It has long been my opinion that the original Deus Ex developed by Ion Storm (the good Ion Storm, not the ones who made Daikatana) and published by Eidos Interactive in 2000 is far and away the greatest video game ever devised.  It is difficult for me to put into words why the game is so great  because whenever I think about it, I get lost in a sea of feelings and my thoughts become scattered and half represented.  For this reason, I will be breaking this review up into multiple sections in an attempt to keep everything as succinct as possible.

Deus Ex has a level of storytelling that most games weren’t able to compete with until years after its release.  Different threads being picked up and put down in a cacophony of convuluted conspiracies.  The year is 2052 and you’re playing a character named JC Denton who works for the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition in broken down dystopian New York.  From there, everything spirals into chaos pretty quickly and you delve into a terrorist plot involving an agency known as Majestic 12.  The story takes you to fictional recreations of many non-fictional places such as Hong Kong (where the Triads are warring), Paris, and Area 51 to name a few.  The voice acting, could be better but I’m willing to let that slide as voice over equipment and software was pretty rudimentary at the time.  You’ll find voice acting was an issue in many games of that time.

When you start a new game in Deus Ex, you are presented with one question.  Would you like a tutorial or would you like to figure it out on your own?  I highly suggest you skip the tutorial and figure the gameplay mechanics out for yourself.  This is where it really shines (besides all the other parts where it really shines…).  A huge part of Deus Ex’s immersive world is figuring out how you want to play and making the game conform to your will.  Let’s say you are presented with a locked door.  You have options.  You can pick the lock of the door (if you’re a simple soul).  You can hack a nearby computer and hope it has a way to unlock the door or open it.  You can beat the door down with a strong melee weapon or even chuck a LAM at it and see what happens.  If all else fails, look for something that seems volatile, place it near the door, stand back and take aim with a pistol.  The entire game is a series of events that can be handled in several different ways leading to virtually endless possibilities.  This is all very intriguing, but the emergent gameplay truly begins to show though when the augmentations are obtained.  Augmentations allow you to alter your character in ways that can completely change the way the game is played.  For example, you’re trapped in a military base with a bunch of thoroughly angry, trigger happy soldiers.  You can fight your way through with a submachine gun and a prayer OR if you’ve been keeping an eye out for augmentation canisters and got a little lucky, you can equip an invisibility cloak and stroll right on through.  These choices influence the way the game plays out and depending on what type of player you are, entire sections of Deus Ex can be skipped over only to be discovered later in a different playthrough.

Now, Deus Ex was released in 2000 so it’s clearly not going to blow your mind with graphical fidelity.  That being said, it was a decent looking game for its time.  It was an early adopter of the Unreal Engine, the basis of games like Gears of War and the upcoming Crackdown.  If graphics are something that would prevent you from enjoying this game, get yourself a copy of the Deus Ex New Vision mod.  New Vision will slap a new coat of high res paint on it and at least add support for 1080p visuals.

Deux Ex has an incredible soundtrack, I keep a copy of it in my car at all times and have seared it into my brain for probably the rest of my life.  Give this a listen and let it speak for itself.

Here’s where some cracks start to emerge.  Deus Ex does not always play nice with modern operating systems.  It doesn’t natively support higher resolutions, it’s prone to stuttering, and it’ll crash if you look at it funny.  I’ve even had it crash right after a quicksave that ended up forcing me to start the game over from the beginning (thankfully I wasn’t too far in at that point).  These are less problems with the game and more problems with support.  Eidos quit releasing patches for Deus Ex long ago so for years, it has been up to the community to keep it playable.  Everything that is wrong with the performance of Deus Ex can be fixed with some tinkering and it is absolutely worth it.

Deus Ex: The Game That Fueled a Generation of Cyberpunks

About The Author


I'm a freelance writer living in Texas. I've spent my entire life being absorbed by all manner of electronics and now I have a platform to talk about it.