tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Just over ten years to the day it was released…

…I finally beat the original Deus Ex. And it makes me want to kick myself for not playing it back then.

To illustrate why this game is so important, it might help to make a few comparisons with more recent titles.

There are tons of games out there (mostly Bioware and Bethesda games) that advertise the fact that you can make choices in-game that have consequences. However, most of those consequences are fairly minor. For instance take Fallout 3 – one of the quests early on lets you decide whether or not to spare the town of Megaton or not by defusing or detonating its resident unexploded nuclear bomb. How you resolve this quest certain has consequences – for instance, it decides where your ‘base’ will be early on, and it will change certain characters’ attitudes towards you. That said, pretty much all the story quests are unaffected by this – they unfold in exactly the same manner, and you experience the main storyline the same way over multiple playthroughs. Sidequests might change, sure, but the main plot never does.

Deus Ex, however, has no such limitations. You can kill off major characters way before they’re supposed to have a major impact on the plot, and doing so will prevent those events from ever occurring (I actually did this). On top of that the decision making is thankfully free of the binary good versus evil distinction – heck, in most situations the options available to you aren’t really apparent unless you explore the areas and invest points in the correct skills. This even extends to the game’s conclusion – unlike Fallout 3 and so many other games that tout choice as a major selling point, there is no distinction between a ‘good’ ending and a ‘bad’ ending – once again, just choices with consequences, and you’re left to decide which choices are the most palatable to you. Believe it or not, it took me something like 30 minutes to decide which ending I wanted to go for.

Given that this game came out ten years ago, way back in 2000, it’s amazing and thoroughly disappointing that no game has managed to improve on it – not even its own sequel, apparently. Deus Ex 3 is on the horizon, but given that it’s being handled by a completely different development team, and that Warren Spector is busy making Mickey Mouse games for Disney, I’m not going to get my hopes up too much.

I’ve just started on Mass Effect 2, whose developers insist that the way the game unfolds will depend on how you beat the original Mass Effect. We’ll see, I suppose.

3 comments

3 Responses to “Just over ten years to the day it was released…”

  1. Gojira says:

    Mass Effect 2 is far better than Mass Effect 1, but I wouldn’t say it addresses your needs. Have you tried Way of the Samurai 3?

    • sonictempest says:

      I haven’t played any of those games actually…what are they like?

      Mass Effect 2 is indeed better than Mass Effect 1, mainly because it made the combat a lot better and excised all the boring bullshit like driving around featureless planets for hours looking for identical military bases.

      • Gojira says:

        Well the gameplay is kind of a 3D samurai drama simulation. It’s just a fun little thing where you pretend you’re a samurai for a couple of hours and do pretty much whatever you feel like doing.

        The only reason I bring it up is because the story does depend on choices you make, and you can kill NPCs at will if you really don’t like them. It’s probably not exactly like Deus Ex (which I haven’t played myself) but there are about 20+ endings and most of them are pretty different. It’s actually a short game that’s designed to be played repeatedly.

        Anyway I’m not trying to sell you on it, just wondering if you’d tried it.

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