Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Deus Ex: Why all the Love?

Deus Ex plays like a first person shooter.  If you want it to be, it is one.  Run, gun, kill all the bad guys etc.

The difference here is that it is way to easy to get lost in everything else and it's everything else that gets you hooked.

I'll review it properly when I've finished but it's been a long time since I've seen a game so universally adored by the gaming press despite its flaws.  So it begs the question, 'What is Deus Ex doing right that so many others are getting wrong?'  On face value you inhabit Adam Jenson's skin, seeing the world through his enhanced eyes, but more and more your objectives move away from Adam's and you start seeing the world of Human Revolution through your own eyes.  It's not that the story is bad, indeed thus far, it's one of the best I've seen implemented into a game, it's just that the side missions and ability to hack your way into rooms and computers are a huge distraction.  And all those stealthy missions that you do on the side have their own lovely kick back.  More experience and more cash, which in turn leads to a stealthier, fitter and deadlier (if you choose to play that way) Adam.

I've become addicted to hacking anything I can.  What initially felt like a tricky system has now become second nature.  Each hack is a challenge to be met and beaten.  Each new door I open leads to a new room to be pilfered (seriously, I've become quite the thief, even my colleagues aren't safe).

What makes the game a joy is the depth.  Yeah, the load times are an annoyance after each untimely death but they aren't so bad the pad gets thrown down in frustration, but watching as email trails start to make sense and build the bigger picture is a joy.  It doesn't sound like it should be, but it is.

There's been a genuine effort on the developers part to deliver something quite different.  At times I'm reminded of Metal Gear but there's none of the fat, cut scenes are kept to a minimum and the first person perspective adds a real sense of being part of the experience.  The amount of choice though makes it stand out.  Yesterday I broke into a night club via an air duct after choosing not to pay at the entrance.  Tonight, while breaking and entering another building, I found a pass for the club so now I can just walk in.  At every moment you're making decisions.  What do I upgrade?  How do I get the best result out of this conversation?  Do I sneak past the guards?  Do I knock them out?  Or should I kill them?

So far (about halfway through), it's the best of COD, with a slice of Metal Gear, sprinkled with some LA Noire.  So far then, it's class.