There is a school of gamer - your current writer included - that desperately wants to acclaim the new Deux Ex as another stone-cold classic. The original, when it was released eleven years ago, was truly ground-breaking, fusing the action of the first-person action game with the choice and depth of an RPG in a way that only System Shock 2 had approached before. For the twenty-something hours it took to complete it, Deus Ex was an obsession. You could play it as a shooter, a stealth game or a combat-heavy RPG, or – as most of us did – some weird hybrid of the three, but however you played the complex gameplay and rich storyline kept you glued from the beginning to the end (or ends if you were really keen).
Those of us within this group will find much to love about Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It retains all the elements of player choice, first-person combat, cybernetic augmentation and stealth that made Deus Ex so enthralling. It’s a game designed by people who don’t want to lead you by the nose from level to level, but want to give you a world worth exploring, and the freedom to explore. Enemies can be dispatched through headshots, sneak attacks, tranquiliser darts, shotgun blasts to the face or all of the above, and there are enough computers to hack, vents to crawl in, boxes to stack and windows to climb through to put a smile on any old-school PC gamer. There’s always more than one way to get from A to B, preferably without a major skirmish, and always something else to discover, explore or collect. This is a thinking man’s game, and thinking men everywhere will like it.
As in the first game, it’s the interaction of the gaming systems that make it work so brilliantly. Every situation in the game can be tackled with a number of approaches, and the more the game goes on, the more your character and your tools become tailored to your specific style of play. In the world of Human Revolution, experience points mean Praxis points, and Praxis points can be spent on a range of cybernetic augmentations that affect your character’s perceptions, their strength, their resistance to damage, their hacking skills and their stealth capabilities. Inevitably, you end up favouring one set of skills over another, and so building the best warrior, techno-spy or assassin that you can. What’s more, all the weapons are also customisable, leading you to beef up a silenced pistol at the expense of a noisy assault rifle, or possibly visa versa. Experience points are handed out for practically any activity, so even if your carefully planned stealth attack becomes a bloodbath, it's not a disaster. Organically, without anyone telling you what to do and how to do it, the game supports and rewards the way you want to play it.