Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut is an 'all the bells and whistles' re-release of the third Deus Ex game with the added benefits of audio commentary, redesigned boss encounters, text walkthroughs, and some Wii U tablet gimmickry. None of that has changed my mind about the game, the things that made the original good remain excellent and most of its problems remain present to some degree.
The included Missing Link DLC doesn't do much to help that. It is a diverting side-story that sheds some light on one element of the final combat encounter, but beyond that it comes across as a filler episode. It also relies on a couple of onerous gameplay tropes, de-powering the protagonist and backtracking through the same environment to prolong gameplay. This content was produced on a much smaller budget and it shows. Not only in terms of recycled art assets but that while main game cutscenes are rendered with full performance capture, the scripted elements here fall into shot-reverse-shot syle with hands out of frame dialogue exchanges as performed by rote mouth animations. It's a touch uncanny in comparison to the rest of the product.
The tablet based controls are a mixed bag. The ability to read email, sort inventory, and play the hacking mini-game on the touchscreen is really handy, but the move minimap/radar from an on-screen heads-up display to a hand-held heads down display changes the dynamic of gameplay. This is particularly troublesome for the stealth-minded player, as jerking back and forth between screens can be whiplash inducing. The tablet screen is also home to sniper scope visuals for no justifiable reason, except maybe that the devs who oversaw the port hate my sense of situational awareness. While the console controls on the initial release were loose the ones on Wii U are downright sloppy. X-axis response is sluggish near the centre and all too responsive at the edges with the y-axis movement is too slow across the board. Another performance issue from Nintendo's little black box is the fact that this title is taking up more than half of my hard drive space, and it still loads slower than the average Canada Post delivery truck.
"The tablet based controls are a mixed bag."
Another tablet feature is a full-featured digital walkthrough of every level in the game. These indicate not only initial positions for enemies but also where the team has stashed all of the various goodies. There are also written instructions and map directions for the game's three play styles (pacifist ghosts, panthers and combat wombats), that can be switched on the fly. All of these can be accessed in-game from the pause menu with very intuitive navigation options.
The highlight of this 'cut' of the game for a lot of critics was the redesigned boss fights. In the original, squaring off the game's cyborg mercenary antagonists was a clunky, inorganic process resolvable only with heavy-duty firearms. This version has intoduced an equally clunky and inorganic fix whereby players can sneak into new rooms and activate security measures to take out the enemies for them. Anything would be better than the original, but it and will never compare with the range that the original gave for taking out its evil cyborgs.
Something that does make this game feel like a proper director's cut over a GOTY edition is the inclusion of audio commentary. Designers, writers, artists and animators share their thoughts and anecdotes about production and design of the game as optional voice messages that pop up in certain contexts as well as over the cut scenes. It is rare to get this kind of insight into the process of making game that I wish more developers would find space for.
This version also features a new game plus mode unlocked after a completed playthrough and modifications to the higher difficulty levels. These are fine additions if a replay tickles the gamers fancy, but none come across as massive game changers.
If you haven't had a chance to tackle this episode in the franchise (or are looking for an excuse to replay it), the Directors Cut is a better option than the initial release, if only for the new boss fights, but don't make the Wii U version your first choice for purchasing it when it is also available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.