Deus Ex Retrospectives

With Ion Storm's Deus Ex celebrating its tenth anniversary, it comes as no surprise that a couple of sites were inspired to pen retrospectives for the cyberpunk FPS/RPG.

First up is Rock, Paper, Shotgun, where we primarily get a mish-mash of in-house banter:
It's notable for two main reasons. Firstly, it's the aesthetic inverse of Thief in terms of the lineage. Thief concentrated to one aspect of the immersive sim stealth and made the whole game about it. Deus Ex included everything from stealth to conversation to violence hell, to multiple ways of violence. Secondly which leads on from the first it was the game which brought the concept of freedom of choice far more to the forefront that other first-person games. Levels were open places for expression of your skills. You made it up as you went along. Rather than a level saying what you should do a puzzle to be solved often Deus Ex presented a problem, gave you the tools and let you at it.

It also had terrible voice-acting. That's Deus Ex.


Alec: But what I really think is that its absolute multitude of possibilites led to a splintering of exploration from all its ideas, Pathologic being just one.

John: Yeah, that's the thing. I think its mechanics were splendid, but I don't think the combination of FPS and RPG was why it was special. It was special because it was smart, and it made me smarter for playing it. It was well read, it was eloquent, and it was proud of that.

Jim: The importance, though, was probably in its unique position, appearing at a crucial time for shooters, and a crucial time for RPGs. It took elements from them all and put them together in a way that didn't really have too many parallels.

And then Beefjack takes us down the usual article route:
From Liberty Island, the story takes you all over the world, and in each of the locations the wealth of options is absolutely remarkable. Stealthy or shooty. Direct or exploratory. Beacon of respect or rogue supercop. This isn't an open-world game, or even a particularly non-linear one, but within its predefined structure is more scope for experimentation than there is contained in almost any other game that springs to mind.

When you read a book, or watch a film, you're always observing someone else's story. In a game like Deus Ex, you're crafting your own, but one still under the watchful gaze of a talented writer (in Deus Ex's case, the wonderful Sheldon Pacotti). Experiencing the consequences of your actions which never feel the need to descend into binary moral choice nonsense as they play out in front of you is an emotional hook like no other, and something entirely unique to our glorious interactive medium. That's why Deus Ex was such a pivotal moment for gaming, such a remarkable achievement so ahead of its time, and such an influence on pretty much any story-driven game since that boasts non-linearity in its marketing blurb.