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Deus Ex

Developer: Ion Storm Publisher: Eidos Interactive
17 June 2000
Deus Ex - cover art
Glitchwave rating
4.35 / 5.0
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1,862 Ratings / 9 Reviews
#13 All-time
#1 for 2000
In the year 2052, the outbreak of a plague known as the Gray Death threw society into chaos. A rookie agent of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO) named JC Denton is assigned to investigate terrorist groups capitalizing on the disorder, but his investigation quickly turns into a life-or-death mission to unravel a hodgepodge of conspiracies perpetrated by government agencies.
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2000 Ion Storm Eidos  
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they call it "day of sex" because it'll prevent you from having it
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Aptmass 2023-02-20T21:59:36Z
2023-02-20T21:59:36Z
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Something about my gaming life struck me recently, something that felt very odd once it sunk in properly.

It came about after the revelation that Heavy Rain [HEAVY RAIN 心の軋むとき], the ludicrously immersive interactive drama from 2010 by Quantic Dream, was now my favourite video game of all time; it not only had me rushing home from work to get further into the story, it completely blew apart just about every conception I had about what a game could do and how it could make me feel. If nothing else, it destroyed my previously carved-in-stone Rule #1 of Gaming - that games should not try to be like films (a rule that had recently been hardened by L.A. Noire, an otherwise brilliant game that suffered just a little by trying too hard to be something it's not). This is no slight on gaming, in fact it's the very opposite - games are capable of being brilliant at things that films are, as a general rule, absolutely terrible at, and I don't feel that they should hold themselves back in a misguided attempt to cater to an audience that frequently looks down their noses at games. Heavy Rain broke that rule by being more film than game, by co-opting all the great things about games into another form without diluting the artistry of either, and by being, quite frankly, the best film I've ever seen, let alone the best game. (Even though the inevitable straight-up film adaption will be terrible, of course.)

This in itself is not really that important - the salient point is that the game it displaced as my all-time favourite was Deus Ex, a game that, when I finished Heavy Rain, was almost exactly 12 years old. And that, to me, was a very, very weird thing to realize.

Here's the thing - video games are unlike any other art form, for two simple reasons. Firstly, the whole form is very young - it hit its own 'caveman banging on rocks' phase in the mid-'40s, 70 years after films did and several millennia after cavemen starting carving drawings into walls and, well, banging on rocks. The comparison to film is a good one here because of its own relative youth - so if we consider they first started to even resemble something modern around 1900 (think of A Trip to the Moon [Le voyage dans la Lune]) and that the first widely-accepted masterpiece was made in 1915 (The Birth of a Nation, depressingly), that would mean that games would have followed the same progression by having their equivalents around 1975 and around 1990 - hold that thought for now. The second reason is that games are inherently driven by technology, much moreso than music (which has typically been very slow to adopt new tech - how long did it take to get from Karlheinz Stockhausen to Kraftwerk?) or the visual arts, and moreso than even films, where technology has been vitally important but hasn't moved as quickly, or shown off the tech as visibly (until very recently). When combined, these two things mean that, in comparison to any other creative medium, the world of gaming moves ridiculously quickly. Think about that 1975/1990 point above - Pong was released in 1972 and by 1990 the NES had already been on the market for 5 years, so games accelerated way beyond films from the off, and then continued to do so. A film released in 1970 looks roughly the same as one released in 1980, but in the jump from 1990 to 2000, gaming went from the SNES and the Mega Drive to the PlayStation 2 and the Dreamcast, from Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage to Deus Ex, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn and Final Fantasy IX [ファイナルファンタジーIX].

These constant technical leaps mean that, by almost all objective measures, games just keep on getting better. The graphics, the smoothness of the gameplay, the freedom to tell a complex story (or more specifically the length of the game and the amount of data a game can hold); they all keep on growing and growing, and that's before you consider technology like online console gaming and motion control, which are still reasonably new in the grand scheme of things, even if they don't feel like it. Subjectivity will always come into play, of course it will, but consider this - if somebody told you that a game released in 2008 was their favourite of all time, and then somebody told you that a film or an album released in 2008 was their all-time favourite, you'd be a lot more shocked at the latter, wouldn't you? Games have a canon just as everything else does, but it's a lot more flexible and a lot more open to new entries; games like The Last of Us (which has since displaced Heavy Rain as my #1), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Portal 2, and the Mass Effect series are already canonical, where it will take years for any but the most gigantic albums and films of recent times to get there. And even then, I'm sure any suggestion that, say, Adele's 21 is canon would spark massive debate.

And yet, even with this in mind, even though as a gamer that upgraded to a PS3 very late into its lifecycle I'm consistently amazed by the visuals and feel of every game I touch, even though gaming has been a seriously exciting world to be part as a consumer for about 20 years now, a game I played in 2002 held down that top spot in my all-time list for an entire decade. That, to me, feels like a ridiculous achievement. So Deus Ex may not be my favourite game of all time any more, but the fact that it held that title for so long says a hell of a lot, not just about just how brilliant this game is, but about how at the time (and even now to an extent). Deus Ex made me feel like it had been made just for me.

People say this kind of thing all the time about music ('this song is all about me!'), and it's normally a reflection of a kind of vagueness in the song or album in question - music allows us to fill in the gaps, to flesh out a three-minute story with as much detail as we like. Hell, in the world of pop and rock especially, the extent to which a song allows and encourages you to fill in those details is often as accurate a mark of greatness as any. Gaming's not like that, though; with very few exceptions a story-driven game is bigger, is more detailed, and leaves a lot less room for the kind of ambiguity and space you'd need to be able to put parts of your own life into it. So when one comes along that is so perfectly tailored to what you want out of a game, it's a much rarer and, as far as I'm concerned, special event - and for the teenage me, Deus Ex was literally perfect.

You can blame The X-Files, I guess, but right from the age of about 7 I was obsessed with conspiracy theories and unexplained mysteries. Ancient Aliens has made this whole kind of thing a bit blasé and silly now, but back when ironic television stardom was but a faint pipedream in the back of Giorgios Tsoukalos' mind, this was very much a niche concern, and one that you didn't really have much opportunity to discuss with other people if you didn't have an internet connection. So I had to turn to books and special order magazines, of which I had literally dozens. Rendlesham Forest, Roswell, Majestic 12, the Illuminati, false flags, reptilians, the Apollo landings, GM foods, Stonehenge, Heaven's Gate - I could quite happily have held a lengthy conversation about any of them, and you probably would have walked away thinking 'fuck me, that is one weird 12 year old'.

And it was weird, let's be honest. Beyond The X-Files, this kind of stuff didn't permeate much popular culture at the time. To top it off, I started getting heavily into dystopian fiction at the time - I guess after spending so long reading about alleged shadowy and evil real-world meta-narratives like the Bilderburg Group, the jump to 1984 and Brave New World was an obvious one to make (as well as post-apocalyptic films like 12 Monkeys, which was a particular favourite of mine at the time).

If you've played it (and if you haven't, fucking hell, sort your life out), you can see why Deus Ex was such an immediately thrilling experience for me. The nearest thing I'd seen to any of this in a game, either visually or spiritually, was Final Fantasy VII [ファイナルファンタジーVII]'s Midgar - and sure enough, it was FFVII that Deus Ex replaced as my favourite ever game - but that only accounted for a fraction of the game, whereas Deus Ex launched you headfirst into pure scorched Earth dystopia and kept you there. The sheer scale of the web of conspiracies it presents remains impressive even now - Majestic 12, the Knights Templar, the Illimunati, and the Trilateral Commission are all major plot points, as are Area 51, Men in Black, UFOs, and unexplained animal mutilation. And that's just the obvious ones, before you start thinking about how The Grey Death, the virus that has wiped out millions of people in the game, might relate to conspiracy theories surrounding AIDs. And somehow, all these fit in alongside one another in a plot that is shockingly easy to follow given the scale of the concepts it touches upon. It's memorable, too - to this day I still catch myself watching shows like Unsolved Mysteries or Fact or Faked and thinking 'hey, that looks like Deus Ex'.

I knew a fair bit about the vast majority of these things before I played it, but I often wonder how Deus Ex would have played out to me if I hadn't, whether it still would have registered with me that this such a special piece of work. True, there's a lot of stuff in here I didn't get - there's reference to things like Marcy Playground and Tommy Tutone that sailed as far over my head at that age as the My Bloody Valentine / Loveless poster in FFVII that I didn't discover until 2011, as well as weapons that seem to hark back to earlier games and nods to Star Wars, Shakespeare, and probably dozens more films and books I still haven't recognized to this day. Yet all of this is perhaps the exact reason why I would still have loved it. It's clear with Deus Ex, perhaps as clear it has been with any computer game ever made, that this is a true labour of love, crafted to the tiniest detail by a design team that didn't just build a world but inhabited it, filling every nook and cranny with detail that reflected not just the world they'd invented but their own personalities and passions. The sheer breadth and extent of the references is such that it's hard to imagine anybody not spotting at least a handful.

Perhaps that matters to you, but what ultimately matters to me is that this was my game, the game that I feel like I would have ended up making if I had the resources and the skill, or a developer would have made if I'd been sat in the room telling them what to do. And it's only really now, writing this out, that I realize that I've never heard anybody - fan, professional critic, blogger, whatever - talk about a game in those terms. There are clearly things about Deus Ex that haven't aged well - the graphics were pretty good for the time but technology has left them behind, and much more pertinently, a few of the minor characters and bystanders are nothing more than jarringly crude and fairly offensive national stereotypes - but every time I've played through it since, it's never lost that appeal, that spark that makes it feel so special. That probably explains why I've completed this more than any comparable game. It certainly explains why it's just about the most nailed-on 5/5 rating I'll ever give anything on this site.
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Iai 2016-04-04T18:52:58Z
2016-04-04T18:52:58Z
4.6
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This is one of those well-beloved games that I do ultimately like but nonetheless find to be completely overrated due to some questionable mechanics as well as some rather shoddy presentation even for its time.

I guess I'll address my issues with the game first as they're sadly enough to drag the game down from the perfect score so many people will say it deserves. First off, it's hideous to look at, even for the late 90s/early 00s this is one ugly looking game from its blocky character models to the bland environments. There's also the issue with the voice acting, it's fine for the American characters but is downright terrible for the French and ESPECIALLY Chinese characters to the point where it borders on being racist (it thankfully isn't due to the games strong writing, but would it have killed the developers to hire Chinese actors for these parts?) I also find the stealth to be hit or miss in this game as it can be invaluable in certain areas and a detriment in others due to the game not being clear when it wants you to use it and when it wants you to engage with the enemies’ head on. This goes for a lot of the stronger enemies as they naturally have weak points which vary depending on which approach the game wants you to use to take them down which again would be fine if it didn't constantly throw curveballs at when it wants you to change up the way you play it.

Now for the positives as naturally there's a ton to get through. First off, the writing is extremely good to the point where it makes up for the laughable voice acting, it has fun with different conspiracy theories which can make it bizarre upon your first playthrough but does grow on you with subsequent playthroughs. Speaking of, there's a ton of replay value to this game as story elements change depending on how you tackle certain objectives, this includes letting certain characters live or if you have an appropriate item for a situation. It admittedly doesn't alter the story too much until the final level where you have the choice of one of three endings, each one giving their pros and cons for the lore of the games universe that naturally I won't spoil here. The game is very politically charged as it naturally tackles themes of government corruption and whether humanity is better off having machines rule over it or if there's an appropriate organisation that can keep things in order, in a way it's way ahead of its time given the hellscape the world has become since its release as the start of the 21st century. As clunky as the stealth can be, I also appreciate how great the item management is as this game borrows elements from system shock 2 when it comes to its inventory system, the main difference being the game pauses whenever you use it as opposed to it being in real time in that game. This game also borrows elements such as needing to read data pads to acquire codes for doors, an a.i companion who may or may not have your best interest at heart and having you wonder whose truly on your side as your allegiance shifts as the story progresses.

It's a game I have mixed emotions with, but I can't deny that it's a fantastic game regardless even if its presentation is poor (barring the soundtrack which is amazing) and is basically a weaker version of system shock 2.
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Foxylover92 2024-04-10T13:45:29Z
2024-04-10T13:45:29Z
4.0
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Everything that's happening now this game predicted
This game predicted 100% of everything that is happening at this very moment. For every not so good game that tries to rip off Deus Ex. Nothing will have anything on it. Games like disco elysium fail because its bent by some boring ideological framework. Deus Ex on the other hand says "trust no one" and that's what a good piece of art(especially political does) and doesn't beat you over the head with anything
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slothrop77 2022-11-24T00:33:46Z
2022-11-24T00:33:46Z
5.0
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Scammed of my time and patience. A Deus Ex review.
Deus Ex might be the single most overrated, overhyped, and outdated game I've played and, perhaps, will play. Speaking as someone doing a stealth run for his first playthrough (due to the game mentally discouraging you and purposefully negatively coaxing you for doing violence), this has the most barebones "stealth" I've seen in what's seen as a stealth game. Such a lack of normal mechanics, such as proper audio for when enemies see you, the aiming system being complete jank, the movement being clearly outdated, and the guns having very little non-lethal capability.
As well as minor things like a lack of distractions (see Shadow Tactics, sure it's modern but it's the best stealth game I've played), and a lack of overall strategy such as Hitman: Blood Money which would come out 6 years after. The strategy, if you can even call it that, for stealth comes down to patience but in the worst possible way. Waiting for enemies to turn around, hoping they don't turn around at the last second, hoping enemies don't see said enemy, hoping your aim isn't going to completely falter, all of it is down to hope and that's just simply not fun unless you find reloading every action you take fun. I will possibly be trying a combat run where I just kill everyone, but as it is right now combat is best left not engaged in. Not because it might be dangerous to do so, but because it is extremely boring, incredibly repetitive, and just not intuitive for the player.

JC Denton might be a superhuman cyborg, but the dude is built like a 120 pound twink with some of the shit he can get killed by as opposed to the enemy.

One major thing I noticed are enemies knowing exactly where you are 24/7 after hitting them once from behind with any weapon. Seriously, I have so many clips of this happening and it's ridiculous. The baton is very tedious to use. In fact, that's probably the best way to describe this game, tedious.
Now that I have all of the negatives out of the way, aka 90% of the goddamn game because GAMEPLAY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF A GAME LIKE THIS, the story and characters are pretty decent.
The atmosphere is good too, and the graphics add to it rather than subtract from it. JC Denton is a cool protagonist, some of the side characters have cool personalities, the voice acting is okay despite what fans say, and the atmosphere is pretty much the only thing making me complete this slog of a chore. I cannot in good heart give a game a positive score just because of atmosphere and story alone, gameplay matters so much more for me and Deus Ex is a very unbalanced experience.
Who knows, maybe if I do a second playthrough where I'm actually able to use lethal weapons I'll give it the magical 5/5 that everyone and their mothers give this gatekeeped game. If I were to compare this to an album, it would be OK Computer for being equally paraded as this glorious masterpiece while actually being a complete joke to anyone outside of it's fragile community (at least OK Computer is somewhat bearable though).

I seriously question some of the scores on this site for their authenticity, whether or not they've actually played Deus Ex recently or if they are basing it solely over nostalgia which I do not have and am not blinded by here. Regardless of how influential it may have been in 2000, it aged like milk and should be scored as such unlike other games which aged beautifully such as Half-Life, Doom, Quake, Hitman, etcetera.


Edit:
After playing through the game more and choosing not to do non-lethal for story and anger reasons, every single point I've made still stands. Maybe some points have even solidified themselves as I experience the god awful AI and its unnatural actions. There's a crippling lack of enemy variety, as bots are basically impossible to kill without EMP grenades and the Dragon Sword as far as I know, leaving the human enemies only killable and them being boring to fight against as they are basically all the same. Weapon variety has gone up in theory, but in practice every single weapon is overshadowed 10x by the DS meaning it, in practice, has gone down.
I think it is safe to say that due to this lack of actual variety, that magical second playthrough is not going to happen and I'm definitely clocking out permanently on the first. As the story goes on more and more random allies and enemies spring up out of nowhere and it becomes a little confusing at times. The last antagonist (Bob Page) literally spawns in out of nowhere 3/4 into the game and starts taunting you the whole way through as if I'm supposed to care about his existence despite no previous knowledge of who his character is. I guess we didn't understand proper storytelling in videogames yet in 2000. There's this segment in the mansion at Paris with this girl that I already forgot the name of that solidifies this point. She comes out of nowhere and dumps her whole backstory onto you as if you are supposed to care and feel sorry, but we have no clue who she really is at that point.

I think I have saved at least 1,000 times by now at the end of my horrendous journey playing this game.

All in all, while the story isn't that out there or exceptional in concept (despite nerds constantly praising the game's use of conspiracy theories), the worst part of the game is by far the gameplay and AI. Maybe if I were born into this game it would be enjoyable, but as it stands the test of time it is gradually falling apart and degrading. I find myself yearning to play other stealth games that are more fleshed out than this one, and I will not be returning for another playthrough anytime soon.

I got the fuse ending if anyone cares, where you fuse with the 2 AI. Pretty boring ending but I have to leave it there. Unsatisfying.
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Circuz 2022-07-02T02:00:12Z
2022-07-02T02:00:12Z
1.5
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Brilliant game, underwhelming ending
Great game, brilliant soundtrack and really captivating for a long time but I felt like it peaked around the HK part and got worse after the France stages where it all becomes a bit too easy after collecting so many items+upgrades and the story just isn't as interesting since you already learned the truth and spend the rest of the game solo fighting MJ12. I was also a bit disappointed to find out that there aren't actually different paths to choose, you will always end up leaving UNATCO and doing the same missions but you do have the choice to save certain characters. The ending was also a bit underwhelming I was expecting a final boss against Bob Page but all you do is crawl through a long and mediocre area 51 and decide which of 3 endings you want to do, none of which feeling satisfying...
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Incidius 2022-06-05T21:31:51Z
2022-06-05T21:31:51Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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Catalog

PizzapastaButcooler Deus Ex 2024-05-30T14:00:08Z
2024-05-30T14:00:08Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DrainedxOut Deus Ex 2024-05-29T07:59:56Z
2024-05-29T07:59:56Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Ukiki Deus Ex 2024-05-29T02:27:50Z
2024-05-29T02:27:50Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sdj457 Deus Ex 2024-05-28T15:40:10Z
Windows
2024-05-28T15:40:10Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
itsisaacnotissac Deus Ex 2024-05-28T03:06:27Z
2024-05-28T03:06:27Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
findingheaven Deus Ex 2024-05-27T19:55:14Z
2024-05-27T19:55:14Z
4.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hatsune_miku Deus Ex 2024-05-27T13:44:26Z
2024-05-27T13:44:26Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
leonidastrashspartan Deus Ex 2024-05-27T13:41:02Z
2024-05-27T13:41:02Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
philco Deus Ex 2024-05-26T23:58:36Z
2024-05-26T23:58:36Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
bbboyer Deus Ex 2024-05-26T19:06:14Z
2024-05-26T19:06:14Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
idiotican9 Deus Ex 2024-05-26T15:05:22Z
2024-05-26T15:05:22Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kirumi Deus Ex 2024-05-25T17:34:51Z
2024-05-25T17:34:51Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: M
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x CD-ROM
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  • Previous comments (137) Loading...
  • youarefuckingcrazy 2024-04-22 23:19:59.902376+00
    i'm only two missions deep and this is shaping up to have some of the best political worldbuilding i've seen in cyberpunk if the little books and news report things you can read are any indication. i see a lot of eden: it's an endless world parallels which is my other benchmark for peak cyberpunk worldbuilding, i wonder if the creators read it
    reply
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    • youarefuckingcrazy 2024-04-23 02:41:03.725511+00
      eden: it's an endless world. late 90s/00s cyberpunk manga that also features a UN-related political entity attempting to exert its power all across the globe during a time of global pandemic. lots of terrorism and conspiracy too
    • youarefuckingcrazy 2024-04-23 02:42:04.25737+00
      it's not totally the same but i still think it's a must read if you're a cyberpunk fan
    • RoeBingle 2024-04-24 10:00:00.580229+00
      ty ill check it out
    • youarefuckingcrazy 2024-04-25 20:04:01.483477+00
      also has the gnostic symbolism as well
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Finnegan1441 2024-04-23 07:10:07.644841+00
    This game runs like absolute dogshit. Even with mods. Thief 1 runs significantly better. Still this game has best level design of any game ive ever played so makes up for it. 4.5/5
    reply
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  • Crazystone 2024-04-24 06:47:39.12043+00
    Watching and stop watching in sniper rifle aim on different buttons are out of this world. 4.5/5
    reply
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  • PiccoloZ 2024-04-29 20:15:29.003862+00
    There is not a single bad track in this game OST!
    reply
    • ABG_GAMING 2024-05-27 21:57:14.859811+00
      it's a game ost, all of them are bad tracks.
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  • synden 2024-05-19 09:59:07.097296+00
    really enjoyed the bit in hong kong with the motorcycle chase
    reply
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  • AxeWorld 2024-05-30 03:10:56.863327+00
    didn't care for the music in-game, found it downright annoying at times, but I keep bumping it outside of the game. impressive.
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