EDR & The Kings of the Decade – Part Two

Here it is then, the final piece of the jigsaw. But before I begin, I need to flag up those games that fell before us; the games that so nearly made it in, but just fell short of expectations. The games that caused me some sleepless nights (or not) include the brilliant Okami, Ico (mentioned before), Morrowind, Baldur’s Gate 2, Pyschonauts, and World of Goo. Then there’s the games I wished could have been better; Fallout 3, Far Cry 2, Fable 2, Oblivion, Doom 3 and The Sims 2. To those games, I raise this mug of tea… but, for me at least, Game of the Decade can only go to…

Voltaire leant his views to Deus Ex. That's how important this game was. He liked the shooting bits the most.

Deus Ex!!!!!1LOL!

I can say, and have said, a lot about Deus Ex because there’s a lot to say about it. It’s an enigma wrapped in a conspiracy draped in a blanket of shooting people in the face, and it is wonderful in every way. Even now, when I cast my mind back to the opening level – the one that takes place on Liberty Island – it sends shivers down my spine. Up until that point my experience with shooters had been shoot first, don’t bother asking questions, and my experience with RPGs had been dark corridors and trap spells – not that either was ever a problem. With Deus Ex however, the game had changed.

Less than a minute into the game you’re presented with a benign choice, but one that proves that Deus Ex is serious about changing your perception of gaming: What weapon will you choose? Gun, stun rod, or rocket launcher.

Born and raised on a diet of double-barrelled shotguns and the BFG, I opted for the rocket launcher and failed. Quickly. But – and this is crucial – just because I chose the rocket launcher didn’t mean I was wrong to do so, I just wasn’t good enough. I like to think that someone somewhere did pick it and survived to tell the tale, and that was a founding belief of Deus Ex, that choice – however minor – was what defined ‘gaming’.

This hybridisation of Deus Ex is fundamentally what makes it my game of the decade. No other game has done so much for – or has had quite such an influence on – the industry. By this I don’t mean the carbon-copying we saw as a result of Doom, Half Life and Grand Theft Auto, but through the cross-pollination of different gaming styles. If we’d not had a Doom, we wouldn’t have seen Serious Sam. If we’d not had Half Life, we wouldn’t have seen Far Cry. But if we’d not have seen Deus Ex, we wouldn’t have seen Morrowind, Mass Effect, Dawn of War, or any other number of phenomenal games. Deus Ex was that important.

It was also smartly designed, and even now – nearly ten years later – the levels still manage to convey a sense of futuristic claustrophobia unmatched by any other game of its type. Each location, whether it’s New York’s underbelly, Honk Kong’s business district or a Parisian suburb, feels like a living, breathing – albeit coughing and spluttering – place. It was in this respect a very convincing game, and one that was recognisably ‘of it’s time.’

In saying ‘of it’s time’, what I mean is that Deus Ex was probably the first game to ever mirror the sort of fin de siècle seen in literature. Augmented reality, nutty AI, nanotechnology, and synthesised viruses tapped into a sense of post-millennium paranoia and growing disenchantment with western political systems. It was surprisingly mature and well-realised in this respect, gaming was no-longer genre-led, action-orientated, childish nonsense; it was a cultural keystone.

So there we are. Deus Ex is one of two EDR Games of the Decade, and it damn-well deserves to be here. If you’ve not played it, and I’d be surprised if you haven’t (and think you’re a stupid durr-brain), then get it now. It’s awesome.

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5 Comments on “EDR & The Kings of the Decade – Part Two”

  1. NightHunter Says:

    In before scruff!

  2. Scruffy Says:

    Well here I go, picking faults again. Today’s target will be the forth paragraph.

    It’s this “cross-pollination” business that’s got me, you can’t possibly be suggesting that Deus-Ex is resposible for the creation of multi-genre gaming! Admittedly, as it was released in 2000, it is one of the first games of this decade, but if we ignore innovations of games before the year 2k, then we may as well just pretend that Deus-Ex was the first game ever.

    Now let’s have a look at these games that would not have been;
    “Morrowind”-The Elder Scrolls III, surely this is just Daggerfall with the logical developmets in graphics as present in all areas of gaming.
    “Mass Effect” well you may just have me on this one, apart from the fact that it was devolped by Bioware who were playing with both RPG and FPS before 2000 and had success in attempting to blend the two before they got to making ME.
    “Dawn of War” I’m going to take a guess here and assume you meant the second game (combining RTS and RPG) which was beaten to the idea by the Warcraft series and to some exetent (a TurnBasedStratagy/RPG) by the first x-com game, UFO: Enemy Unknown, back in 1994.

    Other examples of cross-genre include Battlezone in 1998 (FPS/RTS) and, perhaps the most relevent to this post, System Shock, again released in 1994, a blend of FPS and PRG. It had a sequel released in 1999, but more importantly the original was the inspiration behind Deus-Ex itself!

  3. NightHunter Says:

    It would have been funnier if Scruff had posted when he said he would.

    Also RIP weird face thing

  4. EDR Says:

    Right, this is typed out on an iPhone, so apologies for any typos.

    I didn’t claim that Deus Ex created multi-genre gaming, just that it did what no other game had done before; establish it as a commercial business model. Prior to this, the likes of Battlezone and Daggerfall where niche games. DE was a blockbuster. Not even the excellent System Shock came close to DE’s success.

    You are, however, right that the launch of DE in 2000 didn’t necessarily pave the way for the launch of Mass Effect et al, but I’ll bet my bottom dollar that it was a massive influence on the developers.

  5. Thumbs up to this assessment. Deus Ex clearly sits atop my pile of favorite games. I’ve replayed it countless times, tried different ways of achieveing different missions, found out what happened if I joined the “badguys,” or joined the “goodguys.” If my brother lived, or died.

    But the first moment I knew this game was gold was the first time I entered the command center. Just like in any other FPS, I explored every room along the way, looking for power ups and other goodies. That included the ladies’ bathroom. Imagine my surprise when my boss chewed me out later on for going in there! So few games have gone to the depths that Deus Ex did in trying to make every one of your actions influence the storyline and the world around you.

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