Review by Ofisil

Reviewed: 05/10/10

God from the Nanomachine

Deus Ex is a FPS\RPG hybrid developed by Ion Storm. Yes that’s right… Ion Storm, the company that made Daikatana has made a great game like Deus Ex, a wonderful mixture of stealth-oriented FPS game and an RPG where you can upgrade your skills and interact with various characters. Deus Ex’s greatest feature is its highly non-linear nature since you can do things in many different ways. The following review though is a bit negative despite the high score and that because while I loved the game it had the potential to be an even better one. Sorry but I have a bad habit of being very strict with the things I like… :) Now lets see what this game is all about.

Story: 10/10
Presentation: 7.5/10

Stories that delve with world-domination conspiracies and dystopian\orwellian sci-fi future settings are one of my favorite ones and Deus Ex is a game that includes all these. You are JC Denton, an agent for an antiterrorist coalition in the USA. Most top agents there are mechs, cyborbs with mechanical parts all over their body. They are tough but can’t exactly blend with the population. You are like a normal human being on the outside, (despite the weird eyes and terminator-like profile), but on the inside millions of nanomachines in your body augment your skills, so you can see better in the dark, have more strength, be faster and so on. In your first day at work your boss sends you on a mission to wipe out the NSF from the face of the Liberty Island where a half destroyed statue of liberty now lies. After this typical mission you’ll start doubting the real purpose of your organization, start wondering about your own self, realize that you can’t trust anyone and will come upon various mysterious organizations that fight over absolute world domination.

While I loved the plot of Deus Ex there is way too much room for improvement. What I mean is that while the story is good it sucks a bit in terms of presentation and character development. All characters are pretty boring, even the ones that are supposed to be the most interesting ones. JC Denton is not very convincing as a character that unfolds so many hidden secrets and doesn’t actually “evolve” throughout the course of the game. Also although there are enough plot twists to keep you interested, the game’s secrets are a bit too “in your face”. From the very start of the game you see who the main bad guy is and even when you learn that there are some other folk around that want to rule the world in their own way you won’t exactly be surprised due to the overall predictable nature of the plot.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Replay Value: 9/10

The basics:
Hmmm… where should I start? Well, first of all Deus Ex is a tactical shooter, where you don’t just run towards your enemies with guns blazing, but instead plan your approach, hide in the shadows and kill your enemies in the most efficient and silent way possible. The great thing in Deus Ex though is that unlike most tactical shooters you actually can have some good ol’ pure shooting fun. The game however shows its greatest aspects when you play in a more stealthy way. There is only one problem here and that has to do with the bad AI of the enemies, which can be unrealistic and problematic at times. First of all unlike the Thief or Metal Gear games, here you can’t tell if an enemy can see you or not. It is unclear what the distance between you and your enemies must be in order to stay hidden and sometimes even though you are in the darkest area of the room they can see you. Also when they see you they run like crazy towards you or after you hurt them a bit they still run like crazy but in the opposite direction.

The RPG section:
But as I’ve said Deus Ex is also a RPG and that because your character can upgrade his main skills and even add some new ones. You can improve your accuracy or your skill with a certain type of weaponry, (melee, rifles, explosives, etc), become better at lock picking and electronic devices thus being able to unlock a door or bypass a security device by using less tools than normal. By carefully selecting what to upgrade you can create characters that specialize in certain areas thus enabling you to create a character that suits your needs although some of the skills aren’t so good like for example the swimming skill. You can also add some special skills called augmentations that you use by spending bioenergy, the equivalent of mana in most games. These powers go in certain parts of your body and are permanent so you must carefully select what to add. For example you can either add a faster run and jumping power in your legs or a run silently one but not both. Many of these augmentations are quite innovative like the ability to create a flying spy drone that you can lead to machinery and destroy them with its EMP attack, (electromagnetic pulse).

Metal Gear Solid is the best??? Yeah, right, whatever!!!:
The best thing in Deus Ex though is the numerous ways in which you can achieve a task. For example: Lets say that you need to enter a building that is guarded by patrolling guards, robots, surveillance cameras and traps like explosives or defensive turrets. #1You can do it the old fashion way by hiding in the shadows, killing enemies as silently as possible, (with the use of riot prods, silenced pistols or crossbows with tranquilizers), while avoiding the cameras, destroying the robots with a bomb and entering into the building by unlocking a door with a lock pick. No lock pick? Simply shoot the door or if that is not enough destroy it with a grenade! No grenade? Buy one. No money? Hack an ATM!!! #2 The second old fashioned way, enter through an air duct and avoid the booby traps inside by disabling them with your high-tech tools. #3 kill enemies from a distance with a sniper rifle and if you want plant some tear gas grenades in some walls to stun enemies that will hunt you down. #4 hack into an electronic device and turn the surveillance cameras and robots off and make turrets shoot your enemies! #5, #6, #7!!! You can almost do anything! Yeah some ways are better than others and some are too boring or too easy or too hard but it’s up to you to choose what you want to do. The only bad thing here is the way you gain experience. Apart from the EXP for completing a mission you get minor additional EXP for entering a structure in a different way. So in order to gain all the EXP you enter through the door, then exit and go from the backdoor, exit enter through the sewers and so on. On the good side the game has the right length, not too short like FPS games and not too long like RPGs.

Graphics: 7.6/10
Design: 7.4/10

Usually FPS games get famous for their graphics. Deus Ex is one of the few exceptions since its graphics, while good aren’t exactly what you could expect from a game that uses the UT engine. The level design is quite simple with very boring to look at areas, due to the lack of detail, simple textures, bad choice of colors and overall darkness. At least they get the job done, which in this case is to create the atmosphere of a dark, dangerous future. The characters are even worse, with bad animation and simplistic design and textures. They don’t look so bad, however they all look the same! Apart from 4-5 key characters the rest are just a bunch of differently textured clones. The NSF terrorist group for example has only 2 models available, the armored one and the “casual” one, the women in the game use the same model and there is a very small number of models for the rest of the people you will see in the dark streets of Deus Ex. On the good side Deus Ex manages to have a certain appeal despite these problems, due to its “dirty” and dark atmosphere and futuristic look.

Sound: 7/10
Music: 6/10

The sound effects are not so good for a stealth oriented RPG-ish game. Weapon sounds, explosions and various other ambient sounds get the job done but could be better… especially the weapons that sound a bit too weak. The voice acting is quite flat with all characters speaking in a sleepy monotone kind of way and completely lacking emotion. The music is just… there. It doesn’t help improve the overall atmosphere of the game or make battles more adrenaline pumping but it isn’t irritating either. I personally play the game with no music at all…

-Good story, taking place in a futuristic, dystopian world
-A great tactical FPS\RPG hybrid
-You can upgrade your skills and add special powers your character
-Many ways to complete a task \ high replay value

-The plot is good but it leaves something to be desired in terms of presentation
-Despite its non-linearity it can get a bit repetitive
-Bad AI
-The way you gain EXP
-Bad voice acting

Also Play:
Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (PC)
Project: IGI (PC)
System Shock 1 & 2 (PC)
Thief (Series)(PC)

Overall: 7.9/10

Deus Ex doesn’t have the cinematic qualities of Metal Gear, the realism of IGI, or the graphics of F.E.A.R. what it has though is an exceptionally high replay value since you can do things in many, many different ways. Deus Ex isn’t perfect… but it is surely very close!

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Deus Ex (US, 06/23/00)

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