Thursday, December 20, 2012

Deus Ex Index

At the time of writing this it's been several months since I had a Deus Ex post (That being Messy Beginnings) consider this a promise that there will be more to come.

Deus Ex is a game from the year 2000 that I very much recommend you buy.  (It's four bucks new.)  It takes as its setting a the future of a world where the conspiracy theorists were right, and somehow manages to make that into a very deep and complex story and setting.  It was also renowned for its game-play and has been called the best game of all time, by multiple sources I believe.

Anyway, I'm going through it slowly and writing about the experience.

Before Starting the Game

An Introduction of sorts - In which I talk about Deus Ex, its game-play, and go off on a tangent about an inexplicable "Teach the Controversy" style thing that seems to go on where some people say with no evidence to support them and plenty of evidence against them that there's a massive inconsistency about when the game takes place, and those who point out, "No there isn't, it takes place in 2052," are dismissed as star struck and believing that the developers could do no wrong (spoiler alert, they could.)
Backstory - I go over the games backstory in three ways.  First public knowledge world history, then secret history known to conspiracy groups and such, then the personal history that led the Main Character to be where he was.
On Newer Better Graphics and Original Text - Deus Ex is an old game, and even when it came out the graphics weren't exactly top of the line.  Yet for this project I'll be playing it without any enhancements because the idea is to look at Deus Ex itself not someone else's version of Deus Ex.  The post goes into a good deal more detail about that.

Training Mission

Part 1: No Exits - I talk about ways to justify examining the training mission, how the future looks, and a problem that plagued Deus Ex throughout.
Part 2: Infolinks, Lockpicks, and a lack of Female Characters - I talk about the way innovations in the setting serve the game-play and are designed around the two goals of keeping you actually playing the game (as opposed to rummaging through notes you've been taking on paper beside you) and making resource management a key element.  And then I get to gender representation.  Extremely short version: Yes, it passes the Bechdel Test, yes it has very unequal representation between the genders.  Yes the designers noticed the second thing and thought it a bad thing, but only after the fact was it noticed.
Part 3: Books and Coworkers - On meeting your first book I talk about one of the ways Deus Ex goes about creating the impression of a wider world, and you meet your first coworker.
Part 4: What The Hell Is Wrong With You People? - In order to teach you the gameplay mechanics of searching bodies, moving bodies, using hazmat suits, and using medical bots a volunteer is rendered unconscious and you're forced to swim through contaminated water.  I point out the absurdity of it all.  Also, a Soylent Green reference.
Part 5: What isn't - I talk about what ended up on the cutting room floor and how, based on dialog that remains in the game files, this section of training seems to have originally been much more ambitious and interesting.
Part 6: What Is - I talk about what is in the training mission, Gunther Hermann, what makes a tragic figure, and how stillness can improve one's accuracy with firearms.
Part 7: Killing People With Sheep - Meet the Light Attack Munition, also known as the LAM pronounced as in, "Marry had a little..." they can be used as thrown grenades or proximity mines, you meet a trooper who has thoughts on worker morale, I discover that (in this level at least) I Am Invincible, but my means of discovery reduces me to crawling through the level for my legs have been damaged to the point of being unable to hold me up.  (Can't be vinced doesn't mean can't be hurt.)
Part 8: Anna and Stealth - I talk about Anna Navarre and the stealth portion of training.
Part 9: Final Exam - There's a robot, there's a "river", the robot wants you dead, the river must be crossed.  I describe eight different crossings.  This is Deus Ex, there's always more than one way to solve a problem.  After Training forced you to do things this way or that, this part seems to be teaching you that, now that training is ending, you're not going to be forced into a single method again.
Part 10: Snippets of information - The hall of holograms provides you with background information.

Before the Game Proper

Main Menu and Character Creation - I didn't talk about the menu as much as originally planned, but I did talk a fair amount about character creation, the benefits of having a team of rivals, the downside to having the default real name be the same as the code name, and how skills work.  And that leads into the idea of resource management.
Intro - Bob Page and Walton Simons have a chat about manipulating governments and letting the bodies pile up in the streets, I provide commentary.

Theme Post: Messy Beginnings - I talk about the tendency in the game, and in the real world, for things not to have a single founding date but instead to evolve through stages and have multiple places in history where they can be said to originate.

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