they don’t get discovered.

While the game is somewhat mission based, it almost has an open sandbox concept – almost.  The stages in the game are divided into cities with independent buildings, or secret lairs that take up an entire level.  In most cases, you can go back to where you came from, but it’s not to the degree of an Elder Scrolls or the original Crysis.

AMD HD3D - REFRESHED!

Also, while certain levels like Detroit and Heng Sha Island have merchants and side missions like a true open sandbox game, it’s not consistent throughout the title.  This is a shame because you could be sitting on a stockpile of credits that could be used for new weapons, ammo refills, or new augments – and you have nowhere to spend it!

DDD TriDef Ignition 3.3.19 Beta Profile

Speaking of weapons, you usually pick them up as you progress through your adventure, and can buy additional options at a local merchant.  Additional options could include ammo choices and enhancements that make the weapon better.  For example, you may want to add a heat seeker to your rocket launcher, or target tracking to your crossbow, etc. etc.

While the acting isn’t Shakespeare, the game gives some entertaining commentary on our own society.  For example, during a side mission, you need to help a prostitute rescue her friend who is getting forced to have augments.  It’s obviously not boobs, as all characters of all ages in Deus-Ex already seem to have them.  The augments are likely sex toys that are more robotic...something the human mind of this day and age can’t fathom...yet.  However, as crazy as the premise sounds...is it really so different from the countless stars, strippers, and aging professionals that feel pressured to go under the knife to stay visually competitive?  Hah!  Makes you think....

Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision Native Support

Now the big question everyone wants to know...how is Deus-Ex Human Revolution in stereoscopic 3D?


AMD’s HD3D

Before I comment further, I should explain what HD3D is and what the ramifications are.  I would estimate that 99.9999% (give or take 0.01%) of supposedly “3D Ready” PC games are rendered with stereoscopic 3D drivers by DDD, iZ3D, and Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision.  The idea is that games are not designed to be played in stereoscopic 3D, and instead have their DirectX API calls extrapolated into a left and right view by middleware software.

AMD HD3D - REFRESHED!

Drivers are great because most games can run this way, even though there are often trade-offs with visual quality settings and remaining bugs and anomalies that need to be stamped out by driver profiles and optimizations. The exception to the rule is a handful of games that natively put out a left and right view to the display without driver intervention.  The best example of this is Avatar: The Game by Ubisoft which supports almost every 3D solution under the sun.

HD3D is a proprietary left/right standard for AMD graphics cards that let third party driver developers and game developers directly interact with their GPUs.  For a driver developer, it helps them maximize their compatibility with AMD graphics cards, and for game developers, it lets them put out 3D titles without having to work through a 3D driver.  Nvidia has something similar, but they aren’t as public about it.
A big benefit for left/right standards like HD3D is they let game developers put out a 3D image according to spec without any translations or mistranslations by a third party driver.  It is also the fastest way of getting a

AMD HD3D - REFRESHED!

3D image to the screen because there aren’t extra processing cycles being used by a middleware driver that is doing extra grunt work on behalf of the game. As expected, the frame rate is very good with Deus-Ex: Human Revolution, and any mid-range AMD graphics card owner (e.g. AMD 6870+) should be pleased with the performance.

In Deus-Ex’s advanced menu, you will find a stereoscopic 3D setting to turn the feature on, a strength setting to control the separation levels, and a stereoscopic 3D plane setting which is a tapered back version of convergence.

In the first release of Deus-Ex, it was just full of problems.  The biggest and perhaps most embarrassing issue was that the game wasn’t being rendered in 3D.  Stereoscopic 3D works when each of your eyes sees a distinctly different picture, and your brain combines them into a single image in your mind.  It’s the differences and the nuances of the differences that make stereoscopic 3D work.  This is why 2D+Depth and 3D movie conversion is so controversial – because they lose a lot of the nuances that makes 3D interesting.  Below is an actual side by side screenshot taken from the original game, and beneath that is the same image with the captures realigned to go on top of each other:

HD3D Original

HD3D Aligned

Clearly, this was some kind of bug because the images overlapped perfectly without any differences.  The exception was the HUD which had a minor 3D effect.  In this case, the left and right images were just offset, but it’s only one camera view – not two.

Gamers can rejoice because thanks to the latest patch, the game is actually in stereoscopic 3D now.  If you max out the stereo plane adjustment, you can get a modest out of screen experience too.  It isn’t as pronounced as I would like, but it’s there if you really look for it.

In the first review of this game, I was running a Zalman 24” interlaced display, and EIDOS Montreal wasn’t using a “soft interlacing” technique, so the loss in vertical resolution was obvious with small text, and made the image look rougher than usual.  As far as I can tell, this has been fixed…but EIDOS found something else to mess up in its place: they got the images reversed!  Zalman’s left/right views are reversed compared to other interlaced displays - but this error wasn’t there before!  So, fellow Zalman users are stuck playing with their glasses upside down until there is a game option to fix this.  Not a big deal for other solutions, though.

AMD HD3D - REFRESHED!

Before the patch, Deus-Ex had other anomalies that had no business being there.  For example, there were noticeable cases where lasers and lighting effects were disconnected from objects.  I’m not sure if it was my GPU or the game, but there were also occasional flashing shadows and lighting mismatches in 3D mode too.  As far as I can tell, these issues were fixed with the patch.  In some instances, small bits of lighting disappear in one of two viewpoints - but it's a minor issue.

For HD3D, Deus-Ex is much improved in terms of QA, though Eidos Montreal should have taken much bigger risks by losing their inhibitions with the stereoscopic 3D settings – the game would have been a lot more impressive in 3D otherwise.


Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision

AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
Nvidia GTX 585
Windows 7 64 Bit
Zalmon Trimon 24" Monitor
Nvidia Geforce 285.62

Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision Native Support

Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision users were very happy to learn that Deus-Ex Human Revolution now supports GeForce 3D Vision as well.  More than that, instead of being a driver implementation, Deus-Ex is using Nvidia’s quad-buffer equivalent to AMD’s HD3D.  The results are very similar to what AMD’s HD3D offers with the same levels of visual flexibility.

Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision Native Support

While this isn’t a deal breaker for Nvidia users, there are some anomalies that aren’t in the HD3D version.  For example, in some instances, there are missing (or strangely added – hard to tell) textures on certain wall panels in some levels.  It’s unclear if Deus-Ex would need a further patch to fix – not a big deal, though.


Stereoscopic 3D Driver Support (TriDef Ignition)

AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
Nvidia GTX 585, AMD HD6870
Windows 7 64 Bit
Zalmon Trimon 24" Monitor
TriDef Ignition 3.3.19 Beta with Beta Deus-Ex Profile

Given the 3D outcome included with Deus-Ex: Human Revolution before the patch, I reached out to the driver developers to see if they were interested in releasing their own profile for the game.  Maybe a driver could have better results than the game itself?

DDD TriDef Ignition 3.3.19 Beta Profile

DDD TriDef Ignition 3.3.19 Beta Profile

DDD TriDef Ignition 3.3.19 Beta Profile

Dynamic Digital Depth sent us a beta driver which has a lot of potential, and also needs a lot of work.  DirectX 11 support is a write-off because lighting problems are too pronounced, and the driver scrapes away so much of what makes DirectX 11 look interesting that it isn’t even worth trying.

DirectX 9 holds much more promise.  You can achieve a combined depth and pop-out experience, the DDD laser-sight works, and on my Nvidia GTX 580, the performance is decent.  Still, a lot of optimization needs to be done.

On my AMD HD6870, the performance was nowhere near what the native option offers and was much too slow to play effectively.  I think that DDD’s gun object placement is poor.  For example, if you want a combined depth and pop-out experience, the level of gun separation will be too wide for comfort.  DDD has a great feature that lets you separate the sky, scene, and gun 3D settings, but the beta profile isn’t able to separate the elements yet – and that really holds things back.  Last but not least, there are a lot of mismatched lighting errors that should really be corrected.

However, even with all these bugs, the 3D is far more interesting and dynamic looking than what is offered with Deus-Ex’s native support – even after the patch.  I hope DDD continues their profile development around this game.


Conclusion

As a game, I really enjoyed Deus-Ex: Human Revolution.  It’s a fun mix of action, social commentary, and mystery.  It’s not a traditional shoot’em up, and the environments are interesting from beginning to end.  I wouldn’t call it game of the year material, but it’s memorable and worth adding to your shopping list.

Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision Native Support

For the fellow 3D gamers out there, it will leave you expecting more.  Despite its potential, Deus-Ex doesn’t exemplify what makes 3D gaming fun and great, and its best hope in accomplishing this will likely come from a stereoscopic 3D driver rather than what the game developer originally had in mind.

DDD TriDef Ignition 3.3.19 Beta Profile

For those interested in trying the DDD Deus-Ex beta profile, I have attached it to the DDD GameGrade3D profile.  If you are wondering how MTBS managed to get the HD3D screen captures....keep wondering!  MTBS was so late in the game getting this review out, we had to leave SOMETHING to the imagination!

DDD TriDef Ignition 3.3.19 Beta Profile

The stereoscopic 3D scoring listed below is hotlinked to GameGrade3D profiles.

Game Play
9/10

Sound
7/10

Presentation
8/10

Immersive Nature
7/10

How Memorable Is This Game
8/10

Stereoscopic Effectiveness AMD/HD3D
9/10

Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
9/10

Stereoscopic Effectiveness DDD
7.5/10

Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
NA

AMD/HD3D Overall Rating
8/10

NVIDIA Overall Rating
8/10

DDD Overall Rating
7.75/10

iZ3D Overall Rating
NA