Review by reikyu
"The best game of all time"
The PC is one weird platform. To cut it short, there is no console-style central unit to report to for development. The pay-off is complete freedom. To quote a popular games magazine, ''this means we get Army Men, Deer Avenger, Might and Magic 1 to 90000. But we also get Deus Ex. And that makes it all worthwhile.''
But is it worthwhile then?
Damn sure it is. Deus Ex is the most fun to play, addictive, deep, awe-inspiring game in decades. While calling it ''the best game of all time'' might be a question of personal taste, you cannot deny that this game offers the best blend of action, adventure, shooting, sneaking, RPG elements, good plot and so on and so on that you could possibly ask for. While you could still like, say, Baldur's Gate II/Final Fantasy VIII/Half-Life/Soldier of Fortune/Thief II/WHATEVER better, Deus Ex is OBJECTIVELY the king. I cannot imagine how you couldn't like it. You probably should be an FPS/action/adventure hater, but then you wouldn't be here in the first place, right? The reason why no game could really be called the best is because there are so many different genres. Well, Deus Ex takes all these genres, mashes them together, boils them up, and serves a tasty stew.
What's so good about it?
Well basically its stunningly coherent design. In, say, Half-Life or Soldier of Fortune, you could enjoy a certain degree of freedom; you could kill your buddy researchers/civilians and have fun with their corpses. The thing is, this wouldn't modify the way the game behaved towards you: ok, in some games your score goes down if you kill innocents, but it all feels ''fake'', doesn't it? In other games, if you kill, say, the person you should protect, or the terrorist leader you should question, you simply get a ''GAME OVER''. Deus Ex is beyond this structure. Deus Ex MOCKS this structure. You have, with a few exceptions, COMPLETE FREEDOM. You can kill kids in the street who beg you for a candy bar. You can go in the ladies' toilet and watch an unamused secretary scorn at you. You can hack into your company's PCs and read your boss's e-mails. You can take a girl out to a disco, kill her and nick her money. It's up to you. After a bit you'll actually be following the choices you'd PERSONALLY make. The cool thing is that what you do actually affects the outcome of your missions and the way other people in the game relate to you. If you, to mention the example above, go into the ladies' toilet, you'll be reproached for it when you go speak to your boss. Wnat another example? Here goes. At a certain point in the game, you're ordered (against normal procedures) to kill a suspect, because your boss wants to see this guy dead. You're in a small bedroom, facing this friendly, undarmed guy whom you should simply arrest, and your partner arrives. You know that if you don't shoot him, she'll do it. So what do you do? Ignore him to have him killed by your partner? Follow orders and shoot him? Or even let him live and attack your partner instead? It is entirely up to you. You can choose your mission approach: be the good guy and use non-lethal weapons, be the sneaker and use covert methods, be the badass and jump into combat with a rocket launcher, etc. Complete freedom.
Well, uh, no. Okay, these next few lines are probably gonna let you down a bit. It's not like you can kill ANYBODY...I mean, if you killed one of the main bad guys when you see him in the first stages of the game (and he's friendly), the game's plot would have to suffer too many twists to fit onto one only cd. This is why many people are immortal. This means that if you attack people you shouldn't be able to kill, they'll attack you and soon you'll get killed. But luckily, most of the civilians and side-characters are ''killable''.
The plot is good, very detailed, but not the best I've ever seen. If you have a PSX and have played any Square game you'll know what I mean. There are a bit too many characters for the game to feel like an action movie, but hey, that's not a flaw, is it? Anyway, the plot is good enough to keep you entertained.
The RPG elements fit very well into the game. Basically your advancement is based on ''Skills'' and ''Augmentations''. This is how they work...
Skills are your...skills. There's a set of abilities which can be evolved through four levels thanks to ''Skill points'' which you receive by completing mission objectives, side quests, etc. These include using light weapons, rifles, grenades, picking locks, hacking computers, swimming, the lot. It's very unlikely - no, it's impossible to finish the game (without cheating) with all your skill at maximum level. Depending on what you choose to improve, your choices through the game will have to change. For instance, you have to take out a huge robot and can use a rocket launcher like a turtle can play basketball; on the other hand, you're very skilled at hacking into computers. So what so you do? Take it on one-on-one with your heavy GEP gun or hack into security and switch it off? Of course, skills don't mean that you can or can't do something-they mean that you can do something better than something else.
''Augmentations'' are cool. Basically your character, JC Denton, is a ''nano-augmented'' agent, meaning he's got lots of invisible little machines in his body which give him superhuman abilities. Basically you'll find ''augmentation canisters'' which give you special abilities like running fast, becoming invisible, creating a spy drone from your brain, auto-healing etc. You can use them at the cost of your Bio-electric energy which can be recharged by using cells. The thing is, you'll often have to choose between two possible augmentations for each canister. You'll get the choice between running fast/running silently, infrared vision/improved radar vision, and so on. More freedom.
You get the idea. On with the score.
It's not good as Half-Life or SoF as a shooter, and not as good as Thief II as a sneaker, but AGES better than THE LOT in overall. You can even play basketball. You can use drugs. You can get drunk. You can go out with girls to discos. You can kill kids who piss you off. You can throw gas grenades in discos and watch everyone chicken out. And all with your personal weapon, which can be chosen among stealth guns, nanotech swords (Jedi-style! yes!), shurikens, tranquilizer darts, proximity mines, GEP guns...and cats die if you jump on them. Yes.
There's no actual character introspection, which left me a bit disappointed. JC Denton, the main guy, changes his attitude according to your behaviour, but it's not that evident, so in the end he looks a bit flat. The plot itself is interesting, if you like X-Files style conspiracies, but not awesome. The shifting storylines are actually all details in the major plot, but they don't feel useless at all. The thing is that the background is very well detailed, but the plot, even if it keeps you interested, lacks major twists (apart from a few good ones...)Still, you could think that they wanted to keep it ''realistic'' more than ''action movie style''. It definitely is very realistic. One last note for the endings (yes, they're lots, in case you didn't understand already): plot-wise, they're all a bit disappointing, but they're very interesting if you think of the political theories behind them. The political background in Deus Ex is VERY good. Good history students will recognise lots of famous political theories in it ;). You can get more details on the plot by reading books/e-mails, but the cool thing is that you don't HAVE to. You can just get on with the game if you want to, and even then you don't feel as if you're missing important details. The plot is as intricate as YOU want it to be.
Music KICKS ASS. I could listen to the intro music for AGES. Effects are very good too. The dubbing is, in my opinion, almost perfect, although some might not like JC's ''Solid Snake Style'' low voice. Could've been better, but overall audio is great.
With a decent graphics card (Glide recommended) the games looks beautiful. The places you visit are very varied, and won't get you bored. Shame they used so little facial textures....all the doctors and secretaries look the same. Oh well. Bot design is BEAUTIFUL. Do yourself a favour, deactivate a bot and then go stare at it. Just lovely. Gore isn't as good as Soldier of Fortune, in fact the only way you can rip a corpse is by shredding it to pieces with a grenade/rocket. Pity. Oh, and why is it always night?
4 difficulty levels, shifting plot, different augmentations/skills, different ways to win a mission, side quests, different weapons, books to read, four endings, COOL CHEAT MODE, and so on...need I continue?
Buy it! Now! I don't see while you're here reading this! It's time to get off your comfy seat and BUY THIS GAME! And if you have it already then quit reading all this and PLAY IT! PLAY IT! PLAY IT! PLAY IT! PLAY IT! PLAY IT! PLAY IT!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 05/27/01, Updated 05/27/01
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