PREVIEWSPillars of Eternity Preview
For Obsidian's crowdfunded love letter to Infinity Engine games like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate, I was impressed by its willingness to pull back the curtain and let me see the machinery behind it.
We've all been there. Everyone remembers that mission. You and your partner are climbing up the mountains in the snow, striving to pull some slick clandestine operation about getting some intel on a bad guy, or something similar (because let's face...
This is all just a matter of opinion, but it is my sole belief that a game, in order for it to be truly engrossing, needs to have a somewhat decent plotline. One that is believable and, more importantly, entertaining, is a wise addition to any game. It seems several developers agree with me on this, and regularly pump out games where the storyline is better than any movie, e.g. Metal Gear Solid.
One of the many clichés of the intriguing plot is the government conspiracy. Governments working behind the scenes to do unimaginable things just seems to be all-too-common in games.
And it all started with Deus Ex.
For those of you who don't know what the game is, I am disgusted at you. Deus Ex is one of the best videogames ever released in the history of, well, ever.
The plot of Deus Ex is pretty, well, complicated. You play as JC Denton, a biologically augmented agent for UNATCO trying to stop terrorists. Well, at least that's how you start the game. Before long, you're thrust into a winding storyline involving the plague known as the "Grey Death", the cure "Ambrosia", and a secret society called Majestic 12.
Before Deus Ex, all games were straightforwardly linear. There was little to no deviation aside from living or dying, or where you shot the enemy from. That all changed when Deus Ex was released. The game featured all the staples of a good FPS, with enough RPG thrown in to completely open up the possible methods you had to finish.
This RPG flair is manifested in the form of the Skills system. By completing objectives, you earn Skills points. You can later spend these points on learning a specific skill. Do you want to become more proficient with the sniper rifle, or do you want to be able to hold your breath for longer? Do you want to use Medikits to heal for more points, or do you want to have more time when it comes to defusing explosives? Considering you cannot max out all skills without cheating or using a glitch, you really have to think about what you spend these points on.
Due to this Skills system, there is truly hundreds of ways to finish the game. For example, let's say there is a door in front of you. In a different game you would have to find the key to open it. In Deus Ex, you could find the key to open it, or you could hack the computer terminal beside it to open it, or you could find the login for the computer to open the door, or you could sneak into the room using the ventilation shafts, or you could pick the lock, OR you could blow the door open with some explosives. You may not get this many options for any one door, but you get the idea.
These options are further enhanced by your augmentations. In the field you can find augmentation canisters. Take them to any medical bot and they'll install one of two augmentations into your systems. These provide some benefits like making your walking quieter, allowing for you to breathe underwater for longer, regenerating your health or even just making your other augmentations use less power. However, out of the two augs you get in each canister, you can only use one. What's more, if you find another aug canister with the same two augs in it, you can't use it. Once installed, an aug is permamently in there and cannot be swapped out for another. Choose wisely. Again, these augs can be upgraded with augmentation upgrade canisters, but there are not enough to upgrade all your augs to full without cheating.
Then there's the best part of Deus Ex: the interactions with NPCs. Almost every action you do they will react to. Talk to some soldiers, and you might bring up the conversation later. Kill someone at a particular point, and you'll hear people talking about it later. These conversations can do more than make you feel as if what you're doing matters, they can open up or close off potential methods of gameplay. Go all gun-ho, and the armory guy might get pissed off that you've killed so many people and won't offer you ammo. Or, get a guy to stay behind and he could show up later with information that could get you around a particularly hard fight.
The game itself doesn't look half-bad either. Sure, the original Unreal engine may be getting on in years, but it still makes everything look good, even if some environments are a little bland. But hey, good graphics do not a good game make. Good gameplay techniques a good game make, and this game has that in spades.
Now we get to the bad points of the game. Well, the only thing I can think of is that at the start, I encountered a glitchy weapon that locked my weapon selection. Aside from that, I can't see anything I don't like in this game.
Now for the grading. On the Tyrranis scale, this game gets a F, for F'ing Awesome! This grade translates onto the GR scale as an A. The glitches take it down from an A+. Nevertheless, this game is truly wicked awesome.