Or maybe I'm Max, or Anan; depends on where and when you're from.
Videogames are pretty neat, my favorites are:(in no particular order)
Final Fantasy VI
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
I also like writing about videogames, more specifically about game design.
ABC's of Game ________:
A is for
B is for
C is for Conveyance D is for
E is for
F is for
G is for
H is for
I is for
J is for
K is for
L is for
M is for
N is for
O is for
P is for
Q is for
R is for Risk S is for
T is for
U is for
V is for
W is for
X is for
Y is for
Z is for
There are always exceptions, but for the most part I tend to be attracted to games that test me and make me think in different ways. I want games to force me into situations of constant danger, situations where I have to always be examining the problem at hand, all the while trying to formulate a potential solution with the tools that Iíve been given. Games that make me feel like Iím growing; increasing my abilities to accommodate for an increasingly perilous world.
Last Winter I purchased Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Almost everything about the game instantly resonated with me. Right off the bat I was struck with a style that I had never experienced in all my years partaking in this medium. A world filled with intense symbolism and imagery that called back to a time when people were really pushing boundaries and questioning what exactly human beings were capable of. The ideas that the game presented to the player, at least to me, seemed almost identical to the ones that embodied the Renaissance, which just so happened to be my favorite period in European History.
I was absolutely enamored with the world that Eidos Montreal had created, something that doesnít happen all that often to me. Iím someone who usually plays a game for itís mechanics and systems, and thankfully Human Revolution provided in that department as well.
Even though it has itís share of action and RPG elements, the third installment in this legendary series was the game that really got me into the Stealth genre. A good stealth game provides players with just enough information to evaluate the situation, while letting the players themselves come up with ways to overcome said situation. Human Revolution does just that with itís effective feedback system and fantastic level design that allow for multiple play styles. These play styles are reinforced by the gameís RPG mechanics, which allow for each play through of Human Revolution to be a very different experience.
So, yeah. I loved the game. So much in fact, that I ended up purchasing the first and second game in the series. I might do something with Invisible War at a later date, but for now I want to focus on my experience with Ion Stormís original contribution to the trilogy.
I want to make one thing clear before we get too deep into this. Iím pretty young. I mean, I was around when the original Deus Ex came out, but not really old enough to care. I realize that this was a groundbreaking and extremely influential title, and remains to this day, one of the most critically acclaimed PC games of all time. NowÖ maybe itís just me, but playing a game like Deus Ex for the first time now, and playing a game like Deus Ex for the first time when it was originally released seem like they would be completely different experiences. Thatís why I decided to make this blog. I wanted to provide you all with my experience as someone playing the game more than ten years after itís initial release. I also havenít finished the game yet, so do not view this as a fair assessment on Deus Ex as a whole. Just as my experience after playing a few levels. Now that weíve got all that out of the way, letís begin.
Right off the bat, the game makes quite an impression. It hasnít even begun yet, and itís breathtaking theme has already clued me into the adventure thatís about to unfold. Alexander Brandonís Deus Ex theme, like the game, is extremely suspenseful. Itís subdued, and manages to stay mysterious, while somehow maintaining a general feeling of grandeur. †
The thing that initially pulled me into Human Revolution was the style. I mean, thatís usually the first thing that hits you when you start playing any videogame. The opening sequence should introduce you to the world and how it works. It should entice you, and make you want to explore said world even farther. Itís tricky for sure, as you want to show the player just what this game is all about, while leaving out just enough for the player to learn by themselves. In that respect, I think that the original Deus Exís opening sequence does a pretty good job.†
Itís apparent right away that Deus Ex is all about conspiracy, corruption, and power. These themes are reinforced by the gameís style. The world seems to be in a state of perpetual darkness, trenchcoats and sunglasses are in fashion, and the moral character of almost everyone is in question. Later on in the game you realize that even the organization you work for may not be what they initially seemed. The tone of the game can come off as a bit ridiculous at times with the protagonist often displaying little to no emotion besides complete sternness. †I think this actually works to the gamesí advantage though, creating a sort of tongue-in-cheek atmosphere that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Speaking of atmosphere, this game contains what might be the thickest and most suspenseful atmosphere Iíve ever experienced in a videogame. The afore-mentioned eternal darkness, coupled with fantastic sound design and ambient music make each action taken feel potentially life-threatening. The presentation isnít the only factor however, the mechanics and design of the game also contributes to the suspense. You see, Deus Ex is a RPG-FPS-Stealth hybrid. And the latter of these genres is really what gives the game such a rich atmosphere, but in my opinion, is also the reason why the game isnít quite as good as Human Revolution.
Alright, alright, I have an opinion. Letís all calm down and talk about stealth in the original Deus Ex. I donít like it very much. Maybe Iím just not hardcore enough, but I feel that the game doesnít give you enough information regarding whether or not youíre at risk of being spotted. Thereís no mini-map like in Metal Gear, thereís no light indicator like in Thief, there are no sound rings like in Mark of the Ninja, thereís justÖ nothing. This is exacerbated by the fact that the enemies in the game are inconsistent in detecting you. Most of the times theyíre just stupid, but at some points they'll know your exact location after firing one bullet.
I know Iím making this sound really bad, but to be honest this doesnít break the game by any means. As I mentioned earlier the stealth in the game greatly contributes to itís atmosphere. Because the game tells you so little regarding enemy locations and detection, you always feel like youíre in danger; no matter what, youíre at risk of dying. I like that feeling, and respect a game that manages to evoke it. Whether or not itís worth enduring potentially frustrating gameplay in order to experience said feeling however, is really up to you. The other thing that manages to save the game from itís stealth is the fact that it really emphasizes itís RPG and adventure elements.†
Unlike Human Revolution, the original Deus Ex feels more a Role Playing Game with shooter and stealth elements. From being able to accurately aim with a pistol to swimming underwater, all of your skills are predicated on an upgrade system. Upgrading the various aspects of your agent expands the possible ways that you can complete each level. All of the levels are extremely open ended, and offer a variety of ways to complete them, but some of these ways only accessible with a combination of certain skills, items, and codes found throughout a given level. This really rewards experimentation and exploration, and makes you think long and hard before upgrading a certain aspect of your agent, all the while accenting the gameís depth. The fact that almost all the skills are useful is a sheer testament to the meticulous design applied to the RPG mechanics.†
This emphasis on applying points to skills is appropriate as it highlights the focus on player choice in Deus Ex. Things that you choose, or in some cases, donít choose to do can affect the way that you play through the game completely, along with potentially changing the ending. Seemingly trivial things such as health regeneration are controlled by player choice, as healing different parts of your body with grant you different benefits. The way that Deus Ex handles player choice is extremely impressive so far, as it almost never presents the choices to the player as simply good, and bad, a trap that many games that emphasize choice fall into.
Again, Iíd like to emphasize that this is not a complete and fair assessment of the game, as I havenít beaten it just yet. I have been enjoying it however, enough so that Iíll probably go ahead and finish the game. If I ever get to that point Iíll definitely write another blog containing my final thoughts.†
I was surprised at just how much I liked Deus Ex. In my experience, most groundbreaking titles end up aging poorly, but I feel that issues withstanding; this game is still extremely impressive if only for the gameís ambition and scope. The fact that it contains a deliciously tense atmosphere along with fun and rewarding exploration probably doesnít hurt either.