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Deus Ex (Windows)

90
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Pixelspeech (951)
Written on  :  Apr 09, 2012
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars

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Summary

Not been able to continue this game makes me sad :(

The Good

A while ago I reviewed a game called "Alpha Protocol" and in that review I made the point that a spy-RPG or games about conspiracies in general, are often too difficult to understand and therefore fall flat. Deus Ex however proves exactly how a story about conspiracies can be great; it has a cast of enjoyable characters that frequently appear in the story, there aren't too many factions, plot-points are well explained and there is a lot of detail. I am especially fond of the characters and how you unravel their side-stories throughout the entirety of the game.

Part of the reason for why I am so fond of the characters is that their voice-acting is of an admirable level when compared to other titles at the time. Unlike the characters from the first Half-Life, there are a lot of different voices to be found in this game, including various accents based on the region you are in. It really helps the immersion when you don't hear the same voice, repeating the same four lines of dialogue on every generic NPC you come across.

For some reason I always take the sneaky approach when the option is given to me, which is odd considering I can't stand sneaking games like Splinter Cell. While I am not a professional, the sneaking in Deus Ex seems to be very well executed. You can press X to sneak which makes you move silently and as long as you don't start hugging enemies or cross their line of sight, you can pass them fairly easily. Of course there are also cameras and other security measures to get around, but a nice little extra is the ability to install augmentations that help you avoid detection.

Upgrading is one of the main themes of this game and it works very well. I always say that a good upgrade system allows the player to make the characters their own and specialize in whatever they want, while a bad upgrade system is merely there to justify having money in the game and only forces the player to tweak already existing items/skills. When starting the game my character was very weak and useless, but as I kept playing he would soon grow into an efficient killer. Been skilled in most weapons however meant not having any of the useful skills such as lockpicking, electronics, medicine and demolition.

Along with this great upgrade system comes the game's main selling point, the amount of choice it gives the player. Here is a random scenario: import military storage room with a locked door, what do I do?; scour the area for a key or code?, lockpick the door?, hack the doorpad?, open the door by hacking a security terminal?, look for an alternative way in?, blow the door open?, trigger an alarm to lure a guard out of the door? All of these options are there and I am probably missing out on some. Some ways are more efficient than others, sometimes you will have to combine skills, but it's never impossible to complete a task with a certain set of skills.

Finally I'd like to say that I like it how each part of your body takes damage separately and losing some does not necessarily mean that you die and have to reload a save. Losing both your legs means that you will be dragging yourself forward for example, but that still makes it possible to complete your objectives. This made for a very tense moment when I was at the top of a terrorist-controlled tower and had to drag myself all the way down with no legs, no left arm and all my remaining body-parts in a critical state.

The Bad

The very first problem I would like to mention is that early on in the game objectives would literally solve themselves. A very good example was when I had to find a supply of medicine hidden somewhere in a building, but after running into a dead-end, I decided to go detective on it and find some clues. However, by the time I was ready to resume my search another agent informed me that she has found the supply herself and I can move on. This was really infuriating for me at the time, but this problem disappeared later on.

Most of the time you don't have a map screen and the game expects you to find your way around all by yourself. Most of the time I could manage, but in a level set in Hong Kong I got so insanely tired of endlessly going in circles that I gave up on an important side-quest. This is also annoying because there are many occasions where people will provide information and directions, but if many of these characters are close together you will get so many locations and information thrown at you that it starts to get overwhelming. A map would really help out here, especially if they would mark locations you found information about.

One of the problems that I found particularly odd was that fact that there was a severe lack of resources. You would think an international agency working for a global superpower would send their best agent out with more than just one clip of ammo and a single lockpick. Even in missions I often found mandatory items to be very scarce and sometimes it doesn't even make sense: A soldier spots me and fires two clips of machine gun ammo into my face, I reload and kill him before he sees me, but when I loot him I get a shocking 4 bullets.

The game is also kind of glitchy from time to time and I am not talking about just ordinary crashes. Sprites would often go insane, entire textures would disappear, invisible walls could pop up and the gamma-settings would sometimes go dark. Most of these issues are just annoyances, but for a game this immersive, it's a real kick in the nuts.

One thing Alpha Protocol did better than Deus Ex though was the hacking and lockpicking. In that game you had to do short mini-puzzles that gradually grew in difficulty as the game progressed and if you neglected the related skill. Here every machine/door just tells you how many hacking-devices or lockpicks you are going to need in order to unlock it and all you have to do is click a button. It's a boring chore with no difficulty to it.

The physics engine is kind of disappointing, which might seem unfair, but stick with me. The game allows you to pick up a lot of items, varying from simple pots to entire vending machines. You can also throw these items, but the effect is literally non-existent. Throwing a vial to distract a nearby guard might seem like a clever strategy, but when that vial makes a thick thud as opposed to a load crack, it just seems so silly. The whole point of throwing a vase, is not to throw the thing, but to hear and see it shatter into a dozen pieces, but in Deus Ex is does neither.

The Bottom Line

Deus Ex is often called "The best PC game of all time" and after having played it myself, I can clearly see why. Though it started off very rocky, most of the flaws I mentioned became less apparent as I progressed through the game. The reason for why I can't continue (as stated in the title of this review), is because I accidentally saved right before a huge explosion happened right next to me and I have no extra saves to resume from. As sad as that is, I had fun with Deus Ex and will likely return here one day to finish off the story.

If you are a PC-gamer than you probably owe it to yourself to check this game out, if only to prove yourself in the eyes of the veterans. However, a fan of James Bond and Alpha Protocol will probably find much to love in this game too. If you don't feel much for complex stories or can't put up with the difficulty that comes with PC games from two/three decades ago however, then I recommend looking for your digital entertainment elsewhere.