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Great moments in PC gaming: Killing Anna Navarre in Deus Ex

JC Denton talks to Anna Navarre
(Image credit: Eidos Interactive)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Deus Ex

JC Denton in sunglasses on Deus Ex's cover art

(Image credit: Eidos Interactive)

Year: 2000
Developer: Ion Storm

The mission to kill NSF leader Juan Lebedev aboard his 747 in one of the early Deus Ex stages seems like a straightforward part of your job as an up-and-coming UNATCO goon: Get on the plane, waste the guy, head home for celebratory drinks. And for a lot of players, that's exactly how it went. JC Denton is a cutting-edge killing machine, after all.

But Deus Ex is a chatty sort of shooter, and so even though I didn't have the non-lethal options that were on the table in my first missions, I had a chance to converse with my target a little bit before I pulled the trigger. Eventually, though, my hard-ass boss Anna Navarre busted in, really pissed off, and demanded that I quit goofing around and do my job. She also warned, helpfully, that if I didn't, she would. One way or another, Juan was going down.

That's how it seemed bound to play out, anyway. But it's not. It isn't immediately apparent (or at least, I don't recall it as such), but you can opt to protect Lebedev and take out Navarre instead. The infamous Flatlander Woman is a seriously tough opponent, but I managed to pull it off, and suddenly found myself in a completely unexpected situation: My supervising agent was dead, the guy I was meant to kill was very much not dead, and everything leading up to that point, including my budding career, was now completely off the rails.

(Image credit: Eidos Interactive)

It was brilliant. Remember that this was 20 years ago, when Steam didn't exist—the internet as we know it didn't exist, really—and so a game's secrets and surprises were much easier to keep. And by all rights, I wasn't supposed to have that kind of freedom in a videogame anyway. The script says I have to kill this guy. Anna says I have to kill this guy, and she makes short work of him if I try to weasel out of the job. She can't be stopped. But she can.

For me, that's the moment that made Deus Ex: The realization that if something seemed out of bounds but maybe possible, I should try it. It completely changed how I viewed the game world, and how I played the game—and, for better or worse, my expectations for everything that followed. This is why people still talk about Deus Ex as a landmark videogame. This is why:

(Image credit: Eidos Interactive/Some memelord)
Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.