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Deus Ex on modern systems

Now there's a tool that will apply most of the fixes discussed in this guide automatically!
Download it!
Steam users: make sure to run the game at least once before running the tool. Known issue: the tool fails to write changes to locations that require admin rights / use the virtual store. Looking into this.

deus ex fixer tool screenshot

Often hailed by experts (such as myself) as the best game yet, Deus Ex is almost ten years old right now. Although old games not running well is less of a problem as it used to be (you should have tried running a game from 1992 in 2000), DX still has its share of potential problems and glitches. Nothing compared to the System Shock games though. This guide will cover setting up the game for the first time, fixes to the most common problems, and various improvements that can be made to modernize it somewhat.

0. Where to get Deus Ex

The easiest way to get it right now is for $10 via Steam. The Steam release has been updated to the latest version of the game, and being able to download it wherever you're logged is certainly handy. Note that the Steam version of Deus Ex will be installed to [steam folder]\steamapps\common\deus ex\.

1. Setting up Deus Ex for the first time

Patching up: the latest version of the game is 1.112fm. The Game of the Year edition (which as far as I know the budget rereleases are) and the Steam version are already up to date; if you have the original cd release, make sure to apply the patch. If your version is up to date it will say so in the main menu and you'll have a 'multiplayer' option there.

When running the game for the first time, it'll ask you which renderer to use. The Direct3D renderer is the best one to start with. As soon as the game has started, to into the display options and make sure that:

detail textures on vs off
The power of detail textures.

In most cases you should be good to go! Play the tutorial, lose your legs in the progress, and then try a new game. Liberty Island is pretty challenging for a first level; take it easy, get to know the AI, and keep in mind that you'll get the opportunity to explore it without NSF troopers bothering you later on.

2. Troubleshooting (the fixer application at the top of the page can do most of the things discussed here for you!)

The game runs too fast/slow/extremely jerky/has other extreme non-graphics problems

Speed issues are usually due to CPU throttling or multicore CPUs. Below ways to fix these are detailed; however, the easiest method is to use the Deus Ex launcher from here, which modifies the game to correct these issues. On the other hand, I've read reports of the game crashing when using this... some experimenting might be required. Also, make sure you haven't accidentally disabled VSync; running at high framerates speeds up the game at some point. VSync should be enabled by default, but it might pay off to force it for the game in your video card's control panel.

Deus Ex's version of the Unreal engine has trouble coping with CPU throttling technologies such as Intel Speedstep (also known as EIST), enhanced halt state (C1E), AMD's PowerNow and Cool 'n Quiet, etc. These are often enabled on both laptop and desktop computers. The easiest way to fix it is to go into the power options (these specific options are usually found in the vendor's own power managing application in XP but are integrated into the control panel in Vista) and set the processor's minimum and maximum speed to 100%, at least when using AC power. If you're unable to find such options, or if they don't seem to do anything, you'll need to take a look in the BIOS. In a section such as 'Power Options' or 'Power management' you'll more than likely find one or more of the mentioned settings.

In some cases, though this seems to vary wildly, the game also has trouble with multiple core processors. An easy way to fix this is to run the game, go into the task manager's (ctrl+alt+delete) processes tab and then right-click deusex.exe. Select the 'affinity' option and set it to only use one of the processors. If this fixes your problem, you might want to permanently set the game to use one core, though this requires knowledge on how to work the command prompt. Download ImageCFG, run cmd.exe, and then run ImageCFG on your DX executable.
For me that means imagecfg -a 0x1 "d:\deus ex\system\deusex.exe"

I've personally confirmed that this works with the Steam version too.

As mentioned, the multi-cpu problem is a bit sporadic. DX works fine for me on a E6600, Q6600 and T7200 machine, but on a T6600 laptop it needed the fix.

Finally, some computers seem to run a bit jerky with the Direct3D renderer; try OpenGL instead (or vice versa) (see next question).

Input freezes after a while.

If you've enabled data execution prevention (DEP) for all programs, which is not the default, add the game as an exception.

The game has major graphical glitches, such as the sight of water slowing everything down to a crawl, missing textures, etc

Try switching from the Direct3D to the OpenGL renderer or vice versa (settings->display->rendering device). You might need to check 'show all' in the dialog that pops up. If that doesn't fix it, take a look at alternative renderers. After switching renderers, even if it's back to a previously used one, you'll need to reapply your graphics options (proper resolution, 32 bit color).

Note that the OpenGL renderer that comes with the game isn't as well-tested and supported as the Direct3D one; if using OpenGL fixes your problem but introduces other or more subtle glitches, try one of the more up to date alternative renderers instead.

The graphics are extremely muddy

Make sure the game runs in 32 bit color mode, see section 1. Note that the lighting in Deus Ex is always somewhat 'blotchy' though.

deus ex in 16 bit color mode
deus ex in 32 bit color mode
16 bit vs 32 bit color mode.
The game is extremely dark

If you're playing windowed, try switching to fullscreen mode.

I'm having audio problems, such as stuttering sound or the game crashing with audio subsystem errors

Try these things:

  1. First of all, enable VSync in your video card options, your renderer, etc. Cracking sound etc. can arise from the game running too fast.
  2. Open up the file deusex.ini (it's in the game's system directory) and go to the [Galaxy.GalaxyAudioSubsystem] section. Set Latency, which should be 40 by default, to 60. You can also try higher values such as 80 or 100.
  3. If you're on XP, try running dxdiag (start->run, enter dxdiag) and setting the audio acceleration to the one-but-lowest level, 'basic'.
  4. Open up the file deusex.ini (it's in the game's system directory) and go to the [Galaxy.GalaxyAudioSubsystem] section. Set UseDirectSound to false. This can also be done from the game's advanced preferences (see alternative renderers on how to access these).
The game crashes with an error message at startup.

Unreal engine error messages are pretty helpful. Read from right to left and try to find out which engine subsystem (audio, renderer, etc) causes the problem. This can help in the search for a solution. The game's logfile ('system\deusex.log') can also contain useful clues.

Screenshots are way too dark.

This can be fixed by using the advanced options of the alternative renderers. Alternatively, Fraps takes screenshots just fine.

3. Improvements

GUI scaling fix

For high resolutions, the game draws its whole GUI/HUD to a 640x480 box and then scales it to the screen resolution. This makes for an incredibly chunky, ugly GUI on modern resolutions like 1680x1050 and 1920x1200. Fixing it is easy enough though; take a look at the OTP UI Fix.

the ugly gui scaling
The ugly GUI scaling in action.
Custom resolutions

If the game doesn't offer the resolution you want to use, go to its system directory and open up deusex.ini. In the [WinDrv.WindowsClient] set FullscreenViewportX and FullscreenViewportY to whatever you want to use. You can set 32 bit color here too. As an example, my settings are

FullscreenViewportX=1680
FullscreenViewportY=1050
FullscreenColorBits=32

Going into the game's video configuration menu will reset the resolution to 640x480 if you're using a custom res, so make sure any other options (detail textures, brightness) are set the way you want them before editing the ini file.

Widescreen

Though the game supports widescreen resolutions, the field of view won't be expanded (in other words, you won't see more to the sides). To do this yourself, open up user.ini (it's once again in the system directory), go to the [Engine.PlayerPawn] section and set DesiredFOV and DefaultFOV to a wider setting. I recommend 90.

Alternative renderers

If you're having graphics problems that can't be solved with the standard renderers, or if you want to try and add some graphical glitz, check out these.

  • My own Direct3D 10 renderer aims to have the game look good and run well on modern systems. Always has 32 bit color and other quality settings enabled. Offers various quality improvements such as anti aliasing and anisotropic filtering. Has VSync on by default. Obviously, this is my personal pick when it comes to playing DX.
  • This site offers a number of alternative renderers for Deus Ex, OpenGL and Direct3D 9. Again, either OpenGL or Direct3D might work best for you. Installing them is as easy as copying them to the system directory and selecting the renderer from the ingame options. To set advanced options (also for many other subsystems), press the 't' key ingame, delete the "say" text and enter "preferences". This will pop up a window with advanced game options. I like to use 8x anti aliasing (UseAA=true, NumAASamples=8), 8x anisotropic filtering (MaxAnisotropy=8) and double detail textures (DetailTextures=true, DetailMax=2, SinglePassDetail=false). The option GammaCorrectScreenshots is useful as it adjusts shots taken with the game's built-in screenshot function to not be so dark anymore. The new renderers also have the possibility of using pixel- and vertex shaders for rendering instead of software T&L/fixed function shading, which can lead to a speed improvement (Deus Ex needing speed improvements nowadays is doubtful, though).
deus ex looking its best
Deus Ex looking its best; click for full size.
New Vision

New Vision is a very promising texture replacement project which aims to overhaul the game with modern-quality textures. Not finished yet, but already replaces a great deal. Requires an alternative renderer.

High definition project

The Deus Ex High Definition Project was an effort to update the game's models and textures; little activity in years but they did release a pack of improved decorative models such as phones, ATMs etc. Update: new site here but no updates as of yet.

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Created: Apr 21 2008
Modified: Aug 23 2013