E3 2001 First Impression: Deus Ex

We chat with Warren Spector and Harvey Smith and see the PS2 version of Deus Ex in action.

Deus Ex won an insane number of awards when it was released for the PC last year. The game blends RPG-like character development with first-person shooter game mechanics and achieves a tense, deliberate sort of pacing. As was recently announced by Eidos, the game is coming to the PS2, so those without an adequate gaming PC will get to play what many consider to be 2000's game of the year. In light of the announcement, Eidos invited us over to its booth and let us speak to Warren Spector and Harvey Smith--two of the minds behind Deus Ex and its upcoming console transformation.

From speaking with Spector and Smith, it's easy to see that they're devoted to making sure the PlayStation 2 version doesn't turn out to be just another port. While they're not changing the game itself to any significant degree, both the game's control scheme and its various interfaces have been totally reworked to facilitate navigation by means of a PS2 controller. Players familiar with the PC version of Deus Ex will agree that the latter would be essential to a console version's success--Deus Ex is a very deep game, and its menu system has to be suitably functional. To this end, Ion Storm has designed all the game's menu systems to operate via the PS2's shoulder buttons. Your inventory, skills, and command bar all appear on command, and they all seem easy to navigate.

The game's control scheme has been similarly revamped, and it now uses the standard dual-stick scheme pioneered by TimeSplitters. Ion Storm realizes that the console control scheme is inherently limited, though, and it plans to implement an auto-targeting feature to compensate. It'll help adjust your aiming not only when you're shooting people, but also when you're trying to zero in on pickups, doors, and other interactive elements.

The game seemed to be coming along rather nicely, from what we saw. While it's obvious that optimizations are still on queue, the game was running fairly briskly and smoothly. The colors were still a bit off, and the text still hadn't been reworked for the TV screen, but the developers themselves have identified and plan to iron out these inconsistencies.

Deus Ex is scheduled to ship in the third quarter of this year. We'll have more on this one very, very soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

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