Meaningful decisions were one of the trademarks of Deus Ex, and it ended on a tough one. By the climax, you've got the Illuminati, the Luminous Path triad, and a mysterious AI all barking in your ear. You've come to stop power-mad billionaire Bob Page from taking over the world, and they're all in favour of that. But all three have different ideas about who should be in charge instead, and all three need you to execute them. The decision is yours, and it's fitting that the last one you make in the game is also one of the hardest. Discussing it in the office, we found we completely disagreed on which was the best. This is an article from our print edition about what those choices were, who picked them, and what the consequences were in the sequel, Invisible War.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is going to have multiple endings, but since it's a prequel they'll all have to be a feasible backstory to Deus Ex - which takes place 25 years later. It'll be interesting to see if they can come up with a decision of this magnitude. As part of Deus Ex week , we'll have an interview with lead writer Mary DeMerle up tomorrow about how that can work, and how DX:HR links in to the original game.
JC Denton: You want me to blow the facility up -- why? It's just a hole in the ground.
Tracer Tong: Decades ago, the UN made Area 51 the central hub for all electronic communications. The Aquinas Protocol, originally for surveillance, has given Page unlimited abilities to censor and control all forms of media.
JC: If we destroy the Aquinas Hub, we'll take down the global network.
Tong: Exactly. They dug their own grave, JC. We're going to eliminate global communications altogether.
JC: I don't know... sounds like overkill.
Tong: As long as technology has a global reach, someone will have the world in the palm of his hand. If not Bob Page, then Everett, Dowd...
JC: Another Stone Age would hardly be an improvement.
Tong: Not so drastic. A dark age, an age of city-states, craftsmen, government on a scale comprehensible to its citizens.
The New Dark Age. The government has steadily consolidated communications to all pass through their facility, allowing them to monitor it all with the AI MORPHEUS (the next generation of the real-life government's communications-monitoring software 'ECHELON'). By overloading the nuclear power generator within the base, you can bring down the hub of all electronic data transfer worldwide. Humanity would be plunged into darkness, everyone isolated from all but their immediate vicinity. Society would become tribal, and re-evolve into a civilisation governed on a level that its citizens could understand, making it immune to corrpution.
Gamer who chose it: John Walker
"For me the game was all about highlighting the evils of Capitalism, and the vile extremities of the divide between rich and poor, corporate and individual. To learn how this was the construct of the ultimate machiavellian badness meant that there was only one route to its destruction, and the re-establishment of equality. Wipe out technological communication. Also, I am very much like a god anyway, so it suits me."
End scene quotation
"Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks to emperors. Today we kneel only to truth."
In Deus Ex 2
Tong got his wish, and it was rubbish. It was called The Great Collapse, and what rose out of it were not self-governed tribes, but aggressive corporations. The people got screwed over by conglomerates they were powerless to fight, and eventually corporations like the WTO owned all of civilised society and protected them in enclaves, while the poor lived in slums on their doorstep. The message was, if you start from scratch, you can't trust that an enlightened government will emerge. The most efficient social entity is a corporation - they are by nature viral, spreading and self-perpetuating aggressively. Natural selection means corporations will rise to power, while governments become increasingly irrelevant and subservient. A thumbs down from the writers at Ion Storm, but a respectful nod to the nobility of Tong's intentions - he joins JC in an attempt to form a new society.
Morgan Everett: Spare the facility. Spare Helios, the power station... They can be made to serve us.
JC Denton: Us?
Morgan Everett: You and me, JC. We'll rule the world in secret, with an invisible hand, the way the Illuminati have always ruled.
JC Denton: Don't you think it's time we end the tyranny -- for everyone?
Morgan Everett: There's such a thing as a compassionate conspiracy. We don't need Page's commandos, troopers, crude inventions... Trust me. Kill Page. Dowd and I will be here to help with the next step...
Page is a psycho and he has to die. But there's nothing wrong with ruling behind the scenes - government operates on a level that the people don't understand, so democracy just puts the most superficially appealing demagogue on the throne, usually someone who doesn't even understand the mechanics of the country himself. A committee of the intellectual elites have always been the shadow rulers, and whatever the perceived flaws of the current administration, humanity is constantly progressing, violent crime is plummeting, quality of life is rocketing and education is getting better. JC - having a unique appreciation of the world works - would make a perfect addition to the Illuminati, and is the perfect assassin to dispose of Page.
Gamer who chose it: Tony Ellis
I want human beings to control human destiny. I don't want to surrender control to a machine, and I'll be damned if I'm going to spend the rest of my life living in a teepee with Tracer Tong, weaving my own yoghurt. So what if the Illuminati are flawed and fallible? That's what being human is all about. Only someone with a terminally naive grasp of human nature could imagine that returning us to the dark ages would result in a more equal society. Only a Linux programmer could imagine that our culture will flourish in a perfect, machine-run world. Orson Welles said it best: "In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
End scene quotation
"It is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven." - John Milton
In Deus Ex 2
The Illuminati live on, behind the scenes of the corporations and religions of post-Collapse America. In fact, the two main rival organisations are both Illuminati controlled, by erstwhile anti-Illuminati terrorists Chad Dumier and Nicolette DuClare respectively. They collaborate to create an illusory dichotomy between two puppet organisations to keep the populace under control - everyone takes sides, and properly regulated this play-fighting keeps everyone too busy to start any real wars and too distracted to wonder who's really behind them. A thumbs-sideways from Ion Storm on this ending - it's not a disaster like Tong's, but it's hardly ideal.
Helios: You are ready. I do not wish to wait for Bob Page. With human understanding and network access, we can administrate the world, yes, yes.
JC merges with an omniscient AI, wired to the world via Area 51's global communications hub. He controls everything connected, hears everything anyone says, and has the CPU power to process it all. What he doesn't have is human insight - that's what he needs you for. There's no doubting his power - he's already ordered the police to remove the blockades from the roads in Hong Kong, and outlaw the triads. He's a machine awaiting a God.
Gamer who chose it: Tom Francis
Only two things can go wrong with a dictator - stupidity or evil. Helios isn't stupid and I'm not evil. I was confident his knowledge and computational powers would survive the merge, so that just left the evil question - was he? And would it overpower my glowing wonderfulness? He certainly says 'Yes...' a lot, but let's not be prejudiced against speech quirks. He wants my brain, and the only thing I have that an AI can't get from its databanks is desire - he's sentient enough to want something, but he doesn't know what. He needs me to work out what's good and bad. He was designed to govern, so he needs a moral compass. Better me than Everett or Page.
Also, if this isn't what the title of the game is referring to, I don't know what is.
End Scene Quotation
"If god did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."
In Deus Ex 2
JC-Helios-Denton survives the demolition of Area 51 and, disconnected from the world, goes into hermit mode. He and his brother establish ApostleCorp, an organisation secretly dedicated to spreading nanites that will convert people's systems to accept biomodifications - the things that make JC and other super-agents so powerful. The reasoning is that once everyone is biomodded all the time, and interconnected by a shared consciousness, true equality will reign and everything will be groovy. This wildly idealistic eventuality - if you see it through in Deus Ex 2 - seems to lead to a perfect society with no drawbacks. A big thumbs up from Ion Storm.
Everyone parties and has a good time. Everything is awesome.
Gamer who chose it: Tim Edwards
"I like to party."
How to get to it
Go to your Deus Ex/System folder and find user.ini. Open it in Notepad and find the line beginning with "T=". Change it to "T=Talk". Now get into the game, press T, delete the word 'Say' from the start of the line that pops up in the bottom left, then type:
set DeusEx.JCDentonMale bCheatsEnabled True
And press enter. Now go the menu, select Credits type danceparty while they play.
In Deus Ex 2
A similar party is to be had in Club Vox, if you perform a bizarre ritual in the ruins of UNATCO on Liberty Island. Pick up the flag from the inner entrance, take it to Manderley's office and, while still holding it, flush the toilet in his private bathroom.
Which did you choose? Why? Will Deus Ex: Human Revolution be able to give us meaningful choice over its ending, when we know the future of the Deus Ex world? What is the dancefloor bro/ho ratio of the party ending? Answers on the back of a postcard written out as a comment below.