Can you believe it's been a whole eight years since this game was first released? It doesn't feel like it for some reason. For some reason, the game still feels as fresh and as relevant today than it did way back when. For some reason, the game still captivates and I felt compelled to play it again after all this time.
But what exactly led me to digging out a CD I hadn't seen in years; at the expense of my time and tenuous grip of my sanity? I know exactly within 3 second of the menu screen loading up.
That theme! That epic theme! The orchestral symphony blaring through my speakers, entering my brain, and triggering a dormant memory.
It brings me to a world of adventure and espionage, a world of double crosses and triple crosses, all set within a fascinating dystopian cyberpunk framework. When we step into the nano-augmented shoes of JC Denton, we step into such an engaging world. One that is philosophically (check out the irony of reading in-game books) and politically (Riffing on the nature of government and its power) fascinating. It's a world where nothing is as it seems, and everyone you meet is a potential enemy.
I load up a new game and the graphics... well... they make my eyes bleed. For the first ten minutes or so, while I'm sneaking about trying to take out terrorists in a non-lethal fashion, I can't help but to notice the dated graphics.
The AI enemies run around like a headless chook, sometimes running straight at you when they have perfectly good projectile weapons in their hands, and are slow on the uptake when you stand in front of them with a shotgun aimed at their face.
I don't quite know what I was expecting, after all, the game is eight years old! Still, it's a little disappointing. This wasn't quite the experience that the theme music led me to believe. It was just a really bad stealth shooter.
But I'm determined to carry on. I know this game is awesome, it just hasn't revealed to me exactly how it's awesome yet. As I deal with terrorists, yawning at their ineptitude, suddenly something funny happens.
I was in.
It was something about the music, the secret cover of the shadows, something about the whole scene that made me believe in what I was seeing. It didn't matter that the graphics were as pretty as Margaret Thatcher, it didn't matter that the AI wasn't quite up to scratch with modern standards. Suddenly, I cared about the Gray Death, about UNATCO, about my current objectives.
That's the genius of Deus Ex. For a game that consists of maps and levels, it feels like a sandbox game. It feels as if the world I'm in is in turmoil, and I'm the one who could save it.
It feels as if I'm going all around the world, to New York, to Hong Kong, to Paris. This is a game that truly defines the maxim of 'a game greater than the sum of its parts'. The story, if looked at objectively seems a little far fetched (one that encompasses most conspiracy theories), but thanks to the work it does in drawing you into the world, it seems believable.
It's the little things that draw you in. It's the conversations you have with people, the banter you can overhear and the in-game books and literature that not only explain the game world but give you an insight into its underlying themes. It's the encounters with the shabbily clothed public that give you a sense that not all is well in the state of Deus Ex. It uses solid game play to build the overall structure for your journey in the game world, but it's these little things that make you actually care about what's going on.
This game draws you in, takes you for a ride and finally makes you meditate on the themes that run through this masterpiece of a game.Hey Joe