Deus Ex Review

For PC

By Contributing Writer Rob Pecknold

Rating: Good
   I can already hear the cries of Deus Ex fans protesting the fact that I 
didn't give the game an Awesome rating.  They're yelling "Blasphemy!" and 
"You heretic!" and "Give me back my sprouts, devil child!"  Okay, maybe not 
that last one, but the first two for sure.  You see, Deus Ex has been 
praised as the Second Coming, The Next Half-Life, and Game of the Year by 
more than a few video game magazines and web sites.  Deus Ex isn't the best 
game released in the past year, but it is a highly enjoyable mixture of 
shooter and RPG.
   Deus Ex has a good story line any way you look at it, but it did strike 
me as being a bit too formulaic.  I would go so far as to label it silly if 
I didn't find the conspiracy theories and statistics so compelling.  The 
developers at Ion Storm have clearly done their homework on this thing.  
There are some very good supporting characters in the game, and I find the 
main character's brother Paul to be particularly interesting.
   One of Deus Ex's main selling points is its versatility.  In theory, the 
game provides you with many ways to solve sticky situations or problems.  
However, as cleverly-implemented as these gameplay choices are, they aren't 
as non-linear as you may have been led to believe.  Combat is a necessary 
part of the game, which makes it a shame that the process of aiming and 
shooting is so sluggish.  Near the beginning of the game, it can take up to 
20 seconds to take your gun aimed!  Combat seems to be frowned upon by the 
general game design, as soldiers are always near gun turrets or 
surveillance cameras.
   "Well then," you might be thinking.  "I just won't use combat.  I'll use 
the other techniques the game advertises: Stealth, sabotage, and strategy."  
If only it were that simple.  Stealth could have been useful if it weren't 
for the erratic Artificial Intelligence.  Sometimes you'll be completely 
hidden in the shadows and someone will see you, and sometimes you'll be in 
plain sight and enemies won't respond to your presence for a good five 
   You have to use stealth in order to get the security codes needed for 
sabotage, which prevents sabotage from being a useful tactic.  As for 
strategy, this pretty much boils down to conversation, because it's the 
only thing left to do in the game after combat, stealth, and sabotage.  
Conversation shouldn't even be mentioned as a gameplay choice because it's 
usually a mandatory aspect of completing missions.  
   So as you can see, using combat isn't so optional after all, and with 
the sluggish combat interface, this can lead to some very frustrating 
deaths.  When you eventually get past the steep learning curve, you'll find
a much more exciting and enjoyable game.  This takes place a bit too far 
into the game for my liking, but it's welcome nonetheless.
   Ion Storm made a big mistake in choosing the Unreal engine for this 
game.  Even in a plague-ridden future, I'm pretty sure that the streets of 
New York will have more than five people walking around in them at once.  
The Unreal engine also packs some monster loading times and less-than-
satisfactory frame rates in anything but Glide.  Owners of Nvidia graphics 
cards are out of luck if they want to run Deus Ex at 1600x1200 resolution 
with all the effects turned on.  Even with the restrictions of the Unreal 
engine, Deus Ex is still an attractive game in terms of architecture, 
character design, and textures.  The half-man half-machine soldiers are so 
beautifully rendered that it makes me want to cry.
   Be forewarned that if you buy this game, you could find yourself 
frustrated or just plain bored with it.  All in all, though, Deus Ex is a 
breath of fresh air in the declining PC game market.

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