Released in the year 2000, Deus Ex has since received much acclaim including "Best PC Game of All Time" by PC Gamer's top 100 PC Games. Many people disagree with that rating, including myself, but it does deserve its place in the upper percentile as it delivers a thoroughly satisfying experience.
Classed as an action adventure, it has elements of both a shooter and a role-playing game. You play the character JC Denton who is an agent for UNATCO (United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition) and are assigned to various covert operations which can be accomplished in several ways. The plot revolves around a world devastated by a pandemic known as the "Gray Death". The synthetic vaccine "Ambrosia" is in short supply and the rich and influential control its distribution. Terrorist organizations have formed with the supposed intention of helping the common people and thus UNATCO has globally expanded its operations to oppose these groups. In the course of his assignments, Denton discovers all is not as it seems.
Aside from your standard weapons, Denton is also enhanced by several nano-augmentations, which can be found and upgraded throughout the game. There's a fairly wide range of guns, melee weapons, explosives and a variety of other items, but your limited inventory space means making some tough choices. Points are gained during operations for completing various primary and secondary objectives, which can then be assigned to upgrading various skills. With the game offering a few avenues of approach to any situation, this might determine which skills you choose to improve. Denton will also find weapon modifications such as scopes, laser sights, range and reload that will slightly improve the performance of the weapon it's attached to.
Understandably, as the graphics are dated, the characters appear all blocky and the game is not big on much content or detail in the environments. However, the game's strength lies in its story element and in its multiple possible solutions to completing any given assignment. There's no shortage of plot, which will be somewhat modified by how you decide to complete an objective.
As far as gameplay, you can take the kamikaze approach or opt for stealth, but the game does fall short in combat situations, which are very sluggish and ungainly. Weapons take a long time to upgrade, improvements are in very small increments and reload times will get you killed. Some of them also seem inconsistent in the amount of damage they dispense. Deus Ex does seem designed to make stealth the better option even though combat is often neither avoidable nor desirable. However, this may have been intentional, as often the lack of appropriate munitions and health requires ingenuity.
Much of the game involves lock picking or hacking security elements and the codes for bypassing these can be found in data cubes lying around here and there. You will find lockpicks and multitools along the way, but often will not have enough to open everything, thus necessitating some decision making. Not to worry though as the game offers options around these obstacles and you won't get stuck. Also, training in these skills will reduce the number of the tools you will need.
All in all, Deux Ex is a pretty good game. The story plays out like a mini novel, which is the strongest element of this game. It's quite long and there's lots of interaction with different characters and a satisfyingly involved plot with twists and turns. Although I would give this game a pretty high score, it's lack of consistent combat skills and its failure to engage me on much of an emotional level are two issues that keep it out of the really great games for me. I really didn't start to connect with my character Denton till nearing the end when he became a little less robot like. Injecting a little more feeling into the dialogue would have gone a long way to solving this. Apparently, however, in researching for the development notes it came to light that this was intention as Spector, the lead developer, wanted the player to invoke emotion into the character as opposed to it being imposed on them. To that intent, he instructed the voice actor to read the script in a monotone. IMO, this back-fired.
Having said that though, it's certainly well worth the trip, but those who put graphics high on their priority list will find it lacking in this area. A Game of the Year edition (GOTY) was released with updates and there are a few mods available that will enhance the graphics.UPDATE: Only the Goty Edition is available now, which features an all-new multiplayer mode and a head-to-head deathmatch mode.