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SummaryAn amazing, genre-blending experience.
The GoodThe strongest feature of this game is contained in this database. Just take a look at all the genres under which Deus Ex is categorized and you'll get a good first impression of what you really ought to be playing if you haven't already.
Some genre-busters feel more like slapdash, incoherent messes. Not this one. Everything is held together thanks to the fact that it relies on the FPS skeleton as its primary play mechanic and that the story is so involving. I never understand why game developers don't pay a little more attention to plot in designing games - after all, electronic entertainment is moving ever more closer to the ideal "interactive novel" with each passing year, and as such developers must pay more and more attention to the craft of creating believable, sympathetic worlds and characters.
As mentioned, the primary structure of Deus Ex is FPS-ish, meaning you'll run around (as the nano-augmented, sunglass-wearing badass J.C. Denton) with something thrust out before you, usually the business end of a firearm. But Deus Ex does so much more with this familiar set of staples by giving you complete freedom to surmount each and every situation that confronts you. At one early point in the game, you will need to rescue some hostages being held by terrorists on a subway platform. If you wanted to, you could charge down the stairs, heavy weapons perforating terrorists in a most satisfying manner. Or, you could be sneaky and open a ventilation grate nearby, allowing you to slip down and behind the terrorists in order to get the drop on them. Or perhaps you'll come up with a completely new approach to solving the same problem.
The real beauty of this design is that it never really punishes you for being the type of player you are. Some players (like me) enjoy the simple, cathartic experience of blowing away terrorists - fine, do it. Or maybe you like tinkering with computer systems in order to turn the terrorists' guided gun turrets back on them. Ok, you can do that too. Your J.C. Denton will develop, skill-wise, in exactly the way you want him too, and you will have exactly the same chance of succeeding so long as you keep your wits about you. You are never forced to "guess" what the game developers want you to do, a problem that crops up all too often in adventure games.
The BadThe graphics haven't aged as well as the gameplay. I often found myself (perhaps unfairly) comparing Deus Ex to other, prettier FPSes. Hopefully, the sequel will possess all the gorgeous eye candy its revolutionary gameplay deserves.