Deus Ex – Day 6

Happy New Year! It’s been a while since the last post but I’ll try to update every day this week and get Deus Ex finished. I got distracted briefly by Braid which I picked up in the Steam sale. Very nice little game, well worth the £1.49 or whatever it cost me. Don’t think there has been a day in the last week where I haven’t picked up one or two of the daily offers on Steam but I’ll leave them for the moment and it’s Deus Ex all the way now.

Our arrival into Hong Kong doesn’t go smoothly and the helicopter computer is bypassed and flies us straight into a locked base. There is no immediate reception committee but we can’t get out unless I free the helicopters weapons.

The base isn’t very large. There are a load of guards in the basement that I have to get past. They don’t seem to expect me despite having diverted me here so I have the element of surprise. I struggle with them for all that as I keep getting overwhelmed. I find my best tactic seems to be using the tranquiliser dart. These drop anyone with a single hit so I shoot a few, back off and repeat until they are all down. A bit of locker searching gets me the key I need to access the control room and release the helicopters weapons.

Jack blasts the doors open and I head on through avoiding a couple of security bots that just appeared.

This gets me straight into Hong Kong near a market. Jack advises me to check out a compound that my brother used to visit and reminds me that my kill-switch is 12 hours old.

The graphics are a bit different for Hong Kong and there are lanterns and the like so it’s all a bit more colourful. I can explore the stalls at the market and talk to the vendors and customers. It’s a bit of a change from New York anyway and overdue as I seemed to be doing the same levels over and over. I learn from asking about that there are two warring Triads here called the Red Arrow and the Luminous Path.

I find the compound and speak to a guy with the unlikely name of Gordon Quick. He knew my brother but wants me to earn his trust with the obligatory quest. The triads are at war as the Red Arrows nanotech sword was stolen by a woman named Maggie Chow but the Luminous Path have copped the blame. I need to explore Maggie Chows house and find this sword.

I don’t know my way around yet so I just go and explore rather than heading straight for Maggie Chow. I stumble into a subway and a war between triads. They ignore me so I go round robbing all the corpses for goodies. There is a police blockade at the far end of the subway which I get a skill point bonus for jumping over and exploring but I can’t get through so I turn back for the market.

A bit of exploring yields some signs to point me in the right direction. I follow these and getting instructions from a local triad member make my way to Maggie Chow’s building.

She lives in the penthouse of this apartment building. Surprisingly she allows me straight in and I take the lift up.

Maggie Chow claims to have known my brother and to have been developing the sword before it was stolen by the Luminous Path. She says I can find proof in the police station and sends me off there to check for myself.

I head down the Lucky Money club to talk to the Red Arrow leader before I go to the police station. Asking around, I find out that he is in the back somewhere. I don’t manage to talk my way in so just barge through the bar and head straight into see him. This seems to be a bit of a waste of time for now as he doesn’t want to see me without his sword.

I find the police station next. It’s just a small observation block really with a basement. I have to stun a few policemen and hack a computer to get into the storage vault. In here I find out that Maggie Chow was lying after all so I head back to her place to confront her.

The police report did mention other possible approaches to Chow’s apartment but I’m not going for the subtle approach and head straight in. The maid summons a load of guards who have fancy lazer guns which are seriously painful. I use the tranquiliser gun on them again from a distance while they are hitched up on the scenery and then set to exploring.

Hacking into Chow’s computer gets me access to open a door to a fancy looking room with the sword in the middle of it.

I grab the sword. Tong wants me to take it to the Red Arrow leader. I also find a message from Simons to Chow. This whole triad war is a conspiracy to weaken the triads and allow Majestic 12 to take over.

The Red Arrow leader takes a bit of convincing but he believes me in the end. The club is raided before we are done chatting though. It seems I’ve led MJ12 straight here.

There are a load of MJ12 super soldiers with weapons on each arm in the attack. I get to keep the sword though and it takes them down in a single hit. This is definitely going to be my weapon of choice for close range combat. Once the place is clear the Red Arrow leader agrees to make peace with the Luminous Path so I head back to see Gordon Quick.

Gordon is pleased with my work, lets me straight in and tells me Tracer Tong’s lab is in the basement.

Tracer agrees to deactivate my killswitch in return for a favour. I also learn that Alex has come over and joined him.

He sends me into a scary looking machine…

..and after a garish lightshow my life expectancy has improved substantially.

Tracer’s required favour (the first of a few I gather) is to recover the technology for the swords from a company called Versalife. He also gives me a new email account. There is some interesting stuff in my email about Simons taking over back at UNATCO + a message from Daedalus telling me that I need to destroy the universal constructor which creates the grey death virus.

Surprisingly, I’m allowed straight into Versalife and can just wander around with impunity. This guarantees that I’m going to have to fight my way out later I expect but I can at least learn my way around in the meanwhile.

One of the employees is working later covering stuff up but is strangely keen to talk about it. He seems to think his life is in danger as everyone doing his job disappears after a while. He talks about secret labs through a locked door and offers to give me the code if I kill his boss. I’ve already met his boss who offered to give me a tour for 2000 credits. I go for the cheap option and shoot him at point blank range.

I don’t think he actually expected me to do it but he gives me the code and I’m in. The lab looks awfully familiar from the games intro. I’m still free to wander around as I got security clearance along with the passcode.

They don’t exactly want me here but no one attacks me so I look around and find a glass walkway showing the extensive labs below.

There is a computer up here which I can hack to open a few doors, including a hatch in the floor of the room with the giant hand.

I head through the hatch and this takes me straight to where I need to be to grab the sword ROM data. I head up the platform, hack the computer and upload the information. At this point all the alarms go off and the predicted fight to get out starts.

The sword does it’s job well. I have to fall back on guns for some long range soldiers but I don’t have much difficulty in clearing the place out and head straight back out through the main entrance. Tracer Tong wants me to go to the temple to meet the triad leaders now.

The triads make peace and unite against MJ12. Tong has more work for me in the meanwhile.

There was a locked level 2 lab that I couldn’t get access to in Versalife. He now tells me that he wants me to look around in there. This would have been a lot easier before.

He tells me about a back entrance that he wants me to use somewhere off Canal Road.

He also gives me a secondary mission to locate the body of someone who was responsible for developing my nanotech technology. I expect I will find upgrade canisters if I do this. These upgrade canisters allow me to improve my nanotech features to the next level. I’ve found a couple so far and boosted my healing as this strikes me as the most useful skill by a mile. I’ll try to locate this guy next as I’m attempting not to leave any subquests uncompleted when I find them.

Deus Ex has continued where it left off and Hong Kong has been a more interesting environment than New York. Some of the dialog has been ludicrous as ever and the environment still feels cramped but at least I’ve never been stuck for what to do next. It feels a little like I must be drawing somewhere near to the end of the game although I’ve not had much chance to upgrade all my skills yet so I could be mistaken. I’ll see what I find in the labs tonight, although I’m fully expecting to see the machine that manufactures the grey death and to switch it off.

Deus Ex – Day 5

I’m back at work again after a very brief Xmas break and I’ve only managed to play Deus Ex the once over the holidays, but I’m glad to say that it has picked up a lot since the last section and I’m finally starting to see what the fuss was about.

I’m back at the UNATCO base yet again. Simons is in our break room. I learn that he has the same enhancements I do (big surprise given the blue veins on his head) and that he is the director of FEMA which is supposedly an aid agency but he doesn’t look like he spends his time handing out food parcels. He assures me that my brothers actions won’t count against me and is a lot more pal-y than before.

Manderly is pleased with my performance but also tells me that he has activated my brothers kill switch. This means that I too have a kill switch which is not a pleasant thought. He wants me to go to Hong Kong and take out my brothers contact (Tracer Tong).

Jacobson wants to hear my brothers side of the argument and tells me that he will erase the recording if I can talk to him. Talking to the people around the base they seem surprisingly to side with my brother with the exception of the agents + Manderly.

I find another enhancement canister in the medical lab + use the one I already have to get ballistic enhancement. I’m starting to run out of slots for all these enhancements but I’ve not actually upgraded any yet and am unsure how that even works. I wouldn’t say that I’m using the enhancements very often but stuff like level 4 ballistic enhancement allegedly renders me almost impervious to damage and that sounds seriously useful.

When I go to the helicopter to fly to Hong Kong, the pilot tells me my brother is in trouble and takes me to Hells Kitchen instead. It seems like everyone below agent level at UNATCO is on Pauls side.

I find Paul not looking too well in his apartment. This doesn’t strike me as the best place to be hiding out but he sends me on a mission first to warn the NSF that they have tracked them down through Lebedev. I agree straight away to do this. My defection is understandable to some extent but it’s a bit of a leap to say the least as it’s only 15 minutes since I shot Lebedev. Paul says there is proof against UNATCO at the broadcasting station although I never did find anything much.

There is another subquest on the way out. Jojo has moved into the hotel and it’s owner wants to evict him. Ever helpful, I club him with my baton and he’s out for the count.

I look around for the NSF base. I can’t help but notice that the long tunnel which was previously blocked off is now open so it looks like the way to go.

The NSF base is swarming with troops. They don’t seem to mind me being around but I can’t see it staying like that. Paul gives me instructions on what to do. I have to use a computer on the 3rd floor to open up a hatch to the basement then get past a load of booby traps to find his notes. These notes will then give me the code to send the warning to the NSF.

The hatch control panel is in a room full of toxic gas. I dash in and press the venting button. This doesn’t hurt too much and there is a medical bot right outside. The control panel itself appears to need to be hacked. I decide to train up my hacking and electronic skills at this point with the remaining skill points I have. This drastically drops the number of tools I need to use to bypass a system like this + gives me a hacking option for terminals.

Hacking a terminal starts a timer. Some of this time is used to actually get into the system in the first place but I also have to do whatever I’m going to do on the terminal before it counts down. Not all the terminal options are available to me at the basic level of training. I can’t get turrets to fire on my enemies for instance but the hacking skill will still prove very useful and adds a layer to the game that was previously missing.

The basement hatch opens up and I head down to explore. It’s a confusing maze of tunnels with loads of alarms, lazer beams and gun turrets. I slowly make my way through using various tactics, from hacking security panels, piling up boxes to jump over beams to just running through the gunfire as quick as I can.

I find Pauls datapad. It’s doesn’t appear to give me any proof against UNATCO but does give me the password so I head back up to the top of the building to use this to send the message since it is clearly what is expected of me.

I send the message although I also need to use my new hacking skill so it’s just as well I trained in it. This is noticed by Simons who tells all the troops to turn on me. This was always coming as there were so many troops in here they were never going to just be for decoration.

This is the biggest firefight yet. My tactic here is to hide out in the room with the medical bot and shoot anyone who comes through the door. I just about survive this after a few attempts and that empties enough of the building that I can easily work my way through the rest of the soldiers.

I go back to Paul’s and he tells me that Simons is actually part of some organisation called Majestic-12 who are using FEMA for their own ends. UNATCO show up at this point and order him to leave his apartment. He tells me to go out of the window while he looks after them. Instead I decide to hang around and help.

Cleaning up in here could take a while but we take them all down between us. Paul does most of the work. He still wants me to leave through the window so I do.

Before I left, Paul gave me the code for the subway which has been locked up. I head there (after LAM’ing a security bot) and take the train out. At the other side I’m met by my ex-partner Anna who isn’t about to come over to the NSF and I have to take her out. This is a tough fight and my pistol isn’t any use for it. I switch to the assault rifle in the end which is much more effective.

The top of the subway is looking worse as I’m faced by an unbeatable force. They want me to surrender. I try to fight but it’s near enough impossible and I get shot down.

Rather than this being the end of the game, I wake up in a cell in some unknown location.

I receive a transmission from someone calling themselves Daedalus. He cuts the power for a few seconds to allow me to escape.

This gets me out into the corridor. I’m in a detention area and there is a guard at the end of the corridor but he is looking the other way for now. Fortunately there is a load of equipment lying around and I baton him into submission.

The access code for all the cells is on the guards desk. There is more equipment in here + an NSF guy who volunteers to help me. I ask him to come along and he helps out a bit in the first couple of firefights before vanishing.

Daedalus gives me exact instructions. I’m in the Majestic 12 base and I have to go to the medical area to find Pauls body so that Tracer Tong can get the information he needs to turn off my killswitch. My equipment is in the armoury through the bot maintenance area though so I go for that first. This is an interesting area with far more varied ways to play it than anything I’ve seen before in the game. My new hacking skill is making the game more interesting as I now have the option to hack any terminal I see. This one here gives me the option to alter bot AI so they don’t attack me. Later on I get terminals to deactivate security cameras, or certain bots, etc. The base here also feels much more like a believable area than the airport mission.

It’s just as well I’ve been reprogramming the bots as there are some seriously big ones around here that look like they would be a bit much to take on with the limited weapons I’ve got.

I find my equipment along with a load of other goodies including another enhancement. I go for the missile defence system which allegedly blows up missiles before they hit me. Not that anyone has fired missiles at me yet but this sounds like it could be good.

I retrace my steps to find Pauls body at the far end of the base. Daedalus gives me the exit code to get out of here now so I head straight for it.

This exit actually leads into the bottom of the UNATCO base which is kind of unexpected although there was always a suspicious looking door I couldn’t get through. I’d expect to have to fight my way out of here but basically everyone is on my side and appears to want to come over to the NSF. I suggest to Jaime that he should go to Hong Kong and we meet up there. He also gives me another upgrade and I go for the Regeneration option which allows me to heal. This should be very nice and will be the first thing I’ll upgrade when I figure out how.

Alex is also on my side. I accuse him of being Daedalus at first but he says its not him and that he has no idea who could get through the security.

Carter gives me full access to the armory although he is going to stick it out with UNATCO himself.

That just leaves Manderly to see. He is being lectured by Simons when I walk in. I learn that my killswitch has been activated and that I only have 23 hours left to live.

Jock is waiting for me outside having been contacted by Daedalus himself. He is going to fly us to Hong Kong where I can attempt to get in touch with Tracer Tong and get my kill switch sorted out.

Deus Ex finally got going today and picked up in every way. The plot is getting more complicated and a bit less predictable and I like the idea of the kill switch as it adds a bit of impetus to the game. My defection wasn’t handled too well. I never really had any definitive proof either way and had no choice but to defect because the game expected it. The way everyone else went along with even less proof seems highly unlikely also.

The really big improvement was in the level design. This is partly due to the fact that my skills are developing and it’s giving more gameplay options but the levels themselves were bigger and more complex. This is starting to feel like an RPG where I’m finding my own solutions to a situation rather than just picking one of two clear options. The base had plenty of areas to explore, a lot of which were entirely optional. I even found a vent system under the base and could bypass everything if I just wanted to sneak around between the essential areas. When crawling through the vents Daedalus would contact me and tell me which room I was under while exploring. I chose to stick to the main corridors and blast my way through the guards but it’s good to see a realistic environment providing the gameplay options. I’m hoping things can keep getting better and Deus Ex can earn it’s classic status.

I’m liable to get distracted from Deus Ex as I’ve been buying a load of games in the GOG & Steam sales recently but I’ll do my best to stick with it and finish it fairly quickly before I move onto anything else. There are some great deals around in the sales at the moment though which combined with unlimited free bandwidth between Christmas and new year from my ISP mean that I’m going to have a lot of games lined up for when I finish this. I probably won’t need to buy another game for the rest of year by the looks of it.

Deus Ex – Day 4

It’s back to base again for another debriefing. I’m told on the way in that my brothers half of the mission didn’t work out so well. I also meet some sinister government agent types who warn me to stay away from a guy called Walter Simons who is one of the guys I saw back in the intro. These guys are pure stereotypes and are clearly here to make me distrust my own government.

When I get to Manderly’s office I overhear him talking to Simons. Simons wants to dispose of Paul but Manderly disagrees. I get the impression Simons is the one holding the reins though. I get debriefed after he has finished and Manderly confirms that they are letting my brother go. I’m going to be sent out again to tidy up and attempt to recover the Ambrosia.

I explore the rest of the base again before I go. Everyone has something new to say and I also find Simons interrogating prisoners. His tactics involve threatening the prisoners family. He doesn’t take kindly to me noticing him here and I’m told to go.

I go to pick up more ammo also but the General isn’t too pleased with the bodycount on my last mission and refuses to give me anything except an accuracy mod + a multitool.

I’m dropped back in Battery Park once again. I ask around and find out that a group called the Mole People live underground in the area and the NSF are using their tunnels as a hideout. Getting into the tunnels isn’t as easy as the bum wants the NSF password before he will tell me the access code. My contact from the last mission is down in the subway and he gives me this password for a fee and this in turn gets me a phone number which when dialed on the subway phone turns it into a lift down to the tunnels.

The lift only gets me into the old subway and I’ve still got to find the mole people. This place is full of dealers. I find a zyme dealer (whatever that is) but he doesn’t take kindly to me asking questions and I end up shooting him.

On the bright side, this fulfils a subquest before I’ve even got it and I get a free LAM (a type of sticky grenade) from an arms dealer upstairs when I run into him for taking out his competition.

This hasn’t gotten me any closer to finding the mole people so I keep searching around and find a guy who will help me if I can fix the water supply down here. Conveniently this requires use of the LAM I just got to blow up some rubble and get to the valves.

This mission takes about a minute as it’s just nearby. I’m rewarded with another keycode that I need to use on a pad in the womens restroom.

This gets me into the tunnels I was looking for. There are a load of NSF around. I take the lot of them out. There really is no reason at all why you would want to sneak around. With the ridiculously slow targeting my strategy is just to run straight at anyone I see and shoot them at point blank range and it works very well.

I’m at a bit of a loss for a while until I notice a brick sticking out from the wall. The terrorist leader is behind here and he instantly surrenders and gives me the key to the mens restroom which is apparently where I need to go next.

I make my way through some sewage tunnels, grab an elevator and this brings me up near an airport and straight to my first barrel of Ambrosia. There are loads of guards here again but as usual they are more interested in running for the alarms than shooting back and I just shoot them in the back in the meanwhile. If they set off the alarm it’s no big deal as I just take out anyone who shows up.

The airport is more of a challenge as there are a load of bots around who appear to be impervious to gunfire. I have to sneak/run past them but they have a very limited range of vision. I find another barrel of Ambrosia in the docks before heading into the hangar itself and finding of all people my brother Paul.

He has gone over to the NSF. He tells me that the grey death is a manmade virus being used to control the population and government right up to the president. He wants to take the Ambrosia to Hong Kong so that a guy called Tracer Tong can synthesise the cure and get it to the general population. He also tells me to talk to Lebedev who is in the plane – my mission is actually to kill him.

Lebedev doesn’t actually have much to say to me other than the fact that he is unarmed and I shouldn’t kill him according to UNATCO policy. Anna shows up at this point and orders me to kill him. This is an obvious moral dilemma, Anna will kill him if I don’t though so I just shoot him anyway as it will be less grief for me.

That finishes the mission in effect although I do find a code to get a new upgrade module in the base of the plane. I head back to the extraction chopper and find that we are going to be going after my brother. I expect I’m going to be given the job after my performance here but I leave it here for tonight.

This was a much more substantial mission than anything else I’ve played through and there were a load of sub-levels in it. The sub-levels were no bigger but the number of them did make it a bit more interesting. The much vaunted multiple solutions aspect to everything isn’t impressing me. It’s always so forced and obvious. One of the things I like about Underworld is the fact that there are often many ways to do the same thing but it never feels like this has been designed into the game. It’s just that the games engine allowed you to be creative. The alternative paths here are blatant, right down to branching corridors with an environmental hazard on one side and an electronic security grid on the other.

The plot itself is advancing slowly and predictably. I have to say that the acting for me and my brother is just a joke. Maybe we are supposed to be cold and unemotional but it’s all so deadpan it’s almost funny. The moral choices are equally silly as I can’t care enough about these cardboard characters to worry about them.

I’m still enjoying Deus Ex but it’s such a let down after all the hype. It holds up well against it’s contemporaries like Half Life and Unreal but this is no System Shock or Thief. It just feels very simplistic and in all honesty a bit childish. This is clearly going to be another of those games (much like Half Life) where I just can’t see what all the fuss was about.

Not a very positive note to end on then for my Christmas eve post but I’ll keep going. I’ve been known to change my mind 3/4 of a way through a game before now. Not sure how much I’ll be playing over Xmas although I expect I’ll get the odd hour in here and there. Happy Christmas to any readers and I’ll be back by Tuesday at the latest.

Deus Ex – Day 3

Before I started playing today I dug out the manuals for this game to see if there is much backstory I’ve been missing. Steam appears to be a dead loss for this but I find the 2 manuals on replacementdocs without any problems. They offer a bit of general background but nothing too major. The manual is all about instructions on playing the game, which I’ve already figured out for myself. The newspaper does have some interesting bits and pieces and I always like it when games give fake newspapers or magazines in the box as it all adds to the atmosphere. I remember Alone in the Dark for instance having the deceased painters final mail wrapped in a tag with his name/address and deceased stamped on it. AITD’s paper manages to set all the backstory for the game in an interesting way. This doesn’t succeed quite so well as it doesn’t really tell me much I don’t know by now but it would have helped at the start.

The moment I walk into Hell’s kitchen I get a message that there is a hostage situation at the Ton hotel where I stayed with my brother apparently. I’m asked if I remember Mr Renton and funnily enough I don’t but apparently I should do.

I don’t really know where I’m going but I end up in the bar. It’s a large bar but it’s not exactly full of people. I can go up and talk to every single person in here which makes up for this to some extent. I get a lead on a warehouse to the South for my NSF generator. I also get a side quest to go and find a woman who has gone off to an alley somewhere and not returned. The side quests are mounting up now for this area. I’m being sent off to do other peoples little tasks so this really is starting to feel like an RPG.

I attempt to find the alley and instead find the hotel so I decide to get this sub mission out of the way first.

There are two hostages being held on the first floor with a terrorist guarding each. It takes me a few attempts to rescue both as the terrorists tend to kill them off the moment I attack the other one. Sneaking doesn’t seem to help and I do better just running straight in. I’ve very much given in on the non-violent approach by this point. It’s not much use sneaking around in this game and it worked better in Thief. The rewards for sneaking are non-existent also as far as I can tell. I’m sure its all avoidable but if there’s no particular reason not to, I’ll use the quickest option I can see which is more often than not the violent one.

I’ve not talked about the combat system yet. It’s an unusual hybrid of RPG and FPS. You have the usual array of weapons including machine guns, pistols, crowbars, knives, grenades, etc.. but you also have a skill for each one which affects how much damage you do and how accurate you are. The accuracy is strange in itself, in that you have crosshairs that show the area your bullet will go in which shrink gradually as you stand still. When I say gradually, I really mean it. To get any degree of accuracy I have to stand still for about 5 seconds. Fortunately the enemy always appear to run straight for me (after struggling to get around corners) so the best strategy is usually to get their attention, back off and wait, then get them when they come round the corner.

Aside from my own stats, the weapons themselves have more stats which I can sometimes alter by modding them with scopes, laser sights, etc.. They don’t appear to break down and need repairing (thankfully).

I use my knife on these two NSF guards as I’ve been training up my melee a bit. As far as training goes, I receive skill points for certain actions in the game (usually going to key locations). I also get the occasional bonus points for exploring but these have been trivial so far. I can use these points at any time to train in the same skills that I had at the start of the game. I’m assuming that if I get my pistol skill up to maximum I won’t have to wait forever for my crosshairs to shrink down but I’ll need a lot more points before I find out. I’ll use the strategy of maxing out a couple of my combat areas (probably small arms and melee) on the basis that I’ll be better off being a master in a couple of areas than a jack of all trades.

One of the freed hostages gives me a password for the NSF warehouse although I don’t remember ever using it. I talk to the hotels owner and he tells me his daughter hasn’t come home and he wants me to find her for him.

His daughter is the same girl who I heard about in the bar. I find her + a pimp in an alley. The pimp has her cornered and is trying to force her to work for him but I sneak up and zap him with my stun baton.

She gives me the password to get to talk to a weapons dealer who lives in a nearby basement. I head here next. There is an EMP field to get past which I do by hacking his systems with a multitool. This leads me to yet another mini-quest where I have to go and rescue his buddy from a base in the sewers of all places.

I soon find the sewer labs although I have to shoot my way through a load of guards and swim through toxic waste to get there. The smugglers buddy tells me they have been experimenting on people and forcing him to do anti-body work. When I return to tell the smuggler, he claims the CIA runs the lab but I’m sceptical. This is more suggestion of a corrupt government and I’m clearly on the wrong side here given the way the government is being portrayed and the fact that everyone on my side is a bloodthirsty goon. I expect I’ll be swapping over to the NSF or an equivalent at some point.

I run out of subquests and get to go for the main mission. I picked up a key to the warehouse from one of my quests a while back so I head straight in and after a bit of running around the rooftops and down alleys this leads me to the building I’m looking for. There are a lot of NSF in here and dealing with them all presents a bit of a challenge.

Once again I use the fact that they always come running for me against them, trapping 7 or 8 of them in a small spot, tossing in a gas grenade then picking them off at my leisure. I’m not too impressed by the AI for these guys, it’s not much different to playing Doom and it’s not the games strong point.

I take out the generator by shooting a conveniently placed exploding barrel. I’m sent to a chopper which is waiting for me on the roof so I make my way up past a load more NSF.

Gunther is waiting up here with the chopper. He hints that my brother hasn’t been doing too good a job with the other part of the mission but I’m not sure if he is just complaining about his lack of violence again or if something has gone wrong. I fly off back to base. The poster in the background with the word “Savioriffic” on it doesn’t half look like Richard Garriott incidentally but it’s not too clear in this screenshot.

I expect I’ve got a much better feel for what Deus Ex is about today. I’ve enjoyed playing this but the levels just feel too small for the system of subquests to work well. There is no room for wasted space and while this keeps things fast paced, the quests all end up being on top of each other and there is no feeling of realism or any real role playing. It would be easy to say that the technology didn’t allow for more but Underworld managed on a much more basic machine years earlier. I think its yet another example of higher spec machines restraining gameplay. The Unreal engine was probably a good choice rather than starting from scratch but the constraints it has imposed are very obvious.

The game is a strange mixture of Ultima style questing, System Shock style FPS/RPG with a bit of Thief’s sneaking + a sci-fi comic book story. On paper, this should be fantastic but it hasn’t quite managed to pull any of those elements off. It’s not far away and I can see why it got the hype it did but I think it’s possibly aged a bit less well than a game like System Shock. I get the impression my opinion might be somewhat based on the way I like to play the game since I’m playing this as a FPS. If I was taking a less violent route there would be less comparison to a modern FPS and it would maybe hold up better.

I’m sure I’ve still got a long way to go anyway and the best may still be to come. Hopefully the engine is capable of some bigger levels as this is a clear limitation so far.

Deus Ex – Day 2

My first task is to meet up with my boss (Manderly) but I take the opportunity to explore the UNATCO base first. This part of the game is just about adding to the games plot and meeting a few of the other people who work at UNATCO. I have my own office here and can log onto my machine to check my email. The emails hint of people resnting the new nano-tech agents like myself as they have sacrificed their own limbs and appearance with the old technological enhancements.

I meet my partner for my next assignment (Anna Navarre). She is the usual ridiculously endowed, leather clad type with a Eastern European accent that I’ve seen in far too many games. She isn’t too unhappy to have me as a partner given my performance on the last mission and the fact that I wasn’t afraid to kill.

I meet up up Manderly in a nearby office. He is also happy with my performance and sends me for a health checkup and to get armed for the next mission. The medic gives me instructions on using augmentation cansisters (I found one at the end of the mission) with medical bot’s to upgrade my systems.

I basically have two options with the upgrade. I can either give myself a strength boost or a combat melee damage boost. The combat damage has to be the most useful as I’m not intending to take the pacifist’s route through this game. I only get these boosts by activating the system which will drain energy.

I pick up a stealth pistol from ex-General Carter who is apprently something of a hero of mine. It appears that I definitely haven’t been grown in a tank as he mentions my parents being killed in a car crash.

I run out of places to explore so I head back up to Manderly’s office to get my assignment. We are chasing after the stolen Ambrosia and now know where some of it is. Pauls team is going to be sent after it but I have to kill the power generator and shut down the defences before he can go in.

I take a police boat to Castle Clinton where I’m told by Anna that there is a single barrel of the Ambrosia which I have to head in and recover.

I decide I’ve had enough of the sneaking style and make a frontal assault on the terrorists holding up in the castle. I’ve got backup from my partner + a couple of cops so I just nudge myself far enough into the entrance to attract some attention, back out while the NSF guys run out of cover and let everyone else handle the fight.

A quick bloodbath later and the place its cleared. I get to pick up all the ammo off all the corspes and this approach seems to have paid off for me. There is a locked hatch in the castle which I struggle to find a way to open. There is a child in here who wants some food but I can’t find any to give him. Next to him is a locked container which I open with a couple of lockpicks and this gives me the keycode to enter the hatch (666).

The Ambrosia is just down here. There are also a load of NSF. I sneak past them through the vents do a bit of exploring, discovering an alterative entrance by the vending machine on the docks which would no doubt have been a less bloodthirsty route to go down.

I head back out to meet up with Anna. Despite being my partner she has just sat at the entrance for the whole time. She is pleased with my performance and the fact that I’m not afraid to kill. This violence/pacifist stuff is feeling a bit forced. I can’t see a particular reason why we would be overly restrained in this situation given that the NSF aren’t worrying about keeping us alive. Whether I’m on the right side is debatable but both sides are using the same levels of violence as far I can see. Our agents are ludicrously bloodthirsty on the other hand.

The next mission is to rescue some civilian hostages from the train station. The station is mined so I have to use an emp grenade to disrupt the ignition switches on the bombs.

The train station is well guarded with a barracade and three gunmen. It’s not much of a barracade as it must be all of 30cm high. I gun my way through, emp the bombs and rescue the hostages without losing any of them to the NSF.

I take the train out of the station and meet up with Paul for the next stage of the mission which is taking down the power station. He gives me his apartment key if I want to go there and get some equipment. It sounds like we don’t know where this power station is and I have to find it. He suggests a couple of places to ask and suggests I start with the local tavern.

I’ve got into this game a bit more today. The plot is starting to flesh out and walking around the base talking to everyone really helped. This is still a comic book world in every sense but at least it is a detailed one. A lot of effort seems to have gone into making this into a world rather than a set of FPS levels. It’s all in the little details, like the multiple paths or all the guards have something unique to say to me and even wishing me luck and the like when I headed back out to do the mission. It sounds as though the next section of the game will be another non-violent and exploring one. This is potentially going to be much more of an RPG than SS2.