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Deus Ex vs. Deus Ex: An Examination of the Current State of Gaming

In the year MM (that's 2000 for you non-Romans), I was accompanying some family on a trip to Dublin City. While engaging in my giddiest pleasure of the time (sifting through PC games new and old), I happened upon a game released that very day. I recalled reading something starkly positive about it in PC Gamer magazine prior to this and decided I'd take a chance on this one.

That game was Deus Ex.

Needless to say, I was completely taken aback by it. My first impression was something of distaste, oddly enough, like the first time you try beer. I was almost disappointed by my inability to kill everything with reckless abandon and similarly offended by my inability to survive what would've been considered a relatively tame fire-fight, certainly by the standards of the time. But persistence (and a little insistence on not wasting my £40) soon paid off. The thrill was no longer about being some one-man army, hell-bent on nothing short of absolute destruction. Now the thrill came from being an unseen, unheard ninja, a living virus to any computer system he touched. But what was most important about all that was the sense of BEING that person. Never had I become so immersed in a character and his world. It changed the way I played games, but more than that, it changed the way I looked at them and entertainment as a whole.

Flash forward ten years or so and we have Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Without going in to too many specifics, I am still playing through the game and have thus far found the experience an excellent one. That said, this also prompted me to re-install my copy of Deus Ex for the first time in about 6 years.

First of all, the similarities. The game world FEELS quite similar. The environment, which would've been considered quite dynamic at the time, is largely the same, although by today's standards it may seem somewhat static. Augmentations are actually a bit more balanced (if not biased a little more towards the stealth method of play) and useful this time around and that sense of freedom remains.

What does not remain, at least not as much, is the sense of impact that my actions had on the world (in the original). My choice to go stealthily and mercifully about my business doesn't seem to affect my relationships with other characters as much. While this could lead to benefits in the original, such is rarely if ever the case in Human Revolution. The benefits of stealth play now come in the form of more experience points, which, while more recognizable to the modern gamer, seems to have cheapened the experience somewhat for me.

More to that, the game highlights just how games have evolved, or in some cases, devolved over the years. Many actions in this game have become automated. Stealthily dispatching of an enemy requires a single keystroke within close proximity, and lethally doing so requires the same effort. Perhaps this offers a thrill of some kind to other gamers, but I personally feel detached from the action, as though I had nothing to do with it. The player's hand is held at almost every turn, and obligatory boss battles have been shoe-horned in, presumably because your game can't be considered epic unless at least one climactic, cinematic confrontation is included. In the original, you could nearly talk your way out of or into any situation, if you worked at it hard enough. If boss fights like these were included in the original, I've no doubt you could've avoided them somehow. In HR, talking summons a mini-game of sorts (via an augmentation) that takes much of the challenge out of carefully traversing the conversation trees. Now you're told specifically which personality type your target is and which conversation options affect this type most in your favour. Modern conventions like incessant "tooltip" help messages appear, and regenerating health has been added, while individual limb damage has been removed.

All things considered, even though it's 10 years later and the it's sporting a slicker presentation, there's simply less GAME.

In summary, my question to you is this: have games REALLY evolved over the last ten years? Their presentation certainly has, this much is obvious. However, the core gameplay experience, that which truly defines a game: has it stagnated, or worse, devolved over the years? Deus Ex was meant to have heralded a new age of modern shooters, where thought was provoked as much as the inner genocidal maniac. Nowadays, shooters have reverted to corridors and mindless slaughter. RPGs are still about fetch quests and even their depth, a defining characteristic of the genre, has been replaced with hand-holding, instant gratification and linear progression. Fighting games and platformers are returning to their 2D roots in an effort to regain their glamour through a return to simplicity (although much lauded, it isn't progression). More and more user actions are stripped away so we can watch one more slick "canned" animation, one more action-heavy cut-scene and all for what?

Another $10 on the price-tag?

TravUK4472d ago

Excellent read and very valid points made.

blaktek4472d ago

Sadly, this evolution (negative on numerous aspects) is a reality.

Deus Ex came from an industry driven by craftsmen. What we have now is PR firms, market research and shareholders.

Games have to comply with (sub) standards of accessibility, universality (or lowest common denominator) and fashion (expected Bling). I want to believe that developers do all they can to bring their vision to fruition, but am afraid this vision consists mainly of a risk/reward (time/talent investment Vs financial return) chart.

The time when game concepts came out of production stronger than they entered it is gone. Games today are required to shed every alienating (as in inaccessible to a gaming illiterate player) mechanic.

Adam Jensen is an ex-cop and should handle classic weapons easily, and should be quite puzzled by a military energy weapon prototype. He isn't because the player sees a shiny boom stick and wants to use it proficiently on the spot. Deus Ex made you experience these inadequacies, and consider investing experience points in those strange weapons.

Daggerfall (go play it, seriously) gave you objectives regardless of your level (summon Baal in the first town, Lvl 1) and sent you in the wild with a place's name for a clue.

Comparing modern games with their predecessors only leads to disappointment (CoD4 PC Vs MW2 PC). I'm not saying we should forget the past iterations, the new generation still has a lineage to uphold. Treating new games as somewhat distant cousins helps.

As a Deus Ex game, Invisible Wars was bad, not as much when considered a Deus Ex-like.

At the end of the day, we only have two choices :

- Expecting this industry to act like it used to, which is now impossible for big studios ; and hating every game that doesn't rise to this expectation (90% of today's products).

- Taking games at face value and enjoy the fun we can find in them.

Personally, I look for games that keep the compromising to a minimum, but still enjoy (moderately) what the fast food that is our industry shovels my way.

Oh ! When I first entered Adam's apartment, the atmosphere there was so sad that it convinced me I was playing a Deus Ex game.

LightofDarkness4471d ago (Edited 4471d ago )

Yes, I recall having the same feeling when entering Adam's apartment for the first time. There was almost a sense of loss in the room, and it really is something that I hadn't felt for some time while playing a game.

I most certainly can and do enjoy games for what they are, which is exactly what I'm doing with Human Revolution. But playing the original certainly had an unexpectedly "sobering" effect, particularly on my view of the industry as a whole. I found myself even dropping games off of my "wish-list"; while partly due to time constraints, this was largely affected by the points listed above.


What is Going with the Splinter Cell Remake?

Announced in 2021, the ground-up remake has seen little to no updates this year. Check out some possible explanations here.

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Chocoburger7h ago

The game was announced much too early, but also people were hounding Ubisoft about Splinter Cell for years, so they wanted placate them by making the announcement.

It's normal for games to "go dark", no reason to worry about it. In our age of social media and glut of releases everyone has to turn everything into a big deal if they don't get what they want immediately. Just be patient and let them develop the game.

And let's hope they don't turn it into a modern Ubishit game, packed with mundane boring filler, and ways to artificially extend the length of the game. Experience points, skill trees, resource collecting, grinding for equipment upgrades. None of that trash belongs in Splinter Cell.

P_Bomb7h ago

Fond memories of the OG trilogy. Hope they do right by it.

Profchaos7h ago

Ubisoft and remakes seen to be cursed still waiting for Prince of Persia Sands of Time

RaidenBlack7h ago

well ... one thing's positive in that ... they're using the snowdrop engine for this remake, which looks better than Ubisoft's Anvil engine.
Snow drop is a stunning engine have been used in the Division series as well will be powering the upcoming Avatar and Star Wars Outlaws

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"Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince" is now available for the Nintendo Switch

"SQUARE ENIX are today very happy and excited to announce that "Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince" (the latest role-playing game in the "RAGON QUEST MONSTERS" series), is now digitally and physcially available for the Nintendo Switch worldwide." - Jonas Ek, TGG.

phoenixwing7h ago

Waiting for the eventual pc port that should have been simultaneous


Irem Collection Volume 1 Review by Video Chums

“Irem Collection Volume 1 is a compilation of shoot 'em ups that any genre fan will happily add to their library. If you want to experience some history of the genre then check it out but just don't expect any supplementary content as that's where this package falls flat.” - A.J. Maciejewski from Video Chums.

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