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Deus Ex

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Deus Ex
Developer(s) Ion Storm
Publisher(s) Eidos Interactive
Director(s) Warren Spector
Producer(s) Warren Spector
Designer(s) Harvey Smith
Programmer(s) Chris Norden
Artist(s) Jay Lee
Writer(s) Sheldon Pacotti[1]
Composer(s) Alexander Brandon
Dan Gardopée
Michiel van den Bos
Series Deus Ex
Engine Unreal Engine 1
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action role-playing, first-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Deus Ex is a cyberpunk-themed action role-playing video game—combining first-person shooter, stealth and role-playing elements—developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive in 2000. First published for personal computers running Microsoft Windows, Deus Ex was later ported to Mac OS systems and PlayStation 2. Set in a dystopian world during the year 2052, the central plot follows rookie United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition agent JC Denton, as he sets out to combat terrorist forces, which have become increasingly prevalent in a world slipping ever further into chaos. As the plot unfolds, Denton becomes entangled in a deep and ancient conspiracy, encountering organizations such as Majestic 12, the Illuminati and the Hong Kong Triads during his journey.

The game received universal critical acclaim, including repeatedly being named "Best PC Game of All Time" in PC Gamer's "Top 100 PC Games" in 2011[4] and in a poll carried out by UK gaming magazine PC Zone.[5] 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.[6] It has sold more than 1 million copies, as of April 23, 2009.[7] The game has spawned both a sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, released in 2003, and a prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, released in 2011.[8]


Deus Ex incorporates elements from four video game genres: role-playing, first-person shooter, adventure, and "immersive simulation", the last of which being a game where "nothing reminds you that you're just playing a game".[9] For example, the game uses a first-person camera during gameplay and includes exploration and character interaction as primary features.[9]

The player assumes the role of JC Denton, a nanotech-augmented operative of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO).[10] This nanotechnology is a central gameplay mechanism, and allows players to perform superhuman feats.

Role-playing elements

As the player accomplishes objectives, the player character is rewarded with "skill points". Skill points are used to enhance a character's abilities in eleven different areas, and were designed to provide players with a way to customize their characters;[9] a player might create a combat-focused character by increasing proficiency with pistols or rifles, while a more furtive character can be created by focusing on lock picking and computer hacking abilities. There are four different levels of proficiency in each skill, with the skill point cost increasing for each successive level.[11][12]

Weapons may be customized through "weapon modifications", which can be found or purchased throughout the game. The player might add scopes, silencers, or laser sights; increase the weapon's range, accuracy, or magazine size; or decrease its recoil and reload time. Not all modifications are available to all weapons; for example, a rocket launcher cannot be silenced, and recoil cannot be reduced on a flamethrower.

Players are further encouraged to customize their characters through nano-augmentations—cybernetic devices that grant characters superhuman powers. While the game contains eighteen different nano-augmentations, the player can install a maximum of nine, as each must be used on a certain part of the body: one in the arms, legs, eyes, and head; two underneath the skin; and three in the torso.[13] This forces the player to choose carefully between the benefits offered by each augmentation. For example, the arm augmentation requires the player to decide between boosting their character's skill in hand-to-hand combat or his ability to lift heavy objects.

Interaction with non-player characters (NPCs) was a large design focus.[9] When the player interacts with a non-player character, the game will enter a cutscene-like conversation mode where the player advances the conversation by selecting from a list of dialogue options. The player's choices often have a substantial effect on both gameplay and plot, as non-player characters will react in different ways depending on the selected answer (e.g. rudeness makes them less likely to provide assistance).

Combat elements

Deus Ex features combat similar to first-person shooters, with real-time action, a first-person perspective, and reflex-based gameplay.[9] As the player will often encounter enemies in groups, combat often tends toward a tactical approach, including the use of cover, strafing, and "hit-and-run". A USA Today reviewer found "At the easiest difficulty setting, your character is puréed again and again by an onslaught of human and robotic terrorists until you learn the value of stealth."[14] However, through the game's role-playing systems (see above), it is possible to develop a character's skills and augmentations to create a tank-like combat specialist with the ability to deal and absorb large amounts of damage.[15] Non-player characters will praise or criticize the main character depending on his use of force, incorporating a moral element into the gameplay.[16]

Deus Ex features a head-up display crosshair, whose size dynamically shows where shots will fall based on movement, aim, and the weapon in use; the reticle expands while the player is moving or shifting his or her aim, and slowly shrinks to its original size while no actions are taken.[10] How quickly the reticle shrinks depends on the character's proficiency with the equipped weapon, the number of accuracy modifications added to the weapon, and the level of the "targeting" nano-augmentation.

Deus Ex features twenty-four weapons, ranging from crowbars, electroshock weapons, and riot baton, to laser guided anti-tank rockets and assault rifles;[10] both lethal and non-lethal weapons are available. The player can also make use of several weapons of opportunity, such as fire extinguishers.

Player choice

Gameplay in Deus Ex emphasizes player choice. Objectives can be completed in numerous ways, including stealth, sniping, heavy frontal assault, dialogue, or engineering and computer hacking. This level of freedom requires that levels, characters, and puzzles be designed with significant redundancy, as a single play-through of the game will miss large sections of dialogue, areas, and other content. In some missions the player is encouraged to avoid using deadly force, and certain aspects of the story may change depending on how violent or non-violent the player chooses to be. The game is also unusual in that two of its boss villains can be killed off early in the game, or left alive to be defeated later, and this too affects how other characters interact with the player.

Because of its design focus on player choice, Deus Ex has been compared with System Shock, a game that inspired its design.[11][12] Together, these factors give the game a great degree of replayability, as the player will have vastly different experiences, depending on which methods he or she uses to accomplish objectives.


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.[17] Support for multiplayer modes was later incorporated through patches.[18] The component includes three game modes: deathmatch, basic team deathmatch, and advanced team deathmatch. Only five maps, based on levels from the single-player portion of the game, were included with the original multiplayer patch, but many user-created maps now exist.[18] The PlayStation 2 release of Deus Ex does not offer a multiplayer mode.[19] In April 2014 it was announced that Gamespy would cease their masterserver services, also affecting Deus Ex.[20] A community-made patch for the multiplayer mode has been created as a response to this.[21]


Setting and characters

Deus Ex takes place in the year 2052 in a world that draws heavily upon popular real world conspiracy theories for many of its plot elements. These include speculations regarding black helicopters, vaccinations, and FEMA, as well as Area 51, the ECHELON network, Men in Black, chupacabras (in the form of "greasels"), and grey aliens. Mysterious groups such as Majestic 12, the Illuminati, the Knights Templar, the Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission also either play a central part in the plot, or are alluded to during the course of the game. This dark setting is enhanced by the fact that the entire game takes place at night, a backdrop that adds to the atmosphere of conspiracies and stealth.

The game contradicts itself in several instances regarding the exact year in which the events of the story take place, but information in the sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War reconciles this inconsistency via retroactive continuity, placing the events of Deus Ex in the year 2052.[22] Most of the game takes place in fictionalized versions of real-world locations, including New York City, Hong Kong, Paris, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Area 51.

The plot of Deus Ex depicts a society on a slow spiral into chaos. There is a massive division between the rich and the poor, not only socially, but in some cities physically. A lethal pandemic known as the "Gray Death" ravages the world's population, especially within the United States, and has no cure. A synthetic vaccine, "Ambrosia", manufactured by the company VersaLife, nullifies the effects of the virus, but is in critically short supply. Because of its scarcity, Ambrosia is available only to those deemed "vital to the social order", and finds its way primarily to government officials, military personnel, the rich and influential, scientists, and the intellectual elite. With no hope for the common people of the world, riots occur worldwide, and a number of terrorist organizations have formed with the professed intent of assisting the downtrodden, among them the National Secessionist Forces of the U.S. and a French group known as Silhouette.

In order to combat these threats to the world order, the United Nations has greatly expanded its governmental influence around the globe. The United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO) is formed, with the intent of maintaining peace internationally and combating the world's ever-growing number of terrorist groups.[23] It is headquartered near New York City in a bunker beneath Liberty Island, placed there after a terrorist strike on the Statue of Liberty.[24] Alex Jacobson's character model and name are based on Warren Spector's own nephew, Alec Jacobson.[25]


The player assumes the identity of JC Denton, a nanotechnologically-augmented ("nano-aug") UNATCO agent. After completing his training, JC takes several missions given by Director Joseph Manderley to track down members of the National Secessionist Forces (NSF) and their stolen shipments of the "Ambrosia" vaccine, the treatment for the "Gray Death" virus. Through these missions, JC is reunited with his brother, Paul, who is also nano-augmented. JC tracks the Ambrosia shipment to a private terminal at LaGuardia Airport. Paul meets JC outside the plane, and explains that he has defected from UNATCO and is now working with the NSF after learning that the Gray Death is a man-made virus, with UNATCO using its power to make sure only the elite receive the vaccine.[26]

JC returns to UNATCO headquarters and is told by Manderley that both he and Paul have been outfitted with a 24-hour kill switch, and that Paul's has been activated due to his betrayal. Manderley orders JC to fly to Hong Kong to eliminate Tracer Tong, a hacker whom Paul has contact with, and who can disable the kill switches. Instead, JC returns to Paul's apartment to find Paul hiding inside. Paul further explains his defection and encourages JC to also defect by sending out a distress call to alert the NSF's allies. Upon doing so, JC becomes a wanted man by UNATCO, and his own kill switch is activated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Walton Simons. JC is unable to escape UNATCO forces, and both he and Paul (provided he survived the raid on the apartment) are taken to a secret prison below UNATCO headquarters. An entity named "Daedalus" contacts JC and informs him that the prison is part of Majestic 12, and arranges for him and Paul to escape. The two flee to Hong Kong to meet with Tong, who deactivates their kill switches. Tong requests JC infiltrate the VersaLife building. Doing so, JC discovers that the corporation is the source for the Gray Death, and he is able to steal the plans for the virus and destroy the "universal constructor" (UC) that produces it.[27]

Analysis of the virus shows it was manufactured by the Illuminati, prompting Tong to send JC to Paris to try to make contact with the organization and obtain their help fighting Majestic 12. JC eventually meets with Illuminati leader Morgan Everett, and learns that the Gray Death virus was intended to be used for augmentation technology, but Majestic 12, led by trillionaire businessman and former Illuminatus Bob Page, was able to steal and repurpose it into its current viral form. Everett recognizes that without VersaLife's universal constructor, Majestic 12 can no longer create the virus, and will likely target Vandenberg Air Force Base, where X-51, a group of former Area 51 scientists, has built another one. After aiding the base personnel in repelling a Majestic 12 attack, JC meets X-51 leader Gary Savage, who reveals that Daedalus is an artificial intelligence (AI) borne out of the ECHELON program. Everett attempts to gain control over Majestic 12's communications network by releasing Daedalus onto the U.S. military networks, but Page counters by releasing his own AI, Icarus, which merges with Daedalus to form a new AI, Helios, with the ability to control all global communications. After this, Savage enlists JC's help in procuring schematics for reconstructing components for the UC that were damaged during Majestic 12's raid of Vandenberg. JC finds the schematics and electronically transmits them to Savage. Page intercepts the transmission and launches a nuclear missile at Vandenberg to ensure that Area 51 (now Majestic 12's headquarters), will be the only location in the world with an operational UC. However, JC is able to reprogram the missile to strike Area 51. JC then travels there himself to confront Page.

When JC locates him, Page reveals that he seeks to merge with Helios and gain full control over all nanotechnology, essentially becoming a god. JC is contacted by Tong, Everett, and the Helios AI simultaneously. All three factions ask for his help in defeating Page, while furthering their own objectives, and JC is forced to choose between them. Tong seeks to plunge the world into a second Dark Age by destroying the global communications hub and preventing anyone from taking control of the world.[28] Everett offers Denton the chance to bring the Illuminati back to power by killing Bob Page and using the technology of Area 51 to rule the world with an invisible hand.[29] Helios wishes to merge with Denton and rule the world as a benevolent dictator with infinite knowledge and reason.[30] The player's decision determines the course of the future, and brings the game to a close.


Deus Ex director Warren Spector and
designer Harvey Smith

After Looking Glass Technologies and Origin Systems released Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds in January 1993, producer Warren Spector began to plan Troubleshooter, the game that would become Deus Ex.[31] Spector found himself burnt out on fantasy and science fiction settings, and hoped to make a game set in the real world.[32] In his 1994 proposal, he described the concept as "Underworld-style first-person action" in a real world setting with "big-budget, nonstop action".[32] Spector later commented that Origin did not have the interest, nor Looking Glass the funding, to produce the game.[33] He eventually left Origin for Looking Glass and continued to develop the game's concept,[31] but his project Junction Point, which was inspired by ideas from Troubleshooter, was cancelled.[citation needed] After Spector and his team were laid off from Looking Glass, John Romero of Ion Storm offered him the chance to make his "dream game" without any restrictions. Spector quickly joined the company.[34]

Preproduction for Deus Ex began around August 1997[35] and lasted roughly six months. The six-person team[31] came from Looking Glass's Austin studio.[36] Spector, the team's director and producer, saw their work as improving upon the game design ideas of Origin, Looking Glass, and Valve by doing what those companies did not.[35] The game's "ironic"[32][37] working title was Shooter: Majestic Revelations, and it was scheduled for release on Christmas 1998.[38] The team developed the setting before the game mechanics.[31] Noticing his wife's fascination with The X-Files, Spector connected the "real world, millennial weirdness, [and] conspiracy" topics on his mind and decided to make a game about them that would appeal to a wide audience.[33] Shooter's fiction was based in part on conspiracy theories related to Area 51, CIA drug trafficking, the John F. Kennedy assassination, the Majestic 12, and a Masonic bunker beneath Denver International Airport. The team designed over 200 characters without associated in-game roles,[clarification needed] which was both helpful when designing missions and unhelpful as they attempted to reduce their scope.[31] Later in 1997, Spector wrote a "manifesto" on his ideal game and the structure of role-playing video games.[31] His principles included "problems, not puzzles", "no forced failure", "players do; NPCs watch", and "areas with multiple entrance and exit points".[32] In retrospect, Spector believed that Deus Ex accomplished the intent of his manifesto.[31]

The Shooter design document cast the player as an augmented agent working against an elite cabal in the "dangerous and chaotic" 2050s.[32] It cited Half-Life, Fallout, Thief: The Dark Project, and GoldenEye 007 as game design influences, and used the stories and settings of Colossus: The Forbin Project, The Manchurian Candidate, Robocop, The X-Files and Men in Black as reference points. According to the document, the game would engage with "the millennial madness that's gripping the world ... and a general fascination with conspiracy theories and the desire to play with high-tech espionage toys".[32] The team designed a skill system that featured "special powers" derived from nanotechnological augmentation, and avoided the inclusion of die rolling and skills that required micromanagement.[39] Augmentations were unique to the player character. By March 1998, preproduction had generated 300 pages of documentation. The document grew to 500 pages, with "radically different" content, by the game's April 1999 Alpha 1 deadline.[40] Of Spector's original design document, the marketing section was the only part left unedited.[38]

In early 1998, the Deus Ex team grew to 20 people and the game entered a 28-month production phase.[35] Spector hired new staff for his Austin studio, and was assigned an art team from Ion Storm's Dallas branch.[40] The development team consisted of three programmers, six designers, seven artists, a writer, an associate producer, a "tech", and Warren Spector, the producer and director. Two writers and four testers were hired as contractors.[35] Chris Norden was the lead programmer and assistant director, Harvey Smith the lead designer, Jay Lee the lead artist, and Sheldon Pacotti the lead writer.[34] However, Spector's initial management structure, which involved two competing design teams and the matrix management of the Dallas art team, was a failure.[36] According to Spector, the team was interested in multiple video game genres, and it contained both design maximalists who wanted to "do everything" and design minimalists who wanted to do a few things well.[40] Close friends of the team who understood the intentions behind the game were invited to playtest and give feedback. The wide range of input led to debates in the office and changes to the game.[40] Spector later concluded that the team was "blinded by promises of complete creative freedom", and by their belief that the game would have no budget, marketing or time restraints.[41] By mid-1998, the game's title had become Deus Ex, derived from the Latin literary device deus ex machina ("god from the machine") in which a plot is resolved by an unpredictable intervention.[42] Spector acknowledged its grammatical faults as a title, but he liked it because of its relevance to the in-game struggle for power, to the medium's storytelling difficulties, to the game being played on a computer, and to the "self-referential" acceptance of trying one's best to resolve affairs.[42]

Spector felt that the best aspects of Deus Ex's development were the "high-level vision" and length of preproduction, flexibility within the project, testable "proto-missions", and Unreal Engine license.[43] The team's pitfalls included the management structure, unrealistic goals, underestimating risks with artificial intelligence, their handling of proto-missions, and weakened morale from bad press.[44] He referred to that period of Ion Storm as "Sturm und Drang", because of the degree of hype and the vitriol following Daikatana's trash talk marketing, alongside negative press in 1998 and 1999.[45] He said that his Austin team had "frequent" slumps in morale from taking the company's coverage personally and seeing their private emails posted online.[45] Eventually, the Deus Ex Austin team developed a "'we'll show them' mentality" to distinguish their work and reputation from those of the Dallas branch.[45] Deus Ex was published by Eidos Interactive and released on June 23, 2000 for Microsoft Windows. The team planned third-party ports for Mac OS 9 and Linux.[35]


The original 1997 design document for Deus Ex privileges character development over all other features, including experimental sequences and technology demos.[38][clarification needed] The game was designed to be "genre-busting": in parts simulation, role-playing game, first-person shooter, and adventure.[35] The team wanted players to consider "who they wanted to be" in the game, and for that to alter how they behaved in the game.[32] In this way, the game world was "deeply simulated", or realistic and believable enough that the player would solve problems in creative, emergent ways without noticing distinct puzzles.[32] The developers also wanted to include "choice" and "consequence", which Spector called the team's "two most frequently uttered words".[32] However, the team's simulation ultimately failed to maintain the desired level of openness, and they had to brute force "skill", "action", and "character interaction" paths through each level.[46] Playtesting also revealed that their idea of a role-playing game based in the real world was more interesting in theory than in reality.[47] The team chose two real-world bases for levels: "highly interconnected, multi-level" spaces, and places that most cannot visit (e.g., the White House).[32] In practice, the team found that certain aspects of the real world, such as hotels and office buildings, were not compelling in a game.[47] Ion Storm saw Deus Ex as being about "player expression" rather than making the developers appear "clever".[35] They treated the player as a "collaborator", who they sought to empower to "make choices and ... deal with the consequences".[35] Spector credited the 1995 role-playing video game Suikoden as an inspiration, stating that the limited choices in Suikoden inspired him to expand on the idea with more meaningful choices in Deux Ex.[48]

The premise of Deus Ex was inspired by conspiracy theories such as those behind the JFK assassination

The game's story changed greatly during production, but the idea of an augmented counterterrorist protagonist named JC Denton remained throughout.[38] Though Spector originally pictured Deus Ex as akin to The X-Files, lead writer Sheldon Pacotti felt that it ended up more like James Bond.[38] Spector wrote that the team overextended itself by planning highly elaborate scenes, including a replica of downtown Austin,[41] a reconstruction of Area 51 from satellite data,[46] a sunken post-earthquake Los Angeles, a raid to free thousands of prisoners of war from a Federal Emergency Management Agency-controlled United Nations concentration camp, and over 25 missions throughout Siberia, western Europe, and the United States.[46] Designer Harvey Smith pushed for the removal of a subplot in which Mexico invaded Texas, in order to make development easier and the narrative more personal. He also removed a largely complete White House level due to its complexity and production needs.[lower-alpha 1] Finished digital assets were repurposed or, in the cases of Texas and the Denver airport, abandoned by the team. Pete Davison of USgamer referred to the White House and presidential bunker as "the truly deleted scenes of Deus Ex's lost levels".[38]

One of the things that Spector wanted to achieve in Deus Ex was to make JC Denton a cypher for the player, in order to create a better immersion and gameplay experience. He did not want the character to force any emotion so that whatever feelings the player may be experiencing comes from themselves rather than from JC Denton. To do this, Spector instructed voice actor Jay Anthony Franke to record his dialogue without any emotion but in a monotone voice, which is unusual for a voice acting role.[49][50]

Once coded, the team's game systems did not work as intended. Prototypes of the systems and of certain missions were built near the beginning of development, which revealed some of the team's planning mistakes.[40] For example, the early tests of the conversation system and user interface were flawed, but the team had time to revise them before the game's release.[41] The team also found augmentations and skills to be less interesting than they had seemed in the design document.[40] Colleagues from other companies—such as Doug Church, Rob Fermier, Marc LeBlanc, and Gabe Newell—noticed and pointed out these deficiencies in game "tension" when they played the prototype.[47] In response, Harvey Smith substantially revised the augmentations and skills.[46] Production milestones served as wake-up calls for the game's direction. A May 1998 milestone that called for a functional demo revealed that the size of the game's maps caused frame rate issues, which was one of the first signs that maps needed to be cut.[47] A year later, the team reached a milestone for finished game systems that Spector nicknamed the "Wow, these missions suck" milestone, which led to better estimates for their future mission work and to the reduction of the 500-page design document to 270 pages.[47] Spector recalled Smith's mantra on this point: "less is more". [51]

One of the team's biggest blind spots was the AI programming for NPCs. Spector wrote that they considered it in preproduction, but that they did not figure out how to handle it until "relatively late in development".[41] This led to wasted time when the team had to discard their early AI code. The team built atop their game engine's shooter-based AI instead of writing new code that would allow characters to exhibit convincing emotions. As a result, NPC behavior was variable until the very end of development. Spector felt that the team's "sin" was their inconsistent display of a trustable "human AI".[41]


Deus Ex used the Unreal game engine, which was designed for first-person shooters

The game was developed on systems including dual-processor Pentium Pro 200s and Athlon 800s with eight and nine gigabyte hard drives, some using SCSI. The team used "more than 100 video cards" throughout development.[35] Deus Ex was built using Visual Studio, Lightwave, and Lotus Notes. They also built a custom dialogue editor, ConEdit.[35] The team used UnrealEd atop the Unreal game engine for map design, which Spector wrote was "superior to anything else available".[52] Their trust in UnrealScript led them to code "special-cases" for their immediate mission needs instead of more generalized multi-case code.[41] Even as concerned team members expressed misgivings, the team only addressed this later in the project. To Spector, this was a lesson to always prefer "general solutions" over "special casing", such that the tool set works predictably.[41]

They waited to license a game engine until after preproduction,[31] expecting the benefits of licensing to be more time for the content and gameplay, which Spector reported to be the case. They chose the Unreal engine as it did 80% of what they needed from an engine and was more economical than building from scratch. Their small programming team allowed for a larger design group. The programmers also found the engine accommodating,[52] though it took about nine months to acclimate to the software.[40] Spector felt that they would have understood the code better had they built it themselves, instead of "treating the engine as a black box" and coding conservatively.[52] He acknowledged that this precipitated into the Direct3D issues in their final release, which slipped through their quality assurance testing.[52] Spector also noted that the artificial intelligence, pathfinding, and sound propagation were designed for shooters and should have been rewritten from scratch instead of relying on the engine. He thought the licensed engine worked well enough that he expected to use the same for the game's sequel and Thief 3.[36] He added that developers should not attempt to force their technology to perform in ways it was not intended, and should find a balance between perfection and pragmatism.[41]


The soundtrack of Deus Ex, composed by Alexander Brandon (primary contributor, including main theme), Dan Gardopée ("Naval Base" and "Vandenberg"), Michiel van den Bos ("UNATCO", "Lebedev's Airfield", "Airfield Action", "DuClare Chateau" plus minor contribution to some of Brandon's tracks), and Reeves Gabrels ("NYC Bar"),[53] was praised by critics for complementing the gritty atmosphere predominant throughout the game with melodious and ambient music incorporated from a number of genres, including techno, jazz, and classical.[54][55][56] The music sports a basic dynamic element, similar to the iMUSE system used in early 1990s LucasArts games; during play, the music will change to a different iteration of the currently playing song based on the player's actions, such as when the player starts a conversation, engages in combat, or transitions to the next level. All the music in the game is tracked - Gabrels' contribution, "NYC Bar", was converted to a module by Brandon.

A compact disc of the Deus Ex soundtrack was included in the Game of the Year edition and is not available for separate purchase. Notably, the soundtrack is not a direct audio rip from the game itself, however; it is a "remastering" of the soundtrack with added instruments and audio production. Originally only thirty tracks were included with the re-release, with tracks thirty-one through forty-one considered as extras.[citation needed] The PlayStation 2 port featured live, orchestral renditions of some tracks.[citation needed]


Deus Ex has been re-released in several iterations since its original publication, and has also been the basis of a number of mods developed by its fan community.

The Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition, which was released on May 8, 2001,[57] 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.[58] 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.[59] 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.

A PlayStation 2 port of the game, renamed Deus Ex: The Conspiracy (although kept as Deus Ex in Europe) was released on March 26, 2002.[2][3] Along with pre-rendered introductory and ending cinematics that replaced the original versions, it features a simplified interface with optional auto aim and motion captured character models. There are many minor changes in level design, some for the purpose of balancing gameplay, but most to accommodate loading transition areas,[60][61] due to the memory limitations of the PlayStation 2.[62] The PlayStation 2 version was rereleased in Europe on the PlayStation 3 as a PlayStation 2 Classic on May 16, 2012.[63]

Loki Games worked on a Linux version of the game, but the company went out of business before releasing it.[64] The OpenGL layer they wrote for the port however was sent out to Windows gamers through an online patch, which also makes the game far more compatible with Wine on Linux than it would have been with only Direct3D.

Though their quality assurance did not see major Direct3D issues, players noted "dramatic slowdowns" immediately following launch, and the team did not understand the "black box" of the Unreal engine well enough to make it do exactly what they needed.[52] Spector characterized Deus Ex reviews into two categories based on how they begin with either how "Warren Spector makes games all by himself" or that "Deus Ex couldn't possibly have been made by Ion Storm".[45] He has said that the game won over 30 "best of" awards in 2001,[34] and concluded that their final game was not perfect, but that they were much closer for having tried to "do things right or not at all".[45]


Deus Ex is built on Unreal Engine, previous games of which saw active community involvement in modding.[65] On September 20, 2000, Eidos Interactive and Ion Storm announced in a press release that they would be releasing the software development kit (SDK). According to the announcement, the SDK includes all the tools used to create the original game. Several team members as well as project director Warren Spector said that they were "really looking forward to seeing what [the community] does with our tools".[66] The kit was released on September 22, 2000,[67] and soon gathered community interest, followed by release of tutorials, small mods, up to announcements of large mods and conversions. While ION Storm did not hugely alter the engine's rendering and core functionality, they introduced role-playing elements.[65]

In 2009, a fan-made mod called The Nameless Mod (TNM) was released by Off Topic Productions.[68] The game's protagonist is a user of an Internet forum, with digital places represented as physical locations. The mod offers roughly the same amount of gameplay as Deus Ex and adds several new features to the game, with a more open world structure than Deus Ex and new weapons such as the player character's fists. The mod was developed over 7 years and has thousands of lines of recorded dialogue and two different parallel story arcs. Upon its release, TNM earned a 9/10 overall from PCPowerPlay magazine.[69] In ModDB's 2009 Mod of the Year awards, The Nameless Mod won the Editor's Choice award for Best Singleplayer Mod.[70]

In 2015, during the 15th anniversary of the game's release, Square Enix (who had acquired Eidos earlier) endorsed a free fan-created mod, Deus Ex: Revision which was released through Steam. The mod, created by Caustic Creative, is a graphical overhaul of the original game, adding in support for newer versions of DirectX, improving the textures and the soundtrack from the original game, and adding in more world-building aesthetics but without altering gameplay.[71]


Critical response

Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic (PC) 90/100[72]
(PS2) 81/100[73]
Review scores
Publication Score
Game Revolution A−[74]
GameSpot 8.2/10[75]
GameSpy 88/100[76]
IGN 9.4/10.0[77]
PC Gamer (UK) 95/100[78]

Deus Ex received critical acclaim, attaining a score of 90 out of 100 from 28 critics on Metacritic.[72] Thierry Nguyen from Computer Gaming World said that the game "delivers moments of brilliance, idiocy, ingenuity, and frustration."[79] Computer Games Magazine praised the title for its deep gameplay and its use of multiple solutions to situations in the game.[80]

Former GameSpot reviewer Greg Kasavin, though awarding the game a score of 8.2 of 10, was disappointed by the security and lockpicking mechanics. "Such instances are essentially noninteractive", he wrote. "You simply stand there and spend a particular quantity of electronic picks or modules until the door opens or the security goes down."[75] Kasavin made similar complaints about the hacking interface, noting that, "Even with basic hacking skills, you'll still be able to bypass the encryption and password protection ... by pressing the 'hack' button and waiting a few seconds."[75]

The game's graphics and sounds were also met with muted enthusiasm. Kasavin complained of Deus Ex's relatively sub-par graphics, blaming them on the game's "incessantly dark industrial environments."[75] GamePro reviewer Chris Patterson took time to note that despite being "solid acoustically," Deus Ex had moments of weakness.[81] He poked fun at JC's "Joe Friday, 'just the facts, deadpan," and the "truly cheesy accents" of minor characters in Hong Kong and New York City. IGN called the graphics "blocky", adding that "the animation is stiff, and the dithering is just plain awful in some spots," referring to the limited capabilities of the Unreal Engine used to design the game. the website later on stated that "overall Deus Ex certainly looks better than your average game."[77]

Reviewers and players also complained about the size of Deus Ex's save files. An Adrenaline Vault reviewer noted that, "Playing through the entire adventure, [he] accumulated over 250MB of save game data, with the average file coming in at over 15MB."[82]

The game developed a strong cult following, leading to a core modding and playing community that is still active over 15 years after its release. In an interview with IGN in July 2015, game director Warren Spector said he never expected Deus Ex to sell many copies, but he did expect it to become a cult classic among a smaller strong community, and he continues to receive fan mail from players to date regarding their experiences and thoughts about Deus Ex.[citation needed]

Awards and accolades

Deus Ex received over 30 "best of" awards in 2001,[34] from outlets such as IGN, GameSpy, PC Gamer, Computer Gaming World, and The Adrenaline Vault.[83][84] It won "Excellence in Game Design" and "Game Innovation Spotlight" at the 2001 Game Developers Choice Awards, and it was nominated for "Game of the Year".[85] At the Interactive Achievement Awards, it won in the "Computer Innovation" and "Computer Action/Adventure" categories and received nominations for "Sound Design", "PC Role-Playing", and "Game of the Year" in both the PC and overall categories.[86][87][88][89][90][91] The British Academy of Film and Television Arts named it "PC Game of the Year".[92] The game also collected several "Best Story" accolades, including first prize in Gamasutra's 2006 "Quantum Leap" awards for storytelling in a video game.[93][94]

Since its release, Deus Ex has appeared in a number of "Greatest Games of All Time" lists and Hall of Fame features. It was included in IGN's "100 Greatest Games of All Time" (#40, #21 and #34 in 2003, 2005 and 2007, respectively), "Top 25 Modern PC Games" (4th place in 2010) and "Top 25 PC Games of All Time" (#20 and #21 in 2007 and 2009 respectively) lists.[95][96][97][98][99] GameSpy featured the game in its "Top 50 Games of All Time" (18th place in 2001) and "25 Most Memorable Games of the Past 5 Years" (15th place in 2004) lists,[100][101] and in the site's "Hall of Fame".[102] PC Gamer placed Deus Ex on its "Top 100 PC Games of All Time" (#2, #2, #1 by staff and #4 by readers in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2010 respectively) and "50 Best Games of All Time" (#10 and #27 in 2001 and 2005) lists,[103][104][105][106][107][108] and it was awarded 1st place in PC Zone's "101 Best PC Games Ever" feature.[109] It was also included in Yahoo! UK Video Games' "100 Greatest Computer Games of All Time" (28th place) list,[110] and in Edge's "The 100 Best Videogames" [sic] (29th place in 2007) and "100 Best Games to Play Today" (57th place in 2009) lists.[111][112] Deus Ex was named the second-best game of the 2000s by Gamasutra.[113] In 2012, Time named it one of the 100 greatest video games of all time,[114] and G4tv ranked it as the 53rd best game of all time for its "complex and well-crafted story that was really the start of players making choices that genuinely affect the outcome."[115] listed it as one of the most important games of all time, calling its influence "too massive to properly gauge."[116]

List of awards and nominations 
Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2001 Game Developers Choice Awards Excellence in Game Design Harvey Smith, Warren Spector Won [85]
Game Innovation Spotlight Deus Ex Won
Game of the Year Deus Ex Nominated
Interactive Achievement Awards Computer Innovation Deus Ex Won [86]
PC Action/Adventure Deus Ex Won
Game of the Year Deus Ex Nominated [88]
PC Game of the Year Deus Ex Nominated
PC Role-Playing Deus Ex Nominated
Sound Design Deus Ex Nominated
British Academy of Film and Television Arts PC Game of the Year Deus Ex Won [92]


A film adaptation based on the game was originally announced in May 2002 by Columbia Pictures. The film was being produced by Laura Ziskin, along with Greg Pruss attached with writing the screenplay. Peter Schlessel, president of production for Columbia Pictures, and Paul Baldwin, president of marketing for Eidos Interactive, stated that they were confident in that the adaptation would be a successful development for both the studios and the franchise.[117] In March 2003, during an interview with Greg Pruss, he informed IGN that the character of JC Denton will be "a little bit filthier than he was in the game." He further stated that the script was shaping up to be darker in tone than the original game.[118] Although a release date was scheduled for 2006, the film never got past the scripting stage.
In 2012, CBS films revived the project, buying the rights and commissioning a film inspired by the Deux Ex series; its direct inspiration will be the 2011 game Human Revolution.[119] C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson are writing the screenplay, and Derrickson will direct the film.[120][121]

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 Deus Ex: Clan Wars was eventually published under the title Project: Snowblind.[122]

On March 29, 2007, Valve announced 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.[123]

Eidos Montreal produced a prequel to Deus Ex called Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This was confirmed on November 26, 2007 when Eidos Montreal posted a teaser trailer for the title on their website.[124] The game was released on August 23, 2011 for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms and received critical acclaim.

On April 7, 2015, Eidos announced a sequel to Deus Ex: Human Revolution and second prequel to Deus Ex entitled Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.


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