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Deus Ex

     Hmmm, I thought as I opened the Christmas present and looked at the title.

What the heck is this? Looks like another first person shooter...

Amazingly enough, in that one sentence, I have pretty much summed up the review you are about to read.

It is a first person shooter, without doubt, but what about it has managed to hold my attention for so long? I have to admit, I have played it through to the end, and while my reaction to the end of the game was more of a shrug than a satisfied sigh, I can't deny that it held my attention.

Lets go with the good things first.

The game is set in a futuristic environment, wherein you play a cyborg named JC Denton who works for a covert government agency called UNATCO. The story line follows a virus that is killing the Earth's population, and you discover several plot twists that change JC's perspectives and allegiances. All well done from a plot perspective. There are many conversations your character engages in that help develop the story, and of course there are the requisite various weapons to arm yourself with.

The weapons are cool, I must admit, though really nothing to write home about, considering other offerings on the market these days. The level of intrigue, betrayal and plot twists are enough to keep you interested, and the fighting is pretty intense at times.

The game offers weapons and upgrades as well, which are pretty cool. Early in the game you get a stealth pistol, which shoots silenced rounds. By the end of the game I had jacked that pistol up to have a telescopic sight, with higher damage potential, larger magazines, and enhanced stability. By the end of the game it was a gun worth talking about!!

The game does make an effort at role playing. You set up your character with certain skills at the game's onset, such as computer hacking, medical, heavy weapons, rifle skill, etc. For every achievement made through the game, you are rewarded with skill points to allot to your character, though this is stunted by the fact that there are minimum upgrade skill point requirements. For instance, I may have accumulated 1500 skill points, but if I want to raise healing, I need 1750. I cannot upgrade until I have acquired the minimum number of points. This results in always having unused skill points sitting there doing nothing.

Wait a second. that was supposed to be the good section. Ah well. Onto the bad.

While the game does make an attempt at role playing, it is a pretty sad attempt. It starts with the flawed skill advancement system, and goes on to a far too linear story line. Any of you who have read any of my reviews know I hate this kind of straight-line gaming, and Deus Ex does linear like no one's business. For instance, in the part of the game wherein JC leaves UNATCO to fight for the resistance (sorry if I spoiled the surprise, though if you played the game, it really isn't much of a surprise) it would have been far more in role-playing style if you were given the choice. Do I stay and fight for the government or go and fight for the resistance? These kinds of choices would have added that role playing flavor they were trying so hard to achieve.

As well, there are glaring inconsistencies with the AI. In one section JC meets up with an NPC to get some information. Suddenly, enemy troops discover you and open fire. The NPC moved directly into the line of fire of the enemy and stayed there for the full minute or so it took me to kill them all, and still managed to escape without a scratch. This kind of hole is unforgivable to me, and really takes away from the immersive nature of the game.

Two years ago, Deus Ex would have been revolutionary. With other titles like Soldier of Fortune and Half Life beating it to the shelves, Deus Ex really comes off as second best, not because it is necessarily bad, but because it just isn't anything new.

If you are a fan of first person shooters and are looking for something to keep you occupied, this one may a good hoice for you. I want to be clear (not to mention fair) here; Deus Ex is a very good first person shooter, but that is all it really is. If you are looking for revolutionary, then move past this one. However if it's an FPS you want, and a good one at that, give this one a shot.

Overall Score
Ion Storm


Official Site
Ups: A very strong first person shooter.
Downs: Not worth the hype; nothing new here.
Overview: A fun one if you are not looking for anything special.
Reviewed by: Galen
23 January 2001

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