Deus Ex (pronounced /ˈdeɪ.əs ɛks/) is a cyberpunk-themed action role-playing video game developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive in the year 2000, which combines gameplay elements of first-person shooters with those of role playing games. The game received near-universal critical and industry acclaim, including being named "Best PC Game of All Time" in PC Gamer's Top 100 PC Games and in a poll carried out by UK gaming magazine PC Zone. It was a frequent candidate for and winner of Game of the Year awards, drawing praise for its pioneering designs in player choice and multiple narrative paths. It has sold more than 1 million copies, as of April 23, 2009, since its release in 2000.
Set in a dystopian world during the 2050s, the central plot follows the story of JC Denton, an anti-terrorist agent employed by the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO), as he uncovers a deep conspiracy, encountering fictional re-creations of organizations such as Majestic 12, the Illuminati, and the Hong Kong Triads throughout his journey.
First published for personal computers running Windows, Deus Ex was later ported to Macintosh systems, as well the PlayStation 2 game console, the latter under the title Deus Ex: The Conspiracy. Loki Games worked on a Linux version of the game, but the company went out of business before releasing it. A sequel to Deus Ex, titled Deus Ex: Invisible War, was released on December 2, 2003 for both Windows and the Xbox video game console. A prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, developed by Eidos Montréal, was released on August 23, 2011 in North America. Five years later, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the fourth major series installment and direct sequel to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, was released on August 23, 2016.
- Main article: Deus Ex backstory
Set in March 2052, Deus Ex depicts a cyberpunk-themed dystopian world. A lethal pandemic, known as the Gray Death, has ravaged the world's population, especially within the United States, and has no cure. Ambrosia, a synthetic vaccine manufactured by the company VersaLife, nullifies the effects of the virus but is in critically short supply. Because of its scarcity, Ambrosia is seemingly only available to government officials and a select group of industry leaders.
Distribution of Ambrosia is controlled by the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO), a paramilitary branch of the United Nations that was created to combat international terrorism. Within the United States, UNATCO's operations are supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a government agency with the power to detain millions of people. UNATCO is opposed by the National Secessionist Forces (NSF), a militant group based in the United States, and Silhouette, a semi-organized band of intellectuals and pranksters headquartered in France.
The setting of Deus Ex features advanced technology, including nanotechnology in human augmentation. As the most advanced form of augmentation, nano-augmentation uses nanites to give people abilities such as night vision, health regeneration, and resistance to toxins and physical trauma. By 2052, UNATCO has deployed its first nano-augmented field agent, Paul Denton, and is in the process of deploying another, Paul's brother JC Denton.
In Deus Ex, you play as JC Denton, a rookie agent for the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO), who has been nano-technologically enhanced. JC's older brother, Paul Denton, also a nanoaugmented agent, shares his insights with JC along the way. At this time, UNATCO is dealing with the Gray Death, a worldwide plague. Although there is a cure, called Ambrosia, the development and distribution of it has been slow. The National Secessionist Forces (NSF), claims the cure is being blocked by secret organizations, so they have taken terrorist countermeasures.
JC infiltrates the NSF’s makeshift command center on Liberty Island and determines that the recently hijacked Ambrosia shipment has already left the island. JC then recovers a unit of Ambrosia and deals with a hostage situation in the subway in Battery Park. Afterward, JC disables the NSF generator in Hell's Kitchen, so that Paul’s team can gain access to the NSF facility and retrieve the Ambrosia. When JC returns to UNATCO, JC is told that Paul's team was nonetheless unsuccessful. At the headquarters, JC crosses paths with Walton Simons, the director of FEMA, who seems to have more access and influence than JC would expect for someone in his position.
Next, JC races to stop the Ambrosia from leaving New York. JC travels through the underground tunnels of the Mole people until finally reaching the helibase and airfield where the vaccine is being prepared for transport. JC tracks down Juan Lebedev, the millionaire anarchist funding the plot. Surprisingly, JC is met there by his brother Paul, who reveals he has been working as a double-agent for the NSF, and urges JC to reconsider his affiliations.
Although JC is next dispatched to Hong Kong, JC's pilot, Jock, redirects him to New York City, because of a message from Paul. After Paul corroborates his accusations that UNATCO is a crooked organization, JC agrees to help the NSF by activating a distress signal. After doing so, JC meets up with strong resistance and is eventually captured.
JC wakes up confined to a cell in an unknown location. Aided by a mysterious hacker named Daedalus, JC initiates his escape. As he makes his way out of the facility, he realizes that he is being held prisoner by Majestic 12 (MJ12), a secret U.S. government organization for the research and development of biotechnologies.
Originally, MJ12 had been clandestinely controlled by the ancient secret society, the Illuminati, but was recently wrested from their power by a member from their highest ranks, the wealthy and powerful Bob Page, after he neutralized the ruling Council of Five. JC is surprised to discover that this MJ12 facility is actually located beneath UNATCO's headquarters, demonstrating their significant role in the conspiracy and cover-up. JC also finds out that nanoaugmented agents like him and his brother have self-destruct systems that UNATCO can use to remotely terminate them. Before departing the facility, he retrieves the information necessary for disabling this killswitch, so that Tracer Tong, a talented scientist and ally of Paul, can neutralize the system.
Next, JC travels to Hong Kong to seek Tong, but JC must first settle a dispute between the Triads, the criminal organizations that direct the region’s affairs. Due to the tension, neither The Luminous Path, led by Gordon Quick, nor The Red Arrow, led by Max Chen, are willing to help JC find Tracer Tong. Upon investigating the local VersaLife facility, Bob Page’s company and the only manufacturer of Ambrosia, JC finds that Maggie Chow was working with Page to destabilize the area by misleading Max Chen into starting the conflict. After restoring the peace, Quick admits JC to the Luminous Path compound where JC finally meets with Tong, who disables his killswitch.
Next, Tong dispatches JC to return to VersaLife's facility for more information, where JC discovers that the Gray Death is in fact a human-made virus. Tong and Daedalus both direct JC to Morgan Everett, a member of the Illuminati, because he is the only one who can create a true cure. In Paris, JC makes contact with Silhouette, another terrorist organization working against MJ12. Their leader, Chad Dumier, directs JC to Nicolette DuClare, whose mother was a member of the Illuminati’s innermost circle, the Council of Five, with Morgan Everett. After searching the DuClare chateau, JC finds a secret computer room that allows him to contact Morgan. After recovering for him a critical piece of data from a Paris cathedral, JC meets one of Morgan’s agents, Toby Atanwe, in a Metro station. He knocks JC out and takes him to the estate.
At Everett’s, JC begins to put together the remaining pieces of the puzzle. Bob Page first eliminated the other ruling members of the Illuminati, then created the Gray Death and now controls its cure, all in order to achieve world domination. He has placed his lieutenant, Walton Simons, into a key role as the director of FEMA, to aid him in his designs. Although Everett, as Page’s former mentor, can help JC neutralize the virus, Page seems to have still bigger plans ahead.
JC had also learned about various Area 51 AI projects. JC discovers that “Daedalus” is actually a sentient AI, developed by MJ12, that has since gone rogue. “Icarus,” his subsequent revision, is still controlled by Bob Page and MJ12, and “Morpheus,” the prototype for the project, now resides in Everett’s mansion.
Next, JC heads to Vandenberg Air Force Base to get in contact with Gary Savage, the leading researcher in nano-technology. The base is under siege from MJ12, so JC removes these threats. After reactivating various technical systems, Daedalus and Icarus unexpectedly merge into a new entity called Helios, that possesses yet greater power. A message from Page suggests that this is part of his final plan. After conferring with Savage and receiving various messages from his foes, JC finds he must rescue Savage's daughter, Tiffany, and then head for an undersea lab in order to retrieve information necessary for Savage’s progress against MJ12.
JC is successful in his reconnaissance, but then he discovers that Bob Page has aimed a nuclear missile at Vandenberg. JC races to redirect the launch to target Area 51 instead, where Bob Page is preparing to merge with Helios, to become an invincible global dictator. JC arrives there and surveys the damage, and finally penetrates security.
At this point, a number of courses of action are open to JC. He can follow Tracer Tong’s advice and initiate a meltdown in the Aquinas router at Area 51, thus paralyzing global telecommunications and returning civilization to a simpler, more decentralized existence. He can also agree to Helios’s plan and join with the entity to create a new consciousness, capable of managing a new world order. Finally, he can neutralize Bob Page and work with the Illuminati to maintain the current balance.
Deus Ex is both a first-person shooter and a role-playing game. The role-playing parts extend not just to the character's skill customization, but also to the flow of the story. As JC Denton, the choices you make in dialogues, but more importantly in how you play the game, can alter events in the story. While the main path of the game is set in stone, there is a lot of room within that path for deviation in playing styles. Most game environments accommodate both stealthy and assault-oriented playstyles. For example, a building that needs to be infiltrated might be guarded by robots. You might sneak past the robots, lockpick the door and go in undetected. You could hack a nearby security console and set the turrets to shoot at the robots. You could blow the robots up with rockets or grenades. Or, you could snoop around and find a completely different means of gaining entry.
The player has the freedom of acting lethally or non-lethally. Most non-critical characters in the game can be killed. In some situations, killing an NPC may lead to unique dialogue or make the game more difficult. Deus Ex doesn't handle player choice like most modern games, in that it does not very often have a binary choice of doing A or doing B. There are choices to make that you may not even know existed because the game doesn't explicitly point them out. Because of this, Deus Ex is immensely replayable and rewards experimentation.
Throughout the game, JC Denton's abilities can be improved by installing new augmentations and improving his skills.
- Main article: Augmentations (DX)
JC Denton begins with three pre-installed augmentations. During the course of the game, the player can find augmentation canisters that grant additional augmentations. Augmentations enable superhuman abilities, such increased movement speed (Speed Enhancement), resistance to gunfire (Ballistic Protection), the ability to see in the dark and through walls (Vision Enhancement) and health regeneration (Regeneration). All augmentations installed from canisters are active abilities that must be manually activated. When an augmentation is activated, it will consume bioelectric energy. Energy can be restored by using bioelectric cells or a repair bot.
The game features 18 different nano-augmentations that the player can find. However, the player is limited to a maximum of nine: one in the arms, legs, eyes, and head; two underneath the skin; and three in the torso. Most augmentations, after being installed, can be upgraded using an augmentation upgrade canister. Upgradable augmentations have four upgrade tiers, from Tech 1 (base) to Tech 4 (fully upgraded).
- Main article: Skills
Skills define JC Denton's proficiency in using weapons and performing other gameplay functions. Deus Ex features five weapon skills, each corresponding to one of the five categories of weapons, as well as six non-weapon skills: environmental training, lockpicking, electronics, medicine, computer, and swimming. Every skill has 4 levels of proficiency: Untrained, Trained, Advanced, and Master. Compared to augmentations, which are generally active abilities, skills generally provide passive bonuses, which the exception of the hacking ability provide by the computer skill.
Skills can be upgraded by spending skill points. The player begins with a set amount of skill points and can earn additional skill points throughout the game.
Deus Ex was designed as a single player game, and the initial releases of the Windows and Macintosh versions of the game did not include multiplayer functionality. Support for multiplayer modes was later incorporated through patches. The multiplayer component includes three game modes: deathmatch, basic team deathmatch, and advanced team deathmatch. The original multiplayer patch included five maps, based on levels from the single-player portion of the game. Gameplay stats and mechanics may differ between single player and multiplayer modes. Unless noted otherwise, gameplay stats and mechanics described on this wiki pertain to single player mode.
For additional gameplay articles, please see the category listing for Deus Ex gameplay.
Warren Spector's original concept of what would eventually become Deus Ex was titled Troubleshooter. Spector developed the Troubleshooter concept in 1994 while working at Origin Systems. After finishing development of System Shock, Spector had tired of straight fantasy and science fiction and he "got obsessed with this sort of millennial weirdness" leading to the conspiracy focused storyline for the game. He stated in April 2007 to PC Zone magazine:
Troubleshooter did not enter production and its two-page proposal did not set forth a plot. However, Spector would later write that conceptually, Deus Ex plays "much the way" that he hoped Troubleshooter would have played.
A later precursor, known as Shooter, was developed in 1997 when preproduction began at Ion Storm. Shortly afterwards, Shooter became Shooter: Majestic Revelations. A November 1997 design document for Shooter: Majestic Revelations reveals a detailed plot concept, as well as designs for the player character, JC Denton. At the time, the developers intended to allow the player to choose between male and female versions of JC. The name "JC" was selected in part because it could serve as a unisex name.
The Majestic Revelations design document also reveals that the plot of Deus Ex changed greatly over the course of production. In the Majestic Revelations plot concept, Majestic 12 planned to seize power by assassinating the presidential cabinet. When this failed, their artificial intelligence entity, known as Adam, kills the organization, including its leader Bob Page, and emerges as the main antagonist. Over the course of development, Adam's character concept was replaced by Ada, also an AI character, who was later replaced by AI characters Icarus and Helios. Additionally, Page's role was greatly expanded so that he would become the primary antagonist of the game. While the game's story changed considerably during production, the idea of an augmented counterterrorist protagonist named JC Denton remained constant.
In 1998, the team created the first in-game mission, known as the White House mission. The White House mission was designed to showcase a high level of realism, a characteristic that was intended to be a major selling point of the game. However, due to technological limitations at the time, the mission could not be implemented in a satisfactory manner. Thus, it was cut from the game by late 1999. Other major pieces of cut content include missions featuring Mt. Weather, a pair of space stations, and a moon base.
By mid 1999, the development team had completed two alpha builds, as well as a playable demo showcasing significant gameplay features. Deus Ex was released in June 2000, published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows.
The Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition release contains the latest game updates and a software development kit, a separate soundtrack CD, and a page from a fictional newspaper featured prominently in Deus Ex titled The Midnight Sun, which recounts recent events in the game's world. However, later releases of said version do not include the soundtrack CD, and contain a PDF version of the newspaper on the game's disc.
The Macintosh version of the game, released shortly after the PC version, was shipped with the same capabilities and can also be patched to enable multiplayer support. However, publisher Aspyr Media did not release any subsequent editions of the game or any additional patches. As such, the game is only supported in Mac OS 9 and the "Classic" environment in Mac OS X, neither of which are compatible with Intel-based Macs. The PC version will run on Intel-based Macs using Crossover, Boot Camp or other software to enable a compatible version of Microsoft Windows to run on a Mac.
Publisher Activision's "Value" imprint released a cut-down version of the game in 2002. Titled Deus Ex: Special Limited Edition, the game only contains the first 5 missions of the full Deus Ex, at the conclusion of which the game displays a screen advertising the full version of the game. Despite being an inferior product, Special Limited Edition was sold by major retailers for as much or more than the full game, sometimes on the same shelf. This version was very negatively received, as the similar price and misleading name lead many to unwittingly purchase what turned out to be an "extended demo" or "trialware".
A port of the game, entitled Deus Ex: The Conspiracy (although titled simply as Deus Ex in Europe), was released for the PlayStation 2, on March 25, 2002. Along with pre-rendered introductory and ending cinematics that replaced the original versions, it features a streamlined interface with auto aim, improved graphics, and motion captured character models. Some levels were changed and chopped down into smaller areas separated by load-screens, due to the memory limitations of the PlayStation 2. The PlayStation 2 release of Deus Ex does not offer a multiplayer mode.
On March 29, 2007, Valve announced that Deus Ex and its sequel would be available for purchase from their Steam service. Among the games announced are several other Eidos franchise titles, including Thief: Deadly Shadows and Tomb Raider. Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition was subsequently made available for purchase on the Steam store.
A sequel to the game, entitled Deus Ex: Invisible War, was released in the United States on December 2, 2003, and then in Europe in early 2004 for both the PC and the Xbox game console. A second sequel, entitled Deus Ex: Clan Wars, was originally conceived as a multiplayer-focused third game for the series. After the commercial performance and public reception of Deus Ex: Invisible War failed to meet expectations, the decision was made to set the game in its own universe, and it was eventually published under the title Project: Snowblind.
Eidos Montreal has made a prequel to Deus Ex, named Deus Ex: Human Revolution. On August 23, 2011, it was released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Eidos Montreal also expanded the Deus Ex series to include spinoff games and print media, including novels and comics.
- Main article: Deus Ex Soundtrack
The soundtrack was composed by Alexander Brandon, Michiel van den Bos, and Dan Gardopee, and is a mixture of jazz, techno, and classical influenced ambient tracks, each of which provides a great enhancement to the mysterious and gritty atmosphere of the game. The game also features a dynamic music system. Whenever a player enters combat, the music will shift from slow paced to fast paced and adrenaline pumping. The music will also change whenever a player enters a conversation with another person and after level transitions. The implementation of this transitional style of music creates yet another layer to this already immensely deep game.
In addition to the tracks released in the soundtrack, the music of Deus Ex also includes New York, Hong Kong, and Paris club songs by Reeves Gabrels.
Minimum system requirements:
- 300 MHz Pentium II or equivalent
- Windows 95/98
- 64 MB RAM
- DirectX 7.0a compliant 3D accelerated video card
- DirectX 7.0a compliant sound card
- DirectX 7.0a (included) or higher
- 4X CD-ROM drive
- 150 MB uncompressed hard drive space, plus space for save games
- Keyboard and mouse
Recommended system requirements:
- AMD Athlon or Intel Pentium III processor
- 128 MB RAM
- 3D accelerator with 16 MB VRAM
- 8X CD-ROM Drive
- 750 MB uncompressed hard drive space, plus save game space
- EAX-compliant audio card
- Main article: Mods
In 2001, ION Storm officially released the Deus Ex SDK, opening up the floodgates for fan levels and gameplay additions. These mods can be entirely new games in themselves or add some new features. They generally include new items, weapons, characters, enemies, models, textures, levels, story and music. They can be either single-player or multiplayer.
- Whenever the New York City skyline is visible in the background, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are conspicuously absent. According to a 2015 AMA with Warren Spector the towers being missing was a result of an artist leaving them out. A year after the game's initial release, the real Twin Towers were destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
- The name "Deus Ex" comes from the Latin phrase "deus ex machina", meaning "god from the machine". This name was chosen for multiple reasons. Firstly, its origin in the phrase deus ex machina was a nice connection to the plot of the game since multiple forces in Deus Ex aspire to attain god-like powers. It was also intended to be a subtle critique of other games at the time with bad story telling (presumably through over-use of deus ex machina to resolve portions of the plot). In addition, according to Warren Spector, the computer being used to play the game is itself a "God-in-the-machine".
- A news report places Beth Duclare's death in September. Nicolette DuClare's dialog places her death "six months ago".
- "Food of the Gods?" (article in the Midnight Sun)
- Austin Grossman, Postmortems From Game Developers, p. 196 (2003).
- "Shooter: Majestic Revelations" design document v.5.3e, page 81.
- "Warren Spector Interview - Q11 - 20". deusexgaming.com. Archived July 13, 2003.
- See description for the moon base mission.
- Briscoe Center for American History, "A Guide to the Warren Spector Papers, 1965-2007" The first design document named "Deus Ex" is dated March 5, 1998.
- "Deus Ex Interview!" RPGFan.com. June 16th, 1998.
- Deus Ex design document version 13.12.
- Deus Ex game manual.
- Hi, I am Warren Spector, a game developer from Origin, Ion Storm and Junction Point. I worked on Deus Ex and Disney Epic Mickey and a lot of other games. AMA! - 2015
- RPGFan interview with Warren Spector (1998)
- The Warren Commission: ION Austin Gives Form to Designer’s Vision