You may have heard of the franchise with the release Deus Ex: Human Revolution in 2011 but have you ever given thought to its origin?
Many hardcore gamers hail the original Deus Ex, developed by Ion Storm (not Eidos Montreal) and released in 2000, as the benchmark on which many games should be measured. Disappointingly, the father of the franchise gave rise to the disappointing sequel Deus Ex 2: Invisible War and despite Eidos Montreal’s attempts to emulate the original brilliance of the series, Deus Ex: Human Revolution falls short in comparison despite its success and style. Despite this, it’s the more recently released title that turns people’s heads while the game from which it originates fades slowly from modern gamer’s consciousness.
This first-person action role-playing is set in a dystopian future, heavily reliant on technology for survival and influenced by popular real world conspiracy theories. The entire game itself takes place solely at night: a dark atmosphere for a collapsing society on the brink of chaos.
While the setting itself may seem bleak the world is anything but. You will be immersed in this vibrant, complex, seedy and mysterious game that defined the cyber-punk style which has been emulated ever since.
The year is 2052 and travelling across fictionalised versions of New York, Hong Kong and Paris you encounter areas rife with terrorism and plague within this world full of rioting and poverty. You take the part of JC Denton, a nanotechnologically-enhanced super-agent of UNATCO (United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition) tasked with retrieving shipments of the Ambrosia Vaccine stolen by terrorists. As much mystery surrounds the main characters as the games events. Nothing is what it seems or appears to be and it’s uncovering all the truths that spur you on throughout the game.
The plot is mostly linear but provides you with a range of choices and a number of different endings, offering huge possibilities for the player.
The levels are extensive and fully explorable with many side-quests to uncover, allowing you to be in full control of the gaming experience as you decide how you approach the mission; full-frontal assault, stealth or varying degrees of both. There is no one way into buildings either. Ventilation systems, rooftops, sewers or even just the front door give you with masses of possibilities and a range of new gaming experiences every time.
The game is incredibly detailed, fleshing out the backstory with a host of computer emails, newspaper articles, digital logs (all there for you to read) and conversations with various characters, all of which provide insights into the world’s characters and events, providing you with important information to help you make your way through the levels. Each choice affects the game in different ways that may either help or hinder you so chose carefully!
It’s not just the story though; it’s also the gameplay that stands the test of time.
In Deus Ex you have the ability to set up your character in the way that you want using the skill-tree. There are a variety of unique skills to choose from which can be improved multiple times using XP earned from completing missions. The amount of the XP you receive varies depending on how you completed each mission.
Weapons can also be improved by finding weapon mods but these are rare in the world so they need to be assigned wisely. There’s only so much equipment you can carry, only so much ammo you can hold for each weapon so you sometimes have to make tough decisions on what not to take.
A big part of the game is JC Denton’s ability to install and upgrade augmentations. The choices you make at this point determine how the game progresses as each augmentation slot forces you to choose between stealth and assault. All these choices create a personalised character, unique to your preferences and decisions.
This game forces you to make choices, choices that will mould the shape of the game but give you hours of possibilities and a unique play-through style. By the end, each of you will have chosen differently on what storyline decisions you have made, what items you are carrying in their limited inventory, what guns you have modified to improve, what skills you have assigned and what augmentations you have chosen.
A multi-layered conspiracy filled with side-plots, twists and branching side-character storylines, Deus Ex is a tour-de-force even today. While graphically time may have not been quite so kind, there is no replacement for sheer quality and Deus Ex has that in spades. A must have for anyone that loves gaming. Graphics won’t matter when you’re fully immersed in the Deus Ex world.
In the end, the choice is yours. How will you play?
Rebecca Jones, Games Columnistbookmark me