Another Note on Deus Ex

We’re continuing through the game at a fairly leisurely pace, with lots of hacking, exploration and the like, and while I really am impressed with the game on a number of levels (I went from being happy to seeing a range of minorities represented to being really happy because the game introduces a gay character*), I have to wonder what the hell the developers were thinking when it came to crafting the boss battles.  It almost feels as though the rest of the game is crafted by totally different people.

For the majority of the game, the level designers went out of their way to give you different ways to resolve what you needed to do: you can talk your way into a place, smash through walls, jump higher and lift heavy things or hack access points to open up paths.  You can avoid enemies through cloaking, select augmentations to increase your physical resistance to damage, use weapons to kill every last enemy or go totally non-lethal with stun and tranquilizing weapons.  You can chew through enemies in a level by hacking the first turret you see to be friendly and use strength enhancements to carry it with you through entire zones.  It is a game that rewards choice and innovation.

The boss battles on the other hand are extremely hard and can be very punitive if the character build and upgraded equipment you carry don’t fit what the developers had in mind when they were crafting the encounters.  And as for the second boss at Picus; no enemy that fast should have the ability to deal that much damage in bursts, especially when she seems to be able to chain the damn Typhoon attack at times.  And that electrifying the floor idea they had?  Yeah, let’s throw you in a room with a fast, damage-intensive enemy and tell you kill her by making the floor damage both of you.  There’s no way that it will leave you open to being killed inches from victory by one stray bullet.

*At first I thought the gay character (who is also Latino) was a pretty minor one in terms of your interaction with him, but he seems to be more important than I thought based on the most recent developments in the story.  I don’t mind that the only gay character depicted so far is closeted too much since he’s a public figure and advocate against augmentation; showing that people are forced to hide their identities to further a cause feels real and accurate, even if we’re working to change that.

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