Friday, April 24, 2015

My life as a writer in 2015

    Hey folks,

    I wanted to give people an update on my current writing situation and what's coming out in the coming months as well as what's contracted for the future. Last year, my contract with Permuted Press was cancelled due to "irreconcilable creative differences", I was left with an uncertain future in publishing. I had no less than five manuscripts with a sixth on the way and nowhere to publish them. I had been contracted for no less than nine books with Permuted Press and giving that up was the hardest choice of my writing career.

    Where would I go, what would I do?

    My first book and 'big' release is The Rules of Supervillainy in May. I don't know whether it is going to be released in mid-May or late May but it's coming out soon. I can't contain my excitement over this story. Gary Karkofsky is Merciless, a man who receives a magic cloak in the mail and decides to become a supervillain in a world already full of them. It turns out he's not all that good at evil, though, and may have to do something about his city being overwhelmed by it.

The symbol of our supervillain.
    Jim Bernheimer and Amber Cove publishing want this to be a full-fledged series and will be releasing The Games of Supervillainy this Winter. It's already completed and I'm already working on yet another Spring 2016 in Secrets of Supervillainy. I love Gary as he's a fantastically snarky character and

    Thankfully, Tim Marquitz (Demon Squad, Eyes Deep) and Joe Martin of Ragnarok Publications as well as Jim Bernheimer (Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, Prime Suspects) proved to be my salvation. Or, at least, they proved to be the sort of guys who liked my writing enough to want to publish my books. No disrespect to Permuted Press but I was happier with my contracts as well, getting excellent terms as well as a strong sense of where my new publishers wanted to go with my work.

    Esoterrorism, the first book of the Red Room series, will be coming out in July. It is the adventures of Derek Hawthorne, agent of the titular organization, and his partner Shannon O'Reilly. Spies vs. the Supernatural! They fight the weird and cover it up! It's an homage to all my favorite conspiracy fiction from the Nineties like the X-Files, Deus Ex, and Mage: The Ascension.
Love this cover.

    The fact it's coming out just as a new X-Files series is in the works is good timing. Ragnarok Publication isn't just interested in this single novel, though, and has already contracted me for the completed sequel of Eldritch Dossiers for release in March of 2016.

    I have already completed the third novel in the series, Operation: Otherworld, and hope it will be released in 2017. This is a series which is dear to my heart and I hope I'll get a chance to write it for years to come. I love the world, characters, and conspiracies--but I'll let you judge for yourself what you think of it.

    While these are my releases set for 2015 (and their sequels), I'm also contracted for 2016 s well thanks to my awesome publishers. In mid-2016, expect to see the release of Wraith Knight, the first book of the Wrath Knight Chronicles. Following the adventures of Jacob Riverson, the cursed undead champion of the King Below, we get to see a tail of both redemption as well as temptation.

    With the God of Evil destroyed, Jacob has a chance of regaining his lost honor as well as humanity--or gaining revenge on a world which condemned him in the first place. I love the characters in this fantasy novel and think of it as an adult Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings-esque tale.

    Ending up my contracted novels is Cthulhu Apocalypse, which is ironically the first novel I wrote for Permuted Press and the one which has been through the most rewrites. I wanted to get this one JUST write as it is an homage to Mad Max, Fallout, and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. John Henry Booth is a survivor of a world destroyed by the Great Old Ones. Humanity is on its last legs and there is possibly no hope. Despite this, John trudges on and seeks his own meaning in the Wasteland.

    I hope everyone will check out my books this year and in the future. I've got quite a full plate for both this year and the next.

    Let's hope it continues for years to come.

Star Wars: Legacy (hardcover) volume 2 review

    Star Wars: Legacy is no longer canon thanks to the old Expanded Universe being removed from continuity. It's still one of the more coherent and well-crafted stories of the Legends universe, however, which means I heartily recommend it to people who are looking for an enjoyable alternate continuity Star Wars tale. I see no reason why you can't enjoy the Star Wars Legends stories anymore than the Marvel Ultimates series.

    The premise of Star Wars: Legacy is the Sith have returned one-hundred-and-twenty-years after the death of Emperor Palpatine. Led by the diabolical Darth Krayt, they have managed to seize control over the galaxy and install a ruthless draconian dictatorship over the whole of the universe once more. As before, a Skywalker may be the universe's last hope, but Cade Skywalker is the only one left alive and he's a drug-addicted bounty hunter who wants nothing to do with heroism.

The attack on Dac is the first real victory of the new Rebellion.
    In my review of the first hardcover, I mentioned how I wasn't very fond of Cade Skywalker asa a concept. I've never been a great fan of Chosen Ones in fiction and Cade is kind of an insult to his forebearers. Luke Skywalker wasn't a hero because of his high midiclorian count, he was a hero because he wanted to fight the Empire and make the galaxy a better place. The fact the central premise of Legacy is that Cade Skywalker is the only person capable of defeating Darth Krayt caused me extreme distress.

    Thankfully, this volume makes up for it in numerous ways.

    Cade Skywalker gets plenty of development, don't get me wrong, but the series takes a moment to step away from him by giving some focus to other characters. Whereas Cade Skywalker wants nothing to do with being the galaxy's savior, there are plenty of other people who do.

    My favorite of these characters is Gar Stazi, a Duros Admiral of the fallen Galactic Alliance, who is waging a never-ending campaign of resistance against the Sith-controlled Galactic Empire. Gar Stazi is an unquestionably heroic character and contrasts strongly with morally ambiguous characters like our current protagonist.

Darth Krayt proves himself a true monster, equal to Palpatine in evil, if not skill.
    Another character I liked was Cade's uncle, Nat, another Skywalker who has chosen to abandon the Jedi way. Unlike Cade, he hasn't allowed himself to sink into debauchery and depravity. A committed family man, he's a far more admirable figure even if he's decided saving the universe isn't for him. Still, I would have been much happier if there were Skywalkers who were interested in saving the universe.

    That would defeat the need for Cade, though.

    A third character I came to enjoy was Azlyn Rae, Cade Skywalker's former lover and a Jedi padawan who left their order to become an Imperial Knight. She is a reminder of the better times of Cade's life while also a person who inspires him to be better. The fact she's a strong female character who chooses to do what's right over what's practical also helps cement her place in my fanboy's heart.

    Plus she's a ginger and they're a superior species (at least according to my wife).


    The moments spent between Cade and his uncle are some of the best in the series, in my humble opinion, and go a long way to humanizing our antihero protagonist. Nat gives him firm but practical advice about his situation as well as directs him away from the Dark Side without being condescending. Cade is never more likable than when dealing with his uncle and we get some hints as to how he became the way he did. Cade, much like Anakin, simply wishes people to live and his struggle to keep his loved ones from leaving is his greatest flaw rather than his drug use. I'm never going to like Cade but, after this volume, I understood him.

Azlyn Rae is awesome. What happens to her? Well, you'll just have to see but her story goes in surprising directions.
     We also get the set-up for the central conflict of the Legacy stories in the massacre of the Mon Calamari. Long champions of freedom and democracy, they badly underestimate how deep Darth Krayt's madness goes. When the Mon Calamari population is set for genocide, the rest of the galaxy can only look on in horror at the pure evil on display. As with Alderaan, the event galvanizes Darth Krayt's enemies to unite against him too. Some of my favorite moments from this volume are centered around the Mon Calamari defense, like watching Imperial Knight Treis Sinde choose his loyalty to the Force over his service to Emperor Fel.

    In conclusion, Star Wars: Legacy volume 2 is an excellent continuation of a great series. While I don't much care for its lead, the setting is evocative, the art is beautiful, and the characters are fascinating. While the storyline can be a trifle depressing, I think anyone who likes their Star Wars a bit edgy will enjoy this.


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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Bounty Hunter storyline review

    No disintegations.

    Okay, maybe some disintegrations.

    These guys are jerks, after all.

    Boba Fett remains one of the most popular characters in the history of cinema for his relatively tiny appearance in the Empire Strikes Back and later Return of the Jedi (where he was utterly humiliated). The idea of an independent mercenary Darth Vader respected enough to take seriously and capable enough to capture Han Solo captured the imagination of young boys (and some girls) everywhere. So, really, it's no surprise there's a campaign for them on the side of the Empire.

    So what is it like?

Mako is one of the best companions in the game.
    Quite good, actually! It manages to take a concept which I wasn't really all that interested in and play it to the hilt. A Bounty Hunter, by nature, is not going to be someone necessarily interested in the Republic vs. Sith Empire Cold War so it was good they chose to treat it as an independent storyline which occasionally ties into the larger conflict.

    The bounty hunter begins his journey as a gifted newcomer to the world of hunting who wants to win the Great Hunt. The Great Hunt is hosted by Mandalore every year to seek out the greatest bounty-hunters in the universe and offer them a place at the big boy's table, so to speak. Whoever wins it will receive everlasting fame and fortune.

    This is my favorite part of the Bounty Hunter's story as your rival in the Great Hunter, Tarro Blood, is a delightfully hateable scumbag. A cowardly Mandalorian with the right connections, pedigree, and an inexhaustible supply of credits--he is going to buy his way to victory in the Great Hunt. It may seem strange that your initial archenemy is basically Draco Malfoy but I had a great deal of fun fighting him.

Being a bounty hunter is, in a word, fun. That's all there is to it.
    The final mission of the Great Hunt results in a satisfying ending for Tarro Blood but also creates all the problems which will hound the Bounty Hunter for the rest of the series. You are given a mission to bring down a Jedi Master for the "crime" of killing dozens of Mandalorians during a battle.

    This event goes horribly wrong thanks to Tarro Blood with the Jedi Master killed and a Republic cruiser destroyed. If you had Sith sympathies before, this is the crowning moment of your early career, but if you had plans of staying off the Jedi and Republic's radar--well, that's out the window now. Subsequent missions follow your attempts to deal with the Republic's frame-up job, the resulting scrutiny, and how a Sith Lord has become "impressed" with their abilities. My favorite part of the game is the Alderaan mission where you have to deal with a noble family's spoiled heirs who all want to use you to become head of their house.

Tarro Blood is a deliciously hateable villain. The perfect foil for the Bounty Hunter.
    The Light and Dark choices of the Bounty Hunter are better than most as they seem to be coming from the same sort of person. A Dark Side Bounty Hunter is a hired killer, nothing more or less, and is only in it for the money. A Light Side Bounty Hunter has scruples and dislikes it when he's treated as a monster rather than a professional lawman with flexible ethics. The ending is one of the best choices in the game as you can choose to become a Sith Lord's personal hatchet-man or show why no one, not even a Darth, should mess with you.

    The Bounty Hunter's companions are some of my favorite in the group. Most of this is due to Mako, who is just plain awesome. She reminds me strongly of Tali from Mass Effect, basically being your plucky Girl Friday. Sadly, the Bounty Hunter is also stuck with the character of Skadge who is, hands-down, the WORST companion in the whole of The Old Republic. This is made up for, though, by the fact you have a Jawa with a flame-thrower.


Blizz is awesome. BOOM!
    *thumbs up*

    The storyline gives player characters the opportunity to become Mandalorians but I always choose to turn down the opportunity. I'm not a big fan of the Mandalorians and I felt the Bounty Hunter was a more interesting character when he chose to handle things his way rather than through the codex of an ancient warrior race. Plus, turning down Mandalore's offer to join their society to his face at your initiation banquet is HILARIOUS.

    In conclusion, I heartily recommend the Bounty Hunter storyline as it feels very much like Star Wars. Which is hard to get from the "bad guy." Whereas the Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, and Imperial Agents all gave you perspectives on being the villain (even when you're a Lightsider), the Bounty Hunter is a grayer character and I appreciated that. The fact you can choose to play a complete good guy at the end or a heinous villain also gives the storyline a satisfying emotional climax.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery review

    Prime Suspects is an homage to Ridley Scott's Bladerunner without being a rip-off. The premise is Dave Bagini wakes up in a genetics lab, hating clones and remembering he's one of the universe's greatest detectives.

    The problem is he's NOT Dave Bagini, or at least he's not the original. Dave is the forty-second clone of Dave Bagini. In the future, the best at any profession can have themselves cloned and live off the proceeds from taking a tithe from their offspring's salaries. In the three years from when the original Dave had his clone sample taken, he learned to get over his hatred of clones and learned to love money more.

    Which sucks for Forty-Two.

    Dave doesn't have much time to adjust to the fact he's the latest in a small army of clones before he's sent to solve his first murder. Someone has killed Dave Prime, the original Dave so to speak, and all indications are that it was one of the previous forty-one models. Dave has to outwit himself as many times as it takes to solve a case which, literally, endangers them all. After all, if a clone line is defective, there's nothing to do but cancel it.

    That is a premise.

    The definition of high concept.

    Clone Detective solves his own murder.

    Congrats to Jim Bernheimer for coming up with.

    There's nothing new about gritty Noir Detective stories set against a science-fiction backdrop. However, there's nothing new under the sun period and Prime Suspects manages to make a maximum use of its Chandler-meets-Dolly the Sheep premise.

    It's a good example of speculative fiction, which is something I don't get to say very often. It takes the premise of cloning technology, examines how it would impact society, and then draws much of the story from how it had radically altered the lives of people in society.

    We not only get the perspective of society on clones, which is to treat them as subhuman cheap labor, but also the perspective of how the clones feel about their situation. All clones are sterile from birth so they have nothing to spend their money on but self-indulgence. Clones also try to individualize themselves in ways both big and small. All of them are enslaved to their contracts, though, and every Dave is a police officer whether he wants to be or not. The fact all of them are genius detectives with some stuck behind desks or serving as patrolmen leave more than a few frustrated.

    There's always more clones than opportunities.

    Really, this is my favorite part of the book as we get plausible but wild changes in how society alters with such a set up. Forty-Two is unsettled, for example, by the fact one of his alternates is shacked up with a trio of female clones of the same model. The reverse being true for other clones of his. Also, that newborn clones often end up set up with clones from models the rest of them have gotten with because they "know" they get along. The clones all have a reverence for the Prime's wife and child, too, as if they're somehow all of their line's chief priority. Dave, due to having an earlier memory source than them, is less than convinced of this.

    I liked everything about this book, which is something I don't often say about works. The mixture of Noir and science-fiction just gells for lack of a better term, though. The fact Jim Bernheimer remembers to establish something like the fact the colony smells vaguely like rotten eggs and it coats everything comes up just often enough to remain a persistent setting detail. It's a seamy universe, this colony, and we get insights into how all of it works. We even get an understanding why revolts or civil rights campaigns don't happen often.

    But don't take my word for it, check it out yourself.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

The Dresden Files: Cold Days review

    I'm very pleased to say we're finally drawing to a close to my project to "catch up" to the (at the time of posting) latest release of The Dresden Files in Skin Game (reviewed here). Having had a chance to re-read and review all of these books has been a pleasure and I'm glad for all of my fans who have decided to stick by me as I did so. I'm looking forward to the next book on the list, "Peace Talks."

    So where were we?

    Ah, yes, Cold Days.

    Harry has gotten over his whole 'dead' thing and become the Winter Knight for the Queen of the Unseelie fae. This is a job which Harry has dreaded taking up since it requires him to be the assassin for the decidedly less-than-moral Mab. A sense of how things are go is given when Mab assigns him a physical therapist to recover from his brush with death and, as part of his training, she tries to kill him every day. Harry makes the obvious Princess Bride joke, for which I am very grateful.

    After recovering his full strength, in no small part due to the efforts of a attractive half-blooded fairy named Sarissa, Harry has a "coming out" party which presents him to the Winter Court. He gets to meet Santa Claus, a King of Winter, and the Cat Sith who is the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland's Cheshire Cat. During a slow dance with Mab, he receives his first assignment from her: to kill Mab's daughter Maeve.

    Impressive set-up, especially since Maeve has been a longstanding character in the series as well as Mab. It's also complicated by the fact that, despite having a body count in five figures, he's not the sort of man to serve as an assassin. He also isn't the kind to just accept an assignment like that since he knows Mab loves Maeve despite her, literally, cold-blooded nature. Harry can't just refuse the assignment, though, and Maeve isn't exactly his friend either.

    This moral dilemma is just a small part of a complex story of Harry trying to adapt to his new situation. Gone are so many constants of Harry's life like his apartment, his office, and even his business as a consulting wizard to the Chicago PD. Finding out where he stands with many of his friends and loved ones is a major thrust of the story and Jim Butcher handles it well.

    Sarissa is a fun new character and one I enjoyed. Given how crazy the majority of the cast has become after years of oddball adventures, it's nice to have someone perfectly sane to contrast them to. The fact she's Mab's BFF (as Harry says), also adds an interesting new layer to the latter's personality. I look forward to seeing more of Sarissa even if I don't hold out much hope we'll have any follow-up to Harry and her sexual tension but I also liked it for however long it lasted too. Harry needs a stable relationship and none of the women in his life can presently provide it.

    I also enjoyed seeing a softer side of Queen Mab. For years, we've been told she's the most ruthless and hate-filled being in the entirety of the series but this didn't always gel with her actions. Here, we get a nuanced portrayal which shows her hard-edged persona may just be what happens to a person who wants to do good in a world as soul-suckingly evil as the Dresden Files world. You don't just have to be ruthless to survive in the world of the supernatural, you have to be the most ruthless individual. The fact Harry has been steadily going down that road himself for over a dozen books now is an enjoyable bit of fridge brilliance.

    Longtime fans of the series will be pleased to see the return of Fix and Lilly from Summer Knight, characters who have been absent for the majority of the series. While they have made enough appearances to let you know they still exist, both have grown significantly since Harry last saw them. The fact they're familiar and friendly without being Harry's friends makes the twists very believable. Neither is particularly pleased that Harry is allied to the traditional enemy of the Summer Court and this fact bears in on the plot our hero is currently caught up in.

    I'm especially interested where the story involving Molly Carpenter, my favorite of all Dresden Files characters, goes. The twist at the end of the book regarding her future is one I did not see coming and I enjoyed being pleasantly surprised there. I hope we'll also get to see her and Harry have a few conversations about in the future. Harry has looked at her as someone less than himself, either in experience or age for a long time, and this has the potentially to finally reverse that dynamic.

   Cold Days also gives us some insight into the overarching story of the series. We meet a new enemy in "Nemesis" which seems to function as a contagious form of mind-control that is related to the Outsiders. I have no idea if this is responsible for the Black Council, is unrelated, or is related to it somehow. I won't lie to you, fellow Dresden fans, but I won't be happy if the Black Council plot is completely replaced by Nemesis. Nemesis is fine as a villain but the Outsiders are too one-dimensionally evil to be the powers behind folk like Cowl. I'm hoping the Black Council is able to give an explanation for its evil even if it's not one Harry would accept.

    In conclusion, this is another excellent entry into The Dresden Files. I liked the ending as well. It managed to make the loss of some characters meaningful while taking others into bold new directions.


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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Game of Thrones: Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness review

    The Telltale adaptation of the Game of Thrones television show, adapted from A Song of Ice and Fire, is perhaps its most ambitious undertaking yet. The Walking Dead remains the benchmark by which such things are judged. However, George R.R. Martin's work is infamous for its branching plotlines, deep storytelling, and fantastic subversion of fantasy tropes. I was a big fan of the first episode but significantly less so with the second. With the third episode, I think we've settled into a better pace which I hope will continue until the final episode.

    The premise for this section is to follow-up on a number of plots established in the previous episodes. The plot is only about halfway done but we're seeing some serious progress as well as a large amount of character development. The game nicely ties into several Game of Thrones show plots as well. The episode follows multiple storylines dealing with the Forester family members as they struggle to adapt to their new circumstances.

Drogon is animated beautifully in a particularly harrowing action sequence.
    Gared Tuttle adjusting to life on the Wall and swearing his vows before encountering two individuals from his past who change his perspective on the Night's Watch. Roderick must deal with being head of the Forester household despite being a cripple and their castle being under enemy control. Mira has to deal with the fact she's torn between Margaery as well as Tyrion for who will benefit her. Asher must try to figure out how to gain a mercenary army despite possessing coin and being on the run. Watching how these stories weave and intersect is the greatest appeal of The Sword in the Darkness.

    The game makes extremely good use of characters established in previous episodes. The daughter of the Whitehill family, Gared's friends in the Night's Watch, the Coal Boy ("Tom"), and others who became fully fledged characters here. We get to find out a number of secrets I never expected and this fits in with George R.R. Martin's Westeros. The game cuts down on cameos from the original series, instead using them only in select roles which fit their personalities. I appreciated that, even if I think they would have done well to not introduce so many in the first place.

Some of the most harrowing moments in the game are contests of words.
    There's some very satisfying scenes in the game, allowing the characters involved a sense of accomplishment even if nothing will be resolved for the final scene. Gared Tuttle gets a long-awaited rematch with a foe from Episode 1, Mira gets to make a firm alliance with either Tyrion or Margaery, and Roderick gets to show why House Forester is bowed but not broken. I also liked we got to see our first dragon this game.

    The Sword in the Darkness is also good with its moral decisions, an area I hadn't expected to be touched upon. You can choose to work for peace with the Whitehills or seek your revenge on your lord's betrayer. You can try to make peace with your friends or hang onto your grudges. You can attempt to keep your oath to the Night's Watch or work to save your noble friends.

    It's good stuff.
The swearing of the Nightwatchmen's oath is a powerful, moving scene.
     If I had to give kudos to the developers for one thing, it's how well they've established the tension between the Foresters as well as the Whitehills and Lannisters. The game does a wonderful job of making it clear the Foresters don't have any political, military, or financial capital to rely on. While I complained about Episode 2 not having much in the way of consequences, I retract that statement as we see how the characters are slowly building up their reserves again.

    This episode ties into the "Purple Wedding", which is something all fans of the books/television series should know as well as be grateful for. Honestly, I think they could have done it a little closer-to-the-action than the way they handled it in the game but the events are a political game-changer. They also felt more organic in throwing all of the plans of the Foresters into chaos, too, perhaps because we franchise fans knew it was coming. I do think it's a shame we never got to see a certain character who dies there meet with Mira, though, as I believe their interactions would have been quite entertaining.

    There is one very annoying moment where you are able to put your military power to use for one plan or another (either rescuing a member of your house or expelling the Whitehills) but this gets stalled by a revelation from a third party. While I'm sure this plotline will come up in later editions of the story, I felt cheated of not getting those results after so much set-up. Still, overall, I loved how things progressed. It was never too slow or two fast and I'm starting to feel the game taking shape for its finale.

The Foresters' suffering never ends.
    In conclusion, this is a solid entry into the franchise and I have no complaints. I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment. If they can keep up this balance of storytelling styles and give each protagonist something to do then I think it will be considered one of Telltale's best games when all is said and done.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Deus Ex (2000) review

    This is something of a classic gaming review as Deus Ex was released in 2000, almost fifteen years ago. It is, however, one of the best video games of all time, IMHO. Much of this is due to the way it maximized player freedom to resolve missions however they wished as well as the multiple paths the main character could take.

    The storyline and plot drew from Nineties conspiracy theories but put its own spin on it, making socially relevant commentary which is still accurate to this day. With the sequel to Deus Ex: Human Revolutions revealed to be in development, I can't help but feel it's time to take a look back at this classic of computer gaming.

The graphics are limited but functional.
    The premise of the game, revealed in the opening cutscene, is the corrupt corporate CEO Bob Page and his associate Walton Simmons discussing how they've released a technologically-created plague across the planet. This plague, dubbed the Gray Death, is being used to blackmail the rich and powerful into going along with Bob's ambitions as they're the only people with a treatment. It's also being used to kill the poor and destitute en masse in order to bring the world closer to Bob Page's vision.

    Enter JC Denton, a new agent for UNATCO, the United Nations anti-terrorist organization based on the ruins of Liberty Island. JC Denton, who's initials aren't remotely coincidental, is a nanotechnology-enhanced super-soldier who has been given the mission of fighting those people who oppose the cyberpunk future's failing governments. In this, he is aided by his brother Paul, a cyborg supersoldier named Gunther, a femme fatale named Anna Navarre, and a beleaguered boss named Manderlay.

    As the story progresses, JC will find himself confronted with such age-old groups as the Illuminati, Majestic-12, the remains of the Knights Templar, A.I., revolutionary anarchist groups, Triads, and even Grays. He must choose which organization he wants to side with in order to bring peace to a world which is rapidly falling apart.

Part of what I love about the game is even the bosses are very personalized. Gunther, for instance, is hilarious.
    One of the innovations of the game was that you could choose multiple paths for solving the game. You could use stealth to take down enemies one at a time, shoot your way out, or stealth your way through without ever fighting anyone. This was fairly innovative at the time and most games which followed draw from this line. Not all paths were optimized, of course, but it was still quite effective at its job.

    The game, itself, kind of looked like ass. Even by the standards of 2000. There were also numerous problems with the engine. It's a common statement the game is so dark all the time to cover up the graphical limitations. Whether or not this was true, it does help as making everything dark like The Matrix did help sell the atmosphere and avoid just how bad things appeared. The game's writing was pretty weighty and would influence both my political as well as spiritual views in the future--much the same as Star Wars. It tackled subjects like transhumanism, government control, and philosophical concepts like anarchism vs. philosopher kings.

The game draws from cyberpunk, transhumanism, conspiracy theory, the Matrix films, and more to create unique yet recognizable world.
    The Illuminati are a covert group of manipulators behind the scenes who believe the smartest people on Earth should rule--the thing is, unlike the majority of people who hide behind such claims, they really are that intelligent and forward thinking. The anarchists may want to empower the common masses but they believe they have to tear down infrastructure built by said masses in the name of freeding them.

    You can even become a cyber-god.

    I'm a big fan of the character too. Everyone you fight, other than mooks, is extremely well characterized and you can even chat up some of the mooks. I loved the character of Gunther who just wants to be have a gun installed in his head as well as all the orange soda he can drink. Anna Navarre is a bloodthirsty secret agent who wants to serve her country right or wrong. Paul is both duplicitous and saintly, qualities which don't usually go together. I also love Morgan Everett, who is the nicest leader of a global conspiracy you'll ever meet. Bob Page and Walter Simmons also do a wonderful job establishing themselves as believable yet over-the-top villians.

    And who doesn't love Tracer Tong, who gleefully talks about conspiracy nonsense which turns out to be factually correct?

The gameplay is a well-crafted variant on Doom which went on to spawn many-many spin-offs.
    In short, the biggest thing to realize about Deus Ex is that it's fun. The second biggest thing to realize it's an intelligent game. Many of the game's themes and storytelling ideas are as enjoyable for the tenth time as they were for the first. Unfortunately, the gameplay and graphics are still pretty frustrating even with game mods. Still, that doesn't take away from the fact this is a game which inspired countless imitators. Very few who achieve half of what it managed to accomplish.