I still haven’t forgiven Square Enix for giving up on Deus Ex

When I first heard that Square Enix was funding a Deus Ex prequel, I was worried. The original is one of the best video games ever. An immersive simulation of unmatched scale and depth. Such a richly interactive and expansive game, over 20 years later, it still finds new ways to surprise me. How do you follow this? Worse yet, original creator Ion Storm was not involved in its development in any way, and neither person helped make it a classic. No Warren Spector, no Harvey Smith. It was developed by Eidos-Montreal, a then unknown studio with no reputation and no games to its credit. I don’t think I was unreasonable in thinking it would be a disaster.

I’m happy to say I was wrong. Deus Ex: Human Revolution launched on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 in 2011, and not only was it a worthy follow-up to the original Deus Ex, but it also etched its own distinctive identity into the series. Eidos-Montreal’s vision of a dystopian near future has been wonderfully realized, painstakingly crafted and intelligently written. Artistic Director Jonathan Jacques-Belletête and his team created a magnificent neo-renaissance art style that infused this dark future with adorned elegance of black and gold. But most important of all, it was a deep systems-based game that encouraged player creativity, with multiple ways of approaching objectives. Simply, it was Deus Ex.

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Eidos-Montreal has succeeded. The team, led by director Jean-Fran̤ois Dugas, producer David Anfossi and lead writer Mary DeMarle, took us back 25 years before the first game, to a world where the controversial concept of mechanical body modification was just beginning to emerge. emerge. They also introduced us to a new hero, Adam Jensen, a man rescued from the brink of death by a series of invasive augmentations Рwho, notoriously, never asked for them. Jensen, with his sleek black trench coat, sculpted beard, sunglasses, and gruff, weary voice courtesy of actor Elias Toufexis, is a more nuanced character than the largely unemotional JC Denton of the original. , but similar in spirit.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided

Located in Detroit and the two-story Chinese metropolis of Hengsha, Human Revolution is a series of atmospheric city centers and brilliantly designed stealthy sandboxes. As Jensen comes to terms with his new body, he tracks down the terrorists who attacked his workplace and left him for dead. Much like Deus Ex, the more he learns about the attack, the deeper the conspiracy gets. Elements of the original’s plot, including the presence of the sinister company VersaLife, begin to creep in and Jensen finds himself at the center of something much bigger than himself. It’s one of the best modern examples of the immersive sim genre, with enough systemic depth to accommodate a variety of play styles.

A sequel, Mankind Divided, which launched in 2016 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, was even better. There was only one hub this time around, the city of Prague, but it was bigger, more complex, and more detailed than Detroit and Hengsha combined. This time, Jensen was after the Illuminati, who orchestrated an event where augmented people around the world turned violent and killed tens of millions of people. Jensen also visited a dilapidated and overcrowded slum built to house augmented outcasts, which is a stunning showcase for artists from the Eidos-Montreal environment. In both games, a lot of love and attention went into creating a future that not only looked cool, but was believable as well.

Human Revolution and Mankind Divided are both masterpieces of atmosphere, world-building and visual design. From entire city blocks to furniture and lighting, every object in the world feels considered, refined and designed. There is hardly any infill, which is a remarkable achievement. For the first game, Jacques-Belletête and his team of artists designed and produced more than 1,400 accessories. The sequel probably had three times as much. The result is a world that feels crowded and inhabited in a way that very few games do, which adds to the feeling that it’s not just a flimsy plywood movie set that could be knocked over at any time. any time by a stiff breeze, but a functional and simulated world.

Deus Ex Mankind Divided

The game itself is just as rich, offering a huge range of boosts to mix and match depending on how you choose to play. You can briefly become invisible with the Glass-Shield camouflage system or use your Hermes cybernetic leg prosthesis to jump into inaccessible areas and find other routes through the levels, including, yes, sizable air vents. human. It wouldn’t be Deus Ex without them. If you prefer a more violent approach, the Typhoon Explosive System turns you into a human fragmentation grenade, unleashing a burst of shrapnel and shattering groups of guards and security robots. This is one of the best immersive simulation toolkits and a pleasure to experiment with.

I’ll stop now, but you get the idea. Eidos-Montreal had two excellent games, and more than lived up to the name Deus Ex. It was a huge task, but it proved its skeptics (including me) wrong. Yet despite Mankind Divided ending on a massive cliffhanger and Jensen’s story unfinished, Square Enix suddenly ditched Deus Ex. exactly took place behind the scenes is unknown, but the popular theory is that Mankind Divided didn’t sell as well as Square Enix hoped, a follow-up was canceled and Eidos-Montreal was reassigned to work on Marvel’s Avengers. and Shadow of the Tomb Raider with Crystal Dynamics. Whatever happened, Deus Ex remains on the ice and his future is hopelessly uncertain.

Eidos-Montreal is still alive and making great games, most recently Guardians of the Galaxy, which was co-directed by Jean-François Dugas and written by Mary DeMarle. I’m delighted that some of the old Deus Ex team are still here to create games in the studio and create Well those too. But Adam Jensen deserves a real end to his story, and I would love to see Eidos-Montreal return to the series that made his name. Deus Ex is one of the game’s most respected properties, and with the success of system-based stealth games like Hitman, Dishonored, and Deathloop, as well as dozens of people disappointed with Cyberpunk 2077, there is never had a better time to reclaim The Throne.

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