International Writers Magazine: Gaming
Developed by Ion Storm
Distributed by Eidos.
is the first half of the Latin saying, "Deus Ex Machina",
God from the machine. Its the term for a plot device in which
something comes along and just makes everything better like some
kind of narrative Chuck Norris. The fact that in a game, you the
player are always a Deus Ex Machina for whatevers wrong in
the world is only one of about twelve reasons for the title of this
game; the fact that you can basically become Robot Jesus is one
of the others
The game stars
JC Denton. (Anyone who noticed the symbolism in his initials can have
a cookie! Anyone whod already noticed it in mine can have five!)
An experimental super-soldier working for a government anti-terror organisation
called UNATCO, whilst a plague called the grey death slowly
kills the worlds population.
As you play through the game, the nature of the plague, the terrorists
you fight so vehemently against and even the moral standing of UNATCO
themselves are all brought into question. Soon enough JC finds himself
embroiled in a global conspiracy of Epic proportions!
Thats all I can say about the story really
different every time you play it.
This is one of those games where half the fun is talking to other people
whove played it and seeing how they did it differently. I even
once heard some friends say...
"The part I liked the most was the bit where your brother died."
"Wait? He died? He didnt when I played it!"
When I found myself lost at one point (it turned out to be my fault
in the end), I looked up a walkthrough on the internet. It told me I
would have to fight one of my former colleagues, Anna Navarre, in order
to get the key out of there
Unfortunately this didnt help
much, since about three hours prior I had turned around and blown her
face off with a shotgun! In my defence, she deserved it! (Ill
leave it to you to find out why!) But the best thing about this game
is that it didnt matter, because there were other ways to progress
through the section instead!
This is one of those few games, a rare gem in an ocean of filth, where
your choices can be a ruthless bloodbath, silent ninja and anything
in between. You can finish this game without killing anyone at all if
youre good enough. And with this game you will probably want to
when you hear what some of the enemies have to say! When you hear an
enemy soldier talk about how he has to pick his daughter up from school
later and how he is so proud of her, it just doesnt feel right
to hurt him
There are at least five ways through any given part of the game. Choices
like Guns-Blazing, Sneaking-Around, Hacking-Computers,
Picking-Locks, Finding-Keys/Passwords and Just-Plain-Asking-People-For-A-Bit-Of-Help.
Those methods can be mixed and matched at any point at will to get whatever
results you want. And the diversity gets even greater when you get to
Remember what I said earlier about JC being a super-soldier? Well it
turns out he can even upgrade his own body! Along the way, you will
find augmentation canisters that each offer you an irreversible
choice between two special abilities. For instance I found one that
offered either a cloaking device, making you invisible to humans, or
a radar cloak, that made you invisible to all kinds of robots, security
cameras and stuff
And which choice you make has an enormous effect
on how you play the game from then on. The first time I played the game
I chose the normal cloak. I was leaping at people from the air ducts
and cutting their throats like Predator, but the game turned into a
less sexy, more dangerous episode of Benny Hill whenever they brought
the robots in!
You would have to play this game hundreds of times to get the full experience
out of it!
Unfortunately, the game is rather old, so the graphics do look incredibly
dated. I was able to forgive this in light of the amazing voice-acting,
something you never see in videogames even today!
Secondly, the shoddy AI (Artificial Intelligence) of the enemies can
betray itself in some amazing suspension-of-disbelief destroying spectacles!
For instance, there is an option to pick dead bodies up in order to
hide them, but this ability is absolutely useless when you realise that
other enemies dont seem to be able to see their fallen comrades
sprawled out and still bleeding in front of them. This became a standard
feature of any stealth game around the time I turned six! (Literally!)
Thirdly, when we gamers say games were harder back when we were young
Were not talking with a sense of mis-placed nostalgia
mean it! (For proof compare Half-Life and Half-Life 2.) Try playing
this game on anything other than Easy or Medium and you will be in for
a lead enema within seconds! But thats okay; the game doesnt
get frustrating when you can just look for another way around a problem
instead of having to face the same situation over and over again like
As well as being groundbreaking in terms of game play, this game also
has one of the most gripping storylines I have ever seen. There is a
religious symbolism running through the entire story that I absolutely
loved, whilst also raising questions about nature versus nurture, and
an entire political debate about terrorism and totalitarianism. All
taking place at the same time as you start to feel lost amongst the
conflicting agendas of all the supporting characters.
If youve ever wanted to see what all those youngsters are up to
when youre too busy to actually take an active role in their upbringing.
Then you owe it to yourself to find a copy of this game! (They can be
found for about £5 in most shops, and most gamers will happily
give you their copy if you just ask them nicely.)
Ask any intelligent gamer what the worlds greatest games are, Deus Ex
will be one of them, along with Half-Life 2, Fallout, The Grim Fandango
and Power-Explosionfist 3!
If you cant tell which of those games I just made up you really
have to stay in more often!
© Jack Clarkson. December 2007
Shl60522 at port.ac.uk
Jack is studying Creative Writing and Death at the University of Portsmouth
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