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Review of Deus Ex
The year is 2052 and the world is a dangerous and chaotic place. Terrorists operate openly - killing thousands; drugs, disease and pollution kill even more. The worlds economies are close to collapse and the gap between the insanely wealthy and the desperately poor grow ever wider. Worst of all, an age old, conspiracy bent on world domination has decided that the time is right to emerge from the shadows and take control. No one believes they exist. No one… but you.
Hot on the heels of Half Life comes another PS2 conversion of a classic PC first-person shooter in the guise of former ‘Game Of The Year’, Deus Ex. Highly acclaimed as the title that finally mixed brains with brash, Deus Ex could be summarized as Metal Gear Solid using the Doom viewing perspective, featuring a touch of GTA criminality, garnished with a slight RPG element and then topped off nicely with a healthy portion of Syphon Filter stealth. Surely there must be something in there that will appeal to most gamers?
Considering that the PC version of is now over two years old then the PS2 port looks remarkably fresh. Making good use of the ‘Unreal’ game engine there are a few noticeable tweaks to scenery and characters, while the loading times have been kept to an acceptable level, but on the whole don’t expect the visuals to blow you away completely… because they won’t. Deus Ex is predominantly about depth of gameplay, therefore sparsely furnished buildings actually help the flow of the game rather than clutter up locations with meaningless visual objects. Most of the character models look shapely, but… err… kind of ugly, I suppose. Once again this doesn’t detract from playing the game, more whet the appetite for visual improvements in the forthcoming Deus Ex 2. Another more worrying problem that rears its ugly head all too often is the awful slowdown experienced when too much action is happening on screen at one time.
The music and sound effects are ideally suited to the tense gameplay, contributing greatly to the overall experience. A cinematic (John Carpenter style) music score ebbs and flows during play acting as a warning when danger is imminent and providing breathing space during a lull. Because stealth plays a prominent role in Deus Ex hearing is as vital to success as sharp vision. For example, when crawling through tight confines (sewers or ducting) simply sticking your head out at the open end leaves too much up to luck. Pausing and listening for a brief moment allows any movement to be picked up. Furthermore each accompanying sound effect soon becomes easily identifiable so you should quickly be able to distinguish between human footsteps and robot patrols or harmless scurrying rats and playful kittens hanging around the piles of street garbage. The character acting is fine, especially the main man who has that gritty, soft vocal that is synonymous to movie heroes (think Clint Eastwood).
Any shortcoming in the graphical department is soon excused by the gripping gameplay. I don’t believe there is another title out there that could be compared to Deus Ex as it seems to contain the best bits from all the top action titles. I must first mention that if you like to dive into your first-person shooters all-guns-a-blazing then most of the previously mentioned graphical problems quickly become evident. However, if you take on Deus Ex as it should be played, using stealth as the main weapon, then prepare for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Most of the levels are huge, but due to reduction of RAM on PS2 each has been divided into smaller sections (about 2 or 3 loads). The real beauty of this game is the sheer number of different ways to perform and complete a mission. There are always more then two or three ways to carry out a single level, and sometimes four or five different ways to end it. Depending on a chosen route primary and secondary task’s are added in relation to your actions. For example, JC (the main character) wanders into Paris where friendly police are patrolling the streets. Walk past them and they will issue a light warning of a curfew during hours of darkness. However should they catch him forcibly breaking into a building then all hell breaks loose and for the remainder of the level the cops are out to kill him.
Another example is the choice of interacting with various characters that inhabit the cities. You can ignore them and stick to the main primary goals or chat to them and decide if you want to earn a few extra credits by taking on a couple of secondary tasks (such drug dealing, assassination, burglary etc). Credits earned and rewarded are used to pay the entrance fee into nightclubs or purchase extra weapons, ammo and health from traders. Skill points are awarded for successfully accomplishing goals and discovering secret areas within a level. Accumulated points are then used to increase JC’s skill level of a chosen ability such as computer hacking, lock-picking, swimming, weapon use and environmental training. Picking locks is the most useful skill allowing easier access to be gained into high security areas, while extra credits can be stolen by hacking the local cash-point machine using advanced computer skills.
Controls are fine, but aiming is dreadful at the start of the game. The reason for this is that weapon modifications must be found during play and attached to selected guns. Thus improving recoil, handling, reloading, accuracy and range. Another nuisance is that only four main weapons can be carried by JC, therefore prepare to weep buckets as tasty items such as crossbows, rocket launchers and flame-throwers must be discarded on some desolate rooftop because he cannot carry any more items.
Overall, Deus Ex offers so much freedom that you cannot help getting totally embroiled in the depth that is offered.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Deus Ex' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Martin © Absolute PlayStation
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