The Future is Now
It is the year 2027 and technology has started to advance to the point where it is merging with humanity. The line between man and machine has started to blur, and it is in this world that Deus Ex has placed us. You are Adam Jensen, head of security for Serif Industries. Serif is one of the leaders in human augmentation. It is your job to protect your place of business from corporate sabotage and possible terrorism from Purist, a group of people that find augmentation a sin against the human body. They are not necessarily a terrorist group, but there are extremists within any movement. You are first introduced to the world by talking with Dr. Megan Reed (I think she is your girlfriend). While walking around with her you see many of Sarif’s experiments, and eventually talk with the owner David Sarif. That is when things go to hell and an environmental alarm goes off. As the head of security you head on down to take care of things to find some guys that look like a black ops team. They have invaded just as Megan is getting ready to make leave for a conference in DC for a breakthrough announcement. You are even doing a good job holding your own against these soldiers, until an augmented infiltrator throws you through several inches of safety glass almost killing you. You are kinda saved by Megan, but at this point you pass out due to blood loss and fade to black.
Augmentation is the Future
Six months have passed since then and this is when the meat of the game starts. You have returned to work much earlier then anyone expected you to and with some new equipment. You have new arms, legs, lungs, eyes and improvements to your brain and spinal cord. You also get a sweet pair of sunglasses that are built into your head. These function quite nicely as the HUD for the game, which gives a nice fluff reason for why the game started without a HUD and all of sudden it is there. Heck they even make you fix it as part of the first mission.
Throughout the game you acquire praxis points. These are used to unlock and upgrade your augmentations. The story reason for this is you were supposed to wait until they all activated naturally, but due to you high recovery rate they are allowing you to activate them ahead of time. This is how you customize your character. You can improve your hacking abilities, how quiet you move or how steady you shoot. There is even an ability that make you invisible at a heavy energy price. One of my favorites is one that allows you to influence conversations with people. This gives the game a great RPG feel to it yet maintains a first-person / third person shooter feel. As a small service to those reading this, get at least one point of the dermal armor early on, it will save you some frustration during the first boss.
The Illusion of Choice
Deus Ex boasts that you can complete the tasks it gives you in a multitude of ways, and for the most part this is true. You can go in guns blazing, taking out all the enemies from cover and leaving nothing alive in your path. This gives you experience for each kill which eventually unlocks praxis points for you. Or if you prefer the silent path you can stealth around your enemies using cover and crouching to keep things on the down low. You may not get the experience from killing the enemies, but if you can go through without being seen you get a ghost experience bonus, and if you don’t set of any alarms then you get the smooth operator bonus. You can also play the silent angel of death where you sneak up on everyone and kill them, or just knock them out and leave them alive. Regardless remember to hide the body so you do not tip off their friends or get seen by a security camera. By allowing different gameplay types it makes the game a real joy to play. For the most part I went stealth with mostly non-lethal weapons. But I was not forced to play the whole game like this, which really allowed for creative alternatives to completing levels. Near the end I was using stealth to get to a hard to reach area and then take out everyone from there. These options made the game a lot of fun.
So if you authentically have different ways to complete each mission why do I call it the illusion of choice? Because in a world of choices, sometimes you do not have one. This is best shown with the F&%KING boss fights. OK, specifically the first boss fight. I spent 2 hours on that asshole. This may have been because I sucked at it, but I blame the fact that I was building my character for stealth and hacking, but had not taken invisibility yet. This means that I had no extra armor, no bonuses to my guns, and no expectation to have to deal with some jackass that has a machine gun for an arm and a chest cavity filled with grenades. Until this point if I was seen I either restarted from last save so I could get the ghost bonus, or lured the guy close to me in order to knock him out with a melee take down. In a boss fight you have no choice to avoid, you have to kill the enemy to complete the level, and don’t even try to use the close combat take down. I found later boss fights easier, but that may be due to having learned my lesson the first time around on what to build for and what to expect. This at least allowed them to be more enjoyable. Or it just felt that way since I was not tearing out hair or wanting to break my mouse and keyboard as I wanted to during the first fight.
A World on the Edge
Most people in Deus Ex can be split into two factions. Purist or people having no problem with augmentation. A few people may blur the line a bit on augmentation. Whether people should be allowed to do it just to improve themselves versus it for someone who lost a limb, such as a soldier, but overall you have the two groups. The UN is under pressure to regulate the use of augmentation, while the companies that want to create the augments want things left up to the individual. This causes world wide riots, and further in the game much bigger problems.
Now if you only do the main story you will get a good feel of the world, along with the corporate and political intrigue that it holds. But if you explore, hack, and do the side missions you find that this era has really been flushed out, and there is more going on then you expect. Not wanting to give anything away, but you will do a mission for a guy whom you will not trust (or at least I did not). But the story is very interesting and so far only leaves me with one main question. Who the hell designs the fashion for these woman? Did super high popped collars become popular in the future? Or is this just more crazy Japanese fashion ideas?
Are These People or Boards
So here is what I find to be the weakest link in the game. Bad voice acting and very stiff models. I swear they had two teams, the team on the out of game cinematics, and the team for the in game cinematics. Out of the game they are much more dynamic. Movements seem more natural and very movie like. The only thing it really shares is the crappy voice acting. Then they will move you to the in game cinematic (usually done from one to another) and the room will completely change. While this looks great overall it can be jarring when you are moved from a fully rendered room to a room that has suddenly changed what it contains and even the color structure, then it is kind of unsettling and breaks immersion. The people will also go from almost natural movements to freaking boards. I can see why they did it. The out of game cinemas give a much more epic feeling to the game, but it would have been nice if they transisted with the rest of the game a little better. This is the only time a NPC seems stiff though, the rest of the time they do move pretty naturally. Especially in combat where it is most important.
Overall if you like games, this will have something that is up your alley. With the choice of run and gun or stealth mixed with RPG components it appeals to multiple people. The game does give you options with minimal railroading into what it whats you to do. Heck if you count out the boss fights my biggest complaint is wooden acting, and that can be given a pass as the actual gameplay is great.