The year is 2165. The entire universe is ruled by a benevolent military organization called the Alien World Exploration, and things are calm except for one nagging problem: Small but dangerous groups of terrorists are wreaking havoc across the galaxies. The most dangerous of these groups, the "New Crusaders," have taken refuge on the planet Alcibiade. In Deus, you play the role of Trepliev 1, a bounty hunter charged with eliminating the threat of terrorism. As the game begins, you find yourself parachuting to Alcibiade, where a misty, beautifully detailed world unfolds in front of you. Great premise; auspicious beginning. Expectations rise...
...Only to be dashed. The first challenge you face is fighting one of the planet's natives, a stereotypical low-tech tribal thug who runs around in circles and takes an occasional jab at you with his knife. You move in to fight him and discover an absurdly weak fighting engine: movements are sluggish, and it's nearly impossible to tell when you've scored a hit, or even where to aim for that matter. If you manage to kill the native before slamming your fist through your monitor in frustration, you move on to another character and do it again. And again. And again.
The rest of the game is riddled with the same problems. This is a fighting/shooting game in which it's hard to fight or shoot with any accuracy. There's simply no sense of engagement. To make matters worse, the insane control layout makes this game slightly harder to master than Microsoft Flight Simulator; more than 25 keys are used to control your actions.
The strangest feature of Deus is the option to play in "simulation mode," a bizarre variation in which you must monitor all your bodily functions. For instance, you must tend to your wounds, get enough sleep, and fight colds with vitamins and antibiotics. Things take a turn for the sublimely grotesque when it comes time to inject yourself with plasma using a huge needle or (gulp!) amputate your own leg.
Deus throws in a few more extras in a failed effort to spice things up: You must kill creatures in a specific order to advance in the game, and you have to find and use objects like anti-venom serum and key cards. But these features add only more frustration to an already frustrating game. There's a variety of weapons to collect, but nothing you haven't seen a hundred times before. The only positive note is Deus's richly detailed graphics, but they can't rescue this title from failure.
Terrorism may be a threat to the future of all humankind, but if I have to play Deus in order to save the universe, I'll give up now without a fight.