reviews\ Jun 29, 2000 at 8:00 pm

Deus EX - PC - Review - PC - Review

Editor's Note:  This review was revised 7/5/00. Originally the Reviewer expressed problems with specifically how much hard drive space was consumed with each of his saves. The revised version instead addresses the problem in more general terms.

The headless shell of the Statue of Liberty is but a gloomy oxidized metal shadow silhouetted by the high-rise lights of nighttime New York. National Secessionist Forces terrorists mark off their patrols, passing through the lights that dot Liberty Island. Bodies of UNATCO (the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition) soldiers lie where they died. All is quiet save for the crunch of their boots on the gravel and walkways.

Nothing else moves - not in the light anyway. Deep in the shadows there is slow, methodical movement. Terrorists who stray too close suddenly disappear from view, their lifeless bodies hidden deep within the darkness. Tranquilizer darts, fired from a crossbow, strike down those foolish enough to linger too long in the glare of the street lights. Then, quickly, you emerge from the shadows, pick up the bodies and return them to the shadows.

This is the life of a UNATCO officer.

This is Deus Ex, an Eidos Interactive and Ion Storm release. Deus Ex is a first-person shooter game that wraps the storyline around each mission you have to undertake, building it down through the course of the game. This isn’t a simple good-guys-versus-bad-guys’ game. It is more complex than that.

In the intro movie you are treated to a discussion between two men who have dreams of ruling the world. Their weapon appears to be a plague that is slowly annihilating the world’s population. Their inducement to having men in power follow their whim is to dangle vaccine in front of them Facing death or a reprieve from watching one’s life slip away is enough. Senators, world politicians fall quickly in line. And there is also that matter of genetic engineering and manipulation.

In fact, you, as Denton, are a product of ‘enhancement’ technology. You will employ weapon skills, computer skills, stealth and a little larceny with the ability to “shoot first and ask questions,” later - unless you are under orders to detain and question. As in the first mission. You, alone, have to retake Liberty Island, rescue the hostage and snag the terrorist leader for questioning. It’s not that easy. And it’s best to go slow. Sure, you can get the code to walk in the front door of the Statue, or you can hunt around to find the back way in and use the element of surprise to your advantage.

The controls of Deus Ex are fairly intuitive. This program does not break new ground, nor require gamers to learn a whole new set of commands in order to succeed. You can adjust the mouse sensitivity (this controls where you look and how you aim), and it is best not to set it too high. If you do, instead of being methodical, you will spin at the slightest breath and that dead aim you had will be off, your target will be unscathed and able to sound the alarm.

The game board for this game is huge. You will be treated to scenarios throughout the world, beginning in New York. There is rioting in Paris and trouble in Hong Kong. You’ll have the opportunity to explore, annihilate and hopefully survive in these locations.

The graphical and audio elements go hand-in-hand. The three-dimensional graphics are well done, but really work in conjunction with the three-dimensional sound effects. You can hide in the dark and judge where the enemy is by the volume of their boots on the ground. Hiding in the shadows and using the light to silhouette your target is a handy trick. Characters - and there are quite a number of them - are polygonal. Communication is audio and with subtitles. And if you must make a decision, you are given the choices in text form. Click on the one you want and your character will verbalize your wishes.

If there is a drawback to this program it is in the saving department. You can save at any point in the mission, as long as you are not engaged in a conversation or action. The problem arises when you see what each save costs you in terms of hard drive space. The game itself will not wipe out hard drive space, but each save will cost you hard drive space, which really adds up in a hurry. The solution? Don’t save every moment in a separate file. Or at least if you find that necessary, purge the saves you don’t really need at the end of a session.

The dictionary defines “deus ex machina” (it is derived from the Greeks) as, among other things, ‘anyone who unexpectedly intervenes to change the course of events.’ That is what your character of Denton is. Inserted into seemingly impossible scenarios alone - the fate of all that is right is riding on your shoulders.

Deus Ex bears many of the elements of interactive shooter games, but in no way is diminished by those similarities. This program will quickly thrust you into the heart of the action, and give you the sinking feeling that you aren’t prepared for this quite yet. But you will also thrill to the challenge. Sneaking around in the dark, using computer technology to hack your way into buildings and systems, and being a very lethal individual combine to make this program an intense and enjoyable experience.

Deus Ex is rated M for mature players (ages 17 and over) due to animated blood and animated violence. It does not support multi-player gaming.


Install: Medium. While uneventful from a visual standpoint, this program won’t eat too much space on your hard drive during initial install.

Gameplay: 8. Fast-paced and control-sensitive, this program will get the adrenaline rushing in a big hurry.

Graphics: 8.5. Lighting effects, the interplay of shadows and the polygonal figures take this program beyond the realm of a first-person shooter.

Sound: 8.5. In a program like this, sound is extremely important. Deus Ex delivers with solid ambient, three-dimensional sound. Though nothing extraordinary, it supports the graphical elements very well.

Difficulty: 9. This product requires a bit of thought in addition to quick reflexes. Getting your controls to the point where you can easily control them is invaluable to success here. But even on the easiest of the four difficulty levels, this game is challenging.

Concept: 7.5. The overall storyline feels a little like Urban Chaos (another Eidos Interactive release) with the sinister plot behind the seemingly random acts of violence and terrorism. However, this program takes it to a world-wide scope, rendering familiar locations with futuristic looks. Through in the genetics coding issue and you have a program that walks the tightrope between the real and surreal, and does it very well.

Overall: 9. In spite of having this program consume a lot of hard drive space in the saving process, Deus Ex is compelling, great to look at, and a whole lot of fun to play. The options package gives the gamer solid control over the elements of the game and the storyline builds with each mission completed. This program is quite a lot of fun to play.


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