Deus Ex

I apologise for not posting lately, I spent the last weekend at the wedding of my mother and stepdad and then at Leeds Festival (which I plan to post something relevant to in the near future) and once I got back I went down to my dad's house for a few days. I got back on wednesday but there's been one problem - I've had no real internet. We've been switching internet and phone provider, and that means the phone line needs to be changed. This is taking longer than expected so I'm being forced to use a dongle, but speed and overly tight fair usage policies prevent me from my usual pastimes of playing video games on the internet and watching people play video games while talking at the same time.

Granted, there are plenty of single-player games I could play, but as I just got an oversized new monitor and don't want to try and make my current graphics card try to cope with the increased resolutions I decided to stick to something that wouldn't put a strain on it, which turned out to be Deus Ex.

I'm sure you've heard about Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which has just been released, but this is the game that came before (there was another game in between but it wasn't overly impressive). And it's damn awesome. Awesome enough to be voted 'Best PC game ever'. Twice. Years after its release in 2000. A game like that's gotta' be worth playing.

Nowadays of course its graphics aren't overly impressive, save for some rather good mirrors, but they're certainly not unbearable and there are mods and texture packs for those of you who are graphically obsessed. Personally I find the retro look quite nice myself, but regardless the important thing is the gameplay.

Deus Ex is a first-person stealth action game with a degree of RPGness. You sneak around and do the usual sort of spy activities - breaking and entering, hacking, sabotage, theft and murder - the list goes on. There's a wide range of weapons and gadgets as well, from guns to grenades to crossbows to plasma rifles to my personal favourite, tasers to the arse. The other thing that helps to keep the gameplay varied and brilliant is the level design, which is perfectly semi-linear. The levels all come in the same order but they're largely very open and there is not one single obstacle or puzzle in the game that has one solution. If you come to a locked door, you can pick the lock, search for a key, or even blow it open. Or find another way around, as there almost always is. Come across some laser tripwires with a turret gun just waiting to shoot your face off when you walk through them? You can use an EMP grenade to temporarily disable them, hack the control panel to turn them off, or stack some nearby boxes and jump over. And there are always hidden boxes of ammo, tools or other things to search for and side quests, showing the attention to detail put in by the developers.

And just like there are lots of items, there are a hell of a lot of levels, and the game takes you from New York to Hong Kong to Paris and I don't even know where else. I'm no speedrunner when it comes to games - it took me four years to finally finish Twilight Princess and there are many games I've never finished at all. But I've been playing this game on and off since April and put in a lot of hours but I still don't think I'm near finishing it. Not that that's a problem by any means - I first played it almost a year ago, and when I restarted and played through the first lot of levels again I loved it, because the alternate routes and such make it very replayable.

There isn't a great deal in the way of actual cutscenes in the game besides conversations between your character and others, some of which are interactive, so for anyone who's played through the Metal Gear Solid games this is a nice change, though the game plays nothing like MGS anyway. Instead the game adopts a more Half-Life 2 approach, with many of the levels that are set in urban environments having peaceful areas you can freely wander around and explore, and there are some intermission type levels where you head back to a base, which also have plenty of little areas to explore and things to steal. It's almost like the game encourages you to break into the other offices in UNATCO HQ and steal your co-workers' things.

Also I should mention that you get bio-augmentations, which are basically battery-powered superpowers. There's the usual array of powers - super speed, super strength, being impervious to bullets, the ability to make a small flying robot magically appear from your head, and so on, and they help to create new solutions to puzzles and such. And the music is really awesome, too.

'But Mashi,' you say, 'we get it, this game is absolutely awesome and we're gonna' go buy it for the low low price of £5.99 right away! But what is the game actually about?'
Well, that's a good question. Because as well as items and levels and such, the other thing this game has a lot of is plot. The game is set in a dystopian future and revolves (kind of) around the 'Gray Death' virus plaguing America and other places. There isn't much else I can tell you other than that like any good dystopian future plot, there is plenty of conspiracy, betrayal, corruption and confusion on the audience's part. There eventually gets to be so many characters that it's hard to keep track of them all and the games seems very unwilling to ever let any of them go unless they're killed, with ones that you haven't seen for ages suddenly reappearing, sometimes for no apparent purpose or reason. But it's still a great experience, and I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys stealth based games. Because sneaking up behind someone and tasing their arse never gets old.

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