The Good, The Bad, and What The?: Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution

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Welcome to this week’s article of The Good, Bad, and What The?, where we took a good, long look at characters in movies, video games, anime, and books and put them on the judgement table to see if they are worthy to be in their respective stories. I strongly believe that well developed characters are more important than anything else in a good story, so I always judge them hard. At the end of every character’s evaluation I will give them one of four ratings: Good for those characters that are developed and deserve their place in the story, Bad for those characters that have no place being made or interacting with anyone else in the story, What The for the characters I just can’t figure out, and then the characters who are dull as dishwasher will get the rating of Sack of Potatoes. Today on the judgement table: Adam Jensen, the main character of “Deus Ex: Human Revolution.”

Adam Jensen
Adam Jensen

Adam Jensen was head of security personnel who worked for a very important human augmentation company called Sarif Industries. The company is attacked almost immediately after starting the game. Jensen goes to fight off the attackers and is horribly injured to the brink of death. The only way to save him is to cover his body with these state of the art augments. In the battle, the attackers kidnapped Jensen’s ex-girlfriend and co-worker, Megan, along with several scientist on the Sarif team. Jensen then goes out with his brand new super human body to get the scientists back and get revenge on the people who almost killed him. In his path for vengeance, he finds out there is a larger scheme at work trying to control the world.
Jensen is one of those characters who is fairly old right when things start up. They do not state his age outright, as far as I can remember, but they state his birth day and the game takes place in 2027. With doing the math, with his birthday being March 9, 1993, Jensen is 34 years old. Due to being well into adulthood already, Jensen doesn’t have a super huge change like many other characters who are much younger than him. When you are that old, your ways are kind of more set in stone, you know who you are already. Some people may look at this factor as a big negative in the design of your character, but I don’t agree that this is an automatic black mark. Of course, you want characters that are interesting, but you also want them to make sense, and you want them to seem possible. If you have a guy who is 50 and through the course of the game he realizes how to do banking for the first time ever in his life, it might be a bit weird. Jensen does grow a bit, he does realize that his revenge was not necessarily the correct answer and some of the violence may have been able to be avoided.  Enough about that though, let us move on to his persona and attitude in general.

Deus_Ex_HR_Megan_3359
Megan Reed

Jensen, unfortunately, is a cliché. He is the big, strong, tough, and manly head of security. Before his job at Sarif, he was a SWAT team member, and a police officer before that. Now these jobs are a good way to explain why Jensen is so good with fighting and using weapons, so I’m okay with those being his past jobs, because it makes sense. However, it still holds true that there isn’t anything super deep about him. His persona makes him a big cool guy who whoops a lot of butt and takes crap from no one. His voice stays relatively flat and rasping all the time. He is the kind of guy who comes to mind when you think of a main character from an action movie like “The Expendables.” This game is an RPG, so there are players choices and decisions. Many of these are the kind of things that are legally debatable or morally correct. He is the kind of guy *insert manly raspy voice here* who walks on the edge of the law. I don’t exactly hate this kind of character, you gotta have the super cool guy with the big guns and such every once in a while, but in this case I didn’t like it as much. The main reason that I think Jensen should have been more than a standard macho man is because of the nature of the story in “Deus Ex: Human Revolution.”

The story of this game has a lot of political scheming and evil corporations trying to take power for themselves. There are a lot of complexities in the way that the characters are intertwined and the interactions of good and evil are very blurry. You don’t always know exactly who to trust or who is the good and bad. You are searching for the three specific mercs who almost killed Jensen, but you don’t who your true enemy really is till you get to almost the end of the game. With all the ins and outs of the story and the crazy scheming going on, Jensen seems kind of out of place. He is much more simple than the things going on around him, so it feels like a missed opportunity. As the player, you start debating and contemplating the motives of many of the other characters and start breaking down the web of alliances and such in your head. You grow a sense of weariness when meeting the other characters that Jensen doesn’t seem to really share. He acts very “This is what I must do and this is how I shall do it” for most of the game. Basically, he gets tunnel visioned and doesn’t pay attention to the politics of the game. Eventually, when things start coming together, Jensen begins to question things, but you are sitting there with the controller thinking, “Little late there, Jensen.” This isn’t because Jensen is dumb, either. He is a man who gets very focused, and as such, a lot of the stuff going on kind of got past him. He was going out on his mission, so things were going on behind him basically. But I still wish that there was as much complexity to Adam Jensen as there was in a lot of the story aspects.

There was one small part to Jensen that seemed interesting, though: the story behind his parents and his step parents. This element to his character was a sort of small little side quest situation, so it is very easy to miss it. I also felt that maybe they could have done more with it. I wish Jensen’s family life was more integrated into the main story of the overall game.

So down to my verdict of Jensen. I say Jensen is Bad. It really comes down to the fact I wish he was less cliché than he was, and that he was just plain deeper. He is a very big loner and emotionally very conserved. You don’t get very much insight in the way he feels about things, he just gets them done. Now I do think I kind of understand why Jensen was this way though. With so much work and focus on the main story of the game, I think they wanted to keep Jensen more simple so they could focus on other aspects of things. Whether I think this strategy is okay or a bad idea is kind of hard to say. What I can say is I greatly enjoyed “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” and I thought the story was very good so in the case it seemed to work out. Main characters can either carry a story or pull it down, but in Jensen’s case he more just clicked into place. Didn’t make the story any worse but didn’t add a huge boost. I don’t like him much as a character but I also kind of understand why he is that way.