Deus Ex

Since the sequel is upon us (and word of bloody good reviews is spreading on the net already), I thought I’d mod the original a bit and play it again. I had an old save from the last time I went near it, so I started at the bit where you are infiltrating what appears to be a treehouse in New York with toxic waste barrels and a massive tesla coil in the basement.

Deus Ex is the game where you can use many different approaches to get from A to B. That’s the standard journalist line. What they don’t tell you is that this is tied in closely with the levelling up aspect and the ability to save whenever you like. So you get to a rooftop, and you have an excellent view of the roof below you, the roof of the building you need to get into. There are two guards patrolling the rooftop. You have a sniper rifle. First thing to do – quick save. Then, remember which key on the keyboard brings up the sniper scope ([ or ] by default, which is nice). Then wait for a guard to stand still. Get the crosshair on the guy’s head. Wait until it is wobbling near the guy’s temple, then click. Bang. You forgot to spend points in the rifle skill, didn’t you? Cos the shot went wide. Both guards on the roof are now sniping you from miles away with mini crossbows, and you bet your ass they spent all their points in the shooting-a-tiny-dart-for-fucking-miles-without-missing-once skill.

To be fair, it’s on you. The game expects you to know what you are doing. It expects you to hoard the skill points until you need them. “I need to snipe dudes off the roof” you think to yourself, so you craftily spend some skill points, and voila! Headshot away, my friend. To be fairer, there’s usually more than one entrance to a building (I’ve found four to the one I’ve been describing up to now), and it is up to you to pick one and probe at it until you realise you can’t do it, quick load your last save, then go off to find one of the other ways in.

Now, I’m not the best player in the world. However, give me a straight up shooter and I’m not bad. In Deus Ex, I’m fucking terrible. How do I know this? Cos the endless cycle of “quick load, try something, die, quick load, try something else” that you always get stuck in means I’ve tried fucking tons of ways to take on an army. I’ve tried leaving a long trail of wall mines and gas grenades, then pulling all the guards into them. Kinda worked up until I killed the first four guards and there were only six left. Six guards, stood in front of me, with assault rifles trained on my left eye. Quick load. I’ve tried using the GEP gun (rocket launcher) and blowing them to smithereens, but that failed, cos the first shot will only take a few out, and it takes roughly six months to reload the thing. Quick load. Empty my inventory, then loot the nearby bodies until I get my hands on a shotgun and an assault rifle. Run in, guns blazing. Hmmm, clearly I haven’t put enough points into “boom stick”, cos I’m fucking terrible. Quick load. OK then, back to square one. Back to Ol’ Faithful. Get me my cattle prod. Sneak up to a guard, prod, silent takedown. Quick save! The other guard is coming close, and I can’t pick the unconscious guard up cos I don’t have room in my inventory to take a combat knife off the guy. WHAT?! I got two empty fucking hands here! I want to carry a fucking asleep dude so his mate won’t see it! Why do I have to take a knife off the guy first? Oh fuck this. Quickly get the cattle prod out again, sneak into the shadows, guard number 2 approaches. Steps over his friend’s feet, no comment made. Hmmmm. OK, I sneak closer. The guard stops at the corner, facing away from me. Prod. He goes down. Quick save!

Rinse and repeat.

For all that, I do love the game. It has more good ideas in the first half hour of playing than most game developers manage in their lifetime. And I’m sure I just need to practice it, get to know the AI in and out, get to know the game just as well. I just wish it wasn’t so reliant on repeating the same ten seconds of play until you get something right (or, to be fair, I wish I was better at it :D).

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