Deus Ex: Human Revolution: A Sequel We Always Wanted

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DX9 vs. DX11, Conclusion

One of the questions that's been raised about Human Revolution is whether or not the game actually looks as good as the trailers and official screenshots imply. The answer is a qualified yes, as demonstrated below.

The official screenshot is on the left, the actual gameplay shot is on the right

We weren't able to capture the exact frame, but if you look at the man coming down the stairs, the two are very close. The detail levels between the two are more-or-less identical; the official shot looks like someone applied an HDR filter for dramatic effect. This is generally true for most of the shots available online, with tram cars being a notable exception. In some of the official shots, the overhead tram cars are decorated with decals and graffiti tags. In-game, they're plain white boxes. 

DX9 vs. DX11:  It Depends On Where You Look

Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes advantage of DX11, but it does so in a way that makes us think the engine's support for high-detail open spaces is limited. Take a look at the difference between DX9 and DX11 in a small space.

DX9 is on the left, DX11 on the right
Here, the difference between the two is quite noticeable. Megan Reed's model doesn't change much, but the elevator glass is much more detailed.

Detroit. Again, DX9 on the left, DX11 on the right

Once Adam steps into the wider world, the visual difference between the two API's largely evaporates. The major distinction comes down to soft shadows, which Human Revolution only supports through DX11. The shift back towards DX9 rendering for city environments might go unremarked if it weren't for a few glaring issues—like cars.

You could drop that model in the original game and it'd scarcely look out of place. There are a few other shortcuts (like the overhead tram cars) that look more like they might have been last-minute changes to improve performance. Either that, or it's some sort of ironic social commentary.


We recently discussed the problems surrounding Crytek's DX11 implementation in Crysis 2. Thankfully, there's no sign of similar abuses in DX:HR; the game's overall use of tessellation is fairly subtle.

Tessellation is off in the left-hand screenshot

Tessellation improves the model's three-dimensional structure, but doesn't make a huge difference. Gamers still using DX9 don't need to worry about a second-class play experience.


In-game performance mirrors what we saw between how DX11 is used indoors vs. outside. We ran two basic benchmarks. In the first, we ran a loop through the Detroit area multiple times and captured the average framerate. For the second, we fought through a battle in a large warehouse. The benchmarks below were performed using a Radeon 5970 with all detail levels maxed out relative to the API in use. DX11 used soft shadows and tessellation; Edge AA was enabled in both cases, while Vsync was turned off.

We didn't expect to see much of a difference between DX11 and DX9 while walking through Detroit; our IQ analysis indicated DX11's features weren't much in use to start with. In smaller areas, in the midst of battle, the difference between DX11 and DX9 is more apparent but the game's performance doesn't scale all that strongly against resolution. 1900x1200 displays 75 percent more pixels than 1440x900, but improves performance by just 17 percent.

Gamers looking to improve framerates on lower-end cards should consider disabling ambient occlusion (SBAO) and opting for normal shadows.


Human Revolution isn't perfect. Neither was the first Deus Ex. The voice acting is of variable quality and the game's first few missions virtually require a stealthy approach due to Jensen's baseline squishiness. Save game loads and level transitions take a consistent 40 seconds on a conventional hard drive. That doesn't sound like much the first time, but it adds up very quickly when you're trying to sneak through an area without being spotted or testing various approaches to a room full of bad guys.

The criticisms are valid, but the game transcends its flaws. If you liked the original Deus Ex, or you think you'd like it based on its description, buy this game. Sometimes, it's just that simple.

  • Sequel to well-loved classic
  • Open-ended puzzles
  • It's Deux Ex
  • Solid story


  • Long loading times
  • Inconsistent voice acting
  • No Skull Gun


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