Deus Ex: Like a Boss

Deus Ex has so far received amazing reviews.  I’m about halfway through and I couldn’t agree more.  The freedom offered to the player is unmatched as far as FPS/RPG hybrids go, the graphics are great, and the story is immersive.  I’ve got some gripes about the way conversations can sometimes be choppy and the inability to choose more options when choosing responses to people, but those are minor problems in an otherwise great game.  Yet it seems to be an almost universal complaint among game reviewers that this game includes dreaded boss fights.  And its not even a complaint about Deus Ex’s boss fights specifically, like problems with the bosses being too hard, too easy, or too racist.  Almost all reviews simply take it as assumed that boss fights are a bad thing, and including them in Deus Ex was either a blatant oversight or a direct insult to the consumer.  But why is that?  I can understand if there is a specific problem with the boss fights, but that is never mentioned in the context of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  Its simply mentioned as a negative, an assumption that boss battles are an outdated relic, to be forgotten in this age of video game enlightenment.  And not to be contrarian just for the sake of disagreement, but I have to say that not only do boss battles not hurt the game, but at least in my experience, have improved the experience.

Her hair was a major problem, however

The reason I like the boss fights is that they are diversified.  The environments you fight in are all different, and all amazingly detailed and rendered.  The bosses themselves have different fighting styles, different tactics.  Its not the same as the boss fights of old, where they do the same set of moves, you waiting to do the same counter attacks, ad infinitum.  Instead, they play integral parts of the story, are difficult enough to be a challenge without being maddeningly impossible, and once defeated give you a nice sense of achievement that some games fail to deliver on (see Uncharted 2).  One boss is specifically interesting to fight, considering the [spoilers redacted] environment you fight in, not to mention [spoilers redacted] that Jensen is affected by.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is the perfect game.  Its not.  But it gets so much right, its damn near close.  I bought Resistance 3 the day it came out, and it still sits unopened because I can’t bring myself to put down Deus Ex.  My point is simply that, though there are some areas to critique, I don’t think bosses are the correct area to look.  A major issue in my opinion is the choppy conversation trees.  Conversations in the game work in a way that is somewhat similar to L.A. Noire.  The response you pick not only affects the immediate conversation, but the story itself, and the outcome of the game.  Here you have great voice acting (which is a huge plus itself, as too many RPGs simply present text only) and realistic responses to choose from.  But all too often there will be a strange awkward pause, as if in the middle of a hostage negotiation, you both get too shy to go on.

I'm just nervous I'll say the wrong thing and you won't like me anymore.

But that’s not to say this issue somehow takes you out of the game.  Like I said before, its an extremely immersive experience, and I remained on the edge of my seat during most of the tenser moments.  Moments like hostage negotiations, suicidal informants, moral dilemmas,  and even the boss fights add to the overall dark and edgy atmosphere of the game.  My main point is that this game is not above criticism, but if its criticized for boss fights, I only wish there would be more reasons than that the reviewer simply doesn’t like the inclusion of bosses.  In my opinion, they have their place, and if done correctly, can add significant tension and action to an already wonderful game.


3 Responses to “Deus Ex: Like a Boss”

  1. Eh tu bossfight? I overall agree with sum of this. My only desire would have been if they would have introduced the same context of choice they did in the game into the boss fights. Perhaps expand on the boss’s themselves and give us opportunities to Kill, capture, set free, etc… the bosses for more unintended consequences. In that way, the choice prerogatives of the game would flow seamlessly throughout.


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