Title: Deus Ex: The Conspiracy
Developer: Ion Storm
Platform: PS2 (Also PC but this is a review of the PS2 version)
When I began playing Deus Ex, I was a little discouraged by what I first mistook as difficulty. Since the game is played from a first person perspective and you use guns to kill your enemies, I mistakenly assumed that Deus Ex was simply another FPS game. But I soon discovered that using the same strategy that I had used in other FPS games did not work in Deus Ex. And so, when I began to change my strategies, using brute force, stealth, and diplomacy in different ways, I realized that Deus Ex was not so much an incredibly difficult game, but instead, a game with a type of gameplay I had never experienced before; a type of gameplay that I ended up thoroughly enjoying and that Deus Ex has done better than any of the other games in the genre. It is the engrossing gameplay along with a masterful plot that make Deus Ex such an amazing game. However, the game is of course not perfect, as no game is, and so, before I continue swooning over the amazing storyline and gameplay, I’ll go into more depth about the game’s shortfalls.
To begin, the game is pretty ugly. Even for its time, I feel the graphics did not quite meet the standards. There were many other games that looked better, even on consoles. The game did receive some minor graphical enhancements for the PS2 port, mainly dealing with character appearance, but for the most part, it looked the same. There is also a lot of loading screens, far more than I like in a game but after getting entranced in the game’s plot, they no longer really bothered me. Also, there is fortunately little to no graphical glitches: no clipping through walls, and the like.
Deus Ex has a pretty steep learning curve for those unfamiliar with the open ended, strategical, RPG-like, first person gameplay (did I use enough adjectives?) of games like it, Bioshock, and System Shock 2. While it is possible to run and gun and still get through game, you will find that using that strategy alone is difficult. Ammo and health pick ups are not entirely nonexistant but far from abundant, encouraging the player to think of new ways to approach a situation. While some may find this restricting (Hey if I want to just run and shoot things, why can’t I?), I think in the end, it leads to a much higher replayability. To this day, after owning the game for nearly 6 years, I still find new things everytime I play it.
And so end the grievances I have with the game. Now to get to the good parts. I will start with the gameplay. While System Shock and it’s sequel came out before Deus Ex, this was my first experience with open ended FPS/RPG style gameplay, and as I said before, I really liked it. I am a big fan of RPGs and so the upgradeable skills and bio mods really appealed to me; they gave me that “leveling up” feel that I enjoy so much. They also really buff the replay value. Since you can not upgrade every skill or bio mod in the course of one game, it encourages one to start again with a new skill build and bio mod set. The skills all deal with combat, movement, and primarily physical things while the bio mods all give you special abilities, such as being able to see through walls and detonate explosives before they reach you. Coupled with the skill and bio mod system, is the ability to handle almost every event in the game in an infinite amount of ways. For instance, in any given area, you could choose to just kill everything in your way, whether it be hostile or civilian; or, you could sneak through some path and eliminate half the confrontations you would have normally face. Still, you could also bribe an npc to escort you to some area you would not normally be able to access. And those are just a few of the ways that a level can turn out.
The control system is easy to pick up and not at all different from a typical first person perspective game, although your aim with guns improve as you upgrade the skill set that ties with a particular fire arm (Rifle skill improves your skill and aim with shotguns, sniper rifles, and assault rifles. Heavy arms improves your skill and aim with rocket launchers, so on and so forth).
The sound is well done. You can hear the enemies footsteps, or the hum of a camera, and plan your strategy accordingly. The music is hit and miss. The theme song is a real winner, whereas most of the ingame soundtrack falls between pretty good and horrible.
The story, moreso I feel than the gameplay, is what really brings Deus Ex to the pinnacle of its genre. I do not want to go into too much detail, as I do not want to spoil anything for anyone, but I will give you the basics. It is a mixture of Sci-fi, consipracy drama, with cyber punk elements. It takes place in a dystopic future where America is under attack by the NSF, a terrorist group, and suffering from a new plague with no cure, called the Grey Death. You control JC Denton, a nano-augmented agent. JC works for UNATCO, a United Nations counter terrorist group (Think 24’s CTU except globalized), and his first mission is to neutralize an NSF attack on the recently bombed Statue of Liberty. The plot is far from black and white, and twists are around every corner.
Thusly, I feel Deus Ex: The Conspiracy is definitely worth a buy. You will find endless amounts of replay value and unique storyline that will keep you engrossed time and time again. If you are really concerned with aesthetics then you may want to consider borrowing it from a friend or renting it, if there is anywhere that it is still rentable. If you are a fan of either of the System Shocks or Bioshock, this is definitely worth your time.
In the End(A concise score card for each aspect of the game, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest)