In 2005, Thomas L. Friedman first introduced the world to the term outsourcing as part of his book The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. He stated that ‘flattening’ was a way of describing a world that was becoming increasingly connected in an economic, informational, and technological way. For most of us, outsourcing is only really apparent in the telemarketing or customer service industries.
These days outsourcing pieces of projects is a common business practice within several industries including video games, maybe even the critically acclaimed Square Enix title, Deus Ex: Human Revolution – which, despite its many accolades, was almost universally criticized for uninspired boss battles.
A post on Gameranx posits a hypothesis for why the boss battles in Deus Ex: Human Revolution are so terrible – or, at the very least, reducible to nothing more than mindless grenade spamming. At issue, other than the tactics used to defeat bosses, is the fact that the boss encounters within DE:HR are such a stark departure from the rest of the game’s elements. In particular, players have stated on several different forums that the boss encounters in DE:HR make the title more of a shooter than an RPG.
The company responsible for the boss battle mechanics in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Grip Entertainment, has also not helped matters with the release of a behind-the-scenes featurette detailing their work on the boss encounters in, as they refer to it, DX3. Dr. Paul A. Kruszewski, President of Grip Entertainment, appears in (and narrates) the video which you can check out below:
One choice quote that will no doubt enrage already tense gamers: “Full confession: I’m a shooter guy. I was coming into this not knowing a lot about the Deus Ex world, and afterwards just talking to people, and seeing how excited they were, it made me really understand that this is a big franchise.”
Some would argue this was a key problem in the game’s development. The rest of the video delves into things like OODA loops – as Kruszewski continually emphasizes the word “fun.” Though to be fair, Kruszewski does state that you can’t know what augmentations a player will come into a boss battle with – and, as a result, it’s difficult to tailor the encounter with a specific loadout or even some base level in mind.
Wrong or right, in the opinion of many, Grip Entertainment failed to deliver on the promise of fun boss battles – while at the same time making a strong argument against the outsourcing of portions of a game’s development, at the very least to a developer that is so disconnected from the property. Despite these setbacks, DE:HR has sold pretty well. Lets hope that the upcoming DLC, The Missing Link, avoids some of the pitfalls of the main game. Perhaps next time Eidos Montreal should concentrate less on a clothing line and more on game content.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is out now for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.