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In defense of ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s’ outsourced boss fights

Recently, Eidos-Montreal has confirmed that it did, in fact, outsource the boss fights in Deus Ex: Human Revolution to fellow Montreal-based developer, Grip Entertainment. The president of Grip Entertainment, Paul Kruszewski, made some waves by admitting that not only was he unfamiliar with the Deus Ex world, but he also describes himself as “a shooter guy.” Eidos-Montreal gave Grip the engine, scenario and some light direction, and told them to create boss battles. Kruszewski feels as though they did a great job and that it was “one of the cleanest, best pieces of technology I’ve ever built.”

0 In defense of Deus Ex: Human Revolutions outsourced boss fights

Many journalists around the web have jumped on this like a fat kid on cake. One of the largest criticisms and complaints Deus Ex: Human Revolution received was that of the seemingly out-of-place boss fights. Penny Arcade offered a memorable take on it, and many reviews admitted to docking the game points simply because of them. The argument has been rather simple: if you spent the entire game tailoring your augmentations toward stealth, the bosses have a tendency to cut straight through you. Having watched the behind-the-scenes with Kruszewski, this makes a little bit of sense.

However, I’m going to take this opportunity to not only defend DX:HR’s boss fights, but to even go so far as to say I don’t see what the fuss is about them. Not only did I spec entirely stealth focus, spending the game sneaking about, knocking out everybody, but I also played this on the Give Me Deus Ex (hard) difficulty. I say that not to brag, but rather to give a little context to my defense.

deus ex first boss 300x168 In defense of Deus Ex: Human Revolutions outsourced boss fights

Toss an EMT grenade at this jerk and he's as dangerous as a kitten.

By the time I fought the first boss, I was completely stealth spec — I didn’t even take the Typhoon upgrade. After two very swift deaths at his hands, it dawned on me that “Hey, this bastard is augmented,” which means he’s probably not a fan of EMT grenades. Sure enough, chuck one of those out, he is completely disabled, I unloaded my revolver (ala The Man Without a Name) into his head, backed up, reloaded, and fired more. You have to understand that he stays disabled, and then greatly slowed and out-of-sorts this entire time. Boss one down, bring on the second one!

On the second boss I did have the Typhoon, which was helpful since it has a stun effect. Your sole strategy should be to wait until she approaches, stun her with the Typhoon, and proceeded to unload my trusty, dusty revolver into her head. Once again, this took merely a couple of deaths to realize what her “deal” was, and then I improvised.

Admittedly, even though I went entirely stealth spec, I did make sure to fully upgrade my revolver. Years of gaming have taught nothing if not to pack a weapon in case of emergencies. In Resident Evil it’s the combat knife, in this game it was my revolver. This, I have to imagine, is what made the third fight such a walk in the park for me. The boss doesn’t hide very much and is — you guessed it — vulnerable to grenades. Stun, shoot, stun, shoot. Since I managed to only kill bosses, I was topped on ammo.

Whether or not Grip was familiar with the Deus Ex world, they did plant contextual cues and clues within the boss fight environments — a mark of smart development and certainly not something worthy of such disdain.

I realize fans of the original series were upset because you could avoid boss fights entirely in the original game. While that would have been fun, I agree with Eidos-Montreal that these fights felt necessary to the narrative. These guys broke into your place of business, killed your co-workers and kidnapped your girlfriend, shouldn’t you want to kill them? What else do they need to do? Pour sugar in your gas tank? I think the bosses were the right decision within the story, but I just don’t see them as this hair-pulling frustration others have made them out to be.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution has been one of my favorite game experiences of this year. It’s a game that rewards exploration, stealth, and thinking outside of the box. It’s the type of game I want to see more of, and I cannot wait for the expansion pack this October. If you find yourself going back through the game (which is easy to do), try the EMT grenades — I promise you’ll have an easier go of it.

About Jen Bosier

Jen lives with her husband, daughter and super-villain cats. If she's not reading comics or engrossed in a WH40k novel, she's probably telling you which horror games you should be playing. She's a recovering member of the PC Master Race, and a reluctant Xbox fangirl. You can also find her on the Furious Fourcast.

Comments

  1. You are defending the indefensible and tolerating the intolerable.

  2. The things you pointed out in the article are nearly the word per word as to how I was responding to other articles condemning the Boss fights. This is a story driven, thinking and strategy planning game with consequences. To many games make sure you have what you need at the get go or hold your hand like a loving parent should. But you need to be taught on how to think and act too.

    I new there would be Bosses in the game so I packed a machine gun with upgraded ammunition supply and damage (including EMP or other explosives). – “Years of gaming have taught nothing if not to pack a weapon in case of emergencies.”

    I felt that the Boss fights were not meant to be “The Main Event”, they needed to flow with the story driven game. I felt they served their purpose and were challenging enough with supplies with in the Boss arena. – “While that would have been fun, I agree with Eidos-Montreal that these fights felt necessary to the narrative. These guys broke into your place of business, killed your co-workers and kidnapped your girlfriend, shouldn’t you want to kill them? What else do they need to do? Pour sugar in your gas tank? I think the bosses were the right decision within the story, but I just don’t see them as this hair-pulling frustration others have made them out to be.”

    Thank you for the great article Jen Bosier. :)

  3. Correction on my response below: I knew there would be Bosses in the game so I packed a machine gun with
    upgraded ammunition supply and damage (including EMP or other
    explosives).

  4. I thought that they were a bit out of place and lacked variety, but after I figured them out, I didn’t hate them as much. Sure, they broke the pacing a bit, but they’re not too difficult and are very short lived.

  5. The boss battle (the first one, at least) was an example of terrible design. Up until that point, the game didn’t punish you for not carrying the correct supplies. Me, I still had the limited inventory space simply because it served me well, and being a pacifist, I simply had no need for to haul around grenades and ammo. People can argue that I should’ve expected fights to happen, the game sure as hell didn’t enforce it. Everything, and I mean everything, had been solvable with a good punch from behind. And then they spring a fight like that on you. Vents to sneak around to get a better vantage point? Nope. A terminal to hack, maybe activate a turret or a helpful robot? Nope. Sorry, player, you’re out of luck. Time to suffer for your lack of foresight.

    Anything that punishes for building your character wrong or not having the right inventory is bad design, plain and simple. Why these levels were outsourced is a mystery – Grip had no idea what they were doing.

    • It wasn’t like that. You could beat him without a single bullet: just toss at him the gas tanks and explosive barrels when he is stuned by the gas. The game doesn’t punish yo for your character build or inventory (you didn’t even need to augment your strength to throw those gas tanks and barrels), the game punishes you for not being aware of your surroundings and not thinking outside the box (the fact that it’s a combat doesn’t mean you are forced to use a gun). Proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVe2Jlq4FiE  

  6. The NO EXCUSE way of beating Barrett: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVe2Jlq4FiE 
    With the barrel throwing strategy (BTS), any character build with any inventory items could beat this boss (those barrels and gas canisters are pretty obvious). Also, if that wasn’t enough, there is ammo, guns, painkillers and Cyberboost bars in the boss arena. Those boss fights provide an old school gaming moment where it’s your brains and reflexes against a hard boss (Megaman) and serves to punish all those non-thinkers. BTW I loved the article. 

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