The Original 'Deus Ex' Looks Almost New Again With an Upcoming Mod

December update for popular 'GMDX' mod updates the 'visual experience' for 'Deus Ex.'
September 5, 2016, 11:00am
Image: GMDX.

The Deus Ex games present a vision of the future in which average Joes swap out arms and eyes with the nonchalance that we swap out iPhones and graphics cards, and thus it's only fitting that one of the biggest bits of news for the series is the upcoming release of a mod. Sometime in December, Deus Ex fans new and old will be able to play the new GMDX 9.0 mod (Give Me Deus Ex, if you really must know the arcane mysteries behind acronyms), which bills itself as the "definitive Deus Ex experience" with some authority.

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GMDX is a mod for the original Deus Ex from 2000, with takes place in the future of the future we know from the broody adventures of Adam Jensen in Mankind Divided. (Read our review!) The mod's been around since 2013, when it revitalized the tale of JC Denton by injecting it with a needed dose of tweaks for the AI, graphics, user interface, and virtually every other element save for the plot. The changes are massive and thoughtful, right down to making friendly NPCs attack you if they catch you hauling around a crate of TNT or a human carcass.

Most of that's in the new update, but the chief aim of 9.0 is to improve "the visual experience" with an "Enhanced Artistic Direction" so momentous it apparently deserves title case.

"Deus Ex never had the strongest art direction," the announcement from the anonymous team says, "and it would be a shame if such a magnificent game was overlooked today and into the future because of that."

Image: GMDX

A succession of screenshots show the changes, complete with before-and-after shots. Like most of what we've already seen in GMDX 8.0, the changes are respectful but meaningful. Under their direction, elements like painted parking spaces and scattered litter enrich a formerly bland, lifeless airport maintenance area. Cold research facility always remain cold and unwelcoming, but details like rivets make them seem more real. In one instance, they risk nitpicky forum controversy by making a railroad tunnel longer than normal. But even this change has logic: "Notice that the train rails (on the floor) in the non-GMDX versions meet at a T-Junction," they say. "A sharp 90 degree right angle. Near future or not, it is physically impossible for trains to make such a maneuver."

Image: GMDX

This is fan-made modding for preservation done right; the kind of thing that captures something of the excitement we felt 16 years ago. Normally, in fact, I'd advise against playing a classic game like Deus Ex for the first time with mods. Modders sometimes get carried away with themselves in their makeovers, stuffing in all kinds of fancy textures and gameplay elements that stun and startle just because they can. By the time they're done, they've arguably made a different game entirely.

To a small extent, this was also true of previous versions of GDMX, but the creators claim they've kept themselves in check for the 9.0 release in order to deliver the "faithful perfection Deus Ex deserves," even to the point of removing features they'd put in. The gore is not so gory. Gone are weapons they tossed into previous versions for more variety. This is a work of respect and maturity, so forget about any chance to "power-throw corpses with the strength augmentation and splat them up walls like tomatoes for comical effect." I suppose we all have to grow up sometime.

Again, GDMX 9.0 won't be out until December. But if you want your "definitive" Deus Ex fix right now, you can play GDMX 8.0 right now by downloading it from this link. One caveat: installing it can be a bit of a pain, so be sure to follow this guide to the letter.