This is an incomplete list of references to other works (games, books and films) that can be found in the computer role-playing game Deus Ex developed by Ion Storm Austin. The list has now been revised with additions pointed out by several noders. For more general information about the game, try looking it up on

Deus Ex is based in a dystopian future stitched together from elements cribbed from Blade Runner and its ilk. The protagonist, J.C. Denton, a cyborg secret agent without a past, gets embroiled in a global conspiracy which leads the player through New York, Paris and Hong Kong.

Star Wars trilogy: One of the subplots in the game involves nanotechnology-enhanced swords- the visual representation of these weapons and the scenes where they are used bear some resemblance to the lightsabre battles in the Star Wars movies.

The Abyss: The docking area for the miniature submarines seems to be modelled after one of the sets from this movie.

The Matrix: The New York subway station is similar to the one seen in this movie. The whole trenchcoat-and-shades thing is also very similar, although it should be noted that The Matrix was not released until very late in Deus Ex's development.

Ultima Underworld: The nightclub in New York is called the Underworld Club, and Underworld is used as a password. (Warren Spector worked on both games.)

Soylent Green: Candy bars located around the game world bear the slogan "Choc-o-lent Dream: It's chocolate! It's people! It's both!"

Fahrenheit 451: The first keypad code in the game is '0451'.

The Island of Dr. Moreau: The name of the scientist in the MJ-12 genetics lab ("Unknown Location") is Dr. Moreau.

Neuromancer: Several elements, the most prominent being the sentient A.I. characters (Icarus, Daedalus, etc.) draw inspiration from William Gibson's seminal cyberpunk novel.

Illuminatus! trilogy: The monologue given by Tracer Tong as you escape the VersaLife lab (about 1723 and Adam Weishaupt) is heavily influenced by the Illuminatus! books. Many elements of the game's story are based around the Illuminati / Knights Templar conspiracy theory lore. In the clinic in New York, a down-and-out greets you with the Masonic distress code "Will nobody help the widow's son?".

Gormenghast trilogy: The chef in the Paris Cathedral section is called Swelter.

Trinity: In the Area 51 bunker, there is a cryogenic storage facility where Denton finds several cloned agents. The computer attached to one of the vats gives the name 'Wade Walker' which is likely to be a reference to 'Wabe Walker', the protagonist in the Infocom adventure game Trinity who travelled through time to the scene of several nuclear explosions (which would make sense, as the Illuminati had launched a nuke at Area 51 directly before this part of the game begins).

System Shock series: There are many parallels between System Shock 1 and 2 and Deus Ex, as they shared some development staff. The AI characters in the game (Icarus, Daedalus, Helios and Morpheus) are similar to Shodan from the System Shock games. Both games also feature basketball hoops that reveal hidden messages when used.

Ion Storm (Dallas): An overheard conversation reveals the addictions of one character's "game developer friends in Dallas".

The Man Who Was Thursday: Extracts from this book are located throughout the game. The character Gabriel Syme is listed in the 'ton Hotel guest registry.

The Stars My Destination: Gully Foyle also checked in at the 'ton.

Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow: Smilla Jasperson also stayed there.

Gravity's Rainbow: did Oberst Enzian.

Sandman: did Hippolyta Hall.

The Diamond Age: Gunther Hermann makes a request in an email message to have a gun implanted in his skull (a somewhat pointless technology described in the opening chapter of Neal Stephenson's novel).

Special thanks to the network of clandestine operatives who have contributed to this writeup.

Reference to Ion Storm: In Hell's Kitchen, there's a basketball court (the one in which two NSF thugs are mugging a man after exitting Smuggler's). Pick up the basketball and throw it towards the hoop, and you get the message: "Basketball?! You should be playing football! Go Cowboys!" In addition, making a shot (or, apparently, getting the ball stuck between basket and backboard) results in the message "Sign him guy up for the Knicks!"

And another, a references to Roger Zelazny's books: In "building 14" in Paris, a datacube locked up on the second floor mentions a computer login as "rzelazny/shadowjack", or, Roger Zelazny, and the book Jack of Shadows.
Perhaps the ultimate meta-reference in 'Deus Ex' is to The Matrix's habit of inserting random references to other media, and the assumption that merely invoking names and concepts imbues the product with depth and meaning. Thematically, 'Deus Ex' is a combination of elements from 'The Illuminatus! Trilogy', 'Nineteen Eighty-Four', cyberpunk and conspiracy fiction, UFO lore, the aforementioned Keanu Reeves blockbuster, the persistent anime theme of rival brothers, the Nation of Islam's notion that AIDS is a tool of biological warfare, and the idea that governments create artificial threats in order to shore up their own power.

More tenuously the game uses the hoary device of using a wrecked Statue of Liberty as a metaphor for the damaged state of liberty itself, whilst, as in 'Illuminatus!', the underground opposition movement are implausibly well-organised and equipped, and morally untouchable. It is significant that the early part of the game penalises the player for wantonly shooting 'rebel scum', whilst in the latter part of the game, after having switched sides, the player is allowed to exterminate large numbers of government troops without adverse comment.

In terms of specific, unusual references, a hacked computer in a plague ship reveals the phrase 'Reindeer Flotilla', a passcode from the film Tron, another film which deals with the possibility that the real world is merely a turtle on top of an endless tower of turtles.

On a technical level the game contains a mysterious basketball, a minor trademark of the late, lamented Looking Glass studios which appeared in both 'Thief: The Dark Project' and 'System Shock 2'. Although 'Deus Ex' does not use the same graphic engine as the aforementioned the games share the same look, and in both games you can activate secret messages by dunking the balls through stategically-placed hoops.

And, of course, both the leather-trenchcoat-clad main character and the G-Men are lifted from 'The Matrix', the men in black based heavily on Hugo Weaving's dress and most notably speech pattern. Given that the villains from The Matrix were in turn based on the Man in Black from Half-Life, this is perhaps poetic justice.

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