Deus Ex, released in 2000, is heralded even today as the best PC game of all time; why has it received such critical acclaim?
Inspired by Looking Glass Studio’s Thief: The Dark Project and Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex is a stealth-based shooter with role-playing-game mechanics. Deus Ex follows J.C Denton, an agent for the fictional US paramilitary UNATCO in his efforts to fight terrorism around the world. What makes Denton and his personality so significant is his ability as one of two humans who are able to use Nano-machines that give them god-like capabilities.
Deus Ex was and still is considered a masterpiece is because it is 10 years ahead of its time.
Deus Ex mixes sprawling levels with brilliant, branching and enthralling storytelling. Every level is filled with things to do; the world feels alive, even for a game developed in 2000. Players can interact with the landscape, breathing life into the barren desert that was commonplace pre-2000.
Players are provided with almost limitless choices as to how they want to approach every level, whether it be multiple paths or different ways of engaging enemies, tackling the issue of linearity in games up until this game’s creation.
Role-playing-game mechanics like branching skill trees that could affect both gameplay and moral decisions had never been done previously, and still remains rare in gaming.
First-person stealth games only came into existence two years prior in 1998 when Thief: The Dark Project started the subgenre. Deus Ex combined all these elements of gameplay, which developers still struggle to implement in games today.
Limited hard drive space, as well as weak processing power, in computers of the year 2000 forced games to use as little memory as possible; yet Deus Ex performed beyond current computers’ capabilities.
Sadly, Deus Ex was not immune to the blight of retro PC games: horrible controls and nonsensical design choices.
Before a standard was set in the mid 2000’s for standardized PC game controls, developers made up just about everything on the spot when developing their games.
Shooting controls are abysmal. Fast movements are near impossible because players’ skills can not contribute to success until late in the game. Putting points into weapon skills allows for improved aim, but this design choice dangerously holds back the early parts of the game.
This clunkyness has definitely set off many modern gamers, who wish to return to the classics as gamers, but have become accustomed to near-perfect accuracy of today’s games.
Deus Ex a technical masterpiece and work of art through its depiction of a world near societal collapse and dazzles gamers with gameplay so advanced it has yet to be matched.