A decade of Deus Ex

Youtube teases us gamers with a trailer for ‘Deus Ex Human Revolution’, the third instalment in the Deus Ex franchise. The third game is slated for release next year, 2011.

So if you saw that vid and you’re all like: daym, I cnt wate 4 lyk heps ov munths 2 ply foocha orsumness … then follow me as I delve into a cult classic, arguably one of the best PC games ever created.

Deus Ex hit the shelves in 2000 and even though it’s a decade old it still looks great. For the uninitiated, this game is a first person shooter with RPG elements which is set in a cyberpunky not-too-distant future where governments and organisations are entwined in all kinds of twisted conspiracies.

William Gibson’s prose has inspired and shaped aspects of this bleak world. If you haven’t read Nueromancer and you like what you’ve read and seen of this blog post so far then you need to indulge in that classic novel too.

Back to Deus Ex.

Meet your playable protagonist JC Denton:  technologically augmented dude who is tasked by UNATCO (United Nations Anti-terrorism Coalition) to vanquish terrorists and blow shit up. The opening mission requires you to rescue a fellow UNATCO agent and then interrogate a terrorist leader. How you approach these objectives is up to you. There is a back entrance for just about every major location which means you can sneak around and if you can’t evade a sentry then you can perform non-lethal take downs with a stun prod or club an unsuspecting guard with a baton, rendering him/her unconscious.

If stealth bores you then you can assault your enemies with a generous selection of firearms and grenades. There are pistols, machine guns, knives, crowbars and so much more and then there are the bigger boomsticks like the rocket launchers and the advanced plasma thingy. As for grenades … EMP to disable robots and motion lasers; scrambler to ‘scramble’ nasty vacuum cleaners so that they turn on their own kind and; smoke for clogging mucous membranes and causing troopers to whimper.

You can specialise your preferred play style (I blend the two) with skill upgrades and nano canisters. Some passive skills include lockpicking, hacking and weapon proficiency whereas the canisters grant you additional bonuses that are powered by your bio electricity, which can be replenished by cores which you can purchase and find.

Gameplay, graphics and story meld together to form a solid gaming experience. That is why Dues Ex is worth playing and remembering.

Three years later a sequel was unleashed. Deus Ex Invisible War pissed a lot of people off, mainly the purists because not only was the game ported from the console and had smaller maps (compared to its predecessor) but it also suffered from some horrible simplifications. The universal ammo system meant that you didn’t have to collect shotgun shells and shit and all alternate endings could be achieved at the final level regardless of your previous game choices. The game felt and played like it was dumbed down, because it was.

Despite the negativity, I enjoyed the sequel. The story continues two decade later and you play yet again as another super rookie. This time you’re a rising star at the Tarsus Academy and during training you are pulled into events because of your character’s potential. Again, you are left to make your own decisions in a world where everyone has their own agenda.

The most memorable characters for me were the Omar, not to be confused with the bad arse homo in The Wire. The Omar are sinister techno-freaks with snout-masks and they are the weapon dealers in this game. They sound cool, look cool and if you do their bidding then the game ends cool. Well it doesn’t end so cool actually because the desert … Anyway.

Invisible War is fun, but most people agree that the original is the best. Fans have been disappointed before so I hope ‘Human Revolution’ abates our fears of a sequel-wrecked planet.

If you liked Deus Ex and you’re sick of playing it then try Fallout 3. If you want a slightly different action RPG hybrid then install Vampire: Bloodlines. If neither of these are of interest then go for a bike ride or as Ted Raimi says in that Evil Dead Xbox 360 game: go hump a stump.

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