"The must-have action adventure of the year, for any fan of evolving, intricate storylines. The possibilities of game play are numerous!"
---from the review
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A Techtite Review
Odd title, great game. That's the best one-liner to describe, perhaps, the sleeper, must-have title of the year. This is one of those few action games that doesn't only try to make something new and inspired out the cliché shooter-game genre; it attempts to add an intriguing, evolving story as well. If you are a fan of action games, adventure games, or both, this game might be just what you've been waiting for.
In case you were wondering, Deus Ex (pronounced "DAY-ahs eks") refers to a new-Latin term for artificial, all-powerful beings, who determine the fate of humankind. What all-powerful force is affecting society, and for what purpose? That's half the mystery, though this force's affect on society is hard to ignore. For one thing, cybernetic implants have been invented, which help make members of certain military agencies exceptionally strong (yes, your character is one of these "super cops"). Two, a mysterious plague has engulfed the Earth, and the agency you work for, UNATCO, delivers the vaccine to as many people as possible. This is not easy, when a force of NSF terrorists are stealing the vaccine for their own agenda. Finding out the driving force to the NSF is your first objective. Later, you must find out the bigger picture of what's-going-on, and perhaps even fulfill a destiny.
Along the way, you must complete missions that are assigned to you, as the newest "rookie" on the team. Much like in other games, there are primary (must be completed) and secondary (optional) objectives. Even better, you have the ability to choose how you'll complete these tasks. The game allows you to choose your favorite playing style: a cloak-and-dagger method of stealth (not unlike Thief, although it's much harder to hide!), a pacifist approach (choosing weaponry that stuns instead of kills), or the guns-blazing approach (as Quake gamers might call it, the "ludicrous gibs" solution!). Skills can be enhanced with "exploration points" (not unlike an RPG game), and can include better weapon usage, or the ability to hack into security computers. Along the way, you might find additional bionic implants (a cloaking device, or a better targeting system, for example).
It's the true-to-life (or close enough) aspects of this game that set it above mere "shoot everything moving" action games. Save an innocent bystander, for example, and get a reward; possibly a password to the nearby security system. Enhancements for weaponry include laser targeting or a scope. Use the targeting scope early in the game, and the view wobbles; you must enhance your skill in that weapon, to get a steadier hand! For locked doors, you can either search for the key (which can often be a challenging search!), pick the lock (depending on your lock picking skill), or just blast the door open with explosives. As in real life, the choice made results in either going through the door without anyone noticing, or (if you blew it open!) alerting a while army to your presence. The real-life options are practically endless.
Even small choices may affect the outcome of certain plot branches. In the very first mission, you can save a prisoner, or just let the soldiers behind you save the prisoner instead. Later in the game, in a 3-way confrontation, you must decide who to trust, or decide not to trust anyone; later challenges are influenced by your decision. Soon afterwards, your brother valiantly asks you to escape while he fights the people chasing you down. While escaping doesn't effect the game per se, you can indeed fight alongside your brother, make sure he escapes the room (at least), and save his life. It's alternate plot decisions like this that set Deus Ex above any action-adventure currently on the shelf.
Such intricate plot branches are rare for any game to attempt these days, so be careful; many people may reach one of the game's finales, and have no clue that there are no less than three different conclusions available. This is a good thing, when by the game's end, the plot's intricacies are highly controversial, and the "right" decision of humankind's future is up to anyone's interpretation. By the finale, you are given three suggestions, and must choose one. Each solution --and here's the really cool part of it all-- leads to different final mission objectives, possibly leading you to play the final mission three times, in three totally different ways.
Game gripes are few, though they're there. For one, some enemies are a little too strong for their own good; a sniper can often shoot you dead with just one or two well-placed shots, so keep moving. Second, there is the occasional "lull" in a storyline. Sure, you get your money's worth in this game, though some areas still seem merely thrown in, and not influential parts of the story per se. This includes the need to traverse a murky sewer system...again. What is it with shooter games' recent fascination with sewers? They make for boring maps, with boring textures, boring enemies, and no real thrill whatsoever. Fortunately, once you reach the surface again, the intricate environments continue...though it would've been best to just cut to the chase, regardless of how much "shorter" the game would be, without sewers.
Such gripes do little to affect the game's appeal, however. With everything else to see and do in the game --and a story that leads you to New York, Hong Kong, Paris, and beyond!-- there's more than enough bang for your buck here. To make things even better, the type of "bang" received is completely up to you, including alternate endings themselves. That alone is worth giving Deus Ex a very, very high rating, as one of the best action-adventures all year.