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Deus Ex: Stop Being So Bossy

Deus Ex: Stop Being So Bossy

We’re barely into the post-Deus Ex: Human Revolution comedown period and already things are popping up that make us look to the future – and make us question certain decisions in Eidos Montreal’s undoubtedly brilliant game.

Why yes, I am talking about boss fights. As I pointed out in our review of the game:

“When the game spends so long setting up its logic, allowing the player to approach situations how they see fit and create interesting solutions to a multitude of problems, it’s just not on to drop someone in the middle of an inescapable, stand-up firefight. Bosses can take far, far more damage than you – you’re still as vulnerable as ever – and each and every one of these fights became a competition to out-pathetic Jensen’s own behaviour in the last boss battle. Run away, run away, run away, hide, hide, run away, run away a bit more, hide even more… shoot! … run away – repeat ad nauseam.”

On I blabbed:

“They don’t fit in the game, they don’t fit in the logic that Human Revolution spends so long building up and they’re simply not fun. In the end, all of our victories – bar one – felt like blind luck, leaving them hollow and unsatisfying. When it’s about 8.2 billion times more fun to take down one weak grunt than it is one of the game’s main antagonists, you know something’s just not right.”

So why do they exist? Why are boss battles a feature of such a well-realised, fleshed-out and deep game?

Well it’s not like boss fights don’t belong in Deus Ex. In fact, they do. They just need an approach that isn’t an arena-based fight to the death. They need Anna Navarre’s killswitch from the first game. They need to be avoidable. They need to have other ways to get through them. Which is why Dishonoured, the upcoming game from original Deus Ex Man Harvey Smith is sounding so good right now.

Why? Well, you can get through the entire game without killing anyone. Simple, really. Encounters will have ways around them, literally or figuratively, and you don’t have to kill anyone you encounter. It doesn’t mean you won’t kill them, just that you don’t have to. And this is the factor that makes all the difference, because it will open the game up more to an individual playing style – and that is a beautiful thing.

This isn’t a slight on Human Revolution – it’s still brilliant and still definitely worth your dollah. But the boss fights… man… just search Twitter to see the reaction of people who were playing it over this past extended weekend. See how many mention the boss fights. See how many mention them in a negative light.

Hopefully any future Deus Ex sequels eliminate these YOU HAVE TO FIGHT elements. For the sake of all of our sanity.

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