Part One: Deus Ex (one)
Update: I was originally going to include a plot summary with this, but it started getting into the word count of over 3000, so I figured it’d be better suited for separate post considering that it is what has been delaying my post schedule last week.
As I’ve said before, I’ve been a fan of the Deus Ex series since the very first entry in the series. I started by renting Deus Ex: The Conspiracy from Blockbuster one day, because I saw a particularly cool advert in a gaming magazine. Long story short, I rented the game and fell in love.
The Deus Ex series has been based in the realm of rampant conspiracies. The Illuminati, The Trilateral Commission, Majestic 12 (MJ12), aliens, the New World Order, UN takeovers; you name the conspiracy, and Deus Ex covers it in some way. Deus Ex sucked me in, and secured a place in my collection of much loved games. So much so that I ended up buying a copy of the game for the PC a few years ago, despite how dated it looks.
Deus Ex takes place in a futuristic world where nanomachines have started to become part of the normal course of life. Nanites are in food for goodness sake…
Nanotechnology has become such a big part of society in the Deus Ex universe that the main character, JC Denton, has been augmented using the tech and the player can further upgrade Denton throughout the course of the game. These advancements have come at the heels of mechanical augmentations being phased out. The result of this is there are prejudices that Denton faces from his mechanically augmented coworkers, whom face similar prejudices from the general public as well.
The modern world rests at the precipice of disaster. A plague, the Grey Death, has been killing off thousands and the governments of the world rely on a secret vaccine that companies like Versalife and Page Industries manufacture. The Northwest Secessionist Forces (NSF) and a French terrorist group named Silhouette have allegedly staged attacks that have prompted the UN to create the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO), of which Denton and his brother work for.
Civil unrest has led to crackdowns on terrorism, which has bled over into curtailing the rights of the average citizen. Martial law has become common in places like the US. People are disappearing and rumors are circulating about the vaccine for the Grey Death, which causes rifts in society. The widening gap between ultra-rich and ultra-poor has been further exacerbated by the additional perks that the rich receive. They’re untouched by the problems of the poor.
Basically the western world is owned by corporations and citizens of those countries are seeing the effects of unchecked capitalism and corruption. Meanwhile, China is experiencing a renaissance of sorts by coupling their strong government with elements of western capitalism (like they are today).
And this is where you’re thrust into the world of Deus Ex. It’s a cyberpunk conspiracy.
THE GAME: IN SUMMARY
I’ll start with the graphics and sound design. Put nicely, there are graphics and sounds. Deus Ex has not aged well at all. In fact, it looks horrifying in a totally unintentional way. I won’t rail on it too much, considering that I love playing it to this day, but if you’re jumping into the game for the first time, be warned. To be fair, it is a game from the turn of the millennium, but holy hell.
The gameplay leaves much to be desired too. The AI is ludicrously stupid considering that they run into the open… You know what, just picture the arcade games like Time Crisis and you’ll have a good idea of what I’m talking about. Gunplay is as clunky as an early ’90s cell phone and targeting can be a huge pain in the ass early in the game, but as you level up it gets better.
Where Deus Ex shines however, is in the RPG elements. There are several ways to play and you often have the option to be non-lethal, or you can be extremely lethal. Very few NPCs in the game are essential, so you can often “solve” your problems by murdering people, though it kinda breaks the game to do things that way. That’s not to say that the dialogue is deserving of any awards though. There are many points in the game where it’s downright painful to listen to, and later in the game it appears that the devs asked the voice actors to sounds as bored as humanly possible. Especially when it comes to NPC dialogue.
The player gains experience points for completing missions and tasks, but can earn bonus points for exploration and things like that. Those points are spent to upgrade your various skills, like your ability with lockpicking and using firearms. In addition to this, there are various nanotech augmentations that can provide unique abilities and require the player to make a choice in each slot. Each augmentation is powered with bioelectricity, which can be refilled with bioelectric cells.
Deus Ex also features a winding plot that sounds like it came from Mel Gibson’s character in the movie Conspiracy Theory. If there is anything that makes me want to recommend Deus Ex to anyone, it’s the story. I’d say that it’s enough that someone interested in the lore of the series would be willing to overlook the problems that plague the original game. There are also reworks of the original on PC that provide some much needed fixes and minor updates, like Deus Ex The Revision.
Up next is Deus Ex: The Invisible War!
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