deus ex cover

Years ahead of its time, Deus Ex is still one of the best games ever made.

If a hardcore RPG/FPS gamer had a child with a half-crazy conspiracy theorist, Deus Ex would be the result of their consummation.  Everyone is involved, no one can be trusted, and a step in the wrong direction could bring civilization to its knees.  Deus Ex revels in its story line, with multiple branching paths that are intricately woven together to form a far-reaching narrative.  It would be nigh impossible to describe the story without ruining it, so I will stick with this:  whatever you think you know, you don’t.  If you have never played Deus Ex, do not let anyone ruin the story for you; go in knowing nothing more than you are about to experience something that rivals a bestselling novel in its complexity and depth.

Oooo...shiny!

Oooo...shiny!

Requiring a measly 300 MHz CPU, 64 megs of RAM, a 4 MB video card, and only 150 MB of available disk space, Deus Ex is a great choice for gaming on a netbook.  It runs perfectly in Windows XP with little to no tweaking required to get it up and running.  I haven’t tested it with WINE, but given the low system requirements it will be probably run quite well.

The world of Deus Ex is a very real possibility as a future.  Nanotechnology is commonplace, criminal organizations have a hand in everything, and conspiracies aren’t just theories.  Modern games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age have created huge, believable worlds, but Deus Ex had very few peers back in 2000 that could match just how “real” it was.   Nanomods aren’t just abilities given to your character, and they aren’t just present in the game world; they are manufactured by full blown companies, each with its own history and connection to surrounding companies.  The believability of the world was even more impressive than its size; this dystopian future really does seem possible, although now that we are in 2010 the timeline seems a bit out of whack.

The inventory screen... the text is much more readable in-game.

The inventory screen... the text is much more readable in-game.

Gameplay in Deus Ex was an amalgamation of RPG, FPS, and adventure games.  New nanomods (and upgrades to existing ones), a large variety of weapons (and mods for those weapons), stats, inventory, twitch shooting, stealth, puzzles…there is something for everyone in here.  The best part was that you could play it however you wanted.  Feel like going in with guns blazing, augmented by offensive nanomods?  Go right ahead.  Have you outfitted your character to circumvent security and sneak around?  No problem…punch out a cover on an air vent and away you go.  There were ALWAYS options when you encountered resistance, and the way you dealt with it was entirely up to you.

This control you had over combat also carried over into the storyline.  It was entirely up to you how to respond to someone, and your actions dramatically altered the course of the game’s story.  Again, a fairly common thing nowadays, but there were only a handful of games back in 2000 where your choices carried as much consequence as they did in Deus Ex.  A single decision could literally change the entire rest of the story, and these big decisions typically were presented as minor points in the storyline.  You never really knew just how far reaching your choices would be; being cautious is highly recommended.

Some of the other members on your team are more mechanically augmented, rather than augmented with nanomods.

Some of the other members on your team are more mechanically augmented, rather than augmented with nanomods.

Depending on when you grew up, the graphics have either aged really well or really badly.  Obviously, Deus Ex looks blocky compared to games of today, but there are numerous graphic mods out there to help make the game easier on the eyes for younger gamers.  Even if you played Deus Ex when it was first released, these mods are topnotch and really do help keep things from looking as dated…unfortunately, Deus Ex came around just as developers were getting the hang of 3D environments and character models, so everything still has that “primitive 3D” look.  In my own opinion, the game looked unbelievable when it was first released, and the style still matches the gameplay even by today’s standards.  While I would LOVE a modern Deus Ex game (which is supposedly in production), the old school graphics of Deus Ex are still awesome.

The graphics aren’t where the nostalgia for this game is rooted, though.  Nostalgia for this game primarily comes from soundtrack.  To this day, Deus Ex still has one of the best soundtracks ever released in a game, hands down.  It’s decent enough to listen to on its own, but when combined with the gameplay, the soundtrack fits the look and feel of the story so perfectly I can’t imagine playing Deus Ex without the music on.  This is one of those instances where the music is every bit as important as the story or gameplay…it really is an integral part of the experience.  I very highly recommend you look around for the soundtrack, it’s amazing stuff.

I know I sure did.

I know I sure did.

Deus Ex ushered in a new era of storytelling and player choice for video games, and ten years later it still stands as a masterpiece.  If you have never played it, go find yourself a copy of the PC version, apply the graphic mods, and prepare to lose 35-50 hours from your life.  If you have played it before, break it out and load it up again.  You won’t believe how quickly you get sucked back into its world.