Happy Deus Ex Day!

By RPS on June 22nd, 2010 at 12:00 pm.


Deus Ex is ten years old today. That’s ten years since JC first stormed the Statue Of Liberty in front of a paying audience. Ten years since people really started talking about Best Game Ever status for another science fiction game made in Texas. Ten years since greasels. Ten years since the bit where Gunther Hermann didn’t get the right flavour of fizzy drink. If nothing else, it means the all the RPS staff are now basically very old, and should probably have a rest. But we cannot! For we have more Deus Ex birthday things coming up, and we shall not stop until this particular anniversary is well and truly celebrated.

So dig out your copy, or buy it if you don’t own it, and join us in raising a toast to having your legs shot off in the tutorial. Hooray!

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114 Comments »

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  1. Dood says:

    Gah, I hate greasels. Those sneaky bastards.

  2. Mithrandir0x says:

    SOY FOOD FOR EVERYONE!!!

  3. CMaster says:

    Wow, that’s depressing.
    Not Deus Ex, not the chance to play it again.
    What’s depressing is that in those 10 years, nobodies even had a good stab at doing something like it again. Nobody has sat down and gone “why do people think that is the Best Game Ever? Right, let’s do that, but set in WWII, or on the government side, or as a ninja game etc”.

    Still, thought I might give the game a go with Shifter for the first time sometime soon. I’ve played it vanilla enough times.

    Oh, and for those that haven’t tried it yet, try Burden of 80 Proof. It’s a deus ex mod with a modern day, mundane setting. There are a lot of issues with it, but it does show how Deus Ex has solid gameplay.

    • The Hammer says:

      Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines?

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Even Cliffy B ‘B Cliff’ Blezinski has said the future of shooters is putting more RPG stuff in them. It’s fairly standard for console games to have hubs and choices and alternate means to achieve goals and stuff. It’s slow, and basic still, but it is entirely valid to characterise the last ten years by the PC-isation of console games.

    • CMaster says:

      @AndrewC
      Where “RPG elements” mean progression/unlocking systems, rather than just picking up powerups/weapons at a predetermined point in the game. If you thought having a skill system was what made Deus Ex awesome, I despair. I’ve seen very little motion to giving players multiple ways to solve the little problems in their way.
      Even Mass Effect, the great RPG/shooter crossover didn’t really offer anything new or interesting, as well done as it was. Basically, you had 5 locations you could go to, in your choice of order. When you got there, it went “talk-fight-talk-fight-talk-bossfight”. Then you picked the next place to go. You got to make a couple of calls about who lives or dies along the way, but you have no choice other than to solve every problem by the liberal application of bullets to faces.

    • NukeLord says:

      I think CMaster’s original statement can best be summed up as:

      “What a shame.”

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      AndrewC says:

      @ CMaster. You seem to be arguing that if a game doesn’t do it as much as Deus Ex then it isn’t really doing it at all, which is reductive. Mass Effect 2 is filled with choice and chances to express personal style. Fallout 3 is filled with different ways to complete missions. Red Dead Redemption gives you plenty of room to play how you like. Bioshock allows for very different ways to combat enemies, as well as that binary moral choice with the little sisters. Modern Warfare 2 is full of levelling and customisation. These are some of the biggest and most player-loved console games of the last few years.

      None of them do it like Deus Ex, and none of them design their levels from the ground up to cater for radically different play styles. But to say that nothing is really happening in this area is incorrect, as is the idea that Deus Ex doesn’t devolve into a very linear story by the end, just like most games.

    • CMaster says:

      I’m not trying to say there hasn’t been progress in games design. There obviously has. I’d point to the embracement of art direction over simply higher definition graphics and the better understanding of player experience and how to teach players than clumsy tutorials as two areas that have come on a lot in the past 5 years or so.

      I haven’t played Mass Effect 2, but the first one as said gave pretty much zero choice in any gameplay sense, beyond your combat method being “magic, different kind of magic, gunslinger, mix of the above”. Bioshock again let you pick guns or magic as a way to kill things, and all the peripheral elements were taken from SS2 but reduced to just that, peripheral.

      My point is that I’m dissapointed that nobody ever seems to have taken the “there are several ways to win, some involve combat, others not” idea and run with it. There’s a world of options out there, very few have been explored and most of the examples you are giving are just “how do I want to blow things up?” which is great to have and all, but not what I’m talking about.

      If anything, from my expeience the Hitman games are the closest to what I describe. I never have the patience for them though.

    • Malagate says:

      I’m with Cmaster on this, I’ve noticed in some games there can be multiple ways of winning, but Deus Ex does it best (in a FPS environment that is, I can think of some roguelikes who really win the “do it however you want” prize). It does it best almost purely through level design as well, even 10 years later I’m hard pressed to find a game with such intricate environments where there is an actual choice of how you approach a situation where no single way is the best (but I do end up going every way just to get all the skill points…).

      Although now I’m tempted to try and make a ninja mod for Deus Ex, which is annoying as I know nothing about modding. I just keep on imagining how good it could be though…then how much I’d fail at actually implementing it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      “What’s depressing is that in those 10 years, nobodies even had a good stab at doing something like it again.”

      Ahem. http://store.steampowered.com/app/34010/
      Ignore the negative reviews, most of them are from console gamers. If you liked Deus Ex you will like this one.

  4. Rich says:

    “I’ll take the GEP.”

    You should be offered a guided missile launcher in the first level of every game!

    …except that my performance in the tutorial clearly shows that I am not qualified to handle explosives. Just ask me to move a crate of the stuff and my legs fall off.

  5. Flakfizer says:

    I intend to celebrate the anniversary by punching anyone who calls it ‘Dues Ex’ in the throat.

  6. Roadrunnerr says:

    I’ve never played Deus Ex.
    Is it good? :P

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      AndrewC says:

      It looks like crap, the acting is abominable, the aiming is deliberately nerfed until you level up and the story/art direction is boiler plate adolescant cyberpunk drudgery.

    • Frozenbyte says:

      Give this man a ban.

    • Risingson says:

      To be honest, worst beginning ever. Great from the second level up to the ending.

    • Pani says:

      What makes it so good?

    • disperse says:

      @Roadrunnerr

      What AndrewC said.

      Also, yes, you should play it. It is very, very, good.

    • jeremypeel says:

      “It looks like crap, the acting is abominable, the aiming is deliberately nerfed until you level up and the story/art direction is boiler plate adolescant cyberpunk drudgery.”

      I actually laughed out loud when I realised that I agree with pretty much all of this (bar story) and it’s STILL the greatest game ever made. So much achievement, so much room to improve… this is a good thing!

      Happy Birthday, Deus Ex.

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      AndrewC says:

      I dunno, man. An all powerful evil cabal is ruling the world in proper ‘I hate my dad’ projection fashion and the lead character is a super cool, emotionless, ultra powered badass who is the only person who can find out the real truth and decide the fate of the world!

      It may be well-read, but it doesn’t stray too far from the more joyless parts of adolescant male power fantasy.

      As Alec put in the review about other people’s ‘bluster': when a game is really good, there is a tendency to praise everything about it and admit to no fault. And this is a really, really good game.

      I wish there were a few more intentional laffs in it too

    • CMaster says:

      I (as you may have gathered elsewhere today) am a real, real Deus Ex fan.
      And yet the blog post I’ve got two drafts for, that I often think of writing is “where Deus Ex went wrong”. And I don’t mean in those little bits of production values like the voice acting or graphical kinks. It’s an incredibly good game, still my personal best of all time. It also has a massive array of flaws, which only makes the lack of others taking on the challenge dissapointing.

    • jeremypeel says:

      @ AndrewC: Mmm, when you put it that way, it does sound pretty hackneyed and, well, rubbish…

      I keep thinking of great moments for me in Deus Ex’s story. And each time they turn out to be points where I later realised I fucked up, that I had the chance to steer events in the direction I wanted but made the wrong decision. Leaving Paul to his fate and hearing the gunfire as I climbed the fire escape ladder, and watching my pilot going all ball-of-flamey. Doesn’t emotive and clever emergent writing count as good writing?

      You’re completely right about the post-genius bluster syndrome. Everything seems to become a virtue amongst so many shining elements – the sheer amount of memeing going on around here today is testament to that. We all seem to genuinely love the terrible voice acting, but that would never be the case if the game wasn’t a great one.

  7. toni says:

    location-based damage FTW !!!! new school design is just bad.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Are Bethesda the only folks still doing this? How odd.

    • sinister agent says:

      I bloody hope so. I still find it hard to believe that they released a first person, combat-heavy game with no locational damage whatsoever in 2006. It would have been embarassing in 2002.

  8. TheApologist says:

    10 years? Definitely to be celebrated.

    I have only played it through once, and then played bits and pieces repeatedly thereafter.

    This is a good excuse for a new full playthough, methinks.

  9. MajorManiac says:

    What a great excuse to re-install it after all these years. :)

    Can anyone suggest the best possible mods for it?

    • CMaster says:

      I’d hesitate about having Shifter on for the first playthrough, having read the changes. Anyone with experience of it care to comment?

    • MajorManiac says:

      Thanks. I’ll check that out.

    • James T says:

      Shifter won’t change your game experience SO much that you’d need to play vanilla first; my only reservation is that it undermines the economy of skill points by giving you extra points based on how stealthy your takedowns are (don’t remember if that feature can be turned off; someone on gamefaqs says that Yuki provided instructions somewhere on modding it back out). I really liked the addition of unique weapons (they’re just slightly tweaked versions of normal weapons, inserted to reward exploration/valour in places where you’d normally only find a bog-standard shotgun/sword etc; their stats are a little better than normal, but not game-breaking). Being able to cycle through melee weapons or grenades with the ‘change ammo’ button is great. Switching timed items on and off is nice. I’m a bit leery of some of the added guns he talks about on his page, but I don’t remember coming across, say, the railgun, and the alt-fire stuff is easily ignored if its unwanted. Yeah, I’d say play the game with Shifter ASAP, whatever your playthrough.

      This is an informative page: http://sites.google.com/site/yukichigai/shifter

  10. BooleanBob says:

    I recently (4 years ago?) did a playthrough on max difficulty, only allowing myself the use of weapons which were classified as ‘low tech’.

    If nothing else it gave me a healthy appreciation of why the police are so fond of pepper spray.

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      mrpier says:

      This reminds me of Alginon of PDX, playing through Deus Ex without Items, augs or skills.

      http://forums.gamespy.com/general_deus_ex_discussion/b49372/14593517/p1
      http://thenamelessmod.com/alginon/

      Truly a feat.

    • jeremypeel says:

      One of the greatest indicators of how broad Deus Ex’s gameplay possibilities are is the number of hilarious, brilliant self-restricted playthroughs there have been.

      I remember reading a wonderful short tale about Indirect Killing in Deus Ex in PC Gamer yonks ago, involving the writer jumping off a building and breaking both his legs in order to avoid direct killing of bad guys. Please help me out RPS ex-PC Gamer guys (I think that’s all of you, actually), do you remember who was responsible for that piece?

    • James T says:

      Yeah, I always play non-lethal games (except for the Flatlander Woman), and in my latter playthroughs, I really came to appreciate the pepper spray for taking down, say, two guys close together. One puff of spray, a shock each, then club them into submission. Shame the little P20 (was it P20?) civilian plasma gun was worthless; I tried for ages to find a use for it, but nothing worthwhile.

    • sinister agent says:

      Yeah, I played around with pepper spray once, and from then on I don’t think I ever dropped a pepper spray again in about ten years of play (on and off, obv).

      This has probably been done, but I’ve never really had a ‘strict’ playthrough with myself, so I’m feeling dead clever for playing through it as a ‘Shaqifist”: Nobody can be harmed… unless you first hit them with a basketball.

      I’ve had almost as much fun reading about other people’s playing around with and breaking Deus Ex as I have playing it.

  11. Ian says:

    Thought when looking at DE3 stuff I need to dig out the original.

    This confirms it.

  12. Feste says:

    Just stormed Liberty Island last night. Tranquiliser darts for everyone and riot baton on the noggin for anyone still standing. It still feels like a tight, difficult game.

  13. IgnusDei says:

    So i just got Deus Ex on steam, and as much as i’d like to celebrate with you guys, the damned thing doesn’t work. :(

  14. Ian says:

    What I really need to do is play the game in a different way. I ALWAYS go for the as-sneaky-as-possible route.

    I really need to try it as an action hero where I have weapons skills that aren’t the suck. :-P

    • Malagate says:

      Ohh Ian, I too am the same! I just can’t help trying to do everything in the most sneaky manner possible (and in the game).

      Sometimes I do take the GEP gun, sometimes I do get the shotgun from the boat, but almost always I end up tranquilising someone in the back of the face and hiding behind a crate.

      Or leaving gas grenades on enemy patrol routes.

      Or just cattle prodding them in the cheeks, followed up with a baton smack to the back of the head because it saves battery life and is just as quiet…but the non-leathal takedowns get left behind in favour of actual stealth kills (after I notice that it doesn’t make much of a difference to the game and I run out of cattle prod juice but got loads of stealth pistol ammo).

    • jeremypeel says:

      Agreed!

      Also, I love the idea of ‘the back of the face’.

  15. Gesadt says:

    Deus Ex is like Blade Runner equivalent of games, you keep replaying it at least once a year.

  16. Spatula says:

    to re-iterate MajorManiacs post,
    what are the best mods for this game?
    Are there any that stop it looking like, well, Pat Butchers lady garden??

    Also- do these mods work on steam?

    I’m dying to play this game again, but the graphics (i’m so so shallow) really put me off….

  17. LionsPhil says:

    Time to dig out this again! Celebrate the anniversary by locking Walton Simons in a cupboard and sterilising the ‘Ton in one glorious, instantaneous flash of your coming power.

    And, of course, there must be a singalong.

  18. Redd says:

    Oh wow, I was grubbing about the grounds of the Statue of Happiness pretending I was JC Denton in GTA IV this very morning. How strange.

    • CMaster says:

      I went to New York a bit back and spent most of my non-working time visiting various Deus Ex locations.
      They’re mostly recongisable but different in real life, with the exception of Hell’s Kitchen which appeared completely different, and the subway stations which are much, much grimmer in real life.

  19. faelnor says:

    stick with the prod
    prod with the prod

    • faelnor says:

      a non-lethal takedown is almost always the most silent takedown

    • jeremypeel says:

      Is that a Paul Denton quote from the first mission?

      If so, I reserve the right to feel very pleased with myself.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Oh man, no, I remember where I know that line from…

      Sorry everyone.

      I may as well start using coke.

  20. anaqer says:

    “Puuuuutonatrenchcoat…”

    • user@example.com says:

      Denton, you don’t have to wear that coat tonight…

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    yhancik says:

    I spill my drink to this fine game.

  22. terry says:

    I cannot get through the stealth bit in the tutorial :( I am a horrible human being

  23. Sulkdodds says:

    Happy Day O’ Sex, everyone.

  24. Kester says:

    Happy birthday Deus Ex! <3

    Although I join the RPS crew in this making me feel old. I'm now one of those men who used to bang on about how good the Commodore 64 was, aren't I?

    • Kester says:

      And now I can’t find my disc, nooo! I have the little booklet that tells me how to play, but that is somehow not as satisfying.

    • ascagnel says:

      ’tis now super-cheap on Steam, should re-buying it not be disgusting.

  25. Miles of the Machination says:

    I once finished the entire generator/Ton hotel mission with no legs. Good timea. Actually my friend finished it for me. I could only cower in his manly presence as it happened.

    • jeremypeel says:

      That’s actually the most macho thing I can possibly think of, much more so than anything in Duke Nukem or whathaveyou.

      It makes me want to rip off my shirt and shout, “SPUNK!” at the top of my voice. And immediately regret it.

  26. Captain Bland says:

    I am ashamed to say I’ve only ever played Deus Ex through once. I’m going to change that now. I will try playing JC as a right wing nutbag. This will be fun.

  27. LeFishy says:

    I will join you in that venture.

  28. kevlarcardhouse says:

    If you didn’t play it when it originally came out, skip it. People have a lot of nostalgia for it because of the genre-mixing that was novel at the time, but it’s a terrible game as a whole and most of the mechanics are extremely dated.

    • TheApologist says:

      @kevlarcardhouse

      Can’t agree with you there – it looks pretty awful, but genre-mixing is perfectly du jour, and overall, while it is a bit long, it has exceptional level design, interesting complex RPG mechanics that have a meaningful impact on your play, plot decisions with consequences, and you can hack cash points and nick people’s money.

      What is not to like, nay, love?

    • disperse says:

      @kevlarcardhouse

      Well, I’ve dusted off the Deus Ex CD many times in the last 10 years and have never regretted it. Obviously, some of that enjoyment may be because of nostalgia.

      I’m curious, which game elements would you consider “dated”? It seems most of the elements have been stolen (in bits and pieces if not wholesale) by modern games through the years.

    • jeremypeel says:

      I played it for the first time maybe 5 years late, and as I keep saying, it’s my favourite game.

      And I ain’t wrong.

  29. Solivagant says:

    Best game ever.

    Anyone that hasn’t tried out the Malkavian MOD should do so right away.
    “Go in, and go in, and go in, and go in like the US Marshall and his three daughters”

  30. Freudian Trip says:

    I’m instead celebrating 9 years of calling it Dues Ex as the first time I found out it wasn’t was on a podcast about a year ago.

  31. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Now you’ve done it. I’ll have the UNATCO HQ music loop going through my head all day long.

    Doot doodoot doodoot DOOT doodoot doodoodoot

  32. wiper says:

    You spill your drink indeed <3

    Deus Ex is love.

  33. Frenz0rz says:

    The GEP gan takedown is always the most silent way to eliminate Manderley.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-faAQIjbJZE

    That is all.

  34. Sigma Draconis says:

    As long as it’s been installed on my harddrive — and thoroughly enjoying the game, since I wouldn’t have bought Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines years later if I didn’t — I’ve never finished Deus Ex because I kept getting side-tracked by other games.

    Today, I will make the effort to finally play through Deus Ex until the end (whichever end that might be).

  35. Gwog says:

    HAHAHAHA I was at the houseboat launch party, and every single one of the ION Austin guys I asked if they were happy with the game said “No” and sort of glumly hung their head. HAHAHAHA!

  36. laikapants says:

    What a wonderful bit of happenstance, I just decided to move Deus Ex to the top of my Oh Why Have I Never Actually Played This list. My first attempt at the getting in the statue the back way went, uh, terribly. Turns out I cannot trick a robot into thinking I’m a box.

    • user@example.com says:

      They should get Kojima to do a reboot of the series, if Deus Ex 3 doesn’t work out.

  37. GamerOfFreedom says:

    I just started playing it yesterday :) Happy BDay Deus Ex

  38. Xercies says:

    I love this game but i never completed it…in fact i only got half way through…i kept on replaying that half though. great game and i love it so much…I first went in guns blazing and didn’t realize there was a back entrance to the Statue of liberty after a few restarts and I did finally find it i was amazed and i fell in love with the game instantly.

    I really need to complete it.

  39. westyfield says:

    I gave up on Deus Ex after the second mission (Clinton Castle?). Was that a bad thing to do?

    Also, what is with Gunther? Lemon and lime is the best, orange can shove off.

  40. Kadayi says:

    If there is one game out there that is fully deserving of a remake it’s this (a sentiment I know Jimbo has expressed on a few occasions). God damn it games industry, wake up and get on it already.

  41. Anthony says:

    Page still gets my vote for most hilariously voiced character in gaming history.

    “He was so willing it was almost pathetic.”

    Loves me that game, though.

  42. Wanoah says:

    Hmm, so we’re celebrating a decade of gaming effectively standing still bar some extra prettiness? /defeatism

  43. sana says:

    This day is also my birthday.

  44. Pani says:

    After reading all these comments, It seems like I’m not alone after all – I thought I was the only person who hadn’t played it. Looks like there are a lot of us in my situation and a lot more who haven’t finished it. Maybe one of you fine writers should do a “why you should play….” or a “why you should finish…”. I purposefully did not read the “which ending did you choose” just in case I ever pick it up. From all the hype I hear, I know almost nothing about it.

  45. Strykary says:

    @ CMaster First play through without shifter was amazing. Second and third with shifter was orgasmic to say the least.

    I’d say play vanilla the first time through, then hit it up with shifter. I recommend The Nameless Mod as well, it’s a little slower than Deus Ex but it carries on its own quite well.

  46. Alexander Norris says:

    I’m celebrating by playing Invisible War for the first time.

    …which makes me feel like I’m raping a corpse on funeral day.

    • Mojo says:

      In all honesty, the game got all the bad press and lackluster sales it deserved. It was a major milestone for the invention of the term “consolized”. But I’m done bashing it.

      The story of IW is still better than 95% of games and there are bits and pieces that kinda sorta feel like the DX we know and love. It’s worth today’s bargain bin prices.

  47. Gorgeras says:

    This is a response to a conversation further up the thread but I need to wave my intellect-peen at all of you.

    Deus Ex’s RPG skill-point and aug upgrade system was brilliant and that’s why idiot developers keep trying to copy it. They THINK they are copying it, they really do. I disagree; I don’t think they have understood it. I have only ever known one developer to have expressed any understanding of it and that was Shigeru Miyamoto and he wasn’t even talking about Deus Ex, but his Zelda games.

    Power-ups, new weapons, point systems: their main purpose is to *restrict* you, not make you stronger as the game progresses, which is what developers seem to think. Miyamoto has them in every Zelda game *reluctantly* because he’s never found another way to put you on an epic adventure. If Frodo could wear the damn ring without consequence or even Gandalf, or they could have simply rode to Mordor on a giant eagle in a couple of days, it wouldn’t have been much of an epic adventure. Link has to be bound by the same thing so that you have to go trudging through dungeons, come across boulders you can’t move until much later or mountains you can’t climb.

    The first thing any developer does when they copy Deus Ex is to get rid of the need to spend 20 seconds standing still so you can ‘aim’. They think it’s stupid. It is stupid. But it works. If it’s stupid but it’s works, it’s NOT stupid, but they don’t do the calculations beyond the obvious. It was when we first realised that we would either have to aim from very far away over a period of time or shoot from very close that we were forced to consider a single NSF grunt as a lethal force that will be difficult to contend with. The real choice in Deus Ex wasn’t between back door and front door; sometimes those choices were forced on you and you LOVED it, you just didn’t know. You were blind to being forced because you were only being forced due to earlier decisions you had full control over, didn’t know the outcome but the end result was logical. If you ran out non-lethal ammo, you had to choose between killing or avoiding, which in turn determined the viability of going in the front entrance, going in the back entrance and rescuing Gunther.

    Who would have thought that keeping some spare soy food or a candy bar would create a chain of events that would cost you a lockpick or two but net you two clips of ammo long after you’d forgot about it? I don’t know of a game that has done that except in really artificial ways where they are 100% scripted and can’t managed to reduce that pre-defined path to allow even 5% freedom.

    Choices require both consequences and real pressures influencing you. Developers can script most of the consequences, but the pressures need to be part of the mechanics of the game.

    • disperse says:

      @Gorgeras

      Yes, this is an important distinction. The upgrades in Deus Ex were not power ups as much as unlocks to new powers. Upgrade your melee skill a couple times and the prod becomes a one-strike knock-out tool. Upgrade your arm strength and you can begin to shove, pick up, and throw the larger boxes. If you want to run-and-gun you can focus on upgrading your gun skill; however, if they let you run-and-gun effectively from the start you would not have any incentive to come up with creative solutions.

  48. Draken says:

    @Lars Westergren: Which game is that? Steam won’t show me, since it’s not available in my region.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      @Draken

      Alpha Protocol. Other RPG hybrids that are heavy on story, character, choice and consequence:
      Vampire: Bloodlines
      The Witcher.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      Oh, and Mask of the Betrayer expansion to Neverwinter Nights 2, and Dragon Age of course.

  49. dragon_hunter21 says:

    Oh. Well. Hot damn. I just bought the GOTY edition on Steam just yesterday. That, and Vampire: The Masquerade- Bloodlines. I’m getting a lot more play out of Vamprie, though- mainly because of the FUCKING MINICROSSBOW