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Deus Ex

Developer: Ion Storm | Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/25/02 | Genre: FPS

It's been almost two years since Deus Ex: The Conspiracy first graced the PC platform. Now Eidos brings its first person shooter, which has claimed over 30 awards in various magazines and websites, for a romp on the PS2. Although reworked in the visuals department for its PS2 port, Deus Ex falls way short of being up-to-date graphically. However, backed by a compelling story and original gameplay, it's very easy to see through the mediocre graphics. Not only is Deus Ex fun to play, it offers a sense of complete control over the protagonist and his environments that'll rival just about any game on any platform.

Deus Ex is by no means a visual powerhouse. The graphics are sub-par and pretty much the type you'd expect to see on a rushed title. Particle effects are basically non-existent and shooting enemies yields only a scatter of red triangles. By the same token, the enemies and other various characters look stiff and lack a smooth flow of motion, and blowing up or pummeling objects leaves a mess of polygons on the floor that rarely resemble the original object. The frame rate rounds up the ugliness by slowing down and leaving you feeling queasy at times. Controlling J.C., on the other hand, is quite good. After about twenty minutes and a training session its smooth sailing as you get the hang of it all. Navigating the menus is also very easy and straightforward.

The good news with Deus Ex is that it pulls from its bag of many tricks to compensate for its not so pretty looks. The story takes place in the near future in a world on the brink of obliteration. You're in control of a government operative code-named J.C. Denton that through the help of nano-technology has had various enhancements made to his mind and body. J.C. is under the command of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO), which is fighting a war on all fronts trying to maintain order across different nations between people of different classes. To make matters worse a worldwide plague has taken over the streets and there is a high demand for a cure that is in extremely short supply. Shortly after starting the game J.C. begins to realize that things are definitely not what they seem and for the rest of the game Deus Ex does a great job of taking conspiracy theories and tying them together for an overall immersive plot. Rarely do you know what's going to happen next and J.C. is often conflicted with decisions that will affect outcomes later on in the game.

Deus Ex's open-ended format leaves little to be desired. Using the skills menu, you have almost total control over J.C.'s specialties. If your style is more action oriented you're allowed to use experience points to build up J.C.'s aim and melee combat skills. On the other hand, if stealth is your cup o' tea, J.C. can use the points to train his hacking and sneaking abilities as well as his sniping range and accuracy. Augmentations or "Augs", as they are called in the game, are used to enhance J.C.'s different skills such as swimming and healing techniques. This technology is used for augmentations in what the game calls its "Augs" system. Scattered throughout the game are canisters that J.C. must collect to either create or enhance his "Augs" which draw power from a bioelectric meter displayed at the top of the screen. Using both the "Augs and skills menu allows for J.C.'s abilities to cater to your style of play.

The same amount of freedom can be felt while accomplishing ones goals in Deus Ex. Many of the objectives have up to three ways of yielding the same outcomes (some up to four). For example, in order to enter a certain locked area, you have the choice to blow the door off its hinges, pick the lock, kill a guard for the specific key, break a window (if the room has any), or you can search other rooms for air ducts that may lead you into the area. Another good example is the ability to dispose of enemies in a number of ways. Battling them with anything from sniper guns to special swords resembling light-sabers, you can also use the enemies own security infrastructure by improving your hacking skills and learning how to make turrets and different types of security robots do your dirty work. The possibilities are pretty much endless and the way you play the game will be different than the way the next person plays it. The A.I. in this game could've used a little more tweaking. This is most noticeable while sneaking around. The game is inconsistent in the fact that a guard may or may not notice you in the shadows (sometimes they do sometimes they don't). The same is true when you try to use stealth to kill an opponent by striking him/her from behind. At times you're allowed to run up to them and strike while other times they're alerted of your presence for no reason before you can get within two meters of their position.

All in all Deus Ex does great for such an ambitious game. The sum of its parts makes for a pleasing experience. Yes, the A.I. is weird at times and the games look is totally outdated. But the fact of the matter is that the parts of this game that could've been a bit more polished aren't enough to sink this title. If you're indecisive about this title, don't fret, Deus Ex: The Conspiracy is a good first-person-shooter to pick up.

By Mike Vichot - 04/19/02
ESRB Details: Animated Blood, Animated Violence
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Screenshots for Deus Ex

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