I’ve been a Deus Ex fan since its wonderful conception on PC back in 2000. I remember being in awe at the pure level of freedom and control I had throughout my experience. Now, like then, I clearly understand why this cyper-punked action RPG first person shooter is considered by many to be the one of the greatest PC games to ever grace the industry. The game’s atmosphere, story, characters, action, and plot was a mixture of several popular movies and video games that came before it. Elements and similarities of other IP’s like Bladerunner, Fallout, System Shock, and the Matrix stand out clearly and help make Deus Ex a more complete experience by giving players familiarities to identify.
These elements were in no way new in concept, but the way they fit together was perfect and gave the game an even better feel. Deus Ex gave gamers a level of control and options that wasn’t available at the time amongst other games. The story had conspiracies and plot twists. Its gameplay and mechanics was solid for a FPS. But what made the game great was its open ended RPG elements and the choices and consequences that went with them.
Many modern games such as Mass Effect,
Knights of the Old Republic,
Red Dead Redemption,
Countless others claim to give players the morale choice of good and evil and that these choices effect the world, people and events around you. For anyone that has played any of these great games will honestly admit none of the above is fully true. These games are all too black and white and you as the player never get the sense that your morale choices effect the game without the game holding your hand in some kind of way. Even in massive open world games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion your choices show little to no overall effect.
Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption is a prime example of a great game that carries the formula of giving players the morale choice of being a ruthless cowboy who robs banks or a good hearted buckaroo that saves runaway stagecoaches. Although these options are given throughout your time playing, the game’s overall design is to make the lead protagonist to be a hero at key points in the game and especially at the games end. Infamous is another game that shares a similar flaw. No matter what you did throughout the course of the game playing either good or bad, in the end you make a final decision that totally negates the actions done during your playtime. Why develop a game that has choices but then hold the player’s hand. Having the choices not impact the game besides certain dialogue or key events? Deus Ex solved this problem back in 2000 where games today haven’t quite seemed to figure it out.
“Choices and consequences” should be the motto for Deus Ex and all the games in the series that follwed it. Deus Ex is designed to make the player responsible for the actions that they make no matter how small or large. Some players might consider it a curse to be given options from simple upgrades of weapons to the way you approach a mission. Every choice would have some kind of effect throughout the game and its overall ending. When it came to playing style, players were given the option to carry out a mission by using the combat, stealth, hacking, and conversation or a mixture of all them. This can best be decribed in this example:
Mission Objective: To gain access to commercial building and to apprehend criminal boss.
Secondary Objective: To avoid causalities and to remain undetected.
Bonus Objective: To download business files and to upload to HQ.
Note: All examples are pertaining to characters that were developed specifically for that playing style.
The player goes inside the building guns blazing making his way to the top of the building. Eliminating everybody in his sight that stands to stop him.
1. Player will alert other guards and fight twice as many of them.
2. Certain areas become harder to access because of the breach in security.
3. Mission becomes harder because of security breach.
4. Player’s secondary objective was compromised due to breach in security.
5. Criminal boss will be or could be notified of breach. He can tighten security, prepare for your arrival or escape.
6. Possible events later in the game can be altered based on your actions.
The player uses stealth to sneak into the building and gain access by acquiring data and/or stealing key codes. The player can also find alternate routes by using vents, tunnels, sewer systems or any other means to gain entry into the building.
1. Because the player is undetected they now have better access of retrieving files, data, and other forms of information to complete their objective.
2. Mission takes twice as long to complete because of slow pacing.
3. Criminal boss is unaware of presences and is easier to apprehend.
4. Player’s secondary objective is accomplished.
5. Possible events later in game can be altered based on your actions.
The player uses gadgets, electronic devices, hacking, and other forms of technology to gain access into the building. The player can hack into cameras, sentry bots, computers, and turrets.
1. Player can possibly avoid detection by disabling electronic security measures including but not excluding cameras and sentry bots.
2. Player can download information to obtain access to areas and places to make the mission easier.
3. If second objective is compromised player can use robots or turrets to eliminate enemies.
4. If hacking fails guards can be alerted causing the player to result another playing style.
5. Possible events later in the game can be altered based on your actions.
The player uses persuasion, diplomacy, bribery and intimidation to obtain access into buildings and information.
1. Player can gain access by using conversation options to bypass potential dangerous areas.
2. Player must know exactly what to and what not to say during a conversation.
3. If player fails in conversation attempt guards can be alerted and player would have to resort to another playing style.
4. Player can obtain vital information to help complete the mission.
5. Possible events later in the game can be altered based on your actions.
The player uses a combination of one or more of the playing styles usually using one as a primary way of playing while using the others as a secondary. This combination can be done to gain access to areas, gain information using combat and to avoid possible detection.
Because this playing style is so varied numerous consequences can arise and lead to several outcomes that can effect the overall mission. A player can begin the mission using by conversation to initially gain entry to the building. Once obtaining entry they may need to use stealth to access a restricted area to use a computer. Then the player might use their hacking ability to download a file only to trigger an alarm and then would have to use combat to complete the rest of the mission. Because of these events the player had to adjust the initial plan and adapt to the situation that was given. These variables just like the variables in the other playing styles may cause a ripple effect that might not only effect future missions but the ending of the game entirely.
No game to date has carried this concept in the way the Deus Ex series has. Not only do your choices in playing style effect things, but the weapons and upgrades you choose do as well. The player is given the option of picking the “right” weapons and upgrades for the job. This choice can be a (g)od send or curse from Satan depending on whats ahead, and previously how you developed your character. Although the game never punishes the player per say. One can see the game was designed for a player to have a set playing style, and carry that plan until the closing credits.
A player has the choice to develop, and upgrade his character to be a walking tank of destruction. If the player has a change of heart (lets say after completing 60% of the game), and now wants to be a stealthy computer hacker. The game can become very hard to complete with the same ease as it was before. The options are always there, but there will always be consequences big, and small.
Another element that made the original Deus Ex so amazing was how it integrated RPG elements into an action FPS. Then the standard mechanics for a first person shooter was a guy shooting his way through room after room. Killing anything, and everything that moved. The story was basic to non existent, and there was absolutely no character development. A handful of games in the genre were innovative, and very creative.
Duke Nukem 3D which had humor, and sexual antics.
Half Life had a great narrative, and elaborate puzzles.
Deus Ex gave players a mixture of all of the above while still allowing the player to not only develop their own character, but also the story. While not playing exactly like a traditional RPG. The Players character would gain experience points by simply doing things within the game. Picking locks, fighting, hacking, sneaking, or just simply talking to NPC’s would grant players Experience Points that are accumulated into points. These points then could be allotted to upgrade your character’s abilities, and stats. Like everything else in the game this allotting of points would have some kind of effect in the game.
Besides having great gameplay, RPG elements, and a fantastic system giving the player freedom of choice. Deus Ex has a remarkable story. Players were placed in a futuristic world that is filled with conspiracy and corruption of powerful multi-million dollar corporations. The setting was further enhanced by the fact that the game took place in the year 2052 where technology, and knowledge can lead to great power and influence.
What topped this all off was that players could dictate (based on their decisions throughout the game) the overall ending of the game. The story could be manipulated to what the player thought or felt was the right choice. Because there is no right, or wrong choice. The player would not be denied the fruits of his labor, but simply see the results of their decision.
Like the real world there is no guarantee what we think to be right is. As well there is no guarantee our actions to do good will produce results that are always good. In the game you might be presented with the choice to kill a priest. Further down the road you discover that this very priest was running a human trafficking ring. In killing the one you have saved many. The game also works in reverse. A crime lord is funding millions in illegal drugs. He can, and should be arrested. On the other hand his activities help feed hundreds, and thousands from the money made producing the drugs. If you kill or arrest the crime lord, yes the streets will be clean of his doings. You also kill thousands of people in the long run.
Deus Ex’s plot is filled with these scenarios and make the overall story epic, and believable. On August 23, 2011 Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be released in retail stores. Developer Eidos claims the game carries on, all the details and flare of the Deus Ex series. Me the fan that I am have payed close attention to the Deus EX: HR development. To my knowledge from researching Deus Ex: HR, I must admit to anyone who is a fan of the original. They can expect not only the same, but a better experience than the previous installments. 2011 is a year that is filled many great and outstanding games to be released like
Gears of War 3,
Assassin Creed: Revelation,
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,
and Batman: Arkham City.
Although, I don’t see Deus Ex: HR winning Game of the Year, or any other major accolade, there is no doubt in my mind it will be a great game giving gamers something to talk about for some time (or until the play one of the games I mentioned above).