Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.
Far-future this time, and you’re a mercenary nano-augmented agent with ‘biomods’ right from the start. You’re constantly given conflicting objectives by two parties, and who you obey will have major consequences for absolutely nothing. There will also be REVELATIONS and ALLEGORY.
Mostly the Strength Biomod – it meant you could pick up a chair and throw it at someone so hard that they died. Actually that’s not really it, but before I get to it I should add that this is the first game in this list to have serious flaws. Whatever anyone might dislike about any of the above games, these people are wrong and ugly. But Invisible War was a bit stupid. Factions simply didn’t care if you stabbed them in the back again and again, so the only meaningful choice you actually had in the game was which cut-scene to watch at the end. The head of the Illuminati seemed irritated at worst if you stabbed the love of his life to death and blew up her corpse. And combat was only fun if you quadrupled the damage multipliers in the [Difficulty] section of the Default.ini file.
So what’s it doing so high up? To quote myself, “It’s not that there isn’t a huge ‘greatness’ chasm between Deus Ex 1 and 2, it’s just that nothing else is in that gap.” Not quite true, idiot, but there is a part of me that feels like Deus Ex 1 and 2 are the only games in the world – everyone else is just coming up with briefly amusing little toys.
2, like 1, is extraordinary because you genuinely invent your ways of tackling situations using the tools you’ve collected – rather than doing what the game designers intended, or choosing from a few set paths. And unlike 1, 2 had the visceral joy of tossing the bodies into a dumpster afterwards. The weapon mod system was vastly more meaningful, to the extent that one of my characters went through the game with four pistols – each modded to serve completely different functions. And while we’re at it, the biomods were much more useful – you could easily get by without them in the original, but here you wouldn’t want to. They all do cool things like take over bots, turn things off when you hit them, eat corpses or shoot enemies for you.
The Essential Experience
Punching someone in the face with the baton then flinging their unconscious form gracelessly into a skip. The baton was another little area in which 2 hugely improved on 1 (with its sluggish telescopic number), and once you’ve made the damage tweaks mentioned above, it knocks people out with a single sharp punch to the face. This doesn’t make the game too easy, since getting to everyone’s face before they shoot (and hence kill) you is extremely hard. But possible. This is the thrill – you can take out a whole room full of armed opponents before any one of them can fire, without making a noise other than a rapid series of dull thuds. It takes N-like mastery of your character’s movement, but you couldn’t feel more like a super-agent in anything else.
DemonDoll: I am almost finished with this game for the first time right now (2011) and it has been a very painful process the whole way though. I am all for tight and sharply edited games but this game just doesn't have enough. There are so few weapons and augments that I feel like my character must be identical to every other (this is probably no more true than for the first Deus Ex but it sure feels like it), the levels are small and feel fake for the sake of the consoles of yesteryear, the storyline 'twists' are true to the DX formula but are presented in such a ham-fisted manner that I can't help but feel that this is "Toddler's First Deus Ex - Now With Floaty Jumps To Minimize Boo-Boos." The biggest threat I've felt from the game is the very real danger of drowning in multi-tools which removes the need and motivation to explore non-obvious ways of by-passing obstacles - the very thing that made Deus Ex so brilliant. Like I said, I see the value of cropping meaningless mechanics from a game but all the systems they changed - from removing skills and weapon-specific ammo to the simplistic and small inventory - not only lessen immersion but deprive the player of real meaningful choices which made Deus Ex a thrill before even considering the interesting and well-delivered plot.