Deus Ex is a cyberpunk-themed action role-playing game developed by Ion Storm Inc. and published by Eidos Interactive in 2000, which combines gameplay elements of first-person shooters with those of role-playing video games. The game received near-universal critical and industry acclaim, including being named "Best PC Game of All Time" in PC Gamer's Top 100 PC Games and in a poll carried out by UK gaming magazine PC Zone. It was a frequent candidate for and winner of Game of the Year awards, drawing praise for its pioneering designs in player choice and multiple narrative paths. It has sold more than 1 million copies, as of April 23, 2009.
Set in a dystopian world during the year 2052, the central plot follows rookie United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition agent JC Denton, as he sets out to combat terrorist forces, which have become increasingly prevalent in a world slipping ever further into chaos. As the plot unfolds, Denton becomes entangled in a deep and ancient conspiracy, encountering organizations such as Majestic 12, the Illuminati, and the Hong Kong Triads throughout his journey.
First published for Microsoft Windows on PC, Deus Ex was later ported to Macintosh systems, as well the PlayStation 2, the latter platform under the title Deus Ex: The Conspiracy. Loki Games worked on a Linux version of the game, but the company went out of business before releasing it. A sequel to Deus Ex, titled Deus Ex: Invisible War, was released on December 2, 2003, for both Windows and the Xbox video game console. On November 26, 2007, it was confirmed that Eidos Montreal is developing a prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Deus Ex incorporates elements from four video game genres: role-playing, first-person shooter, adventure, and "immersive simulation", the last of which being a game where "nothing reminds you that you're just playing a game". For example, the game uses a first-person camera during gameplay and includes exploration and character interaction as primary features.
The player assumes the role of JC Denton, a nanotechology-augmented operative of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO). Deus Ex game manual. This nanotechnology is a central gameplay mechanism, and allows players to perform superhuman feats.
As the player accomplishes objectives, the player character is rewarded with "skill points". Skill points are used to enhance a character's abilities in eleven different areas, and were designed to provide players with a way to customize their characters; a player might create a combat-focused character by increasing proficiency with pistols or rifles, while a more furtive character can be created by focusing on lock picking and computer hacking abilities. There are four different levels of proficiency in each skill, with the skill point cost increasing for each successive level.
Weapons may be customized through "weapon modifications", which can be found or purchased throughout the game. The player might add scopes, silencers, or laser sights; increase the weapon's range, accuracy, or magazine size; or decrease its recoil and reload time. Not all modifications are available to all weapons; for example, a rocket launcher cannot be silenced, and recoil cannot be reduced on a flamethrower.
Players are further encouraged to customize their characters through nano-augmentations—cybernetic devices that grant characters superhuman powers. While the game contains eighteen different nano-augmentations, the player can install a maximum of nine, as each must be used on a certain part of the body: one in the arms, legs, eyes, and head; two underneath the skin; and three in the torso. This forces the player to choose carefully between the benefits offered by each augmentation. For example, the arm augmentation requires the player to decide between boosting their character's skill in hand-to-hand combat or his ability to lift heavy objects.
Interaction with non-player characters was a large design focus. When the player interacts with a non-player character, the game will enter a cutscene-like conversation mode where the player advances the conversation by selecting from a list of dialogue options. The player's choices often have a substantial effect on both gameplay and plot, as non-player characters will react in different ways depending on the selected answer (e.g. rudeness makes them less likely to provide assistance).
Deus Ex features combat similar to first-person shooters, with real-time action, a first-person perspective, and reflex-based gameplay. As the player will often encounter enemies in groups, combat often tends toward a tactical approach, including the use of cover, strafing, and "hit-and-run". A USA Today reviewer found "At the easiest difficulty setting, your character is pureed again and again by an onslaught of human and robotic terrorists until you learn the value of stealth." However, through the game's role-playing systems (see above), it is possible to develop a character's skills and augmentations to create a tank-like combat specialist with the ability to deal and absorb large amounts of damage. Non-player characters will praise or criticize the main character depending on his use of force, incorporating a moral element into the gameplay.
Deus Ex features a head-up display crosshair, whose size dynamically shows where shots will fall based on movement, aim, and the weapon in use; the reticle expands while the player is moving or shifting his or her aim, and slowly shrinks to its original size while no actions are taken. How quickly the reticle shrinks depends on the character's proficiency with the equipped weapon, the number of accuracy modifications added to the weapon, and the level of the "targeting" nano-augmentation.
Deus Ex features twenty-four weapons, ranging from crowbars, electroshock weapons, and riot baton, to laser guide anti-tank rockets and assault rifles; both lethal and non-lethal weapons are available. The player can also make use of several weapons of opportunity, such as fire extinguishers.
Gameplay in Deus Ex emphasizes player choice, which GameSpot's review explains: "Deus Ex is quite long for an action-packed first-person game", it states, "but even so, most of its situations present you with two or three possible solutions." Objectives can be completed in numerous ways, including stealth, sniping, heavy frontal assault, dialogue, or engineering and computer hacking. This level of freedom requires that levels, characters, and puzzles be designed with significant redundancy, as a single play-through of the game will miss large sections of dialogue, areas, and other content. In some missions the player is encouraged to avoid using deadly force, and certain aspects of the story may change depending on how violent or non-violent the player chooses to be. The game is also unusual in that two of its "boss" villains can be killed off early in the game, or left alive to be defeated later, and this too affects how other characters interact with the player.
Because of its design focus on player choice, Deus Ex has been compared with System Shock, a game that inspired its design. Together, these factors give the game a great degree of replay-ability, as the player will have vastly different experiences, depending on which methods he or she uses to accomplish objectives.
Deus Ex was designed as a single-player game, and the initial releases of the Windows and Macintosh versions of the game did not include multi-player functionality. Support for multiplayer modes was later incorporated through patches. The component includes three game modes: deathmatch, basic team deathmatch, and advanced team deathmatch. Only five maps, based on levels from the single-player portion of the game, were included with the original multiplayer patch, but many user-created maps now exist. The PlayStation 2 release of Deus Ex does not offer a multiplayer mode.
Deus Ex takes place in a dystopian future in a world that draws heavily upon present day conspiracy theories. This dark setting is enhanced by the fact that the entire game takes place at night, a backdrop that adds to the atmosphere of conspiracies and stealth. The game contradicts itself in several instances regarding the exact year in which the events of the story take place, but information in the sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War reconciles this inconsistency via retroactive continuity, placing the events of Deus Ex in the year 2052. Most of the game takes place in fictionalized versions of real-world locations, including New York City, Hong Kong, Paris, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Area 51.
The plot of Deus Ex depicts a society on a slow spiral into chaos. A lethal pandemic known as the "Gray Death" ravages the world's population, especially within the United States, and has no cure. A synthetic vaccine, "Ambrosia", manufactured by the company VersaLife, nullifies the effects of the virus, but is in critically short supply. Because of its scarcity, Ambrosia is available only to those deemed "vital to the social order", and finds its way primarily to government officials, military personnel, the rich and influential, scientists, and the intellectual elite. With no hope for the common people of the world, riots occur worldwide, and a number of terrorist organizations have formed with the professed intent of assisting the downtrodden, among them the National Secessionist Force of the US and a French group known as Silhouette.
In order to combat these threats to the world order, the United Nations has greatly expanded its governmental influence around the globe. The United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO) is formed, with the intent of maintaining peace internationally and combating the world's ever-growing number of terrorist groups. It is headquartered near New York City in a bunker beneath Liberty Island, placed there after a terrorist strike on the Statue of Liberty.
The player assumes the identity of JC Denton, a nanotechnology-augmented UNATCO agent. After completing his training, JC takes several missions given by Director Joseph Manderley to track down members of the National Secessionist Forces (NSF) and their stolen shipments of the "Ambrosia" vaccine, the cure for the "Gray Death" virus. Through these missions, JC is reunited with his brother, Paul, also a nano-aug. JC tracks the Ambrosia shipment to a private terminal at LaGuardia Airport. Paul meets JC outside the plane, and explains that he has defected from UNATCO and is now working with the NSF after learning that the Gray Death is a man-made virus, with UNATCO using its power to make sure only the elite receive the vaccine.
JC returns to UNATCO headquarters and is told by Manderley that both he and Paul have been outfitted with a 24-hour kill switch, and that Paul's has been activated due to his betrayal. Manderley orders JC to fly to Hong Kong to eliminate Tracer Tong, a hacker whom Paul has contact with, and who can disable the kill switches. Instead, JC returns to Paul's apartment to find Paul hiding inside. Paul further explains his defection and encourages JC to also defect by sending out a distress call to alert the NSF's allies. Upon doing so, JC becomes a wanted man by UNATCO, and his own kill switch is activated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Walton Simons. JC is unable to escape UNATCO forces, and both he and Paul (provided he survived the raid on the apartment) are taken to a secret prison below UNATCO headquarters. An entity named "Daedalus" contacts JC and informs him that the prison is part of Majestic 12, and arranges for him and Paul to escape. The two flee to Hong Kong to meet with Tong, who deactivates their kill switches. Tong requests JC infiltrate the VersaLife building. Doing so, JC discovers that the corporation is the source for the Gray Death, and he is able to steal the plans for the virus and destroy the "universal constructor" that produces it.
Analysis of the virus shows it was manufactured by the Illuminati, prompting Tong to send JC to Paris to try and make contact with the organization and obtain their help fighting Majestic 12. JC eventually meets with Illuminati leader Morgan Everett, and learns that the Gray Death virus was intended to be used for augmentation technology, but Majestic 12, led by trillionaire businessman and philanthropist Bob Page, was able to steal and re-purpose it into its current viral form. Everett recognizes that without VersaLife's universal constructor, Majestic 12 can no longer create the virus, and will likely target Vandenberg Air Force Base, where X-51, a group of former Area-51 scientists, has built another one. After aiding the base personnel in repelling a Majestic 12 attack, JC meets X-51 leader Gary Savage, who reveals that Daedalus is an artificial intelligence borne out of the ECHELON program. Dr. Savage attempts revenge on Majestic 12 by releasing Daedalus on secure military networks, but Page counters by releasing his own AI, Icarus, which merges with Daedalus to form a new AI, Helios, with the ability to control all global communications. After this, Savage enlists JC's help in procuring schematics for reconstructing components for the UC that were damaged during Majestic 12's raid of Vandenberg. JC finds the schematics and electronically transmits them to Savage, but they are intercepted by Page as well, who launches a nuclear missile at Vandenberg to ensure that Area 51, which is now Majestic 12's headquarters, will be the only location in the world with an operational UC. However, JC is able to reprogram the missile to strike Area 51. JC then travels there himself to confront Page.
- Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition
- Deus Ex: The Conspiracy
- Deus Ex: Invisible War
- Project Snowblind
- Deus Ex: The Revision
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex creator Warren Spector has credited Suikoden as an influence on the game. He stated that the limited moral choices in the game, some of which turn out to be false choices, are what inspired him to explore the concept much further and attempt to offer meaningful choices that actually matter. 1 2