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This review is from: Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition [Online Game Code] (Software Download)
A lot of what I like about Deus Ex is pretty subjective.
The fact that the Twin Towers weren't in the New York skyline --- left out for a purely game-design reason, not a plot reason --- in a game released in the year 2000 --- struck me in an unexpected way that made the game stay with me. The moral dilemmas between being tough on terrorists, and tolerating tough behavior from the "legitimate" government, was also very timely for the decade that followed.
The experience of the game is also one I find full of replay value (though I admit this isn't common). Despite the clunky Unreal engine, I find the game very immersive. I can almost feel wind on my face while sneaking through alleys, hiding behind crates to set up my ambushes. I also like the juxtaposition of confronting drug-dealers and pimps on a street corner, only a few hundred feet from the high-tech robots, mutants and aliens embedded in the HQ of the global mega-corp that's making a grab for world domination.
Most of the game's problems have multiple solutions, which are not always easy to foresee or delineate. So "stealthy ninja", "stealthy sniper" and "nonviolent stealthy guy" are sometimes three distinct strategies. All approaches do not work equally well all the time (but I don't think that could be achieved without it feeling artificial). I think Deus Ex actually got the balance of story cohesion and player choice fairly close to perfect, given the length of this single-player game. The sequel, Deus Ex 2, took player choice even farther, and while it's not a bad game (handicapped as it is, by being the sequel to a great game), comparison between the two games raises interesting questions about what's more desirable: a single-player game offering the player a high degree of choice in matters that direct subsequent gameplay ... or the illusion of that offer.
SPOILER ALERT -- Choices between application of lethal and non-lethal force has consistent differences in the way that other characters interact with the player near the game's beginning. The player also has a choice between multiple endings, each of which is supported by a compelling argument from one of the player's allies.