This place is familiar, yet different. Night has fallen and across the water from the island you find yourself on, you see an oddly different New York skyline to what you are used to. Directly above you looms the Statue of Liberty, familiar yet different – its missing its head. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
To say Deus Ex (PC, 2000) and its opening Liberty Island section was influential would be a massive understatement. From its cyberpunk art direction and New World Order conspiracy themed storyline to its open ended approach and dedication to player choice, this is a game that developers are still scrambling to equal – never mind surpass. What is it about Deus Ex that made it such a defining moment in gaming history?
I’ve completed the game a number of times, on both PC and its later PS2 release, as well as enjoying its sequel and recent reboot. I can’t even remember the amount of times I’ve played through that opening Liberty Island sequence – and how many different ways I did it. That is the key – in Deus Ex, you made a difference. Not just in the tough decisions you had to make in the game but in how you approached every situation. Stealth would just be as viable as a guns out, all action assault and, crucially, just as fun. Don’t let anyone tell you different, at its core Deus Ex was all about empowering you and letting you have as much fun as you desired.
If you have never played it, I strongly recommend that you do. It’s a 13 year old game but, graphics (obviously) aside it still feels just as fresh and ahead of its time as it did back in 2000. Play it and experiment. Play it a different way every time. Just make sure you do – it’ll open your eyes to a new way of how to play games and what this medium can achieve in terms of story-telling, choice and freedom. If you love gaming, I’m sure you’ll love Deus Ex.
The lasting appeal of Deus Ex is legendary – many a games developer still speak with great respect of what it did and you can see the influence in many of your favourite games; Bioshock, Mass Effect, Dishonored – great games all with much to owe to The Greatest Game of All Time, Deus Ex.
– Dave Green