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Deus Ex

Ever since the closing of Looking Glass Studios I have been in mourning over the death of deep games. What do I mean by deep games? I mean games with so much depth, story, and detail that it's almost overwhelming. Looking Glass was the one developer that seemed to have mastered that, and as soon as it was made evident, they moved on. In comes Deus Ex. Coming from Ion Storm, I was skeptical, but it also comes from their Austin Division, which had nothing to do with Daikatana. Seeing Deus Ex at E3 gave me new hope in the resurgence of deep games. That hope has been made manifest with the game's release.

Translated, Deus Ex is Latin meaning (as best I can figure) "From God". Upon first glance, this means very little, if nothing at all. However, once you are pulled deep into the unrelenting claws of Deus Ex, things become clear, even through the blur of an ever-twisting plot.

You play the role of J.C. Denton, recent initiate in the United Nations secret anti-terrorist group known as UNATCO (United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition). The prime objective of UNATCO is a swift, albeit aggressive approach to sweep out terrorism. Their belief is that terrorists can't be dealt with diplomatically, so deal with them using the same force that they feel it necessary to use. If this weren't honor enough, you are one of only two nanotechnologically-augmented agents in the world, your brother being the only other. With this comes powers and, of course, cool toys.

The world of Deus Ex is a future world that has fallen on dark days. The world is ravaged by a horrible plague known as the Grey Death. This plague has swept through cities and countries the world over, rendering millions dead. One of UNATCO's duties is to administer the cure for the Grey Death, known as Ambrosia. The only catch is that the public doesn't know about this cure, at least not yet. The cure currently gets shipped to politicians, dignitaries, and billionaires the world over to ensure that the world's economy does not crash. J.C. comes into the picture with his first mission, taking place on Liberty Island, N.Y. (sight of the Statue of Liberty). Inside the statue, a terrorist group knows as the NSF is holding an agent hostage, and you soon find that the NSF is now aware of Ambrosia and intends to replicate it and release it to the public. This alone could make a good two-hour movie; however, this isn't even the smallest tip of the iceberg.

Deus Ex has one of the most intricate stories I have ever seen. As you progress through the game, sides are constantly switching, and more and more hands are put into the pot of world control. Just when you think you've figured out who controls what, things change again. None of the story changes quite as profoundly as something like The Sixth Sense; however, the fact that the story is a continuing curve that you can almost see around keeps you on edge. While some factions may seem to be the absolute underlying evil throughout most of the game, in the end things change around so that it's almost hard to tell who was controlling whom. The story is so branched that there are three completely different endings, each of which is set into motion through different means and explain a different piece of the story. The game changes aren't always linear, either, while the main ribbon of story is set -- how you go about it and the underlying subplots can be changed drastically depending on how you handle situations.

Storytelling isn't the only thing in Deus Ex that's detail-rich; the gameplay itself is quite rewarding and branching. Deus Ex is a dash of System Shock, a helping of Thief, and spoon full of Soldier of Fortune, all rolled into one. As far as role-playing elements go, the setup will be familiar to System Shock fans, as you gain experience points as you progress through the game. These points can be used to increase accuracy in different weapon classes, increase your savvy with hacking and electronics, or even increase how long you can hold your breath underwater. By increasing weapons accuracy, you increase the obvious accuracy of shooting, but if you have a scope on your weapon, you also increase how steadily you hold the scope. This becomes extremely important as you try to stay concealed to save your life while still taking out your adversaries. By increasing your skill with computers, electronics, and lock picking, you decrease the time, difficulty, and the number of lock picks and hacking tools (known as MultiTools) you need to use. This, too, becomes extremely important, as overriding security measures makes many things unbelievably easier on you; however, tools to do this can become scarce. Thief fans will be happy, as Deus Ex is not a game in which to go charging in, guns blazing. Hiding in sniper spots, giving an electric charge from behind, and avoiding detection can be the difference between life and death. However, not everything is cloak and dagger. Sometimes the situation calls for mass destruction. Sporting over 20 different weapons, Deus Ex is quite the shooter. Snipers can aim a shot to the head to drop the enemies quickly and quietly, while the aggressive ones can toss a highly explosive device known as a LAM into the mix and take out some highly dangerous mechanized robots.

With such a boggling diversity of gameplay, Deus Ex naturally has a boggling array of approaches. A single building usually has at least two methods of entry, and you can often lose count of how many ways you can get in. Don't have a lock pick? Blow down the door. Leave your LAM's at home? Try sneaking around back and see if you can find an open airshaft. There's an entrance for all occasions in almost all locations of the game. This attention to detail is unrelenting. The game features everything from working showers and flushing toilets to pigeons on rooftops. Side stories abound, as you find distressed parents in Paris fretting over their sons' involvement with the local military force, to a Newsstand owner in Hong Kong being harassed for not paying her fees to the local gang. The game will take you from the gritty streets of New York, to the markets of Hong Kong, to the catacombs of Paris and back again. You can go through one level where everyone is on your side; the next time, through, they might be your worst enemies…and vice versa.

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REVIEW STATS

Author:
Adam (Dead Regime) Ingle
July 24, 2000
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Reviewer's System:
P2-450
256 MB RAM
Creative 3D Blaster Annihilator Pro
(GeForce256 DDR)
Diamond MX300
Cable Modem
2x DVD-ROM
8x/20x Imation CDR
10.2 GB HD and 2 GB HD

System Requirements:
P300 higher P3 or Athlon rec
64 MB RAM / 128 rec
DX7a 3D card / 16 MB or higher 3D Accelerator rec
DX7a compatible sound / A3D or EAX rec
4x CD-ROM min / 8x rec
150 MB HDD / 750 MB

Genre:
Action/Adventure

Pulse Rating:
Concept: 100 - A prime model for excellence in gaming.
Gameplay: 100 - Oh! My! God!
Graphics: 100 - Slightly older technology; however, it's still awe-inspiring, and makes up for that and more.
Sound: 100 - Excellent use of sounds; just minor stuttering due to resources.
Technical: 80 - This game is quite a resource mammoth.
Overall: 96 - This is the kind of game hard-core gamers dream of.

Release Date:
Available

Publisher:
Eidos Interactive

Developer:
Ion Storm

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