When Ion Storm set out to create Deus Ex, it wanted to redefine the way we think of adventure and action-oriented computer games. At first glance, Deus Ex seems to be nothing more than a first-person shooter, loaded with guns and plenty of big explosions. It’s a shame, too, because many people who take a look at the product’s box will probably not try this game because of this first impression. But Deus Ex is much more; underneath the big explosions and guns is a highly intricate adventure game that will have even seasoned veterans plugging away late into the night. If you’re a beginner, you may get frustrated, as Deus Ex requires a certain level of mastery over keyboard and mouse. But practice should make perfect.
Set in the distant future, the player assumes the role of a government agent who has been surgically enhanced with biomechanical body parts. Character development has traditionally been a difficult hurdle to overcome in action computer games, but Deus Ex succeeds where others — such as Duke Nukem and Doom — have fallen short. Your character is an agent for the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition. Your limbs and organs have been replaced to make you more efficient, and you have sacrificed your position in society in order to protect the world from terrorism. As the story unfolds, you not only discover that things are not what they seem to be in the political world, but that you, yourself, are not what you seem to be. The main character’s discovery is one of personal consequence and we get to experience his growth through his eyes.
In addition to story, Deus Ex heavily focuses on realistic adventure and fighting tactics. This game is a far cry from the “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude of other first-person games like Unreal Tournament and Quake III. Instead, the player must learn how to sneak, duck, jump, and aim. Because a certain amount of dexterity is required, even the veteran gamer will need to run through the training mission to get acquainted with gameplay. While the training mission is targeted at teaching beginners the basics of how to operate a first-person shooter, it’s also a great tool for veteran players who want to brush up on their prior skills, and possibly learn a few new tricks.
This game marks the first of several this holiday season that have been ported to the Mac within one month of their PC counterpart’s release (traditionally a rarity among Mac games). While this would typically garner some skepticism as to the probable bugs and glitches in the game, Deus Ex’s Mac port has been executed with virtually no flaws, thanks to Westlake Interactive. While a few minor problems (saved-game corruption and memory leaks) with the game have been found, patches are available from Aspyr’s Website.
The only real problem with Deus Ex is its system requirements. Those of you without at least a G3 processor will have to look elsewhere for your games. Additionally, Deus Ex requires 3D hardware acceleration of some sort (all new Macs ship with this capability). If your computer is without a 3D graphics card, you’re going to find yourself up a creek. We tested the game on a number of computers and found that at the most basic level of playability, a stock Blueberry iBook was barely able to run the game. A souped-up PowerMac 6500 with a G3 processor and Voodoo5 5500 board (courtesy of 3dfx) ran the game surprisingly well, however, as did a new PowerMac G4. Also take note that Deus Ex was designed with a multiple-button mouse in mind. You can work around this limitation by using the Command key to simulate a second mouse button, but gameplay will probably become frustrating.
If games are on your gift list this holiday season, Deus Ex is one of the biggest titles of the year, and is well worth the $50. Although it’s easily one of the finest action/adventure games to hit the Mac in quite some time, this isn’t the best choice for a beginner gamer. Rather, Deus Ex fills a long-vacant spot in the veteran Mac gamer’s library as a game that requires mastering, and in so doing, will provide hundreds of hours of dark, dramatic enjoyment.
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