"Is this game for real, or is it a joke?"
Nowadays, 3D-shooters are taking the gaming market by storm. Bigger, better, faster and more realistic are some of the common terms thrown around by many a marketing staff. But sometimes I have to wonder, have any of these people played what they're selling? Deus was one those little beta-test goodies that was sent to us (followed by the full version). Very nice packaging, interesting concepts, and great "looking" graphics.
Deus was made with a very good concept in mind. A first person semi-rpg/shooter with a futuristic plot line, cool weapons, and a few other good ideas. But when we finally played this technological nightmare, we were overwhelmed by poor graphics, boring sounds, and extremely bad controls. It seemed as though the creators at Silmarils were trying to take this "almost-Doom-clone" to another gaming level. Well, it did: one level lower...
The story of Deus is about average for the genre: Criminals attack innocents for profit and chaos, criminals escape to a scientific planet to regroup and lay low for a while, DEUS (you), which is short for "defend us", is sent to stop the madness...
The role-playing side of Deus was pathetic. After playing Daggerfall, I expect a lot from the phrase "3D-role-playing". Not to be a snob about my games, but role-playing usually consists of a lot more than picking up a few items and talking to a few idiots... Where are the stats, levels, classes, options and spells? As for the shooter side of the coin, it only barely convinced me that they could pull that off as well.
Deus did have some cool innovations though. First of all, the hand to hand combat was much better conceived than in other 3D-shooters. You can dodge punches and duck stabs while simultaneously attacking with your own arsenal. But it was difficult to perform and more frustrating than fun. Similar to Duke Nukem, Quake, and every other up-to-date shooter, you can jump, duck, look in almost any direction, and swim. Also, while swimming, you can look out of the water and vice-versa; but once again, that's nothing new.
Another interesting feature of the game is the damage system. If you get hurt during a combat or any other potentially lethal situation, you can access your Pharmacy to see the location of different injuries such as broken bones, infections, and viruses. To heal yourself, you use a first aid kit, and administer different kinds of treatments to try to heal your wounds. You can also have a heart attack, which can get annoying if you're not paying attention to the current status of your physique.
The map screen looks okay, but nothing to write home to mom about. Outdoor levels are displayed nicely here and seem relatively natural. All of the rocks, canyons, crags, cliffs, grasslands and lakes are definable. On the main 3D screen, there was a nifty little fog affect that added a touch of realism to the environment.
The opening sequence is well done. It's a little rendered movie of your main character running away from a mech of some sort. It looked pretty cool, but it didn't mean much or really let you know what you're up against.
Unfortunately, those are the redeeming qualities of this game. To be blunt, everything else just sucks!!! The overall graphics are terrible. The enemy characters are poorly rendered despite the option of "high detail", they actually have very few details and they move like robots. The status bar and the weapons on the screen didn't look all that bad, but we all know that that doesn't make a game great.
The sound is very poor and it didn't fit the game scenario very well. It was also very "crackly" and choppy, which, on my 166 MHz, 64 MB RAM death-machine, was as surprising as it was disappointing. The CD's tracks were full of long dialogue except for the opening song. Perhaps the designers were trying to give the game a more realistic setting (i.e. real life has no soundtrack). But let's face it, without good music/sound effects, games tend to get boring.
The absolute worst aspect of Deus was it's controls. Compared to other modern day shooters, the key placement and overall controls were just ridiculous. Visually, they were very 'jerky', and lacked the smoothness of other games from Doom to Quake. Another pain in the ass was that you could duck, but you couldn't crawl. You also couldn't run backwards and while it is difficult to run backwards at full speed in everyday life, this is not real life, it's a game and this little feature makes it much harder to avoid enemies.
Although it was a good idea to dream of, Deus is poorly written. As for the role-playing/ arcade modes available, it's nothing like a role-player and a sad excuse for an arcade shooter. Simply put, the game is horrible and a waste of money. What else is there to say?