Every American knows the pyramid that is emblazoned on the US dollar. It is said to stand for the Illuminati secret society - but if there is one, it stays in the background in the action game Deus Ex. Because no one thinks that the sect-like union has something to do with the bad plague that threatens all of humanity. Or that it could be behind the fact that only selected people and powerful men receive the cure ambrosia instead of all people at risk.
Even the black-clad elite agent JC Denton has no idea of the backers. He is currently completing his first assignment for the anti-terrorist organization UNATCO and frees hostages from the Statue of Liberty in New York. For the first time there is talk of ambrosia and vanished transport containers. Gradually he comes across a conspiracy - even the Illuminati have their fingers in the dirty play with the remedy. Ambrosia: This is the divine bread from Greek mythology, and the masterminds want to rule over the earth like gods.
This is how bizarre conspiracy theories usually sound - a little it tingles in the stomach when thinking of powerful brotherhoods in hidden bunkers and huge laboratories in remote deserts. After file X triggered a real conspiracy boom, a PC game is finally picking up on the subject: Deus Ex, the latest work by designer legend Warren Spector. In the last issue we were able to present you with an exclusive pre-test of the highly anticipated action title with an RPG touch, and now the finished sales version has reached us. The most important innovation: Contrary to what was planned, only the texts were translated, not the speech.
In the role of the cybernetically upgraded agent JC Denton, you should find out who is behind the disease and how to stop it. The controls are based on common 3D action games: You see the world from a first-person perspective and steer the protagonist using the mouse and keyboard. You shoot with one mouse button, with the other you use objects or speak to people.
Similar to his colleague James Bond, JC Denton also has to work on several continents. About a quarter of the program takes place in New York, mostly in the area around the Statue of Liberty. You will also get to know a market and a discotheque in virtual Hong Kong, sneak into a magnificent cathedral in Paris and explore the dark secrets of an underwater laboratory. Usually you have a clearly worded mission and need to get a certain item, take out an enemy commander or just get to a specific room. The program reacts very flexibly to your decisions and procedures. If there are dialogues after the mission has been completed, the people there know what you did and make appropriate comments.
Real world levels
In terms of level design, Deus Ex is at first glance similar to 3D action games like Half-Life - but ultimately there are many more solutions for every problem. Instead of shooting on linear paths from A to B, you have the freedom here: Either fight your way through the main entrance into the research laboratory of the powerful genetics group Versalife and kill the heavily armed guards with rocket launchers. Or you crawl through the ventilation system, but there you have to switch off light barriers and crack computer-aided alarm systems. You benefit from the fact that you can manipulate significantly more objects than in Half-Life, for example. You can break almost any window, break open doors with a crowbar or rocket launcher, boxes can be piled up - so you can get over a locked gate, for example.
Of course, the global masterminds cannot be stopped without shootings. Against soldiers and robots, heavily armed terrorists and heavily armored steel warriors, you can only get ahead with gun violence. The opposing group acts somewhat differently than in 3D action games. As soon as a security guard has switched from watch to attack mode, he no longer stands still or marches head-on towards you, but immediately flies to the side and dodges your shots, takes cover or calls for reinforcement via the alarm button. Instead of using the heavy rocket launcher, you can either use the sniper rifle, put the guards to sleep using the stun arrow, or sneak up behind you and hit them unconscious with the rubber truncheon.
As the game progresses, you will continue to expand Agent Denton's skills. The decisions for the nine implants are particularly difficult. These are nanotechnical improvements that Denton can plant under the skin in small containers. Each offers two possibilities for improvement, both make sense - but you can only choose one: Do you want to be invisible for a few seconds from robotic radar devices - or from the eyes of soldiers? The former are rarely a problem - but when they do, the Iron Warriors are particularly aggressive. Guards regularly pose a threat, but do much less damage per shot.
The second role-playing element is the "skills". These are eleven skills that can be used at any time, such as computer hacking skills, knacking skills or pistol marksmanship. As soon as you have completed special campaigns, you will receive experience points. You collect them and improve your skills. As long as super agent JC Denton has not improved his shooting range knowledge, the crosshairs of the sniper rifle will still shake vigorously if you leave the mouse completely still.
Another option to let you choose a specific role is to use the designers with the small inventory. You don't have all the weapons and extras available, you have to weigh up what suits your style of play - rocket launcher or armored vest, submachine gun or binoculars? You can compete in three levels of difficulty, the hardest is called "Realistic" and it also plays like this - almost every enemy hit lets you bite the grass immediately.
For the test, we had the finished US version of Deus Ex. Although Eidos Germany originally wanted to publish a completely localized version of the game and even had already booked the voice actors, only a partially translated version should now appear. The (good) English speakers remain, but all texts and subtexts should be displayed in German. In this way, it is also possible to run through the program without knowledge of English in Germany - but because of the sometimes quite long texts, this should be much less fun.
According to Eidos, the program should neither be defused nor cut in any way for the local market. Blood flows in Deus Ex, but in a rather reserved manner
The expanded version of the article and additional screenshots can be found in GameStar 8/2000.