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June 18, 2014

Deus Ex Retro Review


...You hear that? That's the sound of a thousand gamers reinstalling a classic video game at the mere sight of it's infamous cover.

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg (Head Writer)

Verdict: Caution Advised (For Gory Violence, Mature Themes and Some Suggestive Content.)

Release Date: June 2000

Developer: Looking Glass Studios

Publisher: Eidos

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, OS X, OnLive

Genre: FPS RPG



Areas of Concern:

Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Several people are gunned down during the course of the game; bursts of blood are seen, staining the environment, cries of pain being heard. When enemies are killed, they collapse, with blood pooling out beneath their bodies.

Higher powered weapons like rockets and grenades blow human and cyborg foes apart, with bloody chunks and a huge burst of blood being shown with splatter sound effects.

-Players can stab and slash enemies with swords and knives, blood spurting out, slicing, crunching and cries of pain being heard and lots of blood stains the environment.

Players can also continuously stab and slice fallen enemies, lots of blood spraying out, until they finally explode into chunks of gore with splatter noises. (Don't ask how I found this out......just don't.)

--Animals and creatures can also be killed, with sprays of blood, gore and crunching being heard when they are killed. Children can also be killed, but this is entirely optional. 

-Some of the Transgenic creatures are shown feasting on the dead bodies of animals and humans, blood spraying out of their mouths, and after a while, the bodies explode into bloody chunks.

--Several dead people are seen lying around in environments stained with blood and flies hovering over their corpses. There are several mentions of a virus, and we see sickly looking people who have contracted it. 

Context of Violence: Shock Value (The violence is avoidable for the most part, but it's clearly inserted for sensational purposes and it's jarringly over-the-top at points when it comes to gore.)

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--In the "Ton Hotel", some doors are closed off the player and upon closer inspection, players can hear a man and a woman moaning suggestively, a bed creaking noisily. (NOTE: This only occurs the second and third time you visit the level.)

--During the course of the game, players encounter several scantily clad women wearing short skirts and revealing tops showing bare backs, midriffs and cleavage. Some of these characters are "hookers" and mention that you should speak to their pimps in order to pay for them. (You cannot do so, however.)

-We see a poster for the "House of Pain", with a woman in revealing S&M attire with candles on the poster. Players cannot visit the club, however. 

--Two women dance together in a nightclub: One of them instructs the other (in a seductive tone) to move her hips more and makes a remark about a dragon tattoo touching her breast, to which the other woman replies that she thought it was "sexy". 

--A woman mentions that she lost her virginity "out here" when you head towards the back yard of a mansion.

Context of Sex/Nudity: Fanservice (The suggestive content, in regards to the sexual noises and lesbian undertones, are clearly inserted for the titillation of gamers and not out of narrative necessity.)

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Infrequent Uses of S**t, B**ch, B**t**d, A*s, C**p, H**l and D**n.

--God and Jesus' names are used in vain.

Context of Language: Grittiness (The game has a very gritty feel to it and the language is thrown in to add to that.)

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--A poster (See Sex/Nudity above) shows a woman in S&M attire with candles surrounding her, obviously in a vaguely black magic fashion.

-We see a neon sign for a bar depicting a woman with devil horns winking at entrees.

--We see several statues of Buddha during the game. These statues are also able to be destroyed. (Optional.)

--References to Ancient Organisations like the Illuminati, Majestic 12, etc, with related symbolism. (The one-eyed Illuminati triangle.)

--A newspaper mentions an underground Christian sect who proclaim to be scanning for signs of the "Rapture" and want people to join their sect.

-A mentally unstable man rants about being part of "God's Army" and says "Praise Jesus!" at one point.

--The game contains references to mythology, with characters bearing the names of Daedalus, Icarus and Helios. An AI mentions that God was invented to keep society in order. A reference to a technological New Age, as well as the Age of Aquarius.

-A couple of women with Goth outfits have flaming red demon faces on the back of their jackets and an Ankh jewel hanging around their necks. (The Ankh being a symbol of reincarnation.)

--A woman mentions that another woman's codename was "Angel", and when a man comments on her being crooked, she jokingly calls her a "fallen angel".

Context of Spiritual Content: References and Symbolism

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Players can use fictional drugs in their inventory; while the usage of the drug is not shown, the player's screen starts shaking around viciously and becomes distorted. There is no benefit in using these drugs.

Players can also drink alcohol to restore health with similar effects, getting more intense the more alcohol you consume. Players can also smoke cigarettes, but this is shown to be detrimental to your health.

-Several characters make references to alcohol and smoking, with a few characters speaking in an obviously drunken fashion. A couple of references to junkies with one junkie reacting in amazement after he obviously used drugs. In a side mission, a player can sell drugs to a dealer for money.

Context of Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Usage: Atmospheric (The game takes place in a dystopian world where mankind has fallen and is trying to cope with what it lost, so some people obviously turn to drugs and alcohol because of the world collapsing.)

Gross Stuff/Gore:

--In a China market, we see several headless chickens and pig carcasses hanging from meat hooks. You can destroy the carcasses, which explode into bloody chunks.
Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

The game's protagonist makes several morally grey choices to fight for the greater good. These choices are sometimes downright illegal and border on what many consider "terrorism". Players have a significant amount of control over his actions, so how true this statement is depends largely on the player.

It's to be noted that the game also gives you the option of taking out enemies non-lethally. (With two exceptions.) The game features the freedom and consequences of real-life, so the morality is very realistic.

Morality Type: Shades of Grey

Review of Game:


Well, what is there to say besides what others have already said a thousand times before? That is a pretty tough question, but I've just decided to give you my personal opinion on what makes this great game so...well, great.

What It's About: Deus Ex stars JC Denton as the Man with Sunglasses (At Night) who uncovers a far-reaching conspiracy involving a mysterious virus released upon an unsuspecting population in the year 2052.

The setting contains heavy cyberpunk allusions and art styles. Everybody speaks in a serious tone with serious faces in serious environments. (With the unintentionally hilarious Hong Kong and New York accents being a jarring exception.)

Cool Stuff:

--The Freedom: My word, it's astounding how much freedom of choice this game gives you. Trust me, I was downright shocked that you can get several hostages killed and it wouldn't result in a game over. Matter of fact, your character's death is the ONLY thing that results in a game over.

This not only makes you feel more immersed in the actual experience, but it also fully represents the most fully realised depiction of CHOICE in a game.

--The RPG Elements: Heavy-Duty Assault? Stealthy-Sniper? Hacker Ninja? The choice is all yours. Because of the freedom this game provides, it's so easy to customise your character to your heart's content.

The entire game is a playground for any playstyle, whether you prefer a slow, guns-blazing approach, a fast, guns-blazing approach, a moderate guns-blazing approach, a medium rare guns-blazing approach...

Oh wait, wait, wait, this isn't Call of Duty. So you can also take a stealthy, hacker, non-lethal......guns-blazing approach. You know what? Just play the freaking game and see for yourself...

--The Complex Story: Writers, pay attention, because this is how you craft a well-developed story. The whole conspiracy theory nature of the story may turn off some (shame on you), but in my humble opinion it only adds to the already fun, intricately layered story.

Did I mention you have lots of choices, all of which make an impact on the game's storyline? Yeah, I just did.

Cookie Killers:

--The So-Called Voice Acting: Good gosh, that's supposed to be a CHINESE accent? A NEW Y'AHK ACCSHENT? That's how you speak English? Oh wait, that's an American accent. *facepalm*

Jokes aside, nothing pulls you out of the otherwise very immersive experience more than a horrid Asian accent around every single corner in the Hong Kong level. 

"If you want a good time, I recommend the Rucky Money."

Ugh.

--Aging: While this game will remain a classic for years to come, some of the mechanics are a bit outdated, especially the shooting mechanics which are controlled by numerical properties related to skills instead of...you know, the way the player AIMS the gun being the deciding factor. 

To it's credit, this would've made the game much easier, and the game is heavily focused on stealth instead of dumb action. (YEAH LIKE CALL OF DUTY OKAY!?!!?)

Some of the mechanics such as lockpicking and hacking are rather boring, with a button press, a few seconds going by and results appearing. Nah, I'll just blow the door up with my trusty GEP gun instead, thank you very much!

Stray Thoughts:

--JC Denton: Just, JC Denton. Sunglasses at night? Stalker trenchcoats in the dark? The most monotone voice since Microsoft Sam? And yet he's one of the most iconic video game heroes of all time?

Wat.
--Dat Dialogue:

-What a shame. ("Comforting" a girl after her father was brutally gunned in front of her.)

-A BOMB! (JC attempting to express a complex emotion known as "shock".)

-I'd like to make a silent takedown. (When choosing the tranquilizer crossbow near the beginning of the game.) 

--Hilarious Glitch:

1. When you get to Smuggler's hideout in Hell's Kitchen, go to the elevator. Save. Make sure you have as much cigarettes as you can carry. Hit the button to take the elevator down. 

Make sure to do the following step before you hit the loading screen: Open your inventory and smoke yourself to death. Yes, literally. Smoke all the cigarettes in your inventory until you keel over.

2. ???

3. Profit.

(Make sure to take the elevator back up to discover something even more amusing.)

Quality Verdict: Masterful (A+)

Deus Ex is the very pinnacle of great gameplay, excellent storytelling and morally grey choices. While it may age on the outside, on the inside, this is a timeless classic sure to captivate gamers for ages to come.
Conclusion:

"I have no idea what I'm doing..."


So in...ahem, conclusion, this game's got a surprising amount of violent moments which would never make it past today's strict gaming audience.

Believe me, I was downright shocked when a kid dropped dead from a crowbar to the back of the head. And since nobody was around when I did *it*, I could easily throw the body into the ocean and pretend it never happened.

(Maybe I should have dissolved it in a bathtub with acid instead?)
That aside, these were the days before ragdoll physics, so in order to add more impact to deaths, characters were blown up instead. The gore is really over-the-top and shocking, but it can be dialed down somewhat in the options menu.

The game also has a lot of mature philosophical and spiritual references, symbolism in the form of the one-eyed pyramid of Horus, the Ankh, some vaguely demonic drawings, etc. 

Suggestive content is featured in the New York and Hong Kong levels. A poster alludes to S&M, sexual sounds are heard from hotel rooms and two women in the game are obviously homosexual, it's just never explicitly stated.

It's up to you to decide how appropriate the aforementioned content is for you. Deus Ex is pretty tame by today's standards, even if it did slip several eyebrow-raising pieces of content past gamers back in 2000.

The Preacher: Do I need to point out the obvious? If you're really so depraved as to go around swinging your crowbar at little children, are you really gonna complain about the fact that they DIE?

Trent: Well...um...yeah...that's a good point, but is it really necessary to show those things in any case?

The Preacher: Are you really complaining about a game realistically depicting consequences for once? You know, where violence is never actively encouraged and players feel guilt when they kill PEOPLE? Where you can non-lethally dispose of enemies and save civilians? About a game which features the best morality in any shooter?

Trent: ...No...

The Preacher: Okay then, call this a draw!
Verdict: 16+



For Gory Violence, Mature Themes and Some Suggestive Content.

Outro: Ah, it's always great to review a legend!

I'll let the far-reaching legacy it left speak for itself. It's influence over Modern RPGs is still apparent even today. Trust me, Mass Effect is great, but it ain't that original...

What do you think of Deus Ex? Does it deserve the praise it heaped on it over the years? Do you want an augmented vision just so that you can have an excuse to wear sunglasses at night? (Yeah, of course you do.)

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