Deux Ex – Early Impression

I’m going to keep this relatively short because I have only spent around 15 hours playing the game, and I’m really not that far into it. So far, however I can tell you that the game is great. The setting is great, the story is interesting and I love the game play. Or rather, I love the sandbox like feel to most missions. I have never played the original Deus Ex so I can’t really comment whether or not this modern remake lives up to the legacy. But some very credible sources say that it does.

I could probably write two thousand words about my initial impressions, but the link above pretty much says it all. I might as well just copy and paste the entire thing into a blockquote segment and write “THIS!” below. I agree with everything Shamus says about this game. It looks great, it feels great and I’m having a blast with it. So instead, lets talk about One of the things that continues to amaze me as I play is the incredible attention to detail.

Let me give you some examples. One of the terminals you can hack in the game contains a 419 Scam email:

419 Scam

419 Scam Email

Does this email have any relevance to the plot? No. Does it have any impact on the game? No, of course not. But they put it in anyway, because they knew it will make us smile. Little details like this make the game world feel real. It is not a sterile “level” that is to be cleared – it is actual place, inhabited by actual characters.

There are lots of little touches that make me think that the designers and developers had lots of fun with the game. And it is not just the usual video-game references. The game is loaded with familiar IT-geek/code monkey themed humor. Let me show you a few examples. It is both amusing and realistic to actually encounter a desk with a computer password written on a sticky note:

Deus Ex is Realistic

Deus Ex is Realistic

It was equally fun to to see the infamous CRT bridge – one of the oldest internet memes, which I suspect dates back to the ancient BBS times:

CRT Bridge

CRT Bridge

These subtle little nods toward internet culture will probably sail over most mainstream gamers’ heads. But Edios added subtle little things to keep them amused as well. This poster of a future Final Fantasy game is a perfect example:

Final Fantasy will never die

Final Fantasy will never die apparently.

I also found this gem – a Look of Disapproval spray paint can:

Paint of Disapproval

Paint of Disapproval

I appreciate this, because some designer actually took the time to create this custom logo and slap it on select cans in the game. It is a nice touch. On the other hand, it is an internet meme.

Which brings me to my question of the day: what do you think about internet memes appearing in video games (or other media)? Do you like when games reference them? Or do you think it is a bit corny?

Personally I am of the opinion that game makers should strive to create original content that could expire memes. Great games tend to do that effortlessly (look at the memetic payload of most Valve games). To me that is the natural order of things. You create something fun and amusing, and then the internet appropriates it, runs away with it and beats it into the ground via repetition.

Going the other way around seems backwards. You are taking something that has been dragged all over the internet, chewed up, digested, regurgitated and remixed to death and then you put it into your original content. Why? It is nothing more than desperate pandering. Especially if the game makes an effort to ensure you notice it. Trying to call attention to a reference of and overplayed internet joke is just pathetic.

Deus Ex does keep it relatively subtle though. The CRT bridge is something you could potentially find in an IT office – especially during a big move and equipment reshuffling. Finding a can with a meme sticker is also not unrealistic. So I didn’t actually mind this that much. Especially since the game does seem to be generating some memetic remixes via it’s original work as well. Jensen’s glasses seem to be especially liked by the internets:

He did ask for these.

He did ask for these.

What is your take on the game so far? Did you like it? Did you hate it? How does it stack up to the original? No spoilers please, both for my sake and for sake of the other readers who may not have finished it yet.

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13 Responses to Deux Ex – Early Impression

  1. Paul GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    The Deal With it gif made me giggle like a little girl :)

    But great game, yeah.

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Paul:

    Hehe. Unfortunately I can’t take credit for it. I found it somewhere on reddit, which probably means it originally came from *chan or something like that.

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  3. so what? in fallout 1/2 it was crashlanded federation-shuttles, whales&plants and the likes… nowadays its internet. So the memes changed but does that change the idea?

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  4. copperfish Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    Only issue is you build offensive combat skills and not only a hack/stealth character mainly for the boss fights. Other than that it really does feel like the original and that’s a good thing.

    Only thing that feels off is the stun gun ammo (there’s not much of it) – I really remember it being pretty much limitless in the first game, but then I last played it ages ago.

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Dr. Azrael Tod:

    Point taken – I didn’t think about that.

    Although some of the memes have quite a pedigree. So you can get into a situation in which you have a video game that references an internet fad, which references an anime series which referenced a video game and etc… It’s like memeception. :P

    @ copperfish:

    Also, I noticed that for Stealth-based characters it is actually better to invest in hacking, strength and jumping than into cloak and see-through-walls enhancements. I spent my praxis points on cloaking field, and immediately realized that I can effectively sneak without it. On the other hand, hacking, lifting heavy objects and the punching through the walls allowed me to open up new stealth approach paths. So go figure.

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  6. Jakob DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ copperfish:
    Sure, but remember it was basically ineffectivein the orignal. Shot them with a tranq arrow and the enemies would run around screaming. The Stun Gun is way more effective, capable of one shotting the toughest normal enemies (at least on normal). Combined with it is considered non lethal, it makes sense to limit it.

    I really enjoyed the game. I played the original game a week before Human Revolution and it is clear that Human Revolution took a lot of hints from it. There are several approaches to an objective. Shoot, sneak or find a ventilation shaft. Even if you sneak, there are several paths.

    The regenerating health system is also pretty neat. It does take quite a while for it to set in and when it does, it builds health slowly. So you cant sit in a corner for a few seconds.

    But the thing is the social puzzle. Like the one with Sanders in the very beginning or the desk sergeant at the police station. Where you have an actual conversation with people and the responses are not the typical good and evil, but very varied. If you haven’t, I wholly recommend you get the social enhancer augmentation, it is well worth it.

    Bu the boss battles are badly designed, not question about it.

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  7. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Jakob:

    I loved the Sanders conversation. I did not have the social augment so I did it by simply observing his reactions. That was enough for me to be able to nail it. I think this just shows the quality of writing in this game. :)

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  8. Jakob DENMARK Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Luke Maciak:
    I suspect that the Sanders conversation is infalible, but I have no proof off this. But, you should get it any way, since it allows you to press for more information, sidestep different combat sections or get more quest rewards.

    But, all the social enhancer does is saying: “This guy reacts such and such to this response”. You still have to be read them correctly in order to choose the correct response. Also, the big conversations are randomized so you cant quick load/save your way through them ;)

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  9. Morghan Safari Linux says:

    Still considering it. I usually wait until used copies start showing up before I buy a game. This, however, is one of the three games I’ve seen that I’ll likely buy new without it being put in the red box first. I think I’ll rent it sometime next week and see if I’ll be putting out $60 for it or waiting until I can pick it up for $20.

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  10. MrPete GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Heck, with this review and the almost-fanatic-babble of a friend (it’s so great and my console is so much better than a PC) I now actually consider taking a copy.
    The stun gun (the wrist dart, no?) in the first part wasn’t totally useless. Sure, enemies did run around some time screaming and alerting all manner of unfriendly attention but only if you hit somewhere else than the head.
    Sure, that was kinda hard on distances more than “tap on the shoulder and run” without pistol-skill close to max but it either made for a nice distraction or really opened a door…

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  11. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Jakob:

    I got the social enhancer, and it seems to open new dialog paths sometimes. Very cool.

    @ Morghan:

    It is definitely worth a rental. The PC version is great – it has none of the usual console annoyances. All the screens are properly designed with mouse and keyboard in mind.

    @ MrPete:

    Well, there are three non-lethal weapons I have discovered so far.

    The Stun Gun is a taser like pistol with a very short range. A single shot takes the opponent out immediately. They get shocked and fall down where they stand.

    The Tranq Gun is a scope weapon with a long range. The darts have a delayed effect so you need to shoot from a distance and from behind cover. Once you hit, the opponent will become alerted, but usually does not raise alarm – he just goes to the search patrol routine, and collapses after 3-4 seconds.

    The PEP (or whatever it’s called) is a shotgun type weapon that can stun several opponents with one shot. It is not very discrete and has short range, but it does allow you to take out an entire guard outpost in one shot if you are lucky.

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  12. xWittaker UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    I actually finished it last night, but I’ll be sure to not mention any spoilers.

    I think I’ll just divide my list into likes and dislikes:

    LIKES:
    1. Gunplay was very enjoyable for me
    2. Excellent atmosphere.
    3. Interesting and compelling NPC’s.
    4. Some particularly badass moments I had during play.
    5. The first time you enter Jensen’s apartment. You get the whole blade-runner-esque feel and you learn a lot about Jensen just by exploring it. One of the most memorable video game moments I’ve had recently.

    DISKLIKES:
    1. Game length felt artificially padded by stealth.

    I’ve been seeing 20+ hour playtimes mentioned around the web and my own playthrough clocked 22 hours. However, I spent a large portion of that time reading emails, hacking systems, and scavenging ammo that I ended up never needing.

    2. Lack of 10 mm ammo.

    Pet peeve really. The pistol in the original deus ex was my go to weapon and I’m glad to see it’s back in all it’s badass glory. However, the ammo becomes very scarce after the first part of the game while I was loaded down with combat rifle and smg rounds. It was almost too awesome to use.

    3. Writing.

    Now I’ll say that the story is fairly good, but I probably wouldn’t call it great. There were a moments were I felt that they handed some npc’s the idiot ball, though they weren’t too severe (I may be mistaken that assumption though since I haven’t delved into the wiki yet). I’ll mention these in a follow up article if you make one.

    4. Stealth is too strongly encouraged and too easy thanks to stealth + instant melee kills in my opinion.

    5. The game pushes you towards the non-violent option and rewards you for it.

    This one really got under my skin. In the original deus ex, I felt like I was putting myself at risk whenever I had to do something non-violent. You either had to get close to the target and zap him with the stun rod, or you had to tranquilize him and hope he didn’t make it to an alarm or alert his buddy, or shoot you for that matter. But I went with the non-violent option frequently because that’s what I felt JC would have done.

    In HR, you get a tranq gun that doesn’t alert enemies and is silenced AND is scoped. You get a taser that is an instant disable and ranged. Energy recharges in HR, so you can spam cloak even more. You get melee takedowns that can be upgraded to dispatch two enemies at once. And did I mention you get extra xp for non-violently neutralizing enemies?

    6. The boss battles.

    Particularly that these make true pacifist runs impossible and the first one blindsides you like a freight train (thank god I had been stock-piling grenades)

    7. The protagonist.

    Both me and my brother were talking yesterday about the game, and we both agreed that JC Denton should much more character development during his game than Jenson did. I think it’s mainly becaused they tried to make him more of a blank slate so that players could do what they wanted, but in the end, it just made him seem one-dimensional. Then again, this may just have been the way I played JC in my games, but I felt like he was a much more compelling character than Jensen.

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  13. xWittaker UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    Forgot to mention that I thought the pacing of the delivery was superb and I should probably clarify that my dislikes are just that, dislikes. The only thing I’d say was a harsh flaw was the first boss battle.

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