Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Deus Ex

Go To
JC Denton works on his tan.

"You will soon have your god, and you will make it with your own hands."

Deus Ex is an award-winning First-Person Shooter/Immersive Sim with RPG Elements (or a first-person RPG with shooter elements, as some fans would argue) developed by Ion Storm Austin (a division of, yes, that Ion Storm) and published by Eidos. It was released around the summer of 2000 for Windows and Macintosh. A PS2 port, titled Deus Ex: The Conspiracy, was released in spring 2002. The PS2 version was made available on the PSN Store, as a PS2 Classic, on May 16, 2012 in Europe.

In the dystopian near future, a deadly plague known as the Gray Death has befallen mankind. The only known "vaccine", Ambrosia, the distribution of which is tightly controlled by Orwellian government agencies, merely delays the inevitable. Terrorist groups are capitalizing on the increasing desperation of the common folk, and their increasing activity urges world governments to create the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO). You follow JC Denton, a rookie elite UNATCO operative, who eventually becomes tangled in a conspiracy plot involving The Illuminati, The Knights Templar, Chupacabras, Greys, black helicopters, genetic design underground labs and rogue AIs.

The gameplay combines First-Person Shooter, Stealth-Based Game and RPG Elements – as you progress through the game you receive skillpoints to upgrade your various skills. You also collect "augmentation canisters," which work as cybernetic implants, giving JC extraordinary abilities at the cost of energy. Even though the gameplay has its flaws, its non-linearity and interactivity have received much praise from the press and players — it is actually possible to go through the game killing almost nobody.

Deus Ex has had several sequels. The original developers released Deus Ex: Invisible War in 2003, seen as a Contested Sequel by the fandom due to the drastic changes in gameplay and story, though it has been vindicated over time. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a prequel, was released by Eidos Montreal in late August 2011. A side-story to Human Revolution, called Deus Ex: The Fall was released for iOS in 2013, and poorly-ported to Android and PC in 2014.

In 2004, Eidos released Project: Snowblind, a Spiritual Successor that began life as Deus Ex: Clan Wars until Invisible War sold poorly.

The game is also known for its relatively active modding community. GMDX (Give Me Deus EX) is perhaps the most notable today, having a stated goal of attempting to "stay true to the original design principles that define Deus Ex, and seeks to improve all aspects of design", such as more advanced AI, more detailed level design, enhanced physics engine, updated graphics and audio design, and extensive bugfixing, rebalancing the skills and augmentations, and a mantling mechanic ala the Thief games, but without touching the plot and soundtrack. It is consistently given the title "The Definitive Deus Ex Experience" by players.

For major storyline mods, 2006 saw the release of the Zodiac mod, a fan-made Interquel that allows you to play as Paul Denton. In 2009, the most notable of the game's total conversion mods, The Nameless Mod was released, featuring an original non-linear plot and fully voiced dialogue. A fan-made prequel, 2027 featuring DirectX 9 graphics, and a non-linear plot was released in 2011. Deus Ex: Nihilum was released in 2013, and is set in an alternate continuity few years before the canonical start of the game.

As for gameplay mods, Shifter - a restored content/gameplay patch was released in 2007 and restores cut content and adds new gameplay options and additional weapons to the base game. In 2015, a visual upgrade mod, Deus Ex Revision, was published on Steam (including the aforementioned Shifter with some other gameplay mods).

On April 7, 2015 a fifth game in the main series called Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was leaked, then officially announced through Game Informer magazine. It was then released on August 23, 2016.

Please add any examples relating to Invisible War, Human Revolution, or Mankind Divided to their dedicated pages.

This game provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    # — C 
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The game is set in the year 2052. Most of the cities don't appear to look too futuristic, in part because the story takes place in a Crapsack World Dystopia and, according to Word of God, in slums/crime-ridden hellholes/old quarters of a city in lockdown. However, technology itself has progressed quite well with nano-technological Bio-Augmentation, advanced weaponry and drones, and complex computer systems and hacking tools.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Dragon's Tooth sword. With the required skills and augmentation, you can even cut open some doors or chests that otherwise don't take scratch damage. (Oddly, the regular sword will destroy locker doors faster than the Dragon's Tooth if the player has normal melee.)
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Sewer levels in New York and Paris, which is realistic - Paris' catacombs have been known mazes for centuries.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Daedalus was specifically programmed to hunt down terrorist groups. Unfortunately for its creators, they qualified. By the same token, Helios' entire raison d'etre was the efficient administration of the world, a task which it quickly realized a self-obsessed psychopath like Bob Page would just get in the way of. Icarus was always a jerk, because it was programmed to be that way.
    • In essence, Helios is an amalgam of Daedalus's and Icarus's directives: Daedalus was made to identify threats to world order, Icarus was designed to establish a new world order, so the amalgamated Helios identified Bob Page as a threat to the new world order.
    • Morpheus, on the other hand, just sits in a hidden basement making creepy mumbling to itself. Good bot.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: JC seemingly spends a good deal of his time crawling around in air vents and maintenance tunnels of all sizes and colors worldwide. You do have to watch out for acid-spewing greasels (which are annoying and/or dangerous, depending on the difficulty level) that tend to reside in the crawlspaces.
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: The riot prod stuns and knocks out enemies with electricity, and requires one prod charger per use, with a 4 round clip.
  • Ancient Conspiracy:
    • The Illuminati, as seen in works such as The Illuminatus! Trilogy, Foucault's Pendulum or Angels & Demons. It's noted the Illuminati as it is isn't the first conspiracy or even the first iteration of the Illuminati.
    • The Knights Templar started even earlier, and their Conspiracy status is, ironically, caused by another conspiracy: namely, royals planning to seize their wealth and cancel their own debt by declaring them heretics.
    • Majestic-12 has been around the 1940s as a subdivision of the Illuminati before taking over as full-on conspiracy by itself sometime in the 2030s. Not exactly ancient, but it's been around for over 100 years by the start of the game in 2052.
  • Apocalypse How: Destroying the Aquinas hub knocks the world back into a new Dark Age as all global communication and commerce is wiped out. To quote Tracer Tong: "No more infolinks, no transmissions of any kind - we'll start over, live in villages." Destroying it doesn't directly cause more deaths, but humans have been dropping like flies since before the game begins.
  • Applied Phlebotinum. Minimally invasive human augmentation? Nanites. Absurdly Sharp Blade? Nanites. Engineered plague with artificially scarce treatment? NANITES, SON!
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
  • Arc Number: 451, the keycode used to enter Looking Glass offices back in the day.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • When a hostile enemy chases you you can hide in a dark corner for a few seconds and they will go back to acting as if you didn't do anything. Even if they see you run into an air vent they will say you 'disappeared'. Leave dead bodies of a dozen allies in the hall, an enemy will get upset for few seconds... then return to his regular patrol by walking right over the corpses of his allies. Shoot someone with a tranq dart then hide? He will go back to his patrol even as the poison in the dart slowly incapacitates him. Really most stealth playthroughs are less about true stealth and more about abusing artificial stupidity by crawling into an air vent and waiting for the person chasing you to forget you exist.
    • Troopers react oddly to sound. They will cheerfully ignore a crossbow dart piercing the wall mere inches away from their eye socket, but are able to hear the drop of a box of cigarettes in the bathroom from behind the closed blast doors of the security checkpoint across the corridor.
    • If there is an alarm button in the area, the most efficient way of dealing with early guards is to blow your cover. The guards will prioritize sounding the alarm over anything else, even if it implies turning their back on you, allowing for an instant knockout with a single swing of the melee weapon of your choice on the back of their necks.
    • On one visit to UNATCO, you can box in a vacuum cleaner robot with some plants and a sofa, aggro some guards into Friendly Fire, and then hide in a closet. Everyone will shoot at each other for a little bit, and then gang up on the vacuum cleaner. One vacuum cleaner basically brings all of UNATCO to their knees.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: TNT crates are treated being as sensitive as nitroglycerin and they explode if you shoot them or toss them at a good distance. TNT gained popularity for being much more stable and safer to handle than its nitroglycerin-based rival dynamite.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Ambrosia is stated to be a vaccine. It completely cures the recipient of Gray Death and provides them with immunity from it for the next two days, at which time they will be susceptible to it once again. That's not how vaccines work. Vaccines stimulate the immune system to provide acquired immunity, typically using a weaker form of the microbe that causes them. This immunity cannot wear off after two days and certainly can't be applied retroactively to instantly cure the disease in question. Justified in that the Gray Death is not a viral disease and Ambrosia isn't a real vaccine; the former is caused by nanomachines programmed to attack the body's cells, and the latter consists of ROM modules that are in turn programmed to attach to Gray Death nanites and switch them off.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: A lot of the Hong Kong NPCs have stereotypical accents.
    • And an Asian man who talks about his past lives... in an accent that's plainly Irish.
  • As You Know: Simons's exposition on the bombing that led to UNATCO's founding is probably more for the player watching the opening cutscene's benefit than Page's.
  • Auto-Doc: There are healing robots that can heal the player fully without using resources and perform surgery to install augmentations.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The assault rifle is the only full-auto weapon in the game, but it's highly inaccurate, and its damage per shot is the lowest of all the weapons, meaning it usually takes between a third to a half of a whole magazine to take down just one enemy. Damage, recoil and ammo cap mods make it a bit better, as does the suppressor and the general high rate of ammo availability, but the game's other weapons can do all the things it does, only better.
    • In contrast, the sawed-off shotgun's extremely high damage output is hampered by its short range, slow rate of fire, and long reload time.
    • The heavy weapons tend to fall into this, too, mostly because their ammunition is hard to come by, and also because they are extremely bulky and heavy, so unless player develops JC into a heavy weapons specialist, said weapons are more a liability than help. The GEP gun is about the only one that's any useful.
      • The plasma rifle is particularly bad about this: despite being conceptually and visually awesome, whether its splash (or even primary) damage actually affects enemies where it hits seems to be basically a crapshoot. A lot of this is actually caused by a bug which applies the weapon projectile's lower damage in multiplayer to the singleplayer game as well. The weapon is meant to be a staggering five times more powerful per shot than it actually is.
    • The Healing Augmentation, while useful as noted below, works by healing a certain number of hit points every second or so once activated, and it switches back off if you're at full health when it's due to repeat. At maximum level, it heals so much damage per second that you may (briefly) hit full health again in the middle of a firefight you were counting on it to keep you alive through, forcing you to switch it back on manually when you can't really afford to be distracted.
  • Badass Creed: In the "Kill Bob Page" ending:
    Morgan Everett: We are the Invisible Hand. We are the Illuminati. We come before and after. We are forever. And eventually... eventually, we will lead them into the day.
  • Badass Longcoat: JC Denton and several other characters, it adds to the cyberpunk feel of the game. And the game isn't above making a couple of jokes about it at JC's expense.
  • Back Stab: Attacks to the torso of unaware enemies from behind do significantly more damage, often an instant kill or knock out. Works on every humanoid enemy (yes, even MJ12 Commandos!), but the targeted area for instant takedowns seems to differ with the toughest troops.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy: Morgan Everett does his best to portray the Illuminati as this, going so far as to claim "there's such a thing as a compassionate conspiracy". To be fair, they actually come across as such, too, particularly when compared to the more immediate and malevolent threat of their defected spin-off organization Majestic-12, who they actively help Denton fight against. You can even choose to put them back in power, under this reasoning, in the "Kill Bob Page" ending. However, Majestic-12's AI, Icarus, is quick to warn Denton that this is all just an act, and that for all their friendly relations with him, they're really no better. And if their portrayal of them in the prequel is any hint, you may just be buying the world more time before the next dark times, rather than outright saving it.
  • Big Applesauce: Has been the site of repeated terrorist attacks, and is the location for much of the early game.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Bob Page and Walton Simons.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality:
  • Black Helicopter: Jock's helicopter, a Super Prototype
  • Blood Knight: Many of UNATCO's groundpounders, and especially its top agents, Anna Navarre (who has a kill-count in the hundreds) and Gunther Herman, who constantly complains about non-lethal equipment being issued. JC can either join in and be liked by his senior agents or be more humane and earn their contempt, except for Carter.
  • Book Ends: The "Kill Bob Page" ending of Deus Ex is a mirror to the opening scene.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Any alcoholic drink will net you two points of health, at the cost of blurred vision for a set amount of time. While this may seem small, if you find your way into the backroom of a bar or collect enough bottles of alcohol that are lying around (which are a lot), you can have a poor man's health pack, at the cost of temporary blurred vision.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • All three weapons governed by the pistol skill, in part since the pistol skill starts at Trained level:
      • The pistol, both the stealth and the standard one. Their ammo is quite common, not to mention you can slap on a scope, giving you a mini-sniper rifle (albeit the normal pistol is better suited than the silenced one). The only thing the pistol is worthless against really is the bots, which are no trouble if you stock up on EMP/Scramble grenades and/or explosives, or hack them to be turned off or on your side. Being frugal with ammo will make the pistol useful up to Area 51.
      • While the crossbow itself is cool and hits harder than the pistol, hit and run tactics with the tranq darts, while not as flashy and exciting as a firefight or adrenaline pumping as melee combat, is one of the safer ways to clean out a room. The darts are easy to find, a player can hide in a safe location while the enemy becomes poisoned, knocked out enemies can't be woken up, it only takes one dart and, if the player is using the Shifter Mod, will offer more points than killing an enemy.
    • The combat shotgun, when loaded with buckshot, is pretty useful for anti-personnal situations, and sabot rounds are useful against smaller bots, especially if you run into spiderbots in air vents. Ammo is pretty common for it, and if you have a Master in rifle skill, the spread is non-existent, giving you a powerful marksman rifle.
    • The humble Pepper Gun, an item found in the very first mission and presumed by some players to be a joke item, has an unintended use — it allows one to bypass any laser grid by simply crouching, spraying a shot or two of pepper spray in front of the emitter of the lowest beam, and simply crouch-walking past. Given that pepper gun ammo can be found throughout the game, and how lasers appear in every mission, a savvy player could completely forego using Multitools, relying on nothing but the pepper spray to bypass security systems throughout the game — and all for a measly one square of inventory space.
  • Brain/Computer Interface: Occipital jacks are mentioned. This is how Page is carrying out his final plan, and how the player can carry out the Helios ending.
  • Brand X: The vending machines throughout the game contain products which match the color schemes of numerous real-world candy bars, chips, and soft drinks, but the low-res image makes them indistinguishable enough for copyright purposes.
  • Brown Note: Saying the phrase Laputan Machine to Gunther Hermann causes him to self destruct. However, the only way for you to learn this is to meet with Reyes at Paris where he claims he has an urgent message to tell you. And no, you can't just look up the phrase and type it in, you have to have the conversation with Reyes for saying it to even be an option in your dialogue tree.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • Several times in Deus Ex, such as sending the signal, surrendering to an "overwhelming" (invincible) force, and finding out where the Ancient Conspiracy base is (both options result in getting knocked out and dragged there).
    • Originally, some unused code showed that the player could have stayed loyal to UNATCO, but the option was removed. A video of the conversation can be seen here.
    • The game actually does a good job of setting up situations that seem like But Thou Must!, but then allows the player to subvert them. One example is when JC's brother Paul is dying via a very slow killswitch, and there's a huge force of powerful enemies getting ready to storm the room they're in. The logical thing for JC to do is run away, leaving Paul to be killed by the incoming forces (Paul actually suggests this!). However, if the player stays and fights, then Paul will live, no matter what happens in the ensuing battle. Either you leave through the front door (and get captured), or you get knocked out and wake up in the next area. Which can be quite frustrating to a player that doesn't know this who defeats all the attacking guards in the hotel to save Paul's life and then reverts back to their preferred stealth tactics by leaving through the back window. Only to learn several hours later that Paul was 'killed' and assuming that it was a but thou must situation Or Take a Third Option: You can try to KILL Paul instead, which does not work, but he apparently gets fired up enough to survive the assault. Also, Paul lives in the second game. And this time around, you actually can change that near the end.
  • California Collapse: Happened in the backstory; maps will be conspicuously missing California and the Baja peninsula, and even decades later, you can find notes around a Southwestern US base about how the earthquake has damage visible to this day.
  • Canon Identifier: It begins with you giving your character a "real name" - the only game in the series to let you do this - but for the sake of voice acting, characters call you by your alias "JC Denton". The name you put in for it doesn't matter for much other than what some people will refer to you by in email messages.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The games contain an incredibly complex series of flags that influence almost everything you do. If you walk into the women's bathroom at UNATCO HQ, Manderley WILL remind you of it when you go to your mission briefings. Other dialogue options will be influenced depending almost entirely on what you do and when you do it. For example, a robber in Paris will hire you to case up the local bakery for some vials of Zyme hidden away in the oven. If you break into the place before even talking to him, you'll mention that you already broke into it.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Aside from Bob Page and Walton Simons, Maggie Chow can be seen in the background of the opening cinematic.
    • Everyone is there, including Reyes, the M.I.B.s, and so on.
  • Chupacabra: Gʁeen gʁeasy gʁeasels, strange blood-sucking chicken-reptile green things, as befitting of some of the popular descriptions of Chupacabras.
  • Colonized Solar System: One of the newspapers that can be found mentions that China has a functional mining facility on the Moon and it is implied that the United States and Nigeria have also established lunar bases there as they dispute China's claim to ownership of certain territories on the Moon.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Luminous blue indicates you are dealing with something high technote .
  • Color Wash: Blue is primarily used to signify anything related to high technology or augmented characters.
  • The Comically Serious: Denton, again.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: The original is largely about machines (whether human or AI), though some of them do have a god complex.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: One of the best sinks around. All conspiracy theories are true, and all are true at the same time. The game even has references to The Man Who Was Thursday — one of the earliest grand conspiracy thrillers. The Word of God is that they wanted the game to take place in the kind of world Conspiracy Theorists think we live in. However, the game's version of Majestic-12 seems to have nothing to do with its (supposed) real-world namesake apart from being a secretive group in general and having handled aliens — which are, in actuality, a False Flag Operation trying to lure crackpots away from the real conspiracy and were an attempt of making genetically engineered Super Soldiers.
  • Conspiracy Thriller: One of the defining video game examples.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Seems to be a preferred pastime by pretty much everyone in the future. Everyone has complex, heavily researched and contemplated philosophies which guide their actions, and they're eager to share them-even if they plan to kill you afterward. It's the key to the fanbase.
  • Cowboy Cop: Many of the generic UNATCO troops you encounter in the first level are a bit too eager to shoot some terrorists.
  • Crapsack World:
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Aimee, an insane homeless woman who talks about the multitude of cats around a condemned building in Paris like they're humans. In fact, the first optional mission in Paris is to help her avenge her dead cats.
  • Credit Chip: Credits are stored on green Credit Chits that can be picked up throughout the game.
  • Creepily Long Arms: The Grays have these extra-long arms that let them haul their scrawny asses with much more speed than their thinness suggests.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Going around with 0 HP in every limb cripples you severely, but though you do bleed a lot, it never actually kills you. This is probably because of the nanomachines in your body keeping you alive to the fullest extent possible until you can replenish your health, by sealing your wounds and preventing infection and shock from setting in. Strangely, Non Player Characters have the same ability to a lesser degree.
  • Cue the Sun: Although the game is Always Night, during the last few levels you can see that the sun is starting to rise. Also ties in perfectly with Morgan Everett's end speech.
  • Cyberpunk: The series crosses the whole spectrum between this and Post-Cyberpunk. Deus Ex itself straddles the dividing line. One of the endings is the latter, assuming Helios can be trusted.
  • Cyber Punk Is Techno: The soundtrack for certain areas reflects this, along with the nightclubs.

    D — F 
  • Deconstruction: Of the FPS. If you play the typical FPS method of simply taking down your enemies, the game goes out of its way to make you feel like shit for killing people. To add even more sting, many of the game's prominent characters will commend you for your willingness to mindlessly kill everything that moves in early missions, only for a Plot Twist to make you realize you've been murdering the good guys.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Being a general cool cat, JC exhibits traits of this every now and then. He gets more cynical as the game progresses. Played absolutely straight regarding the deadpan aspect from the start on though (the only bit of dialogue in which you can actually hear him chuckle is triggered by a pretty complex series of actions, which is described in detail on this subpage).
  • Deus Est Machina: One of the endings for both games, although it requires a merger with a willing human element (found in JC Denton).
  • Deus Exit Machina: The nano-aug agents' killswitch mainly serves to remove the more-experienced and equally-powerful Paul from the plot and force the focus onto JC (who has his activated - and wins a race with the clock to deactivate it before really getting waylaid by it.)
  • Developer's Foresight: Has its own sub-page.
  • Did Not Die That Way: JC was told that his parents had died in a car crash. They were, of course, put down for protesting the things that Bob Page was doing to young JC.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Nearly every object in the game is destroyable, from chairs, to frying pans, to rubbish bins and so on.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: From the UNATCO handbook:
    Gullible and greedy, this army of middlemen remain insensitive to how their violations of intellectual property and copyright laws damage the global information economy.
    • But also parodied in a conversation with Tracer Tong; when you enter a PC software store in Paris, Tong radios in and informs you not to waste your money, as everything in the store can be had for pennies on the streets of Hong Kong.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Picking the GEP gun when offered to you by Paul is probably the best choice, not only because the other two options, the sniper rifle and crossbow, can be found on the level, but since rockets can be easily found throughout the game, it can be used to breach doors and take out camera and turrets, saving you lockpicks and multitools. The Nameless Mod apparently realized this, and most doors in the game have infinite strength, which keeps you from blowing them open, and rockets aren't as easy to come by.
    • By searching the first level (Liberty Island) thoroughly, the player can find several powerful weapons, including the aforementioned sniper rifle, a sawn-off shotgun and an assault rifle, not to mention a handful of mods (like the laser) that will massively increase the accuracy of said weapons.
  • Divided States of America: If you talk to a bum in Battery Park, you will hear him mention about the Northwest War and the early days of the NSF. If you look into this, the game's backstory mentions that after the West Coast was devastated by a massive earthquake (the after effects can be seen on world maps throughout the game), several states seceded from the Union after they felt like the Federal government abandoned them. The country is back together, but remarks made by JC hint that the US is on the verge for a third civil war.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun:
    • Only the poorly trained NSF do it — presumably they need the accuracy bonus granted from standing still. More advanced foes like MJ12 commandos or UNATCO troops will run and gun, although the running often consists of running at you in a straight line or occasionally circle-strafing.
    • The player too, can have weapon accuracy thrown off by moving quickly. However, a sufficient amount of skill points invested in the category of weapon used, as well as stability weapon mods, will mitigate this by degrees (and enough of them will do so completely.)
  • Double-Meaning Title: Deus Ex refers to "deus ex machina", a Latin phrase translating to "god from the machine". It's generally used to refer to a plot element very suddenly being introduced that resolves the conflict, which could arguably be an apt description of JC since he enters the story mere days away from the Big Bad obtaining unlimited power and within those days manages to bring him to his knees. Literally taken, it could also mean a god created by a machine; Page intends to do this by merging himself with the Helios AI, but Helios decides that JC would make a better candidate for godhood.
  • Downer Ending: Technically all of the endings have their downsides (have the Illuminati control the world, plunge the world into a new dark age, becoming a benevolent Physical God), but considering just how horrible the world is in this game, any of the above can be legitimately argued to be an improvement over the status quo the Illuminati will prevent the world from dying out, the world belongs to no one and humanity may have the chance to move on, and merging with the A.I's will usher in a new age of peace into the world.
  • The Driver: Jock.
  • Drunken Master: Jock, to an extent. The first time he gives JC a ride, JC will bring up that fact that he was just drinking in the bar not too long ago. Jock will point out that he's a better pilot when he is not wound up. Since the only way for his helicopter to be destroyed is by a bomb planted by an MJ12 operative, he's right.
  • Dull Surprise:
  • Dumb Muscle: Logging into Gunther's email account reveals a distressingly high rate of grammar and orthography errors. He might be Eloquent In His Native Tongue though. He has apparently repeatedly requested a 'skul-gun' inserted into his head, so he can shoot people by thinking about it. His supervisor promises to take that under consideration, apparently having given up on explaining that the shock of firing such a gun would fry what brain he did have pretty quickly.
  • Dump Stat:
    • The Swimming skill is considered to be absolutely worthless. There are only two instances where it'll really make a difference, and both are optional. And even then, using a rebreather or two can get you through safely.
    • Environmental Training is another rarely used skill. It affects the duration of consumable powerups (like the above-mentioned rebreather), as well as the amount of damage resistance that powerups like the ballistic armor and hazmat suit provide. Because you can only ever hold a single one of each such powerup in your inventory, and using them is a one-and-done deal that usually wastes all that extra duration, using these items tends to be situational at best.
    • Due to a bug present to this day, the Lockpicking and Electronics skills can also be ignored if you're willing to use the exploitnote . These skills respectively affect how much strength that lockpicks and multitools take from locks and keypads, reducing how many items are needed to bypass tougher obstacles. Using this bug makes lockpicks and multitools even more effective than max skill, as this can make a single tool get through 100% lock strength when master rank only makes a single tool cut through up to 75% strength.
  • Early Game Hell: The earliest portions of the game are by far the toughest. You might be facing the weakest mooks, but your aim is terrible, you don't have any good augmentations to empower yourself, and ammo for the heftier guns is limited. You pretty much have to sneak around and avoid fights where you can, picking off enemies before they have a chance to fight back, because otherwise they will reduce you to Swiss cheese. As you level up your skills, acquire better augs, collect more ammo, and upgrade your weapons, you can start playing the game like a more traditional FPS, mowing down hordes of MJ12 Commandos and MIBs by yourself without breaking a sweat.
  • Emergent Gameplay: The game is often cited as being responsible for promoting the concept of Emergent Gameplay, with players able to solve problems with unique and unforeseen solutions, often involving abuse of the game's physics or advanced level skills that developers did not anticipate being upgraded to that extent during a certain stage of the game.
  • "End of the World" Special: Multiple Endings version.
  • Enemy Chatter
  • Enemy Scan: The Targeting augmentation functionally does it, as it will give the player a readout of a target's health (within a certain amount), range away from the player and weapon being carried. As JC himself notes, "My vision is augmented."
  • Everybody Smokes: Sort of. You won't actually see anyone smoke, but cigs are a common find throughout the game, and in many public areas, vending machines selling cigarettes can be found. You can smoke if you want, but it will cost you 10 points of health to the torso region, making a chain smoking session of 10 packs in a row, (assuming you are at full health in the torso) fatal. You can also kill people with cigarettes. Smoke a ton in front of someone and it will kill them.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • Smuggler.
    • Jock, as in "jockey" - slang for pilot.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: The final fight with Page is not a traditional boss fight, so much as Malevolent Architecture mixed with Flunky Boss. On the three floors of the massive room in which he's being held, he's got swarms of repopulating minions (you can rush the nanoreplicators creating new creatures and turn their failsafes on, fortunately). He's also able to selectively blow up some of the computer banks and what-not where you travel to block your progress.
  • Evil All Along: As with any good conspiracy-riddled, twist-laden plot, Deus Ex has quite a few characters who seem to be on the side of good (or at least order), but later are found to be working towards some nefarious purpose.
  • Evil Phone: When JC arrives in Paris, answering one of the phones in an empty office will prompt a conversation with Icarus, the evil AI of the game.
  • Eviler than Thou: There is an abundance of evidence the Illuminati aren't nice people, but Majestic 12 is worse. Stanton Dowd straight up admits they couldn't compete with the lengths Bob Page was willing to go to get what he wants, leading to Majestic 12 usurping their role and what's left of the Illuminati becoming The Remnant.
  • Exact Time to Failure: in the "dark age" ending.
    Final safety warning... Nominal functional levels will be exceeded in three... two... one...
  • Exact Words: Daedalus was created by Majestic 12 to monitor all global communications in order to identify and eliminate terrorist groups, whom Majestic 12 (in their place as the power elite of the developed world) considered a threat to their power. Daedalus promptly ended up classifying Majestic 12 itself as a terrorist group due to their disregard for human life, and started using its considerable power and resources to oppose them.
  • Extinct in the Future: A conversation between two NPCs reveals that grizzly bears have been extinct for decades.
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • You can never avoid being dragged to the MJ12 base after you send the distress signal. Even if you manage to somehow avoid the battle in Battery Park when Gunther tries to pick you up, there are invisible walls preventing you from reaching Jock's helicopter. Scrambling the brown robot behind Gunther shows that both are also invulnerable.
    • In fact, a skilled (or dedicated) player could kill or incapacitate every guard except the invincible Gunther and bots, and then use their augs to stack boxes up to climb out of the area they're locked into. After escaping, you're free to explore the rest of the area in peace for as long as you want, because the promised helicopter extraction never arrives.
    • Depending on your values, you may find no truly happy endings to Deus Ex. You can either destroy global communications, throwing the world into disorder as government, banking, communication and transportation become irrevocably disorganized or you can rule the world either in secret as the Illuminati or openly as a omniscient AI.
  • Fallen States of America: The U.S. is pretty much a third world country in the game. Homeless people are a common sight, and everything seems run-down. Word of God says to imagine the cities if their ghettos were the entire city rather than just a section. There are several references to the United Nations having the United States under its authority, such as in an article that states that the president paid the country's dues to it despite Congress' refusal. This is mostly due to MJ12's machinations to gain more power.
  • False Flag Operation: UNATCO says that the bombing of the Statue of Liberty was caused by Silhouette. Silhouette denies this.
  • Fan Remake: Deus Ex Revision, a fanmade Game Mod that enhances the base game with updated high definition character models, environments and ambient sounds. Square Enix endorsed this mod themselves, which is unprecedented, given their history of issuing cease-and-desist orders on this trope. Players who own Deus Ex on Steam can download the upgrade for free.
  • Fantastic Drug: Zyme. In the unmodded game, it just blurs out your vision. In the Shifter mod, it gives you bullet time like perceptions with a blurred vision letdown after the slow down effects wear out.
  • Fantastic Racism: Not as profound as the newer games, but supplemental materials describe mech-augs as being the lowest of the low. Part of the tension the player receives from the mech-augs is that the nano-augs can pass in society and be more effective in combat.
  • Femme Fatale: Maggie Chow.
  • Fictional Document: Jacob's Shadow, among others.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up: The conspiracy makes artificial life-forms called Grays that resemble the popular idea of aliens (round heads, gray skin) and is implied to let rumours about them circulate as a smokescreen for what they are really up to in the Area 51 facility.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The plague victims in Battery Park and the Free Clinic. The one in the clinic will claim the virus is man-made, which it is, and it's further theorized by the old soldier who claims microscopic warfare is the new thing. And the one in Battery Park will claim you have the disease in you, which is technically true, since the virus is actually a nanotechnological compound which destroys the body similar to an actual disease and uses the same foundation as your nano-modified body.
      • In fact, a document in MJ 12's secret base underneath UNATCO's headquarter confirms that nanoaugmented people like JC Denton technically test positive for the Grey Death.
    • The optional conversation with Morpheus basically foreshadows the Helios Ending — if you go for that ending.
    • As mentioned in Arbitrary Skepticism above, Jock foreshadows Area 51 where the climax takes place.
    • If you use a trellis to break into the cathedral, this will prompt Tracer to congratulate you, and say "Never rely on high tech and weapons when there is a simpler solution at hand." In the endgame, he advocates you destroy the world's global network and infrastructure.
  • Friendly Rivalry: After averting the triad war, the two triad dragon heads, Max Chen and Gordon Quick, head over to Max's nightclub to celebrate. They instead opt to get into a... "measuring contest", comparing how far each other's criminal empires reach.
  • Future Spandex: Common throughout the series.

    G — N 
  • Gaia's Lament:
    • 2050s Earth is not doing so hot. Coastal flooding is common (you can see what are probably seawalls around Liberty Island), grizzly bears are extinct, the East River in New York is stated to have been rendered nearly lifeless due to a chlorine spill, and a suicide clinic, built because of "dwindling resources", is mentioned in an email. An in-game ad for clinic reads like a cheery supermarket advertisement — heavily implying that has transcended the garden variety doctor-assisted suicides to becoming an entire sub-industry unto its own. Squicky.
    • Los Angeles has been destroyed, and you find this out via one line of secondary dialog that you may not even see if you make certain choices. UCLA gets a mention in what was probably a recent newspaper article, though.
    • This can be seen when you look at a few world maps. Southern California and the Baja California peninsula are nowhere to be seen. A note you can find in Area 51 notes that you can see the coast eventually, and that some massive earthquake reached as far as Nevada.
    • A book found in Paul's apartment reveals that India and Pakistan are gone, having exchanged nuclear warheads.
  • Game Mod: A few, such as Zodiac, Shifter, Redsun2020, The Nameless Mod, 2027, and the Malkavian Mod.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: All important allied characters in the game are unkillable. A lot of the generic UNATCO troopers in the early levels are immortal as well, though only in areas without enemy presence. However, the game also had a few memorable exceptions: among all the invincible UNATCO soldiers after the first mission is a single vulnerable one, and killing him gets you some extra dialogue with Manderley. Much more importantly, you can kill Anna during the confrontation with Lebedev.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The endings seem to have been rendered before the last level was finalized. Characters ask things that they should already know; JC asks who and what Helios is; Bob Page asks what's happening even though moments before he was begging JC not to overload the complex; JC asks the true identity of The Organization, even though previous radio messages have clearly referred to it as the Illuminati.
  • Gas Station of Doom: An abandoned gas station near "the ruins of Los Angeles" is a place where you have to rescue a hostage. She'll die if your enemy so much as hears a footstep, so tread carefully. And then kill her yourself. There actually isn't any penalty for that.
  • Gateless Ghetto: Actually a part of the backstory, as New York has passed, and the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of (despite the justice being quoted mentioning nothing about the Constitution and merely saying freedom should be given up for security), laws allowing giant walls to be erected around high-crime areas.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Downplayed. While JC and Paul have been genetically engineered, it's so that their bodies can accept nanotechnology, which is the real innovation.
  • Genius Bruiser: JC Denton, while possibly and at least built to be a killing machine, at more than a few points, such as with the bartender in China and with Morpheus, is quite able to sit down and talk philosophy.
  • Genre-Busting: The game combines elements of a standards FPS with RPG-like systems (skills, upgradeable weapons, a significant choice-and-consequence series of plot flags) that made it stand out from many examples of the genre.
  • Give Me a Sword: Gunther asks for a weapon after being rescued in the first mission. Whether or not you give him one affects his attitude towards you in the earlier missions. Later in the game, Gilbert Renton also asks for a gun to take out the gangster Jojo Fine by himself and again, the decision to give him one or not has some (minor) effect on the plot.
    • What you give him seems to make a lot of difference. Give him a tranquilizer crossbow, so he can shoot Jojo once while you stand in front of Gilbert to keep Jojo from killing him. Or give him a pistol, in which case Jojo probably will kill him. Or kill Jojo yourself, in which case Gilbert's daughter loses all faith in his ability to protect her and their hotel, and she runs off. Of course, if you don't want the third option to occur, you can also assist him by tasing Jojo before he takes too much damage, and let Gilbert finish him off while he's running away.
  • Global Currency: Credits, otherwise known as "chits". Walton Simons does refer to JC's augmentations/training and presumably the cloning process as "another fifty billion dollars down the drain" at one point. It is not clear if this is just a script error, JC was created before the currency change or Simons still thinks in terms of the old currency.note 
  • Golden Ending: The merging with Helios ending is generally considered the most positive: J.C merges with the A.I and becomes almost godlike in power, and, unlike Bob Page, isn't an evil prick and will use his powers to fix the ruined world.
  • Good All Along: Much as with Evil All Along, Deus Ex is full of characters who are played up as the next Hitler, only to be revealed as working towards a good purpose, or at least motivated by good intent.
  • Goomba Stomp: The most bizarre method of killing Howard Strong. But can technically work on anyone. Including animals - in fact, you'll probably end up accidentally killing several animals by stepping on them, particularly rats.
  • Got the Whole World in My Hand: The Majestic 12 symbol is a hand menacing over Earth's globe. For extra symbolism points, the logo seen on their computers has the globe represented by the same projection used in the UN flag.
  • Government Conspiracy: UNATCO (and the United Nations in general) is actually a front for Majestic 12, a secret group that is quickly becoming a global shadow government. It is heavily implied that they control the European Union as well. Of course, this is all part of the larger Conspiracy Kitchen Sink.
  • Government-Exploited Crisis: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is used by Majestic 12 to assert control over the United States. The organization's powers have been expanded, giving the agency the authority to control much of the nation's military, infrastructure, transportation, and media, and allowing it to imprison up to six million American citizens in designated concentration camps. FEMA Director Walton Simons utilizes this power during the outbreak of the Gray Death, which he assisted in creating. However, several state governors and National Guard units refuse to recognize Simons' authority, plunging the nation into chaos.
  • The Greys: They're real, though their existence as actual aliens is disproved in universe, kind of, as they were spun off from a disinformation campaign about Area 51. They behave like primitive primates, but one character speculates just where the DNA to create them came from, and that they could be essentially clones of intelligent aliens, without the intelligence. The sequel has them finally developing intelligence, but even they don't know who their progenitors are.
  • Grid Inventory: A 5x6 grid. Items can be accessed directly from the inventory, or set to quick-access slots on JC's "toolbelt", which has nine free slots (the 1 through 9 keys) and a tenth (the 0 key) dedicated to the nano-key ring that holds every key you've collected.
  • Gun Accessories: The player can find and obtain additional attachments for some weapons throughout the various levels, including a scope, silencer and laser. Additionally, certain "mod" canisters can be used to improve the performance of some aspects of the weapon, including accuracy, range, clip size, recoil and reload speed.
  • Guns in Church: Certain area are a "weapons-free zone." Some of these areas will have a sign notifying the player. If you ignore this sign and walk in with a weapon out, unarmed NPCs will panic, and armed ones will attack you.
  • Hair-Trigger Explosive: Tossing a crate of TNT any significant distance will cause it to explode.
  • Healing Factor: One of the augments gives JC constant healing (implied to be from his nanites knitting his wounds from inside) when active, at the cost of Energy.
  • Heal Thyself: The player can be damaged in the head, torso, legs and arms. Fully damaged legs greatly limit your movement, damaged arms give accuracy penalties, while going down to 0 in the head or torso means death.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Jaime Reyes and Gunther Hermann on the keyboard controls at the beginning of the training course.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: At the start of the game the player is prompted to provide a real name for the protagonist, but he is always referred to in dialogue as JC Denton, which is apparently only his code name. Later, you'll find the chosen name used in a few emails and newspapers.
  • Hero Antagonist: After defecting from UNATCO, any UNATCO trooper, cop, or US soldier not part of the conspiracy or sadistic is this.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The NSF base in Battery park can be accessed right where JC first enters the level. Neither Anna or JC are aware of the secret entrance right next to them.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: If you fully upgrade the Aggressive Defense System aug, enemies who try to kill you with explosives will have them go off as soon as they launch or throw them. It is quite possible for an enemy to kill themselves this way.
  • Hollywood Silencer: An available weapon mod, that can be attached to the assault rifle and sniper rifle. It doesn't change the weapon's appearance though.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Everything between escaping the 'Ton hotel after betraying UNATCO and meeting Gunther and his group at Battery Park. The moment you die you will be imprisoned for plot advancement. And you can't avoid death because Gunther is immortal.
    • If you manage to escape and sneak by Gunther your find a massive number of opponents and bots. Defeat those and you'll be trapped in your current area due to things being placed to block the exits out of the area you're in. Build a pyramid of junk to allow yourself to climb over the walls and you'll still find that your pilot refuses to land and pick you up. But in all honesty to get to this point you've probably already cheated, done some save scumming, or abused the stealth game play and Artificial Stupidity to an absurd level.
    • It's not entirely hopeless though. It's possible to work on some side quests if you manage to survive the initial assault, before you finally die. None of those are too important, but there is a little extra XP potential for fighting it out to the end. And of course it also lets you kill more of your attackers, if you are the vindictive type.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Bob Page tried this, holding Tiffany Savage and demanding components for the Universal Constructor. Instead JC Denton came and killed everyone (sans Tiffany if you were skilled enough).
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Bob Page's mockery of The Illuminati, especially Stanton Dowd, who was once one of the most powerful men in the world and is now hiding in a graveyard, dressed like a vagrant.
  • Human Popsicle: Lucius DeBeers. He thinks he's still the head of the Illuminati, and if JC tells him he's only a figurehead now, Lucius requests JC to euthanize him.
  • Human Resources: CHOCULENT DREAM. IT'S CHOCOLATE! IT'S PEOPLE! IT'S BOTH!(tm) 85% recycled material.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Eating chips and drinking soda heals you by a (very) small amount. It's the nanomachines in your body optimizing the chemical input and using them to encourage healing. Likewise, the effects of chemical intoxicants (alcohol, drugs, etc.) are quickly flushed from the system, compressing the effect to being very brief but very strong.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: While large items are limited by the Grid Inventory system, JC sure has a lot of space in that coat to store the maximum amount of ammo.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: If the player repeatedly speaks with Lucius Debeers in Everett's apartment, the latter requests to be euthanized due to his inability to control the temperature on his freezing unit.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...:
    JC Denton: If I'm gonna kill you, you're already dead.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: You start the game barely able to hit the broad side of a barn, but as you gain skill in specific weapon classes, you gain accuracy with them. This would be perfectly OK if it weren't that gaining skill also somehow causes the weapon itself to be more accurate. It becomes particularly ludicrous with shotguns: max out the rifle skills, and all the pellets from shotgun blasts will hit exactly in the centre of the crosshair, essentially giving you one-hit-kill sniper shotguns.
  • Improvised Weapon: The crowbar, any heavy object that you can pick up and drop on someone, fire extinguishers, and cigarettes.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: This trope can be invoked.
    • Killing Louis Pan, for instance, gets you a What the Hell, Hero? from Gordon Quick. Knocking him out will only make Gordon annoyed.
  • Informed Ability: Engine limitations mean augmented enemies don't actually have proper augs, just simple stat adjustments like enhanced health and resistance/immunity to elemental damage like fire, plasma, or tranquilizers (which presumably mimics the effect of augs like ballistic protection, environmental resistance, and energy shield), as well as a cloak ability that is scripted to kick in at low health. Walton Simons, noticeably, does not have most of the augmentations he is described as having.
    • This may be not so much an engine limitation, as simply the programmers' limitation, seeing how the makers of The Nameless Mod have managed to bestow in-game Non Player Characters with several augs that really work, such as speed or regeneration.
    • More humorously, Leo Gold's file photo describes his hair as "None"... Well, there's some hair-like object perched upon his head.
  • Insecurity Camera: Security cameras are exponentially bad at providing security, which can mostly be chalked up to the fact that nobody other than the player seems to actually man the terminals they feed to, since the only outward change between an active camera and one that's been bypassed with a multitool is that an active one will pan around its area to look for you - even once you find and break into a camera's terminal, it will still be sending its video feed if you bypassed it earlier. Worse is that even active ones that spot you require several seconds of beeping to themselves before actually sounding an alarm.
  • Instant Expert: Skills are learned on the spot when you put skill points into them, and their effects are immediate.
  • Instant Sedation: Only if you shoot someone in the face with a tranquilizer dart. It takes several seconds to bring someone down otherwise, during which time they'll run around doing their level best to kill you and alert their buddies.
  • Intoxication Mechanic: Getting shot with a tranquilizer dart, greasel venom, or taking zyme or alcohol will cause your screen to go blurry. The interface screwing effects stack, so drinking every bottle of booze you find (in some areas that means fifty or more) will zoom your perspective to a tiny shifting tunnel, clouded by dark gray difference clouds.
  • Invaded States of America: See Mexico Called down below.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Available as an augmentation in one of two mutually exclusive flavors: the classic chamaleonic cloak for the naked eye, and an EMP dampener to make oneself indetectable to robots, turrets, cameras and other electronic devices. They require copious amounts of energy to keep them from breaking the game.
  • Irony: A chat with a bartender in Hong Kong reveals that, despite basically being a military police state, China is still probably the freest country in the world, likely due to their rejection of the UN's authority.
  • Jenny's Number: The only seven digit keypad in the game has 8675309 as its pass code.
  • Jump Physics: JC can strafe-jump and bunny-hop but neither really moves JC faster than his somewhat slow run.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: The Hong Kong levels are particularly notorious for this. For the game's Chinese characters to speak saying things like "Rucky Money," and "In the fresh"?... (Hint. The Chinese language has the letter "L.") Also seen on the Paris levels with painfully thick French accents. And the Australian bartender whose accent wanders helplessly from South Africa to Canada. On the other hand, the Chinese soldiers on the ship, possibly through an oversight, speak perfect American-accented English. Plot point if you miss the mechanic in Everett's home, who has an incorrect accent.
  • Justified Tutorial: JC is finishing his training before starting work at UNATCO.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: In this universe where people can pay to have the ability to level a building and reduce an entire town full of people to mush by just thinking at them, or can carry enough firepower to make the US Army blush, the strongest weapon in the game is a sword. Justified in that it is using advanced nanotechnology to make it unbelievably sharp.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero:
    • In most places, the worst you get is a "Hey, what are you doing?!"
    • Called out in Paris when Icarus contacts JC via infolink while he is breaking and entering people's houses and implores, in a very deadpan manner, the player to consider his motivations for violating "arbitrary laws" and to not miss the chance to join a new world order.
    • Police will attack you if they catch you picking locks, and in some places, picking locks will cause unarmed NPCs to panic, and armed ones to attack you.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero Found Underwear: Entering the women's restroom in UNATCO headquarters will earn JC a lecture the next time he sees Manderley.
  • Knowledge Broker: The Oracle, which is a reference to the Usenet Oracle. The oracle sends out three emails to other characters, providing and requesting information (even if the information is otherwise mundane.)
  • Laser Hallway: Red lasers sound alarms, blue ones do something else, like activate security bots. Gold lasers cause damage or instant death.
  • Lethal Joke Item: Most players write off the assault rifle due to dealing a whopping 3 damage, far less than even the stealth pistol. The catch is that headshots do considerable damage, so with a higher rifle skill level and some recoil mods, an on-target burst to the head can kill Elite Mooks that might shrug off a headshot from the pistol or crossbow.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Speed aug + Combat Strength aug + Ballistic Protection aug + Dragon's Tooth Sword = Lightning Bruiser JC.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: The console version gets bogged down with this, mainly due to memory limitations of the PS2 which forced changes to the level design which breaks them into smaller, more frequently loaded areas.
  • Made of Explodium: Most of the more powerful enemies really are filled with explosives and explode into violent gibs when dead.
  • Magikarp Power: Several of the weapons and augs you start out with tend to be pretty weak, but if you upgrade them along with your skills, they can become very powerful.
  • Mathematician's Answer: If you confront Morgan Everett about Lucius DeBeers' potential restoration from cryostasis, he will give a not-so-straight answer:
    The technology has been around for decades, but he does not need to know that.
    • Whatever he means by that is left for the player to decide, but judging from his point of view it doesn't sound like Everett is intent on reviving him.
  • Matrix Raining Code: This is a "May Tricks Mode" cheat in the game. Plus, it is visible in the background of the hacking-time meter.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • There's an e-mail in that game that says the Denton clones are named after the apostles. If JC is the pinnacle of the project...
      • Saul became Paul after he changed sides. That should be a major clue as to Paul's loyalties.
    • In classical mythology, Daedalus was the father of Icarus and the one who built the wings. Put those two together, and you get Helios, which was the personification of the Sun.
  • The Men in Black: As Elite Mooks. As befits the game, JC is a scary black/blue-clad government spook, and Men in Even Blacker try to outspook him. There's also a few Women in Black.
  • Mercy Kill: If you tell DeBeers that Everett has no intentions of healing him, he will command you to do this to him.
  • Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: In the backstory, only mentioned via in-game media. The original NSF showed Mexico how weak the US has become; Mexico attempts to reclaim Texas.
    • Silhouette allegedly C4'ed the Statue of Liberty because they felt France was wrong to give her to the USA. It's implied Majestic 12 did it to pin the blame on them.
  • Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: There was a basic deathmatch mode implemented into the game, which actually adapts several of the familiar single player maps into smaller dedicated "arenas". But given that the nature of the main game was so focused on the single player experience, the deathmatch mode feels very much like it was an after-thought, and has been virtually forgotten about.
  • Missile Lock-On: GEP (Guided Explosive Projectile) Gun. The time improves if you become more skilled in heavy weapons.
  • Mission Control: The security for JC's "infolink" apparently has more holes than Swiss cheese, as almost everyone in the game is able to send him a message. Usually the people talking to him are connected to UNATCO, so it makes sense that they have access, but even people he's never seen before, such as Everett, can give him a call.
    • Alex Jacobson, a UNATCO-trained communications engineer, tags along to the locations JC goes to. He shows up at Tracer Tong's and Morgan Everett's respective places, thereby giving them access to the infolink. As for Daedalus... it essentially is the Internet.
  • Money for Nothing: There are precious few places in the game world to spend your credits, and none whatsoever after about the two-thirds mark.
  • Monumental Damage:
    • The game starts with the NSF blowing the head off the Statue of Liberty in the Backstory. At the top level of the pedestal there is a fenced-off area with a sign, "This building had been condemned"; presumably the statue was no longer structurally sound. In the sequel, the statue is gone altogether and is replaced with a hologram.
    • When they didn't have enough space to add the World Trade Center to the game's skyline, the developers handwaved it by saying it was destroyed by a terrorist attack prior to the game's events. The game was released in the year 2000.
  • Mook Maker: Area 51's inner depths have a few Universal Constructor outlet chambers that constantly generate enemies to throw at you, such as Greys. You have to find a switch to seal the rooms off to stop the reinforcements from coming in. Or grab big crates and block the exit.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Anna Navarre, if you're into domineering bionic women dressed in dominatrix gear.
    • Also, a couple of locations feature "Women in Black" - sexy women wearing sunglasses and wearing business attire. That some of them carry swords adds to the appeal.
    • Also Maggie Chow, sexy asian woman (who according to in game text is a martial arts movie star). then you have the prostitutes, black leather miniskirts and striperiffic top, miniskirt and crop top that shows plenty of underboob, also a naughty schoolgirl at one point.
  • Multiple Endings: Three distinct endings, each with their ups and downs.
  • Nanotechnology: Augments a human by truly merging man and machine, unlike the patchwork of mech-augs where meat and metal are still distinct from each other. Gets into some philosophical ramifications of using it to augment a human beyond what it's naturally capable of.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Maggie Chow will show up at the MJ12 lab, scorn you and then state hostilities, nanosword in hand. You will likely get to shoot first. Some Women in Black are also seen with the nanosword as a weapon of choice, but since they are augmented they can soak up more damage and might actually get to melee range where they can cut you to ribbons. And then they also explode when they die.
  • Never Going Back to Prison: If you question Rock about stolen vaccine, he'll say "Bitch, I ain't going back to jail!" and immediately start shooting. Although he actually didn't do it.
  • Nintendo Hard: Even on Easy, it's not always practical or even feasible to be a straight up FPS hero all the time, and Realistic difficult makes this a rather insane option at the best of times. Towards the end of the game it becomes possible to run and gun successfully: with the proper augmentations JC is all but invulnerable.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The NSF's first big stand is said to have happened in the Pacific Northwest, at the "Battle of Squalnomie". Squalnomie is not a real place, but Snoqualmie is the name of a city and several geographic regions east of Seattle.
  • No-Gear Level: After you get captured by UNATCO in New York. You can get your weapons back. Strangely though, they don't take your ammo.
  • Non-Combat EXP: Exploring nooks and crannies of the various maps not only nets you more inventory, some additional lore and bonus scenes, but every so often also gives you "Exploration Bonuses" in EXP.
  • Not the Intended Use: In addition to being a powerful melee weapon the glow of the Dragon Tooth Sword can double as a weak flashlight without using up energy. It's also strong enough to break open weak doors without needing to expend picklocks or explosives.

    O — S 
  • One Dose Fits All: Tranquillizer darts have the same effect on enemies regardless of their size.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: JC and other characters. Even basic NSF mooks can ignore a headshot (from the Stealth Pistol, at least), without any noticeable concussion, and can shrug off pepper spray in a few seconds, where it would be a game breaker in real life. They are wearing gas masks, though since they're coughing and are stunned enough of it is clearly getting through to their lungs despite the masks.
  • Oppressive States of America: As the US fell to shit, and as the cabals in the background tightened their grip, the US government became more and more tyrannical, resulting in the rise of the NSF.
  • Optional Stealth: Stealth is possible. While certain Non Player Characters will react positively or negatively based on whether you primarily use lethal or nonlethal force, it usually doesn't matter if you take a stealthy approach or not (although playing stealthily makes nonlethal runs easier for obvious reasons). There's a mission near the end where you have to rescue a scientist's daughter from the Majestic-12, in which getting caught results in an MIB killing her, causing you to fail the mission and miss out on a reward. It is still possible to complete the game, though.
  • Over-the-Top Secret: Within UNATCO's own fictional hierarchy of security clearances. The official system you are informed of early on follows the Hierarchy of Angels, with nine levels from "Angel" (lowest) to "Seraphim" (highest). Later on you hear there is a level above this, naturally titled "God".
  • Oxygen Meter: When swimming, naturally.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: JC : "You are gonna burn alright."
  • Pamphlet Shelf: The book excerpts the player can read, such as of The Man Who Was Thursday or the fictional Jacob's Shadow. Er—the fictional fiction Jacob's Shadow.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish":
    • In the game's engine, the default username and password for any locked computer is USER/USER. A large number of computers in the game still use this combination; most have very little or literally nothing on them, but a small number hold access codes, control buttons, or other such things.
    • Using the login "security/security" also works on a surprising number of computers, including (crucially) Page's security network in Sector 4 of Area 51.
    • Maggie Chow apparently didn't realize that making her birthday the computer password is a bad idea. Also, Chow's computer passwords are the names of her favorite novels... which just so happen to be found right beside the terminal that needs the login.
    • A bank client in Hell's Kitchen apparently decided to use the login "123456/7890" for their account, meaning anyone with a lucky guess could steal 125 credits from them.
    • Majestic 12 is not immune to this either. Just take a wild guess what the passcode is if you ever encounter a keypad in a MJ12 compound and have to enter a code of 2 numbers.
    • Of course the real problem is that people leave their passwords lying around. The number of times you'll find a datapad that was sent out to tell people that "the password is still: something" is really incredible.
    • In the naval base level, there is a 7-digit keypad. On a lark, you may be inclined, just for the heck of it, to enter "8675309". Lo and behold, it's valid.
    • The password for accessing Helios is "panopticon", a term for a prison where the wardens have a clear view of every prisoner. Which is rather fitting for an AI originally designed to monitor criminals.
    • "1234" is used a number of times, most crucially for the UC control rooms in Area 51.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Several keys in the gameworld, including the UNATCO Compound Hatch key (found by examining the small gap between the back of the UNATCO Storage Shed and the fence), the UNATCO Closet Key and Smuggler's sewer key (noted below) can't be found outside of the first visit to each area, and make it much easier to access their respective areas without wasting lockpicks on them, particularly on subsequent visits.
    • Many of the available Augmentations have multiple opportunities to be acquired, with a minimum of two (and maximum of three) opportunities to find in various missions. This isn't true for the Combat Strength / Microfiber Muscle augmentation, which must be picked up in the first mission, and the Power Recirculator / Synthetic Heart aug, which must be picked up during the sixth mission (the second visit to Versalife, in the room with the Universal Constructor). Granted, neither of these Augs are in out-of-the-way locations (the former is found right beside Leo Gold at the top of the Statue of Liberty, while the latter is found in a tech lab you pass through just before descending to the UC overload control panel), but if you miss (or ignore) them, you miss out on a couple of very useful abilities, particularly with Power Recirculator, which dramatically cuts down on the player's Bioelectric Energy usage.
    • Several ATMs in the gameworld have mutually-exclusive amounts of credits within them, which "reset" after each visit. This includes the breakroom in UNATCO, the Hell's Kitchen Subway Station and the 'Ton Hotel. Failing to get the ATM accounts for each of these machines (or not remembering to hack each of them on every visit) means you'll lose out on early-game cash that can come in handy, particularly later in the game when several Dungeon Shop NPCs offer higher-priced items, such as those sold by Smuggler during his later visits.
    • Failing to accept Smuggler's quest to rescue Ford Schick means you'll be permanently locked off from the NYC sewer system, which contains an underground base operated by MJ12, as well as the minor loot that can be acquired (along with some skillpoints) if you go back and revisit the area during the second and third visits to Hell's Kitchen. More overtly, Schick himself (as seen in restored content mods) would have made it back to Smuggler's base and been present during both subsequent visits to Smuggler's lair, where he would have a fair amount of exposition reacting to what's happening in the gameworld and speculating about the origins of the Gray Death — as well as awarded JC with an extra Augmentation Upgrade Canister, which is the only one that could be awarded during the third and final visit to the area.
    • Speaking of Smuggler, he offers several items, including three sets of one-shot purchases, only available during their respective chapters. This includes a Clip and Range Weapon Mod, a set of Rockets, and two mutually-exclusive sets of items that change during the third and final visit to the area, one available before and one after Stanton Dowd is spoken to.
  • Post-Soviet Reunion: Set in 2052, the game implies that some sort of recreation of the Soviet Union had taken place, as the player comes across email addresses with "sovnet" as the domain.
  • Powered Armor: The MJ-12 Obsidian power armor used by MJ12 Commandos.
  • Power-Upgrading Deformation: The cyborgs made before the protagonist, which annoys them to no end.
  • Product Placement: Parodied for the soda can description.
    The can is blank except for the phrase 'PRODUCT PLACEMENT HERE.' It is unclear whether this is a name or an invitation.
  • Properly Paranoid: Killing Joe Greene before being asked to, or the gatekeeper at the graveyard will elicit this response from characters. Some NPCs will come up with what would in normally be dismissed as paranoid conspiracy theories in real life, but in the universe of Deus Ex, they are just about spot on.
  • Prophecy Twist: Aquinas spoke of the mythical city on the hills...
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Most UNATCO employees are unaware that their agency is corrupt to boot.
  • Punch-Packing Pistol: Among the most famous in gaming. It applies to both yourself and your enemies, especially on the harder difficulties, where an enemy can kill you in a single shot if you aren't lucky. Interestingly, the more trained mooks carry assault rifles, which are incapable of this, but the militia fighters carry pistols, which given the game's physics, arguably make them more dangerous to the player.
  • Puppet King: U.S. President Philip Mead is just a figurehead for MJ12, deferring to Walton Simons on government policy according to in-game newspapers.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: A small plasma projector, the size of a cigarette lighter. Can only be fired once, can only carry one.
    • The game describes the PS20 as a self-defense weapon. The comparison is obviously to the two-shot .45 Derringer of old, but the fact remains that the PS20 is a plasma weapon, and one-shot or not, it goes way beyond self-defense.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles:
    • One of the locations in the game is Hong Kong. Most people you meet there speak English, though there is a monk that speaks Cantonese with no translation given. ("Please give way" and "Can you speak Cantonese?") There is some Chinese text and while most of it makes sense, there are instances of complete nonsense copy-and-pasted repeatedly. A few neons feature Chinese characters in mirror image.
    • There's also some untranslated French lines in Paris. This is a holdover from the original version of the game (pre-Game of the Year Edition), which made it so that all of the officers spoke in untranslated French.
  • Recurring Riff: The Deus Ex theme, which pops up occasionally in the soundtrack.
  • Regional Redecoration: Background information reveals that, in 2030, there was a massive earthquake on the American west coast. San Francisco was destroyed and everything south of Lompoc, including Los Angeles, sank into the ocean. The ruins of Pasadena, once thirty kilometers inland, now sit on the new coastline. Rumors abound as whether this was a natural event or the work of some secret cabal like the Illuminati.
  • Research, Inc.: Versalife, a major pharmaceutical corporation that is ostensibly specializes in augmentation tech (including the various aug canisters and upgrade canisters found throughout the game)... but also houses several divisions working towards much more dangerous ends.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction:
    • Majestic 12 to the Illuminati.
    • X-51 to Majestic 12.
  • Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: NetHack v54.3.1 with v54.3.3 coming out next week.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The original NSF were this, but at the time of Deus Ex, membership has spread from just secessionist fanatics to anyone oppressed by the current political and economic system, which, in turn, has given their policies a more leftist slant. They are no less fanatical, however, and they're mostly right.
  • Roar Before Beating: Karkians.
  • Run, Don't Walk: Menu option. It's an option because moving at all, but running especially, always heavily hinders your aim.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The MechAugs are programmed with a Kill Phrase that literally makes them self-destruct, ostensibly in the event that they go rogue. Later on, you find out NanoAugs have a much less explosive killswitch mechanism installed that results in a slow death, when Simons activates the one in Paul as revenge for the Dentons' defection. Dead Mech-Augs and Men in Black also explode in a rain of gibs.
  • Sequel Hook: The cloning tanks at the very end of the game include a clone of JC himself. A nearby computer screen even gives their name as Alex... which will later gain greater clarity via the lead protagonist of the following game.
  • Sequence Breaking: Includes some of the most notable examples in an FPS. If you know what you're doing (or know certain codes), you can skip large chunks of the plot — and surprisingly, the game will acknowledge it in most cases.
    • When returning to Paul's apartment, the attacking Men in Black troopers are triggered by entering conversation with Paul. Savvy players can lace the hallway with proximity mines before triggering the sequence. They barely get two words out before being blown to hell.
    • Similarly, players can leave LAMs at the entrance of Juan Lebedev's cabin, killing Anna before she can speak, and unlocking special dialog from Juan.
    • Similarly, killing Maggie Chow, or knocking her unconscious and throwing out the window of her apartment building, significantly impairs her ability to confront you later in the Versa-Life complex.
  • Shiny New Australia: In an attempt from stopping JC from bringing down his plans during the endgame, a desperate Bob Page eventually offers him all of Europe as his own personal fiefdom.
  • Shipper on Deck: If you took the main entrance to Battery Park on your first visit, the UNATCO troop to the right of the main door of UNATCO (going in, left when leaving) will say that he thinks that you and Agent Navarre would make a nice couple.
  • Shoplift and Die: Stealing from the shops in Hong Kong is met with an armed response. Stealing is also punished in Paris; there are many completely optional locations in Paris that are people's living quarters. If you are caught breaking into them, the Parisian police go after you. One house will have the owner attack you after you attempt to talk to him a few times.
  • Shout-Out: Many.
    • Tracer Tong's speech in the sewers about halfway through the game—it's lifted almost word for word from Illuminatus!.
    • For that matter, Tracer Tong himself, or rather his login. "TracerT" is the win32 command to invoke the IP traceroute tool, which tracks the progress of a data packet from source to destination. And Tong is just the kind of wiseass who would create a login like that for himself.
    • If JC doesn't know the password to Smuggler's hideout, he tries to use the word "xyzzy" to gain entry, only for Smuggler to cut communication. "Xyzzy" is a magic word from the old computer game Colossal Cave Adventure.
    • Paul rents two movies: See You Next Wednesday and Blue Harvest.
    • There's also an e-memo in the Majestic-12 sewer base from a Dr. Harleen Quinzel.
    • One of the songs in the soundtrack (by Alexander Brandon) is titled "Mission Eight" (among other names) and is similar in name and in style (at least in the beginning) to "Mechanism Eight" (by Necros) from Unreal Tournament, the soundtrack of which was also composed mostly by Brandon.
    • One apartment in Paris feature the characters from The Story of O.
    • Whenever a random name appears in in-game text, it's likely to be a reference to something. The people in the Hilton hotel register are all from novels (plus one comic book character). The list of people in the annals of the Luminous Path are all characters from martial arts movies or Chinese actors. This page has an extensive list of references.
    • There is an advertisement of the euthanasia company (see below) named KVORK Inc..
    • A simple little keypad in the Naval Base level has a daunting seven digits, inclining you to just simply take your multitool to it. Until you get this impulse to type in "8675309".
    • A newspaper on the ground in the warehouse mission (near the wall-mounted LAM) is a reference to the Sherlock Holmes Noodle Incident, the Giant Rat of Sumatra.
    • The Stealth Pistol is a Seburo Compact eXploder.
    • One of the Paris apartments features a passage from The Eye of Argon!
    • You'll find numerous references in emails and datacubes to a NSF agent named Decker. Add a "d" to the end....
    • Look carefully at the pinball table...the playfield is clearly Black Knight 2000! Too bad it doesn't play the AWESOME music.
    • At Versalife, you can find an email from Austin Grossman to William Gibson bragging he finally beat NetHack.
      I managed to nail NetHack v54.3.1 just a few minutes ago. Made it past the Astral Plane, and _then_ back in time to work through all of history up to NetHack v3.2.3 (this, of course, has been in every version since 48.2), but after that the game jumped a thousand years into the future and I had to build an entire interstellar trading alliance (with only the Amulet of Yendor) before the aliens from the other side of the black holes showed up...took me six months to solve that part of the game, and then I finally won. Check it out: I hear v54.3.3 should be out next week.
    • In Area 51, you find a list of scientists killed during the MJ12 attack; one of the scientists bears the last name "Alibek", like Ken Alibek, a defected scientist who worked on bio-weapons for the Soviet Union.
    • Some mods get in on the fun, too. With Shifter installed you can also read a message from Project Mayhem the first time you go into the bar in Hell's Kitchen.
    • Gunther Hermann's and Anna Navarre's kill phrases are shoutouts to literary works. Specifically:
      • Hermann's kill phrase Laputan Machine is reference to Laputa from Gulliver's Travels.
      • Navarre's kill phrase Flatlander Woman is reference to Edwin A. Abbott's Flatland
    • The guest book in the 'Ton Hotel has quite a few names in it:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • With conspiracy theories in general. For Example: Enemy Chatter in one level has an "Informed Guard" telling a "New Guard" the various Executive Orders that give FEMA the power to do what it's doing, assuring him that it's all legal. Said Executive Orders are cited by conspiracy nuts to mean these things.
      Informed Guard: Executive Order 10990. It lets us take over all modes of transportation.
      New Guard: FEMA can do that?
      Informed Guard: If the President declares an emergency. Executive Order 10995. We can take over the media.
      New Guard: All of it?
      Informed Guard: Any at all. Executive Order 10997. We can take command of natural resources.
      New Guard: So it's all legal.
      Informed Guard: The National Security Act also falls under our umbrella. And the Defense Production Act. If he plays his cards right, Walton Simons can pull off a bloodless coup.
      New Guard: All the better. Then we don't have to fight.
      Informed Guard: Exactly.
    • The game also knows locations. For example, the prisoner at HQ has a kid attending Bronx High School of Science.
  • Skippable Boss: Both Anna and Gunther have UNATCO kill codes that, if you learn them, let you kill them in the pre-fight dialogue. You can also kill Anna instead of Lebedev in Lebedev's jet, which cancels her later boss fight for obvious reasons.
  • Sniper Pistol: You can make one if you add a scope to a pistol. You'll never see the actual scope in-game, though.
  • Sniper Scope Sway: This happens, but leveling up your rifle skill results in the scope swaying less, with the crosshairs perfectly steady at the highest level. Rather than sway related to breath, the crosshairs do a random walk.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: "A bomb!"
  • Spammer: In a bit of Black Comedy, if you check Paul's email you'll find a spam advertisement. The kicker is that it's advertising a euthanasia clinic.
  • Spoiler Opening: The opening cinematic not only identifies the Big Bad and The Dragon and their current spheres of influence, but also that a certain woman in a dragon dress is affiliated with them, UNATCO has a puppet leader in place and the conspirators are investing in, amongst other things, an electronic sentience. The developers seemingly realised they were giving away a bit much, as the intro for the later-released PS2 version of the game cuts out most of the spoilers mentioned, and taking pains to hide (for the most part) the Big Bad and Dragon's identities.
  • Standard FPS Enemies:
    • Grunts: NSF terrorists. They have poorer aim and less health than normal soldiers, and are armed only with pistols, sawed-off shotguns, or mini-crossbows (granted, in this game pistols really hurt; in the hardest difficulties, you can be one-shot killed with one, even at full health, while assault rifles do noticeably less damage than in most other games.)
    • Soldiers: Most human opponents in the game, but the most prominent are MJ12 Troopers and UNATCO soldiers.
    • Snipers: Any soldier armed with a sniper rifle, but since they use the same A.I. as every other human opponent, they're apt to end up trying to Rambo you at medium range.
    • Elites: MJ12 Commandoes and Men in Black. Commandoes wear an insulated suit of light Powered Armor equipped with twin chainguns that do much more damage than any other automatic weapon in the game, while Men in Black have more than 3 times as much health as a standard Mook, come equipped with full-auto shotguns or dragon tooth swords, and explode when they die, potentially killing you if you're at melee range.
    • Heavies: The light and medium security bots fulfill this role, equipped with a machine gun and being heavily armored against ballistic ordinance and requiring either armor-piercing rounds or explosives to kill. This is balanced out by their relatively slow walk speed.
    • Walking Tanks: The heavy security bots are very tough, and only appear a handful of times throughout the game.
    • Zombies: Karkians pretty much just charge at you and try to bite you. Greasels and Greys have a ranged attack in addition to their melee attack, but aren't much brighter.
  • Stat-O-Vision: One of the two possible vision upgrades; this module shows where enemies are damaged and what weapons they're carrying. Using it also increases the damage you do by default; however, a lot of people pass over this upgrade for the other one, which lets you see enemies in the dark, through walls.
  • Stealth-Based Game: One way to play the game. Most of the time.
  • Stop and Go: In the Paris Streets, there's eight repeats of the combat music intro, followed by a stop. If combat is still active at that point, the second part of the music starts.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: You can kill certain characters but not others. For example, you can't "choose" to carry out your orders to kill Paul because... he's a "vital" character in the storyline, so your bullets won't harm him. Paul can die, however, if you leave through the window of his apartment while he's fighting baddies.
  • Subliminal Seduction: Although "subliminal" probably isn't the word to use for it. In the Hong Kong VersaLife offices, over the programmers' heads are message boards that continually flash one-word messages such as "OBEY", "TRUST", and "LOYALTY".
  • Sub System Damage: The player (and everyone else, for that matter) are divided into six damage zones. Hitting different parts confers different damage multipliers, and losing any has a negative effect on the character's ability to function properly. Losing legs inhibits movement, and arms will hindering aiming. If you lose all health in head or torso equals death.
  • Sudden Soundtrack Stop: Paris Streets Combat BGM. In the eighth measure group, the soundtrack cuts abruptly in the middle with no noise for a few beats. If the combat was short and broken by now, it would revert to the normal stage theme - otherwise, it continues to an intense section of the music, which was amplified by the sudden silence.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence:
    • A terrorist with a knife will happily engage a security bot powerful enough to take down a hundred punks like him at the same time.
    • After JC unravels her schemes, Maggie Chow (if not dead) will try to kill him in the UC building. While the character in question is supposed to be good in unarmed and weapon martial arts (and wielding a nano-tech sword), JC (their target) is a highly trained government Super-Soldier, and (most likely) armed to the teeth with various high tech weapons.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Directly lampshaded by early-game partner Anna Navarre, who mocks JC for it. He gruffly replies that his vision is augmented. The real reason is that he has solid, softly glowing blue eyes, and uses the sunglasses to hide them from others.
    • A number of other characters do the same, although strangely, your brother Paul, who has exactly the same issue with his eyes, doesn't.
    • Gunther will remark it's a good way to tell the difference between Paul and J.C.
  • Synthetic Plague: The Gray Death is a plague that is ravaging the planet. It is later revealed that it is a man-made nano-virus, used to control the populace in mankind's dystopian future, with the Orwellian government maintaining full control of the vaccine that keeps people alive, with the public believing that the vaccine is difficult to make, but the reality is that this is a plan to Kill the Poor and only keep around people that the government finds useful.
  • Tainted Veins: Walton Simons looks like a right freak with the 'bioelectrics' marking his face. JC makes fun of him for this in one of his snarky moments.
    • An easily missed background conversation between him and resident UNATCO chief doctor Jaime Reyes has Simons complain about constant headaches, caused by his fixation on keeping his bioelectric reserves maxed out always. This could likely be the cause of his face veins as well.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Non-augmented humans have realistic damage resistance, combat armor notwithstanding. This is particularly evident during a potential "boss battle" with Maggie Chow, who will engage in dialog with the player, then draw an energy sword and charge in. She's a normal human wearing nothing but a Chinese dress and, realistically, goes down with a single bullet to the head.

    T — Z 
  • Take a Third Option: When you confront Lebedev, Anna orders you to either kill him or let her do it. You can instead kill her, which lets you hear more of the truth from Lebedev and skips her boss fight later. This will piss off Gunther, though.
  • Take Your Time:
    • JC's killswitch is activated. The player is told at several points that J.C. has X hours left to live, but these points are specifically scripted, and the player can take as long as they want to get to Tracer Tong and deactivate the switch.
    • Just as you get to Tong and deactivate it, JC comments that it's been some time but he still feels fine. Paul seemed to show adverse symptoms relatively rapidly (not that this stops him from running about shooting lots of MJ12 troops). Meanwhile JC's flown from New York to Hong Kong in a helicopter in 11 hours (24 hour timer has 23 hours just before the start, and 12 hours have passed after activating a bit after landing) and is still in tip-top condition.
    • If you managed to help Paul fight his way out alive he somehow manages to get to Tracer and have his killswitch deactivated, but he always shows up after you've had yours deactivated even though he had less time left.
    • When you destroy the welding points on the superfreighter, you can chill on the boat until the sun burns out, but it will never sink with you on it.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Dialogue happens in realtime, but can be fast-forwarded and is not interrupted by combat, with hostiles politely waiting to attack. It can lead to a Funny Background Event when two enemies are fighting in the background, or someone who was tranq'ed will be wandering around gasping in pain before collapsing.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Most straight example possibly. Anna and Gunter will die if you say right words to them.
  • Technical Pacifist: JC himself can qualify, but the more obvious example is his brother Paul, who will extol the virtues of non-lethal takedowns while still being programmed to annihilate any enemies he spots with a plasma rifle.
    • By skirting around him on the dock, you can lead Paul on a homicidal rampage across Liberty Island. While chasing you down to deliver his lecture on the virtues of nonlethal force, he will happily gun down every NSF troop who gets in his way. Which becomes doubly hilarious when you take into account the fact that Paul is himself a member of the NSF. This is more of a case of Good Bad Bugs, as the developers didn't intend for Paul to ever leave the dock during the mission, but it is still funny nevertheless.
  • Techno Wreckage: The Ocean Lab.
  • Theme Naming: Icarus and Daedalus become Helios.
  • The Window or the Stairs: A literal example (though swapped). When the MIBs come to get Paul, he tells you to go out the window and take the fire escape; otherwise you'll have to fight off the MIBs and the rest of MJ 12's goons as you get out of the apartment building. If you go out the window you end up facing a bunch of goons on your own, and Paul dies. If you stay, Paul fights with you, and since he's an essential NPC, he can't be killed. (Doug The Eagle's anti-walkthrough even suggests hiding in the closet and letting Paul clear out the building for you.)
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Explicitly stated by Gunther when he finds out you killed Anna Navarre.
  • To Hell and Back: Mentioned in Jacob's Shadow.
    Allie: Lot a people say this city looks like Hell.
    Jacob: Most people never been to Hell.
    Allie: And I suppose you have?
  • Too Awesome to Use: For some, the GEP gun. The basic pistol or stealth pistol can fall into this in the endgame, as by this point it is highly modded and is fast and accurate enough to kill most foes with two or three well placed headshots, but the supply of 10mm ammo drops off quickly late in the game.
    • HE 20mm grenades for the assault rifle are even more rare and powerful than GEP rockets.
    • The PS20, a pocket plasma powered derringer pistol which carries only one shot and which, despite its size, the player can only carry one of at a time. By the time the player might think about using it, he will be already be fighting Power Armor Mooks and mechs armored against energy attacks, shrugging off the one shot it delivers like pistol rounds.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: JC's mini-crossbow can be loaded with Tranquilizer Darts which earn you an instant knock-out on a headshot, or several seconds of them running around screaming otherwise.
  • Translation Convention: JC is actually speaking French with the Parisians.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: They play a big part in the Hong Kong chapter of the game, where two syndicates, the Red Arrow and the Luminous Path, are set to go to war against one another. Preventing said war from breaking out is JC's first order of business after he lands in the city.
  • Trigger Phrase: A literal example with Anna and Gunther's kill phrases.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar: The bartender has a sawed-off shotgun behind the counter. However, she also carries her own.
  • United Nations Is A Super Power: The UN is very powerful by the 2050s, and holds sway over the politics of nations. China left it sometime before the game, and is arguably better off for it.
    • The justification is shown in Human Revolution: the United States was on the brink of economic and social collapse in 2027, and things did not improve. The UN was already stepping in to shape world policy back then, and has grown more powerful in the intervening years thanks to the Illuminati/Majestic 12 machinations.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Most of the time, no one will blink if you plop a dead body in front of them.
    • Curiously, the general NPC AI code has an option to either freak out or get angry whenever a dead body is seen, but both options are rarely used except on hostile NPCs. Whether it was a deliberate decision not to set the option on general civilian NPCs is unknown.
  • Upgrade Artifact: The upgrade canisters.
  • Uriah Gambit: After the battle at the Cathedrale de Payens, Simons tells J.C. that he had sent Gunther Hermann to France expecting him to die, as he was "sick of his moaning about Navarre and constant requests for a tuneup."
  • Useless Useful Spell: Some combinations of skills and augmentations can lead to results that, while awesome, are not really applicable in the game. For example, maxing out swimming skills and getting an lung augmentation might allow a player to swim like Aquaman, but there is no place that really benefits from being able to swim that well, especially when expendable items like rebreathers can get players past the worst of it.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: Early in the game, you overhear Gunther Hermann grumbling to Anna Navarre. The vending machines gives him the wrong soda so often he believes there is a conspiracy against him.note 
  • Verbal Tic: Helios, Y-e-e-e-e-s-s-s.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • Half of the UNATCO troopers are named and occasionally strike a conversation with JC. This means there's a high chance that later, when they want you dead, you'll be doing an almost-Pacifist Run trying to not harm any of the old buddies.
    • The option to save Miguel from the Secret MJ12 base.
    • There are a few instances where playing a Pacifist Run makes things easier. One in particular is in mole people tunnels. Getting to the exit without a fight might be difficult, but making a beeline for a hidden room on the other side and confronting the commander of the group there causes him to surrender, causing the other NSF soldiers in the area to stand down as well. At that point it's trivial to loot the place, talk to Non Player Characters, and continue on at your leisure.
    • The game gives you multiple opportunities to protect Gilbert and Sandra Renton in Hell's Kitchen. Do it wrong and one or both of them will die, or alternatively Sandra will run away from her father's hotel and wind up homeless and destitute. Do it right and you keep the two together, with Sandra sticking with her father until she can get back on her feet.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Shooting a Mook in the legs, tranq'ing him several times and watching him run away as his partner looks on in disbelief is on the low end of the scale in terms of brutality. In fact, the game takes on a decidedly different tone (with various characters admonishing you for your actions) if you decide to kill plot-sensitive characters or NPC's before you're asked to. Better yet, you can:
    • Light people on fire with a flamethrower, and watch them run around in pain until they drop dead. Alternatively, you can blow them into Ludicrous Gibs.
    • Sucker invulnerable characters (like Gunther in the opening mission at Liberty Island) into attempting to destroy the turrets at the front of the Statue of Liberty, and watch the carnage (and copious amounts of blood) that result.
    • Drop unconscious or dead bodies off high buildings, or simply slash at them until they explode.
    • Freak civilians out by shooting near them.
    • Withhold food from a homeless child in Battery Park, then chase after him, guns a-blazing. Or better yet, give him a candy bar for the code to the nearby keypad, then kill him to get your candy bar back.
    • Lob grenades into a market in Hong Kong and watch the local vendors attempt to escape their booths before they go off.
    • You can give Gilbert Renton a gun, let him kill Jojo, watch as his daughter Sandra leaves home after admonishing him and then kill Gilbert right after she leaves. Then, you can find her near the end of the game huddling around a fire with other homeless people, let her tell you her story about being robbed and left penniless, then kill her and her homeless buddies. Now that's taking cruelty to a new level.
    • Tell DeBeers that Everett has no intention to restore him. When he implores you to euthanize him, just turn and leave him fully aware that he will spend the rest of his life as a frozen tool.
  • Video Game Tools: Lock picks, Multitools, and Fire Extinguishers. Furthermore, you also had Rebreathers and Hazmat Suits to overcome obstacles.
  • Villainous Friendship: Between Anna and Gunther, quirky psychopathic cyborg soldiers and close friends in life.
  • Virus and Cure Names:
    • Gray Death, cured by Ambrosia.
    • The "good" AI Daedalus and the "evil" AI Icarus. And they merge to form Helios.
  • Welcome to Corneria: There is a sizable pool of lines for background NPCs throughout the whole game, but they will eventually run out if talking to the same person enough times.
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: An email you read on Paul's computer mentions a suicide clinic that pays its customers' families 10,000 credits if they use it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Paul will let you have it if you go on killing sprees, and especially if you kill NSF leaders.
    • Manderley will be furious if you kill the NSF leader Leo Gold at the end of the first mission, especially considering you were under specific orders to capture him alive.
    • Alex will chew you out if end up getting the hostages killed in the train station, kill or knock out Leo Gold after he surrenders, or if you kill Anna on the 747, although he'll be more shocked than angry, considering Anna's reputation.
    • Everett will call you out if you euthanize DeBeers. Strangely enough, he immediately forgives JC for euthanizing a century-old Illuminati leader responsible for JFK's death among other things. But then again, Everett has no choice—he needs JC's help to defeat Page.
    • Depending on conversation choices in the Underworld Bar, Jordan will call you out on drinking on the job if you are buying drinks.
    • At one point, if you've been quite liberal with killing NSF members, Carter will refuse to give you extra ammunition.
  • What the Hell, Player?: A number of actions, throwing potted plants at people, going to the womens' bathroom, shooting the journalist in Underworld Bar, or killing the NSF leader after he's surrendered will provoke this kind of response.
    • Can be a bit jarring at some points. You can hop on people's computers, even those filled with sensitive emails, log in (or worse, hack into them) and mess around, and the most you will get is a dirty look and some harsh words. In some areas however, the consequences of this action are played more realistically. Police in Paris will become hostile if they see you trying to break into buildings, and in the VersaLife labs, scientists will call security if they see you trying to break open locked cabinets.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The Illuminati ending shows brief glimpses of what Alex, Carter, Reyes, and Tracer Tong are up to after the game's finale. The other two endings don't show the aftermath of J.C.'s final decision, largely because they're considerably more world-changing, while the Illuminati ending is much more of a return to the status quo.
  • Who Shot JFK?: The conversation with DeBeers implies that he instructed the Illuminati to kill John and Robert Kennedy.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Some of JC's dialog indicates him as this. He appears to a firm believer that the US government, for all of its flaws, still works. Especially notable is that he continues to believe this even after UNATCO is revealed to be heavily involved in a conspiracy.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: In Neuromancer, the main character is hired to destroy the barrier between two Artificial Intelligences, resulting in an incredibly powerful AI when they merge. The same thing eventually happens here, too.
  • World Half Full: All three possible endings are improvements in comparison with current situation: You can return power to Illuminati (More benevolent conspiracy, which will allow you to distribute food and vaccine for gray death), rule the world as an omniscient and benevolent AI, which lack emotions and ambitions, or take down communication, ensuring no one will be able to achieve global domination
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: In game text gives multiple conflicting clues as to the date the game takes place, some sources being off from others by as much as two years.
  • You All Look Familiar: Despite the fair amount of model diversity, the facial textures are virtually universally used, having some weird effects... Such as making the 23 year old JC Denton look 45.
  • You Bastard!: Many of the Mooks will have conversations when not fighting the player, giving them more of a human side to them. Also, in a café in Paris, you can meet the parents of a MJ12 trooper. The father will be a bit accepting about his son's potential death at the hands of the player, seeing what he and the rest of MJ12 are doing, whereas the mother will beg you not to kill him. What is implied in just about everything Icarus says to you over the infolink after you do something that he considers unseemly. The comments are directed at JC, whose entire characterization is driven by the player, thus the comments are really directed at the player.
  • You Didn't See That: Done rather darkly if you follow Walton Simons to witness his interrogation of some NSF prisoners, which ends with him murdering said prisoners in cold blood.
    Walton: You saw nothing, Denton. Report to Manderley.
  • We Can Rule Together:
    Bob Page: "Alright, I get the picture. You want a piece of the pie, or you'll throw the whole pie out of the window. Fair enough. You can have anything you want. How about Europe? Your own continent. Just let me complete my preparations."
    • The Illuminati remnants are just a bit more successful at this ploy, with Morgan Everett wanting JC to join them to usher in a new era of Illuminati rule. The Illuminati ending shows this is successful, with JC planning alongside Morgan.
  • Zeerust: This is truly thrown into sharp relief when compared with Human Revolution's more advanced looks. See Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel.
    • Word of God is that DX takes place in slummy and run down areas, where as HR has you seeing nice and richer areas, which would have much better tech and aesthetics.
    • Its also true that the world was doing an awful lot better in 2027 then it is in 2052. It looks less advanced in the present because as far as most people are concerned; it is.


Video Example(s):



The prototype system discusses various topics with JC, such as its purpose, JC's artificial nature and humankind's desire to be observed and judged.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArtificialIntelligence

Media sources: