Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to hump day in our 13th week!
Conspiring in the #38 position…
Okay, truth time: I’ve never played Deus Ex. “Then what the bouncing fuck are you doing writing a review for it?”, one might rightly ask. Well, nobody else on our writing staff has played it either, and being the nice guy that I am I valiantly volunteered to bullshit my way through it. I was going to try to get a little time playing it before I had to write this article but I, uh, didn’t. Hey listen, those raccoons who keep trying to get into my garbage cans aren’t going to throw pinecones at themselves, okay? I’m a busy guy. While I may not have been able to get hands on with Deus Ex, I did have time to hit the Googles and have a look at what I was missing. By all accounts, I was missing something pretty good. The biggest thing that this game has going for it, as far as I can tell, is that it’s a mashup. I like mashups. If a developer says “Hey, we’re going to throw an FPS, an RPG, and a tactical stealth sim in a big pot and see what the hell comes out,”I’m interested. More often than not, trying a mashup like this results in the game failing at multiple genres instead of being more than the sum of its parts. The first Mass Effect, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, is a pretty good example of this problem. It’s a great game, but it can never quite decide what it wants to be. What I’m seeing about Deus Ex makes me wonder if Bioware didn’t see this game and think “Shit, we can do that.” My baseless speculation notwithstanding, it seems like Deus Ex may have been the game I should have played that I never did. The lesson here: I’m an idiot.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
The story of of Deus Ex sounds like it’d make a pretty bitchin’movie. Well, it would have if Hollywood hadn’t been making this movie for the last 40 years. Let me know if this sounds familiar; International Super Spy Ethan Bourne Jason Hunt Powers is sent on a dangerous mission to uncover the sinister plots of Doctor Goldfinger Evil Jaws and his cadre of criminal masterminds only to discover that HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS THE BAD GUYS ARE ACTUALLY THE GOOD GUYS AND THE GOOD GUYS ARE EVIL!!! Our plucky hero then joins the scrappy resistance that’s fighting the big bad government and then stuff happens with all the things. We’ve got gunfights, betrayal, mystery, and hey what the hell an Illuminati plot; pretty much everything you get from your average action movie these days. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, by the by. Audiences gobble this stuff up, regardless of whether it’s a movie, a TV show, a book or a game. There’s something pleasingly straightforward about a lone hero facing long odds and kicking ass until he comes out on top. I can’t really fault (developer) Ion Storm for sticking with a tried and true formula.
Here’s where this game would likely lose me though; it draws pretty heavily on contemporary conspiracy theories for a lot of its twists and narrative elements. That’s a problem, because I think conspiracy theories are bullshit. People who think chem trails, black helicopters, the Illuminati and aliens are actually things that the government is hiding from us or involved with, or that even believe they are actually real, crack me up. Our government is so full of some of the absolute dumbest people in our country that it’s a miracle they haven’t collectively erupted and drowned us all in molten idiocy. Maybe it’s not so much that I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, and it’s more that I don’t think the fucking government could pull off a single goddamn one of them. If any of that shit is actually happening, it’s coming from the private sector. I can guarantee you that. The point that I’m making, (in no sort of rambling or incoherent way), is that I have a lot of trouble suspending disbelief when it comes to stuff like this, mostly because I just think it’s exceedingly dumb. That I have zero problem with suspending disbelief for, say, the Lord of the Rings, (which asks you to buy into magic, wizards, elves, dragons, orcs and the fact Gandalf didn’t just have the eagles fly them into freaking Mordor; seriously, how were they not his first phone call?), and can’t get past something about the Illuminati probably says more about me than it does about this game, I know. Still, if you feel anything approaching the way I do about conspiracy theories, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about picking this game up.
So, now I have the task of ranking a game that I’ve read about but never played. Ohhh goody. In fairness to me, I’m willing to bet there are tons of reviewers out there that don’t play everything they write about, they just aren’t stupid enough to tell you. I clearly am. So all that being said, I have a hard time believing that any game that’s placing this high on the list that doesn’t have “Grand Theft Auto”in the title isn’t worthy of at least most of the praise and success it’s seen. Deus Ex has certainly had its fair share. It’s taken the number one spot on more than one “greatest PC game of all time”list, and that’s not an easy thing to do. Plenty of great games have never even sniffed the top 10 on a single list, let alone taken the top spot on more than one. So in the interest of fairness, I’ll leave Deus Ex with a solid four out of five. Maybe it deserves better. I should probably go find out.