The Deus Ex Verdict

After much procrastination and dilly-dallying, I’ve finally complete Deus Ex. Hoorah!

The game is definitely good out of ten, at least. It’s been repeatedly lauded since it’s launch, so that shouldn’t come as all that much of a surprise.

There are several reasons for it’s goodness, however, one of which is it’s slickness and it’s polish. Apart from a little awkwardness picking up items from time to time, everything works as it should; hacking is to the point; cover works like a dream, and contextual actions are always there when they should be. Combined with a pretty functional interface (to all those who hate having the golden outlines on, I ask the question how much more fun is it to pixel-hunt?), and we have one of my key ingredients for a good game – smooth execution – down to a tee.

Satisfaction is another thing this game does particularly well, and this is not particularly referring to visceral and meaty combat so much as the supreme thrill of sneaking past guards, taking them out when isolated, deactivating cameras and completing an objective without ever having been seen (thus netting you “ghost” bonus experience; a fittingly-named reward). Again, this is reliant on the cover system, which I feel was an important and worthy addition to the game. Forget first-person purism (although I suppose they could have tried the first-person approach that Red Orchestra 2 has tried), this cover system works.

Also, the stories’ key moral dichotomy is an interesting one: the debate about human augmentation. The game is much less about “the good path” and “the evil path” (although these more simplistic moral choices are often evident in individual situations), but your personal take on this issue. I had a very difficult time deciding how to end the final mission, which is a good sign of me actually caring about the outcome.

There are alot of little touches that make the game enjoyable too; hundreds of emails you can read (ranging from top-secret communiques between the most powerful corporate entities in the world to Nigerian 419 scames), little post-it notes with useful or amusing tidbits, or even posters in guard’s rooms.

 

There are flaws though, of course. I’ve already mentioned the boss battles in a previous post: and they really are more and more unforgivable the more I think about them. The fact is, this is a game which you can complete without killing a single person (such a rarity in games as a whole, let alone first-person shooters) apart from the damn bosses. It may be argued that you are placed in an you-or-them scenario whereby you must kill them or be killed, but frankly that argument could just as easily be applied to any guard or gangster you are at odds with in the rest of the game; and it didn’t stop me sneaking past, stunning, tranquillising or otherwise incapacitating most of them instead of putting a bullet to their brain. The very last boss [SPOILER! SPOILER!] is probably the worst offender, since it’s vulnerable parts are three unconscious and unaware human beings who are plugged into a computer [END OF SPOILER]. Eidos have said that they outsourced the boss battles. I’d suggest that they use their own design team for the whole game next time, since it did such an admirable job with the rest of the game.

I’d also put in a slight complaint due to the relative linearity the games’ path takes: there are only two truly open areas (Detroit and Hengsha Island), with the rest of the game (probably at least half it’s content) being particular levels with particular objectives. There are of course a huge amount of options as to how to complete these objectives, as well as the levels themselves being fairly large, but I’m a sucker for the open-world and I’d have really appreciated more of it.

 

Still. Minor complaints aside, it’s a truly fine piece of game. Play it now, why don’t you?

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