The critically acclaimed cyberpunk phenomenon Deus Ex arrived in 2000, uniquely blending the RPG and the First Person Shooter to create a game so revolutionary that it’s still regarded as one of the best PC games of all time.
It was followed by a sequel, Invisible War that, although largely well received, paled in comparison to the first; though it gave us a branching narrative, it watered down the RPG elements and sub-par enemy AI.
It was with cautious optimism that we received the news of a new Deus Ex, serving as a prequel to the first game, developed by Eidos instead of original developers ION Storm and without designer Warren Spector’s influence. Would it, could it be a game worthy of the Deus Ex name?
I can quite confidently, after having played it for 10 hours, say yes.
The game is set in the dystopian future of 2027, 25 years before the events of Deus Ex. That game’s nanotechnology hasn’t been developed yet, with biomechanical augmentation being the human modification du jour. You are Adam Jensen, an unmodified private security officer working for Sarif Industries, a leader in human augmentation.
An attack at Sarif leaves Jensen broken and of the verge of death, and the only way to keep him alive is through the use of human augmentations. I’ll keep the rest of this spoiler-free, so that you can experience its narrative for yourself when the game releases in August.
The most important thing to say for fans of the series is that this game feels like Deus Ex. There’s a real feeling of freedom of choice here, and it extends through the dialogue, scenarios and your approach to the game. Right from the game’s first mission proper, you’re given choices; you can opt for a long or close range weapon, lethal or non-lethal.
Like the original, it looks like a first person shooter – but doesn’t explicitly play as one. When faced with enemies it’s often better to sneak past them, distract them or find a new route around them. Though you can go in guns-a-blazing, treating it like a new Call of Duty, doing so on higher difficulty settings will almost guarantee you’ll be staring at a reload screen moments later.
An inspired cover system makes stalking around a little easier; it puts you in to a third person perspective, allowing you to see your enemies without them being able to spot you. The AI’s decidedly better than in Invisible War; they’ll try to flank you, and cover your last known position.
Also new are Splinter Cell-influenced takedowns that supplant the melee combat from games past. Sneaking up behind an enemy gives you the opportunity to execute a takedown from behind; tapping the button dispenses with your foe by means of a near-silent non-lethal takedown, while holding it ensures it’ll be bloodier – but also noisier.
You can’t just go about taking foes down all willy-nilly, because takedowns use up precious energy – and you’ll need to upgrade your abilities to take down more than one enemy simultaneously. Overzealously trying to kill or neutralise everybody without carefully planning your actions will leave you probably very dead.
Frequently kicking the bucket is all part of the Deus Ex experience though. With its multi-pathed, open ended gameplay, it gives you the opportunity to tackle a scenario in other, perhaps more successful ways.
Last Updated: May 21, 2011