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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: G3 @ 266 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 150 MB    4x CD-ROM    Graphics: 640x480 @ 16-bit

Deus Ex
November 30, 2000 | Jeff Wescott

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The world is not a safe and happy place. A plague is killing off the world’s population like it’s going out of style. There is a cure, but only the world’s rich and powerful have access to it. This has given rise to widespread discontent and birthed a powerful terrorist movement. Brewing beneath all of the trouble is strife within the status quo. And you are caught somewhere in between.

As UNATCO special agent J.C. Denton, you play an experimental super-soldier, trained to kill and boosted with potent nano-augmentations. You are by no means invulnerable, but you do have a special edge that makes you more-human-than-human. Combat does play a strong role here, but that’s balanced with character interaction, a riveting plot and detailed level design that rivals anything Mac gamers have seen yet.

Developed by Ion Storm, Deus Ex is based on the Unreal Tournament engine, which as you might imagine, makes for some absolutely stunning graphics. Until only a few short months ago, this title was a "secret project" posted on porting house Westlake Interactive’s web site. The media mill had been grinding out news about this game for a long time, but the spin had only revealed it to be a PC title. Lo and behold, Westlake (and the publishing folks at Aspyr) came out of left field and broke the happy news. Like other recent releases, the Mac version came out right after the PC version, which makes the Mac market look better than ever. It seems that the dreaded "Starcraft Scenario," is a thing of the past.

Deus Ex (pronounced day-us ecks) is hard to categorize in any single genre. Its code roots make it look a lot like Unreal Tournament but it has so much more than any first-person shooter. The manner in which you can develop your character lends a definite role-playing feel, while the real-time play is similar in feel to action games.

What it all adds up to is a game that is sure to engage anyone who likes political intrigue, action and a well-written story. Be warned, you won’t play this title on your dad’s Macintosh. Deus Ex is what I call a "system hog" that can put a strain even on a late model G3.

This Is a Need-To-Know Operation
Denton is a special agent fresh out of the academy. You begin the game with only one nano-augmentation, a low-light optical modifier. Besides being the new kid on the block, you are also one of the first UNATCO agents to use nanotechnology in the field. It’s kind of funny, as many other UNATCO agents you will encounter are modified with cybernetics and are consequently viewed as obsolete. Some will treat you rudely in the game, especially if you flaunt it or show them up. Hey, no one likes to be seen as yesterday’s news, right?

The first agent to use nano-augs is your brother, Paul Denton, who will brief you on most of the missions early in the game. Pay close attention to what he says and does (no spoilers here) as it can have an impact on the overall outcome.

As a UNATCO operative, it is your duty to stem the tide of global terrorism. One group in particular is fanning the flames of discontent. As mentioned earlier, a nasty plague called the Gray Death is ravaging the world. A top-secret vaccine, Ambrosia, is available, but there is only enough to provide for the top tier of society. The game opens with the terrorists, or freedom fighters (depending on who you talk to), stealing a vat of Ambrosia. As your first assignment, you must recover the vaccine and seek-and-destroy the terrorists.

In a rare move for game developers, Deus Ex actually makes some kind of statement with its plot. The terrorists uphold that revolting against a corrupt and cruel government is a right established by America’s founding fathers and the military-industrial complex has finally gone too far. This rhetoric is going on right now in the real world. Of course, as a government operative, you job is to uphold and protect that establishment. However, Deus Ex does not pigeonhole you into this situation, and you have some latitude to play the good guy to the common folk.

The dynamic plot of Deus Ex is a real strong point. Some games have a very linear story progression, where you cannot complete step three without going through steps one and two. While there is structure in Deus Ex with primary mission goals, there are a host of secondary objectives in the game that provide an opportunity to get more game-hours, skills points and neat gear. You are also not obligated to be either a "good" or "bad" guy. I found this out when I botched my first hostage rescue mission. While sniping terrorists in a subway tunnel, I accidentally hit a box of TNT. Well, this set off an explosive chain reaction that killed everyone — terrorists and hostages. For the carnage, all I got was a light verbal reprimand from HQ and orders to proceed to the next mission. Heh. So in other words, if you want to be a cold-hearted bastard, you can still win the game.


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