Deus Ex - The Conspiracy
Here's some thoughts and information on Deus Ex: The Conspiracy, i.e. the PlayStation 2 version of Deus Ex.
First of all: it supports USB keyboards and mice. One of the few PS2 games to do so, this means it's actually very playable if you're used to the PC version.
Apart from first-person aiming with a controller being of questionable merit to begin with, DX has so many functions, and odd mappings, that playing it with a controller is rather awkward. However, playing it with keyboard and mouse solves all this and affords extra functionality, such as the ability to toggle individual augs. See below for a list of keyboard/mouse controls. Another technical note: it's one of the few games that aren't HDLoader compatible. Believe me, I've tried. Update: the game does work with OPL, a more modern alternative to HDLoader. The game also supports its marvellous virtual memory card support (save/load on HD).
All in all it's a reasonably decent port job. Both the gameplay and (large) level design aren't really suited to the console, but they made the best of what they had to work with. There's a number of user interface and gameplay simplifications: the inventory is slot instead of grid based; JC has just one global health value instead of health for each body part; augs can be installed without a medbot; computers and keypads can only be used with logins that JC has in his datavault, no manual entry or guessing. These (and some other) modifications mean the game's a little more simplistic, but I don't feel it's that big of an issue. Note that it's still possible to save anywhere, just like on PC. Rare, for a console game.
Note the slot-based inventory menu: everything is categorized (lockpicks/multitools, low-tech weapons, etc), except firearms of which you're limited to four. Apart from that, the only limit is the amount of one item you can carry, such as 20 multitools. The yellow ticks indicate the item's part of the next/previous item rotation accessible from the D-pad.
As the PS2's specs are meager compared even to those of period PCs, there's quite some technical changes. Textures are blurrier than on PC, the character models are different (not strictly worse though). However, the most significant change is how the maps have been split up into small chunks, akin to what was the case for Invisible War. The load times between these chunks are rather long, although I guess the load times on PCs of the time might have been pretty significant too.
For example, Liberty Island is split up into a number of parts such as the dock and Unatco, a few parts outside the statue, the inside of the statue, etc. This means that there's a few changes to accommodate this , such as UNATCO hq being shifted towards the dock and the addition of an entrance booth (see the screenshots below). Furthermore, there are no windows and the upper statue levels, and they're surrounded by high walls; there's no outside to see anymore as this is another map. Some levels survived the transition better: Vandenberg, for example, has simply been split into an inside and outside area.
The starting dock leads into an entryway; after that, this road leading to either UNATCO or the island proper (separate map).
Some levels are rather different from the PC versions in ways other than the extra load zones, which is the main attraction of playing this. In fact, sometimes individual areas have been enlarged to compensate for the fact that they've been separated. For example, the upper level of the Mole People subway station is separate but much larger on PS2. In other instances, levels have been tweaked either to improve gameplay or to allow the player to circumvent loads. An example of the former is a ventilation shaft that ends in the roof of the room in front of Gunther's cell on Libery Island; as for the second case, an example is the 747 hangar on LaGuardia having a one-way door connecting it to the helipad, so that on his way back the player can skip a few outside loads. Finally, some levels are just completely different. Hell's Kitchen, for instance, has a different layout with the Free Clinic near the subway, a large street connecting the 'Ton to Osgood's, and a completely different park. See the screenshots. Other areas with major changes are the Hong-Kong hub area, the NYC MJ12 base and the Paris streets.
Despite all the changes, the frame rate sometimes bogs down to neigh unplayable levels, especially when there's heavy combat going on. There are PS2 games that look and run much better than DX; some offer larger areas too. The technical weaknesses of DX are probably due to its ported Unreal engine and its level design. In comparison, PS2 games with relatively impressive graphics are designed to have little on screen, have levels that aren't as open, etc. Had DX been a PS2 game from the start, it would probably have performed better.
Besides the level design changes, there are a few other gameplay tweaks too. For example, the Dragon's Tooth sword only does 10 damage compared to the PC's 100. Other melee weapons are weaker to compensate. However, the Tooth does seem more powerful than the PC's normal sword, which does 10 too. Regeneration and Ballistic Protection now share an augmentation canister; although it's still possible to take both augs this requires waiting until you come across a second instance. On the other hand, the healing augmentation uses much, much less energy than on PC. Some niggles have been fixed, such as the pistol skill level bug and if you don't have room for a body's items when trying to pick it up, the items just get dropped to the floor (on PC you had to make room to be able to pick them up, before being able to move the body).
All in all the PC version is superior for obvious reasons, but if you're a DX fan the PS2 version's worth playing: it's nice a remix and interesting to play and compare. At any rate, it beats playing Invisible War no matter the platform.
Differences with the PC version
Here's a list of the differences I noticed while playing through the game on PS2:
- Prerendered intro and end cutscenes: Intro; New dark age; Illuminati; Helios.
- Orchestral menu music.
- Slightly altered club music.
- Various altered sounds.
- Various models have been improved, or at least altered.
- Lower texture detail than PC version, no detail textures.
- No fog anywhere.
- Generally less windows (sometimes as the outside would be in another load zone), reflections.
- Security/info/ATM terminal models look different.
- UNATCO trooper eye colors inverted (i.e. normal).
- Dropped bodies now slump to the floor.
- Anna Navarre has two eyes (probably not meant to be this way).
- Game autosaves (to memory, not card) on each level transition.
- No per-body-part health.
- No laser sight upgrades.
- No quick toolbelt.
- When using a controller, augs are activated by binding a selection of them to the aug button.
- Slot, not grid, based inventory. The only real limit here is that you can only carry four firearms (excluding ps20). All melee weapons can be carried at the same time, all food types, grenades etc.
- Augmentations can be installed without a medbot.
- Augmentation and upgrade canisters do not take up inventory space.
- Cannot manually enter keycodes and passwords, they are given when reading emails/datacubes. Sometimes this seems to been accidentally left out. Can select which one to use when using a computer/atm. Paul's datacube states the code '4321' instead of to "count back from 4". Maggie Chow's new password ('insurgent') is explicitly noted. JC automatically 'guesses' the last digit of the blue fusion reactor code.
- This means Alex' login and the keycode to his cupboard can't be deduced.
- No explicit nano key ring, locked doors can be opened the normal way if a key has been found.
- No conversation log.
- No ammo list, which means descriptions can't be read for ammo types that can't be switched out with others / for which the weapon hasn't been found.
- Weapon view model has some inertia, still fires where crosshair points however.
- Goldeneye-style precision aiming where the crosshair is controlled directly, even possible with mouse.
- No 'real name' and skin color options.
- ATM codes can be reused for each component map of an area; the account will still contain money.
- Computer interfaces look different.
- Inventory items off corpses are dropped to the ground when inventory space is lacking.
- Pistol skill point glitch has been removed.
- Dragon's tooth sword does 10 damage compared to the PC version's 100. Still quite powerful.
- Other melee weapons generally have lower damage values too. However they seem to do more damage than PC weapons with similar values.
- Ballistic protection/emp shield (subdermal) is now energy shield/emp shield (subdermal). Regen/ballistic (torso) are now a canister.
- The healing augmentation does a full heal at the cost of 5(!) energy.
- Baton has a higher knockout effect, seems to match prod.
- Bots always heal health/energy to 100.
- Thrown explosives such as LAMs detonate on contact with objects.
- Numerous changes all around, often to decrease view distance or add more load zones; sometimes to add extra routes or seemingly just for the heck of it.
- Liberty Island is the least well-PS2'd area. Crates everywhere to hide load zones, inside of statue is separate so can't look out over island, etc.
- The 'hub' areas (Hell's Kitchen / Hong Kong / Paris) have pretty much the same content (characters, 'inside' maps), but are laid out completely different. They're split up into parts, but all in all they're larger than their PC counterparts, probably to not have the component parts be too tiny or lopsided.
- Vent to the area in front of Gunther's liberty island cell.
- No dead NSF lying around liberty island after UNATCO interferes.
- Castle Clinton basement different.
- Osgood's basement window unbreakable.
- No sex sounds in front of 'Ton room door.
- MJ12 sewer base hub area now consists of shallow canals instead of a deep hole with walkways.
- Mole people subways have been much expanded (probably biggest level design change).
- LaGuardia helipad is its own area. One way door from 747 hangar to there. Sewers beneath, lead to fenced in electrified area.
- NSF generator warehouse and NSF hq basements have been vastly simplified.
- Flooded Hong Kong tunnel has been connected to the tunnel with the triad fight/VersaLife 2. Old China Hand ventilation shaft now contains some items.
- Naval base generally compacted, ventilation shafts are missing spider bot parts.
- Champs Elysees sewers expanded, less bots around.
- Small hidden area above Chateau Duclare dumbwaiter.
- Vandenberg surprisingly faithful, but inside and outside of building are separate maps. No desert ledge that can be explored at perimeter.
- Ocean base land area walled off, spider bot/laser wire area missing from command level.
- Area 51 lvl 4 has less walkways/vents/ways of getting around.
Here's a few screenshots I took by transferring my PS2 savegames to the PCSX2 emulator. I wish I had thought of doing this while playing the game, instead of months later, so I could have taken some more shots of interesting parts.
- WASD or arrows - Movement
- Mouse 1 - Fire
- Mouse 2 - Use
- Mouse 3 - Next selected inventory item
- Space - Jump
- C - Crouch
- Q / E - Lean
- CTRL - Reload
- Alt - Aim mode
- Caps Lock / X - Toggle run/walk
- ' - Change ammo type
- [ / ] - Use scope
- Tab - Drop item
- Backspace - Put away item
- 0-9 - Use augmentation
- F1 - Inventory menu
- F2 - Augs/skills menu
- F3 - Use quick augs
- F4/F5/F6 - Datavault
- + / - - Set mouse Sensitivity
Additionally, as some menus don't have selectable options but instead require specific buttons to be pressed (such as 'Triangle = hack'), these keys have the functions of buttons in menus:
- Home - Triangle
- Delete - Square
- End - Cross
- PgDn - Circle
- A - L1
- D - R1
- S - L2
- W - R2