Friday, December 10, 2010

"Deus Ex" or "Sneak-em up with a rocket launcher"

This week I am reviewing a less obscure game, the all famous Deus-ex by Ion Storm from the year 2000. After mentioning it in my Motorhead review I thought it might have been nice to write about it before I referenced to it. Deus-ex was a cross-over between a sneak-em up and a shooter. The main selling point was that you can make your own choices and you could create your own play style by choosing to upgrade different skills which ranged from heavy weapons to lock-picking to swimming. You probably knew that and/or played it since it is bound to be called "best game of all time". If you haven't, give it a try, it's just $10 on steam. It may be a bit ugly and jittery, but it works even on Windows 7, which is more than you can say about its infamous sequal. And no, I will not say more about "that sequal".
It's blue! It's a poster! It's that one game!

The first time I played through Deus-Ex was four years ago. I didn't really know it existed, but I heard about it from a friend. I went for the most boring way of playing through: the average load out. My protagonist, JC Denton, could do a bit of shooting, a bit of sneaking and therefore sucked at everything. Although I got through eventually. I don't know how long I took my first time around, but it was long enough not to want to play again very eagerly, but the game was engaging enough to pick it up again a few months ago. This time things would be different. I got into a discussion with a friend of mine, which will be impersonated by Mr Cricket. It went something like this:

"Dude, you're playing the Deus-Ex theme on the piano."
"So you played it too, ey? What was your skill load-out?"
"Dude, you don't need swimming. I think you don't even need hacking, lockpicking, electronics or any sneaky skills. Weapons only should be enough."
"Oh, I will PROVE that you can do that! You just watch!"

So I had to plan a little. You can open doors in 3 ways: get a key/code, hack yourself in or occasionally blow it up if the door is penetrable. I have a short attention span, so had trouble with the first. I couldn't use the second, because that would be compromising the proof. Therefore I had to blow everything up with either grenades (called Light Attack Munition or LAM's) or rocket launchers (called GEP-guns, forgot what it stand for), so I had to choose between demolition (grenades) and heavy weapon (rocket launcher). I went for the rocket launcher, because it's big and awesome.

The game gives you the option to choose the rocket launcher at the very beginning, so the terrorists of the first level didn't really stand a chance. I saved a couple of rockets by collecting keys and codes, but it was way too much fun to blow up a door, then selecting your gun and wipe out the survivors in the room. It all goes well when you are on the government's side, but then comes the mission where you defact to the terrorists and you have to make a secret unauthorised transmission from a computer in a building you have been before.
Surely this would pass security, right?

I needed to find a username and password to a computer, but it was behind a lot of locked doors. Naturally I was hasitant, but when I was finally out of options, I pulled out the GEP gun between a lot of guards who were still on my side. I fired a rocket, blew up a door, walked through, picked up some stuff, went out and the guards didn't mind. I got my password, sent the transmission and became enemy of the state.

This strategy got its hilarious peak when I was infiltrating the office building in Hong Kong. JC Denton pretends to be a new employee and everybody claims to be watching him and saying that he shouldn't try anything funny. At a point I had to get a password from a locked cupboard in a full meeting room, so I pull out a grenade, blow up the cupboard and everybody flees the room. I walk out of the room and nobody suspects me. The most weird moment was when I blew up the 2 guards in the huge, red hall. They both walk asynchonally up and down the hall, so I tried to hit them with one rocket when they meet eachother halfway. I shot the rocket and apparently the distance was long enough for nobody to see it. Eventually you'll need to download a code from a computer. This computer is in a very isolated spot with not that much people around. When you are at the computer practically nobody can see you. Yet, when I transmitted the code, an action that should not attract as much attention as, say, an explosion, everybody was out to get me. Oh well...

So, is Deus-Ex solvable with just weapons? The answer: No, but it should be. Practically you can blow up every door and if you can't, you can find a key or a code for it. There is one place where you need to break in a place with a multitool to get your stuff back, but there are enough multitools lying around to hack it without any electronics skill. Unfortunatly, I encountered a very nasty bug that's only hindering this kind of play-through. After I defeated Walten Simons in the submarine base the game didn't want me to open doors the conventional way anymore. Keys, lockpicks and multitools were still usefull, but numeric locks and computers suddenly refused every pass and code. In the submarine base I had no other choice than to fill in a little computer hacking, hack a terminal and open the doors. I got to the final part where you defeat the evil mastermind Bob Page, but every alternative ending is blocked by numeric locks and impenetrable doors. I had no multitool on me and I couldn't find any of them. I was inevitably stuck.

Got this pic probably from very demotivational

As said in my Motorhead review, Deus-Ex's graphics didn't age well, but weird play-throughs like this make it so much more fun than the games nowadays. If you are interested in screwing around with games, you should check this anti-walkthrough. There should be more of games like this, butI don't think you can make a game like the first Deus-Ex anymore. With the graphic standard being this high, I doubt you can get enough artists together for a reasonable price to make a game with this much options and so much locations. The follow up 'Deus-Ex Invisible war' failed miserably due to everything that can make a complete seperate rant that will someday end up here. They are trying again with Deus-Ex Human revolution which at least has a better premise than Invisible war, but I still have to see the feeling I had of the first being matched.

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