reviews\ May 2, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Deus EX: The Conspiracy - PS2 - Review

Anyone who enjoys a good FPS title has heard about the award winning PC game Deus Ex. Those of us console fanatics in the world always look forward to stuff like that coming out on our systems, since we don’t want all of the PC people to have all the fun. Great FPS mission and arena games have come out here and there like Quake III, Unreal Tournament, and Half Life for various consoles recently, and now we have been graced with the presence of Deus Ex : The Conspiracy for PS2. The overall gameplay element and plot have arrived intact and in one piece, but we have all learned that due to some limitations of a console vs. PC, something unfortunately tends to get left behind in the conversion. This one is no exception.


The game revolves around your character, named Denton, and his recently acquired employment with UNATCO (The United Nations Anti Terrorist Coalition). Denton is not your average Joe, as he has been upgraded with cybernetics which give him increased abilities to aid him in his fight against the criminal element of the futuristic world. The game progresses through a series of varying missions given to you by your boss, and you will run through them in a seemingly typical first person shooter fashion. Once you sit down and start running through the world and plot of Deus Ex however, you will soon find that it is an experience unlike any other FPS title out for any system. This game is a long, action packed espionage title with a lot of elements tossed in from other styles to give it a fun, complex, and unique aspect.


First of all, most FPS titles are either arena based or run and gun “kill everything” styles while looking for the door to get to the next area. This one strays from the norm by making an interesting cross breed of an FPS, an RPG, Metal Gear Solid 2, and The Matrix. It sounds pretty complex in writing, but everything manages to come together in a very easy to understand combination. Here’s the FPS element … the game is viewed through Dentons eyes for most of the game as you play through the missions, like an FPS. You have various weapons at your disposal to kill enemies at either close range, like a taser and a combat knife, but also have access to long range weapons as well like pistols, wrist crossbows, and GEP guns to take out larger enemy mech like robotic guards. Now, here’s where things get interesting … and where the RPG style comes in. Denton, due to his cybernetic nature, has the ability to upgrade various skills and actions which are needed throughout the game. For example, basic weapons like pistols could start at a very low usage level. As you complete tasks, you can upgrade this ability to make your shots more deadly and accurate. There are also other skills like swimming, computer hacking, electronics, and so on. Basically, you will make an ultimate cyborg hunter who is well versed in espionage and killing and you progress through the game. Another big difference in this title is the collection of various new weapons and items. As you kill an enemy, you can search the body which can result in weapons or ammo to use … but don’t forget about your skill level. Just because you pick up a sniper rifle doesn't mean you will be able to hop right in and use it like a pro. You can also throw your weapons at enemies as well, like a depleted taser, which can result in a nice distraction while whipping out a pistol to plug the final rounds needed and help you survive the encounter. The MGS2 aspect comes in the overall infiltration area. Since you are a one man show in the missions, your best course of action is not just to go rushing in blasting away at everything out there. Ammo is limited, and enemies can and will call for backup, so patiently waiting for a turned back or going for a sniper shot while a guard is alone can be the difference between life and death in most cases.


The control for the game works out pretty well overall and only takes a few minutes to get the hang of. Every button on the PS2 pad is utilized to perform various killing, switching, talking, and looting functions … including the L3 and R3 buttons. The typical dual analog sluggish problem that is found in every FPS on the system is present here as well, but it’s something I’ve grown used to and really doesn't pose much problem to the seasoned FPS PS2 gamer.


There are some other things which add a good twist to a somewhat overdone game type. Each mission doesn't just have one way only to go through and complete the objective, but can have multiple different ways to get where you need to go. This also brings exploration into the game as well, since the alternate path in many cases may be your safest and quietest route to getting where you need to go. Going right through the main pathways can cause low ammo or a really ridiculous amount of enemies to kill. In addition, this also can help out if you are stuck in a situation where maybe you can’t hack into a computer because you don’t have the skill to do so yet, so there is never really a point where you get stuck or can’t get past a particular point. The game also provides some interesting methods of circumventing just about any situation so you will still emerge victorious. Another really interesting and very detailed thing about Deus Ex is NPC responses. You will encounter various other UNATCO officers as you move through the missions, and each one will react to you a certain way up front. Based on your actions as you progress through the game … like killing everyone in an area rather than finding a way around them quietly … that same NPC that you talked to at one point who may have been informational and somewhat friendly may now turn away because he thinks you are way too violent and not creative enough.


Now, there are some downers to the overall game experience, one of them being the AI level of your opponents. In a perfect setting, you should technically be able to sneak past anyone and everything out there … human or otherwise … without even getting involved in a conflict if you don’t need to. There were numerous times, however, where I would be sitting behind a large crate or even a tree and the guard who was a good 30 feet away would notice that I was there. Secondly, the limited amount of ammo and the overall sneaky approach rather than a fast action run and gun may not appeal to those people who have grown up with Doom, Hexen, and Unreal. Slow and steady wins the race in this title.


Graphically, here comes the biggest downer of them all. The graphics are pretty blocky, blurry, and almost PSX quality in some places. As I stated in the beginning of the review, most PC to PS2 conversions have to sacrifice something … they always have … so now you know what had to go. Granted, while I would have loved to have both the story and the graphics both, I am pleased that they decided to keep the full detailed plot intact while giving you something which is not as attractive to look at. The sound in the game consists of futuristic techno beats pounding out throughout the game, and the voice acting sounds really good overall. Denton even has a monotone style which fits his cybernetic personality well.


Overall, despite some not so good areas, this game is a very long, deep, and interesting game which definitely adds a fun new style to a repetitive and overdone game area. Most people will feel that their money was well spent on this title due to the various level up options and ways to get around the various missions that you will go through as you move through the complex plot. I will say that if you prefer a faster paced and more destructive FPS type, this one may not be for you ultimately, so you may want to rent it first.


Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8.7
Due to the overall depth, level up abilities, and the various ways to get around a seemingly impassable area, this game can provide a fun and open ended mission based gameplay which can appeal to the FPS and RPG crowd overall. Due to the slower paced gameplay and some sluggish control response, this may not appeal to the arena or faster paced FPS fan.


Graphics: 6.9
Overall somewhat dark, blurry, and blocky. It’s a shame since the PC version was a really bold and good looking title.


Sound: 7.7
Although the background music is a pre-fab thumping techno beat which won’t make any lasting impressions, the voice over acting is done very well and makes the dialogue interesting.


Difficulty: Medium
I have to go with a middle of the road difficulty with this one for a couple of reasons. First off, there won’t be any really frustrating “stuck points” since there can be multiple ways of getting around situations. This makes it easy. The first hard part could be finding the ways around these situations. The other hard part is in finding the best way to go about achieving your objectives and balancing being a killer vs. being an infiltrator, which could cause changes later in the game.  


Concept: 9.2
Definitely something that can’t be found on any other system or in any other game. The mixture of RPG, FPS, and MGS2 elements definitely creates a unique and fun game which can offer a limitless amount of gameplay value.


Overall: 9.0
Despite the somewhat poor graphics quality and the slower paced gameplay than your average shooter, this game definitely has a plot which will suck you in and a deeply intricate blend of action and espionage which can create an almost endless character creation and enable you to build your ultimate cybernetic killing machine. Remember, this was a PC “Game of the Year” , and even with the lackluster graphics, the story remains the same. I highly recommend that anyone who likes action, FPS titles, or RPG’s give this one a shot. BANG!  


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