Cyberpunk fiction at it’s finest. That’s Deus Ex. A little RPG mixed with a lot of sneaking around makes for this solid prequel to a much-loved series. While the two previous entries were created from a PC-first perspective, developer Eidos Studios - Montreal is attempting what few have succeeded at: bringing an older franchise to the modern world of a console-centric gaming market. During this conversion there is more to consider than simply graphics and controls. Deus Ex not only will be judged by the usual metrics, but also in the quality of it’s conversion to console.
Fortunately for Deus Ex, the conversion was mastered by Eidos Montreal. Every PC gamer will tell you that instant save/load is a huge advantage over consoles that can’t tax the hard drive as frequently. In my experience, no console game has pulled off what Eidos has done here. At any point you can stop and save. Unlike other games, you actually load from the exact point with the exact environment/character conditions as were tagged in the save file. I know its not like discovering plutonium, but having grown up a PC gamer, this is huge for me. As a husband I’m often quickly pulled away for tasks such as lifting something heavy or hot or that lovely sound of my wife asking “did you remember to fold the laundry?” There’s nothing more tedious than rushing for a save point and skipping out on cool items or heaven forbid, a side quest. So, have no fear, the conversion was successful. And now to judge the game itself…
The cyberpunk world is beautiful. More than once I found myself just looking around at the convincing buildings, lighting, and technology. While the game takes place in the future, where man has learned to enhance human potential with augmentations to the muscles and brain, man has not learned to overcome itself. There are two factions: augments and natural humans. Think cool people v. Prius owners. Weaved between this age old issue of racism is your hero, Adam Jensen. A man who is determined to uncover the mystery surrounding the incident that left his girlfriend dead and himself augmented just to save his life. Between the convincing world and beautiful soundtrack (one of the best every), it’s easy to get sucked into the story. If you’re like me and you completed all side quests, you’ll spend roughly 35 hours on your first play-through. Most games do not have a good plot. Deus Ex does - that says a lot. The fact that you get 2 games in 1 is also appealing and adds game time. To clarify, the game can be played either stealthily or guns-a-blazin’. I suppose there is a 3rd game in there as well since you could combine the two. In either case, this all is wonderful but the game is not without it’s faults.
Holy cow can somebody please take out these boss battles?! They’re awful. Period. First off, they do not in any way jive with the flow of the game. If you’re playing as a pacifistic you will be drilled when you fight the first boss. He comes at you quickly with great power and speed. My first time facing him I only had a tranquilizer gun. Seriously. Suffice it to say, I had to really think about if I wanted to reload an old save or just throw my controller at the TV and tell my wife the dog did it. The other fault that drove me nuts throughout the game is the character models. Jensen looks solid, but watching all other NPCs as they speak and move their limbs was a pain. They are glossy and have the lips of Courtney Love. Any game that reminds you of Courtney Love should be avoided with no remorse.
I’ll ask that you give Deus Ex a pass - you may not get over it but you’ll be distracted by the freewill and exploration. The music, environments, and gameplay are some of the best you’ll play. Deus Ex may not be a “game of the year” contender but it’s one of the best experiences of the year. It proves that the biggest advantage to PC gaming is no longer soloed. Furthermore, it’s an outstanding escape from reality and a gripping story. A must play for 2011.