I finally managed to play through the legendary Deus Ex from 2000. I first attempted to play the game, when it was still fresh. I’m still not sure, if there was a bug or if I was just too bad at it to make it through one mission pretty early on, but I hit a wall back then and couldn’t finish the game. I had another attempt some time around 2012 or so using several mods to update the graphics of the game, but I lost interest and just quit playing.
This time around I used the Revision mod from year 2015. The mod advertises its main modifications as re-designed locations, new soundtrack based on the original score, high resolution textures, high detail 3D models, Direct3D 9 rendering and various gameplay modes that tune the game rules one way or another. The full list of changes and fixes is really extensive. Forums are obviously full of complaints about the mod changing the maps and thus ruining the experience. I wasn’t too familiar with the original maps, so I wasn’t bothered by this, and I would imagine that the complaints are just the usual whining from people not wanting any changes that actually change something. I would fully recommend utilizing the Revision mod, if you are looking to play through the game now.
The game is a cyber punk RPG with a first person view. The gameplay is pretty standard computer RPG stuff – conducting missions, progressing in the story, improving your character and gear. The story tells of JC Denton, a cybernetically enhanced agent of UNATCO, who ends up finding clues about a conspiracy to take over the world and rule it from the shadows, while the common people live in squalor and practical enslavement. UNATCO is obviously involved, or rather a tool utilized by the people in the shadows, and Denton ends up defecting and defeating the conspiracy.
The game is commonly listed on best games lists and for a reason. Every area of the game is well implemented – maybe even exceptionally at the time it was released. The story is where the game shines though. For the first half of the game, you are in the dark about many things and the way you start to find pieces of the puzzle and put them together keeps you playing just one more mission to find the next piece for the puzzle. For the same duration, the suspense is so tangible, that going into new areas and meeting new people always feels dangerous – you can never be sure about what you’ll encounter and if you’ll be making a huge mistake and getting caught. You actually end up getting caught and escaping from the prison is probably the best individual sequence of the game. After about a dozen hours of tiptoeing through the game scared of your own shadow, ending up in a holding cell and trying to get out without basically any equipment, managed to ramp up the suspense another few levels.
After the escape sequence, the game finally starts to ease up though. You have most of the pieces and you can guess the rest. Instead of figuring things out, you do odd jobs to gather allies and find the opportunity to take down the conspiracy. This part takes maybe even a bit more than what it took to get here, which is a bit unfortunate. There’s still interesting bits here and there, but I was mostly not so interested in the triad wars or helping the French resistance movement or any of the other bits late in the game. There were a few points, where I thought about giving up for good, but I pushed through to the finale, which was pretty basic fare – a few more twists and turns, several conspiracies within the major conspiracy and you finally choosing, which way the world will turn next.
I’m really happy that I did push through to the end. If the latter half of the game was maybe only half as long as it currently is, I probably would’ve enjoyed the game even more, but that is pretty much its only weakness. The gameplay supports the story very strongly, the story is one of the most interesting ones I’ve ever experienced in a game. There are several types of players – I play games to experience the stories, so this really hits the spot for me.
The various characters and locations that make up the world of the game are very good. The locations are impressive and it’s exciting to go looking through the nooks and crannies of most locations, when you first go there. The characters are mostly well written. Some of the are more serious and some more funny. Although the tone of the game is mostly very serious, there’s a lot of humor (not just the characters), but it manages to not break the suspense. There’s also a ton of references to inspirations of the game and spotting those is another source of fun. Altogether, the amount of detail and love put into the game is just astounding. Although you hit the walls of the game just as you do in any other CRPG, the walls are just a bit further out and what is inside those walls is really well built.
With the mod, the graphics improvements are just good enough to not hurt your eyes. Obviously it’s still far from bleeding edge, but while I can be wowed by graphics, they never are too important for me. The bug fixes and gameplay modes (I used the BioMod, if I remember correctly) are further improvements to the experience that I appreciated a lot. The fixed bugs mostly weren’t show stoppers, but just some logic failures and side quest problems. Still, a more seamless experience is a more seamless experience. The BioMod mode is more subtle just tuning things slightly here and there and making a few character development aspects more flexible and balanced.
Altogether, with the Revision mod Deus Ex is now modern enough and bug free enough that no one should have no reasons not to finally experience this classic of a video game, if you haven’t done so yet. The game itself has earned the classic status for a reason. If you play games to experience the stories, this is probably one of the best choices out there. While this is not the best game I’ve ever played, this is easily within the top 5.
- Play Through Finish Date: 28th Mar 2017