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Mercurio Silver on Nostalgia

April 10th, 2011 by

I have been playing Deus Ex.

I’ve heard it’s all the rage with the youth, all the political intrigue and branching story line and general prophetic vision of the modern day. True, we haven’t quite had the Grey Death kick in, but I’m pretty sure chocolate bars cost about £200 now. When a man can’t afford a slab of the finest Ferrero Rocher, society is in a bad way.

But between all the gruff voices and men with corners in their faces, I could not escape the realisation that, all things considered, the people who are so vocal with their love of this game are unfortunately and irreparably insane. Like a Big Issue salesman who has no recourse but to believe in the lie that such a magazine contains any form of journalism, the vocal proponents of Deus Ex overlook the flaws. The fact is, like the Big Issue before it, the idea of Deus Ex is so much better than the implementation.

Allow me to clarify the situation somewhat. I have never sold, nor bought, a copy of the Big Issue. One of my wives – I lose track of them so easily that I could not tell you which one – would occasionally return home from her mandated shopping trip with a copy of the gin-soaked rag, however. She would justify it as “helping the unfortunate”, it had goals larger than the writing within, a meaning.

I would discount that assessment of the Big Issue, as I will discount similar arguments from the Deus Ex faithful. Deus Ex hates the rich and the powerful, portraying them as willing to engineer a global pandemic for a little bit of cash. I won’t dispute that portrayal – I’ve sunk millions of Bulgarian Lev into a small charnelhouse outside of Sirishtnik, hoping to find an exploitable and communicable bone disorder I could use to make my fortune even larger. That said, I am also aware that whenever I have a run in with a member of a highly trained secret service, they are highly trained.

 

An example. Before you were born, I was running a pineapple smuggling operation in the affluent areas of Smolensk. It was lucrative, the Tsar having outlawed pineapples for their potential use as weapons in the scheduled revolution, and I was making a name for myself – although the Russians couldn’t actually pronounce it, they don’t do well with silent Qs. Anyway, it wasn’t long before the KGB came knocking on my door.

At the time I was young, foolish. My knowledge of spies came from my knowledge of the future James Bond films, all camp and seductive. Not my style. It was somewhat of a shock to find, then, that your average KGB agent can shoot the fake eyelashes off of an Essex housewife at fifty paces. Knowing this, I find games like Deus Ex irresponsible.

Perhaps their excuse is that the game did “new” things, and the way to properly hammer that home is to make your character have a dread fear of firearms. JC’s default accuracy is so poor that it leads one to wonder how he passed basic training. I have a better command of firearms than him, but then I have men on staff to handle that sort of thing. Other games have fallen into this trap, true, but most get called up on it. Not Deus Ex.

And, ultimately, here’s the thing: nostalgia is a virus. One twenty-something relives his youth, he streams the game live on the internet for all to see, and his wide-eyed idiocy spreads. He talks to people, tells them of his weekend, records a podcast with them, and his idiocy spreads. Then, before long, you find yourself in a world where people actively seek to live in the past. I lived in the past back when it was the present – it was horrible. There were children everywhere, happy and without a care in the world. Young couples could buy houses. Students didn’t have to sell themselves into sexual slavery at the docks to afford a month’s tuition. Interns were paid.

 

Why would anyone want to relive those days?

No, I don’t like this habit of getting caught up in the past. It colours the mind, plasters over the flaws with a delightfully uniform falseness. It becomes Orwellian, the belief is held because enough people have written that this is so. Deus Ex is a masterpiece because some pretentious cad declared it so in a magazine fifteen years ago, and if we’re going to start using Orwellian crowd control tactics in our understanding of the arts, we’re going to use my word as gospel.

And my word is thus: if you’re going to live in the past, at least go far enough back as to be worth it. The late 1800s, for instance.

Oh, go away. You’ve ruined my day now.

Mercurio Silver is a grumpy misanthropic immortal with bold statements and a narcissistic need to force them on others. With his sharp tongue he shares his most recent realisations and thoughts right here on Midlife Gamer every Sunday.

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2 Responses to “Mercurio Silver on Nostalgia”
  1. avatar Hugo Rune says:

    I have a terrible feeling we may have been separated at birth, however, when it comes to Deus Ex you’re as wrong as a furry thing in a fruit smoothie (true story) because in its day it was a thing of wonder.

    If you’re doing this every Sunday you may just have improved my life a little. Fiona Bruce does her best on Antiques Roadshow but this could make the Holy day even better.

  2. avatar Adamski UK says:

    I was late to the party with this game. I was pulled in by the pre internet hysteria that surrounded it and felt I owed it to myself to dive into the world of espionage where I could switch my playing style to suit my mood.
    But I was never in the mood for playing this.
    I tried to.
    I wanted to.
    I needed to.
    I failed to.

    Plenty more fish in the sea.

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