PCG Looks At Deus Ex’s Rear End

By John Walker on June 18th, 2010 at 3:32 pm.

A Deus Ex ending.

Well I’ll be, I’m mentioned on Jaunty RPS Tribute Blog PCGamer.com. They’ve posted up a feature about the endings of the original Deus Ex, which apparently I contributed to. For someone who doesn’t drink or take drugs, I have a really shocking amount of my past that I can’t remember. But wow, do I sound smart and interesting and handsome. It’s a lovely feature, going through the three possible endings (and one rather silly extra one), and their consequences in Deus Ex 2. You’re allowed to read it if you want. And then share with the class which ending you picked, and why. Show your working.

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86 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    I never played Deus Ex 2, because I’d heard it was a bit cacky, but didn’t it treat all three Deus Ex endings as canonical simultaneously? I like that, that’s a rather neat narrative trick.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    Also, John Walker sided with Tracer Tong?

    JOHN WALKER IS AN IDIOT.

  3. Jahkaivah says:

    I remember this, I also remember the hilarious mail that was sent in response that called you a communist ****.

    • John Walker says:

      I believe the word he had used, but self-censored if I remember correctly, was “pussy”. He used it an awful lot. It was a brilliant letter.

    • Dante says:

      Surely a communist would have picked Helios? The Dark Age is the Liberal ending.

    • Muzman says:

      Indeed. Had a very impassioned debate once with a proper American style Libertarian over this point. He even believed (from memory) that it was the one true ending and the others were the tacked on ones (which is plainly ridiculous) and certainly the only morally correct one.
      Naturally the assumptions in the plot progression to DX:IW filled him with white hot rage.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      American styled libertarian here, I’ve never played the DX’s and don’t really plan on it, but I have a hard time seeing the other two choices as better than Tong, except for the naive “everyone becomes part of digital AI communist” which strikes me as terribly naive.

      But, never played the games and all that.

    • merc says:

      Well, he does sound rather like a socialist twit, right down to the naivety of trying to ‘re-establish equality’ by blowing up the internet.

    • Muzman says:

      Tong’s attitude is more Anarcho-Syndicalist than Socialist. But the American style Libertarians go for it because it blows up any of the ‘The Man’s centralising power in the game.
      Although I think if you’ve played the game, listend to the dialogues etc and you can’t even consider the Helios ending on some sort of knee jerk political principle (it’s quite open ended after all. So is the illuminati for that matter) you’re far too anal retentive for science fiction and possibly even RPGs.

    • Bret says:

      I have trouble with Helios for a very simple reason.

      He ends every sentence like freaking Megatron. If there was a question mark, fine, he’s like Death’s Head. Sociopathic but fun.

      But trusting Megatron?

      I have my limits.

  4. Serenegoose says:

    I merged with Helios – principally because I actually agreed with the philosophy behind it, and I’m a trusting person – Helios said that it wanted to lead the humans into a better life. Tong was a crazy, and the illuminati was the status quo. Anybody with a basic grasp of history knows how brilliant the dark ages were, and anybody who played the game knows how rubbish the illuminati had been for everyone. Helios was the alternative – something that had a benevolent ideological purity at the heart of their existence, incorruptibility (sp?) and the ability to truly make things better for everyone.

    • Meat Circus says:

      This.

      It has to be said, the day the robots decide it’s time to overthrow us, it’s a nailed on certainty I’m siding with machines.

      I’m a traitor to meatkind.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      I chose the AI.
      The only downside i saw was the end quote. I dont believe that at all, it was just the best choice.

      A dictator isnt necisarily a bad thing. Its just that the ones that usually grab power for themselves do it for less that good reasons.

      Tongs Ghandi path would just allow everything to happen again. The illumanati cant be trusted, and you would only probably rule for as long as you live, after that, it could go right back.

      Im not sure how long you live with the AI, but its possible it gives a more permanant solution.
      Also, cyborg cyborg! Cyborg^2!

    • Zyrxil says:

      AI lovers unite! A wise and benevolent dictator is the best form of of government. An immortal dictator with more knowledge, understanding, and brainpower than any human, who could not be corrupted by lust-greed-or-fear, is even better.

    • sfury says:

      Being a huge Ghost in the Shell fan, I really thought of no other option but to merge with the AI. The net is vast and infinite. :)

    • Rummy says:

      I remember enthusiastically merging with Helios and seeing his plans through in Deus Ex 2, but somehow the thought of it horrifies me now. 16 years of being online have taught me that people are assholes and I wouldn’t share a toothbrush with them let alone a consciousness.

      In all seriousness though, maybe it was reading The Forever War, maybe its the modern world’s surveillance society, maybe it’s the thought of my fiance finding out I fantasize about other girls (shock, horror!), but I value my privacy.

      A new dark age would suit me nicely.

    • rei says:

      You’re right, anyone with a basic grasp of history might know how brilliant the medieval times were, but someone with might not agree :D

      I’ve picked all the options several times (I play DX quite often), but I suppose I consider the Helios one the best one.

    • rei says:

      I’m sure I did what the tag compelled me to do :(

    • Rummy says:

      Rei, I don’t want a repeat of that dreary old dark age, I want a *new* one, preferably with more topless girls with laser pistols in it.

    • James T says:

      “Tongs Ghandi path”

      How was Tong’s idea anything like Gandhi’s?

  5. matte_k says:

    Helios in the first, and then followed that through with the Denton/Helios plan in the second, for continuity. Although, I did secretly enjoy the “scorched earth” ending with the Omar in DX:IW, as it was contrary to what all the others wanted you to do.

  6. Jaz says:

    Tempted to post about you posting about our post now. Love conquers all!

  7. dalziel86 says:

    “Cons: Some of the people waving their hands in the air seem like they just don’t care”

  8. Gassalasca says:

    I saved and then did all three endings. I can’t remember in which order, though. I think I preferred the Illuminati one, and the Helios one seemed okay. I was against the dirty Commie ludites.

  9. Deston says:

    For someone who doesn’t drink or take drugs, I have a really shocking amount of my past that I can’t remember

    How have you not yet noticed that the RPS crew have been lacing your tea with peyote and LSD for years, John? They gloat about it every time you’re out of earshot.

    Just remember – vivid and sustained psychedelic hallucinations are not a normal occurrence after a cuppa and some Hob Nobs…. well, unless you obtain your biscuitsnax from the corner shop near me.

  10. Dr. Derek Doctors, DFA says:

    I’m a Tongite — a fair-play-for-everybody liberal who secretly nurses the dark, depressed heart of a conservative. Not the modern conservative, mind you, the CCTVs-for-all, Gott Mit Uns free marketers, but the Koheletian kind who believes that all our human endeavours are doomed to fail. My head sides with Helios, says that peace and progression are worth fighting for even if it takes a technocratic technology to do so, but my heart says that it can’t be done. (“Who formed Christ but Herod and Caesar/The cruel and bloody victories of Caesar?/Violence, the bloody sire of all the world’s values.”)

    So, yeah, burn it all down. It’s inhumane, but the other choices are inhuman.

  11. Phinor says:

    Incidentally I finished Deus Ex today. I sided with Tong. Big Boom and hope for a better future. Which I guess didn’t happen but at least I tried.

    All the hype about Deus Ex being the best game ever made? Almost justified. It’s nearly as good as they say. It might even be the best game ever made but I think there’s competition for that spot.

  12. Flint says:

    Helios was my first choice as well. Sure, it might be a bit too trusting (and based on DX2 Helios certainly seems to have gone a bit batshit) but it seems a bit more optimistic and willing to improve than the other two endings. Joining the illuminati is a bit of a neutral choice and probably the easiest one to reach for, and Tong’s dark age is one big brainfart train set for disaster as far as I’m concerned.

  13. Mike says:

    Lol, Tribute blog….i found that hilarious.

    Tim Edwards and crew, maybe not so much^^

  14. Jerricho says:

    I think over the years I’ve played down all the branches and had a save-game right at the end to try all the endings. I initially went with the JC-Helios Omnimind as my prefence though before taking a look at destroying the world by other means.
    While I liked the initial idea of the Tong ending I couldn’t see that it would ulitmately achieve anything other than eventual in-fighting. Civilisation has a lot of functional infrastructure and it would be foolish to discard it all. Corruption and greed might be said to be a dominant features so starting over would just create the same mess in a different format so why not keep all the bits that work and provide for us; broad communication of knowledge etc, and over-ride the less beneficial compulsions of society. Given the choices, the mind meld seemed the least offensive.

    That said, I didn’t like how that was presented in the DX2… it seemed JC has lost his connection to humanity by trying to make everyone equal by giving augments to everyone. Poor JC has lost his way.

    :* (

    I never finished IW. I think my last save game is from wandering around inside JCelios’s subconsious mind where I lost the will to play any further.

    • Tarqon says:

      The way I see it the global distribution of augmentation technology was not an end in and of itself but an enabler for Helios’s version of government, which is sort of a real time direct democracy. If not everyone had augmentations this government would have been a sort of technocracy, where the augmented ruled over the unaugmented, which is exactly what Helios was meant to prevent.

  15. ZamFear says:

    I went with Tong’s plan, but only because I wanted the voices in my head to stop.

  16. Pseudonym says:

    If I remember correctly, I joined Helios.

    That’s what Gore Burnelli would do.

  17. Karthik says:

    I haven’t read any of the comments yet. I’m going to play a game now.

    When I played I took the merge-with-helios/benevolent dictator route, and I’m willing to bet $5 that his will be the most popular choice in the comments thread. It was a manifestation of the power dream for the player, a revenge of sorts by JC against the institutions tossing him around, and a damn cool future to boot.

    I’m not kidding. If I’m wrong by the time the comments thread hits 100, I’ll paypal the first person to point it out to me.

  18. Joe Martin says:

    I went Dark Age. I was young and thought I was an anarchist.

    Now, I go Helio-Denton. I’m older and more of the opinion that only I know how to do things properly.

  19. Zwebbie says:

    I went for the Helios ending; though it must be said that, while I did think it was the best ending, it also seemed like the game itself was leaning more towards that one. Daedalus, Icarus and Helios are built up through dialogue for something important, but they wouldn’t get any show time if you don’t pick that ending. While Tong’s place is in Hong Kong and not so much in the latter levels, and Everett is just an unlikeable man with a smaller role.

  20. Alaric says:

    I merged with the AI.

    Tracer Tong option is completely idiotic. Whoever said that the ear of city states had no corruption is smoking something incredibly illegal. Even tribal politics were always ridden with all sorts of political (read corrupt) interplay. Anyone who doubts that needs to read up on their history and anthropology. Not to mention that a destruction of a global communications center could only lead to a dark age only in a drug induced fantasy. Realistically it would merely complicate communications, but after a few days things would be back to normal, even if they had to fall back on to an older tech for the time being.

    Illuminati option was slightly more appealing, but in the end it’s still “same shit, different day.” The only difference would be the lack of destruction of this particular installation, the world, however, wouldn’t change a bit.

    AI option is the only one that made sense. Still not ideal, but far better than anything else that’s been offered. The majority of humanity are drooling imbeciles, and as such democracy is a disaster. A benevolent dictator is one of the better solutions, sadly not attainable in the real world, but since this particular setting allows for it – why not?

  21. Thelonious says:

    I preferred the AWESOME GODLIKE ending, but as my favourite character (and just about the only good thing) in Deus Ex 2 so aptly pointed out:

    “JC and Paul Denton never escaped their original programming. They instead succeeded only in making copies of themselves. Without realizing it, they work to build the precise society envisioned by the Illuminati — and its defunct offshoot, MJ-12. A population configured for transparency, integration, control…”

    So now I don’t know what to think.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Eh, you can spin it that way. Yes, the government is transparent. This is a good thing, surely? And do we not want to be integrated with society? The opposite would be complete individualism, living in caves on our own. We’re social animals. Integration does not connote loss of freedom, simply greater connectedness. As far as control, I don’t buy it – Helios doesn’t force anybody to do anything, it simply connects everybody together and acts according to the needs of all, not according to its own desires. It describes its government as consensus, and the its outro to DE2 seems to confirm this.

  22. Bureaucrat says:

    I … lost interest and quit DE somewhere in the Paris hub. I admire the heck out of the game up to that point, but the gameplay was getting tedious and the story hadn’t grabbed me enough to keep going in spite of that. It failed my standing “would I be having more fun starting a new game of whatever Civilization game is most current?” test.

    No, I don’t finish a whole lot of games.

  23. asdf says:

    In DX1 I went with the Helios ending. In DX2 I went with the ending that involved me blowing up my DX1 self with a rocket launcher. Obviously.

  24. DJ Phantoon says:

    Nobody else is going to say anything about the awful pun?

    Robot ass is not funny, John. It is terrible. Be ASHAMED, mister. Be ASHAMED!

  25. M says:

    I remember that feature – the fact that you chose Tong ended up endearing me towards you all the more. Mainly as you were the only person who has ever expressed any preference for that ending other than me.

  26. deadpan says:

    I always thought the Helios ending was supposed to be the “proper” ending since it fits in best with the game’s strong religious overtones.

  27. DarthBenedict says:

    Another Helios here – A world run by Optimus Prime would be perfect, and Helios is kind of like Optimus Prime.

  28. Ragnar says:

    I actually found all of the endings to be incredibly naive and simplistic.

    And the best part of DX2 was how they desconstructed the endings of DX1 and made you see the naivety of them. The worst part of DX2 was that it had almost the same endings itself.

    • sinister agent says:

      I had to take my hat off to the second one, though – the last level where you hear several characters outline their plans for the world and demands on you, and after ten minutes of hearing the various options, [A CHARACTER] pipes in and pretty much goes “Screw this crap, let’s just kill all of these arseholes”. AND YOU COULD.

      More “CHOICE!!!” games should include that option.

  29. Freud says:

    Deus Ex is one of my favorite games and I don’t really remember what ending I picked. I think I sided with Tong because you know, Asians are industrious people.

  30. Erin says:

    Another Helios here – A world run by Optimus Prime would be perfect, and Helios is kind of like Optimus Prime.

  31. Jacques says:

    I always side with Helios, not because I believe that would be the way to go, but as others have said, it’s the way the game seemed like it meant to end. That said, Icarus’ messages if anything should be a warning against merging with Helios because it creates a society in which everyone is monitored. I ultimately agree best with Tong’s dark age, which doesn’t quite work that well, but it’s not the status quo (which sucks) and it’s not an entity capable of making the entire world into a Panopticon where everything is monitored. Humanity displays many traits, not just greed and anger, but compassion and love as well. I grew to understand that darkness and light are both needed for either to exist. That said, I’m not sure if I’d destroy Helios given the real option; it can do a lot of good, if disconnected from it’s ICARUS derived monitoring framework.

    Helios = Panoptic Utopia/ A perfect world is meaningless, it has no definition
    Illuminati = Restore an Imbalance of Power/ In exchange for a share of that power
    Tong = Chaos Theory/ Destroy the corrupted structure of society in exchange for a chance that the world will be better this time

  32. Grey_Ghost says:

    Is it possible to find Kieron’s Deus Ex 2 review online anywhere?

  33. sinister agent says:

    I went with Tong, because he’s cute.

    What? In a totes hetero way.

    But seriously, I picked his ending because it made more sense to me. I didn’t think for a minute that blowing the place up would ‘eliminate corruption’, but it did seem like the natural choice – everything got too big and too mangled for its own good, so the best response is to cut it apart and let all the different isolated parts of the world do what they needed to do to get their bit back on track, away from the influence and control of the other parts. Humans are animals, after all, and this seemed like something that nature would do for another animal.

    It reminded me of the Dune books too, in a big way.

    A close second was the AI option – the Illuminati could shove right off, frankly. It was them who created this mess in the first place, and they all seemed like such pretentious two-faced snakes that I’d rather staple my brain to the matrix than hand them the keys to the world. Plus the AI’s argument seemed reasonable and fair, and the human/machine combination seemed a built-in check and balance system if either one should start to act shonky.

    The Tong ending had the best outro too, I reckon. Everything exploding as you run, with Tong shouting “find us!” in your ear, with some of the game’s least awful music playing… nice.

  34. Jimbo says:

    I… I just saved right before the ending and did all three. What a shame.

  35. Kazang says:

    Merge!

    Me + All powerful AI = Win
    What could possibly go wrong?

  36. John says:

    I admit, i did not end Deus Ex. Once i realized that there were no more social interactions, ala Hell’s kitchen, or Hong Kong, i couldn’t put myself through it.

    I did already have, however, chose my ending beforehand. I was to merge with Helios. In hope, perhaps vain, i acknowledge, that a technological revolution would further the trans humanist technology, until then tightly controlled. Someday, that technological advancement would also push other areas, and ultimately lead to a post humanist, post scarcity society.

    I don’t think Helios was bad, per se, as it didn’t seem to have clear values. I always though it wanted, first and foremost, to extend beyond his own condition. It’s sentience was limited by it’s original design. That was where i’d step in.

  37. mickiscoole says:

    Illuminati ending. I have no problem with a secret society the planet if I’m part of said secret society.

    The system of the Illuminati ruling the world seemed to be working just fine until Bob Page came along.

    • James T says:

      Yeah, I liked the Illuminati ending, it put a shiver up my spine, which games don’t usually accomplish. The Tracer Tong ending struck me as a genocide of the infirm (“Reliant on medicine, anyone? Too bad, we’re about to destroy everything!”), which was clearly unacceptable. The Helios ending is pretty cool though, especially if you ignore IW like myself.

    • Kanamit says:

      Man, I was beginning to think I was the only one. Not really because I found the option attractive, but because I didn’t share Tong’s romantic delusion and didn’t trust Helios (not to mention that I don’t really believe that a benevolent dictator is a good thing).

  38. Redem says:

    In the end, I couldn’t destroy the fruits of human progress, yet neither could I stand aside as the old guard continued to corrupt everything we created.

    With Helios, I laid the foundation for a new and better future for all of mankind. A light on the path out of the old patterns of decay and destruction. We can do better than this, given the opportunity.

  39. jaheira says:

    Tong’s New Dark Age for me, but more out of vindictiveness than hope. Humanity has not earned a bright future.

  40. drewski says:

    I was torn. I liked the idea of the Helios ending because I’m just about egotistical enough to believe I’m smarter than everyone else, but I liked the idea of the Tong ending because I’m just about libertarian enough to believe that being smarter than someone doesn’t mean you get to make their decisions for them.

    The Illuminati ending didn’t appeal at all.

    In the end I went with Tong, because I thought that even though it was doomed to the failure it resulted in in Invisible War, I still believed people had the right to make that mistake for themselves. All I could do was provide for them the opportunity for freedom – if they decided not to take it, well, such is humanity.

    In Invisible War I think the scorched earth ending resonated the most, because I really didn’t like any of the factions’ main protagonists. I was a little sad that there was no real “liberty” option in Deus Ex, apart from the scorched earth ending, so I ended up going with JC’s plans because at least he wanted to rule for the right reasons, rather than simply for power or in the name of bigotry.

  41. Bret says:

    I went with Tong.

    Barely.

    Helios sounded like Megatron, and I wouldn’t trust me with omnipotence. That’s one right out.

    Illuminati are douches. Two down.

    And then the absolutely horrible option of a new dark age. But…

    Hearing about it, it didn’t sound quite as bad as advertised. Comtech would be down, but JUST comtech. Medical supplies, power, light, transport?

    They’d be tougher to keep going as time passed, but it’d be hypothetically possible. And maybe people, by some chance, would make different mistakes the next time. History’d still be there.

    And then there’s the Franklin quote. “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”

    I blew the place up.

    (Of course, I grabbed an unconscious MJ-12 technician on my shoulders to get him out. No sense in killing more people than you need to.)

  42. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’ve played through Deus Ex start to finish more than 10 times, at least 8 of those times I picked the Computer.

  43. Barbellion says:

    Having not played Invisible War, how do the choices follow through to the second game? If you start the second game ‘fresh’, do you get to define how the first game ended?

  44. LionsPhil says:

    The government has steadily consolidated communications to all pass through their facility, allowing them to monitor it all with the AI MORPHEUS

    Er. Morpheus was the prototype. As far as I can tell, it never held that role.

    Anyway, I’m with Doug: “It has to be the third option.. Apotheosis!”

  45. LionsPhil says:

    I’m curious that people are calling the Helios ending in DX2 a hivemind again. AIUI, it’s not; it’s more “Helios is continually reading your brainmeats so you are implicitly voting on everything all the time”—no loss of individuality, “just” privacy. (Ceiling JC is watching you procrastinate.)

    That there seems to be so much ambiguity on this point is probably an indicator of bad writing, if only in not compensating for the HURR DURR BORG preconceptions established by popular sci-fi.

  46. jeremypeel says:

    The first time I played Deus Ex I was twelve or thirteen I think, and I picked Helios. So I’m quite proud of my early political leanings and think I’d stand by them.

    The world of Invisible War is really very cynical, isn’t it? Tong’s ideas in particular are proven to be very naive.

    I’m getting really excited about Deus Ex 3 and starting to believe its heading in exactly the right direction. But how will they handle the ending?

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