Deus Ex Review

Deus Ex Info

genre

  • Action role-playing
  • First-person shooter
  • Stealth

players

  • 1

Publisher

  • Eidos

Developer

  • Ion Storm

Release Date

  • 07/17/2000
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC
  • PS2

rating

Free to be, you and me.

Having only played early, unfinished beta versions of the PC hit Deus

Ex
, I was more than curious to see what its console counterpart had to offer.

Well, I’m pleased to say that most of what was loved about the PC version has

been retained. Freedom and open-ended gameplay are what you can expect from

Deus Ex: The Conspiracy, though limited console resources make it far

from phenomenal.

The story tells of an unsavory future where the affluent hoard precious cures

and vaccines for deadly epidemics plaguing the globe. Inevitably, this causes

much social unrest. UNATCO (The United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition) fights

to maintain what little order remains.

You

take on the guise of rookie UNATCO agent J.C. Denton. You quickly realize that

UNATCO’s intentions are less than honorable and…spoiler, spoiler, spoiler.

Suffice it to say the story is one of the game’s better features, steeped in

espionage and plot-twists worthy of a cult budget film.

Deus Ex is hardly your typical first-person shooter. As J.C., you will

undertake various missions broken down into primary and secondary objectives.

After completing an objective, you’re awarded points that can be allocated to

further proficiency in a wide range of skills, tools and weaponry. You can upgrade

your ability to hack computer consoles, fire heavy and small arms weapons, use

multi-tools (electronic lock picking), conventional lock picks, demolitions,

melee weapons, swimming, environmental suits and a few others. Combine this

with the ability to enhance cyborg-like augmentations such as speed, strength

and swimming – not to mention augmenting various munitions you acquire in the

field – and you can see just how open-ended the problem solving can get. Augment

your tranquilizer crossbow with a scope and you’re well on your way down the

path of the sly and sneaky.

I must note: mastery is the key to survival in Deus Ex. You want to

be an expert in the few, not passable in the many. Being well-balanced might

be fine if you’re breakfast, but in Deus Ex it means you won’t be able to open

a certain door or aim a sniper rifle. If you’re a hacker, then don’t waste your

time also trying to become Rambo. But if you want, you can “have it your

way!”

To complement this intricate smorgasbord of gameplay, the developers have

designed the world with unbelievable interactivity and variation. Nearly every

obstacle, puzzle, or group of grunts (of which the game has many) in Deus

Ex
can be bypassed or circumnavigated in more than one way. Need to get

into a building? Well, do a little reconnaissance. Maybe you can throw a 40oz.

bottle you picked up missions ago to distract a guard, which may let you access

a computer terminal that you can hack into and bypass the electronic lock to

open vital access points. Or maybe you’ve been beefing out your speed and shooting

ability and decide to introduce the dumb guards to your version of The Matrix

with guns a blazin’. Perhaps there’s a better way in through the roof, or through

a window, or, heck, who knows. It’s all left to the player’s discretion, which

should be a welcome change of pace for console-only gamers.

Controlling J.C. and accessing essential weapons, items and augmentations

is pretty simple but does take a bit of acclimation. Every button has a function

and the default control scheme is smart in its design. Movement is handled with

the analog sticks, while the triggers are for jumping and firing. The rest of

the buttons allow you to toggle your inventory, which makes switching weapons

and augs in the middle of a firefight much easier than it was in the PC version.

Although aiming with the analog stick in this game is much harder than it is

in other console FPSs, the control is still pretty well thought out.

It doesn’t state it anywhere on the box or in the manual, but you are able

to plug in a USB mouse & keyboard for more precision. The problem here is that

there is no documentation indicating which key does what. You’ll spend about

an hour trying to figure out how to access you augmentations. Still, the option

is welcome.

Unfortunately, Deus Ex is a rollercoaster ride of good and bad. The

unique gameplay experience is followed by a very familiar payload of problems

– namely, weak A.I and unforgivable graphics.

Conversing

with the NPC characters adds life, atmosphere and reveals a great deal of optional

information to aid you (or annoy you) in completing your objectives. But enemy

guards are often deaf and blind when you’re in plain sight, even if you’re making

enough noise to wake the entire compound. At other times, their hearing and

sight becomes supersonic. Maybe they’re using the Sword of Omens’ sight-beyond-sight

to spy your cozy hiding spots.

Enemies will hide in plain view or not seek cover at all, and shoot with uncanny

William Tell-like accuracy. It’s a double edged sword. AI consistency and efficiency

fall short to freedom and open-ended gameplay, as do aesthetics.

If there is a PS2 game whose graphics fare worse than those in Deus Ex,

then that is a game I truly dread seeing. At first glance you wonder why a console

version was even developed. Characters and objects have an amazingly low polygon

count, leaving a lot of sharp edges. Colors are very bland; I understand it

may be to help the game’s dark, brooding feel, but come on. Color palettes are

there for a reason, people. Plus, the weapon models aren’t interesting and lack

detail.

For that matter, the entire game world in general could use some detailed

touch-up work. There are absolutely no cuts, grooves or attention to detail

in the slightest. The textures are flat and lifeless.

I wish I could say the character animation makes up for this, but I can’t.

NPCs have very few frames of unimpressive animation. They slide around on the

floor like Gumby. At least the developers could

have timed the steps in cync with the characters’ rate of travel so it wouldn’t

appear like the NPCs all wear rocket skates.

There is one other minor problem Deus Ex poses – excessive loading.

Like many other PC to console ports, this game needs to load nearly every twenty

minutes, breaking up the player’s groove and just being plain old aggravating.

When you add it all up, Deus Ex is a mixed bag of good and evil. The

gameplay experience is like none other – you will have to pull yourself away

from testing the limits of the game world’s interactivity and get to the mission

at hand. “I wonder if I can get some smokes from that there cigarette machi…holy

monkey dung! I can!” But where it succeeds in its concept, it stumbles in its

delivery. Deus Ex: The Conspiracy is a one-of-a-kind video game experience.

Just don’t expect a pretty one.





REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

2.5
Rating
Box art - Deus Ex
Great gameplay
Excellent sense of freedom
RPG level of customization
Paltry keyboard / mouse support
Horrible graphics engine
Weak A.I.
Excessive loading