Category Archives: Gaming

Deus Ex: The Perils of Choice

It’s funny – I know the section of the game that many people have/are complaining about, I experienced my own bout of doubt (heh) in this regard as well – but I’m not mad about it.

Here’s why.

First, some background.  For those who are unfamiliar, Deus Ex: Human Revolution offers you a vast amount of choice in how to play the game and how to evolve your characters abilities.  Basically, you earn what’s referred to as Praxis points which can be used to unlock new abilities or upgrade existing ones.

How you spend those points is completely up to you, but herein lies the perils of your choices – if you dump all your abilities into being a one-man-army, then you’re probably going to be lacking in the hacking and stealth departments (for example).  Your choices dictate how you have to play the game, this conclusion is logical and expected.  There is a section, somewhat early on in the game where you are basically locked into a cage-match with a guy who’s an all-out war machine.  If you’ve been building an ultra-hacker up to this point the problem is clear – you are absolutely NOT equipped to deal with this situation.

Actually, that’s your sense of panic talking.  You have options (several) but the shock of the situation you find yourself in is pretty intense and tends to induce tunnel vision.  If you’ve been engaging in combat via indirect means up to this point – then guess what, you have to fight this monster indirectly too.  I must’ve died 15 times or more before I figured out how to beat him – turns out it’s fairly simple if you can fight your way through the initial panic and think about it.

So, while I felt frustrated at the choices I made earlier – I can’t really get upset at the game.  Why?  Well, there’s the matter of personal responsibility…if I bring a knife to a gun fight, that’s my problem – not the gun-fighters.  You play through the prologue, where you get a taste of the characters and you know you’re going to face later in the game.  You see what they do to everything around them and to your character.  The mission before this fight should be a hint and a half that you’re going to have to tangle with at least one of them soon.  If you read Deus Ex: Icarus Effect ahead of time, then you are fully aware of who these characters are and what they’re capable of.

You.  Were.  Warned.

For the love of the flying spaghetti monster, if you’ve been paying attention to the story up to that point or feel any empathy with your character at all then you are gunning for these people.  You want this confrontation.  Is it tough?  Yeah, your problem is a walking tank – he’s supposed to be tough.  You have options in how you approach this fight, but you don’t get to slide or talk your way out of it – some situations simply have to be dealt with.

Regardless of the choices you’ve made to this point.


Can’t Blog*… Deus Ex…

Crack. Video game style.

Like many people I’m a huge fan of the original Deus Ex, it’s a game that totally blew me away and I find myself reinstalling it and diving back into that world again and again.  There’s something irresistible about a game that gives you the freedom to approach every situation from different angles and succeed VS the usual blow everything up option (which is still available).  The gameplay was solid, multiple endings and the story was compelling – plus it keeps going whether you succeed in your objectives or not.  Most games would force you to restart a mission in those circumstances, but so long as you survived you can press on – it make for an interesting, reactive world with lots of replay value – advancement is not necessarily contingent on you completing every mission or how you complete them.  Make no mistake though, there are consequences to your choices and your failures.  You could play this game 10 times and have 10 completely different experiences.  It’s a work of art.

I never got around to playing the sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War but by most accounts it was an inferior game – I’ll have to play it one of these days to see for myself.

Human Revolution, the third in the series and a prequel, has been a long time coming.  It’s one of the few games that I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on, usually I can wait…not this time – the trailers alone are intense and visceral – to say nothing of the game itself.  By the time I made it to the introduction video (you play through the prologue) my heart was pounding and I was sweating, this thing had me hook, line and sinker – it’s as great as you hope it is.  I’m not all that far into the game and I already have plans for how I’m going to play it differently next time around.

So far, I’m playing things as stealthy and non-lethal as my skills and situations allow, I’m not sure if I’ll up my hacking skills or keeping going the stealth route…maybe I’ll go hardcore gank & tank next time…I’m trying to play Adam as a somewhat nice, optimistic and warm character – next time maybe it’ll be cold, bitter and detached or somewhere in between.  There are so many options and routes to take – these are the kinds of decisions you need to make and there are consequences to all of them.  The character interactions are arguably just as important as combat, sometimes your choices and limitations are smacking you in the face…sometimes you have to dig to find alternatives or you can just blast through brute force and ignorance.

Like the original game, the story is deep and engaging – it’s like playing the role of the protagonist in an great book, you just can’t put it down and like a great book; it’s story asks real questions about our world and society.  What are the ethical boundaries around human enhancement?  How far is too far?  What are the repercussions, both good and bad, of developing a technology that would allow someone paralyzed to walk again or reverse neurological diseases?

Deus Ex: Human Revolution doesn’t seem to take sides in these questions – but they are thrown at you regardless.   Your character, Adam Jensen, is alive only because of such a technology – but the choice was made for you.  You experience the power and advantages of such enhancements, but at what cost?  How much of your own flesh would you sacrifice to be, effectively, superhuman?  You see the hypothetical good, bad and ugly of such a world in this game – where does your humanity end and the machine begin?

…it’s a cerebral experience that goes beyond the game and that is perhaps the greatest replay value of all.

A taste of what you’re missing:

I’m not a person who usually gets his hopes up, so if this game falls on it’s face by the time I reach the end I’ll be a little crushed – but I don’t see that happening.  The blood, sweat and tears that went into this are apparent from the get go, and I sincerely thank the entire development team for the experience.

* Heh – it would appear I can still blog after all – HUZZAH!