Deus Ex Retrospective

The editors at EDGE have published a new retrospective article for the original, seminal Deus Ex, in which they praise Ion Storm's title for moving away from "game logic" and its rich gameplay. Here's a snip:
More than simply enduring, what makes Deus Ex still exciting today is just how much it made you feel like a secret agent. Enough games inform you that this is what you are, then thrust an assault rifle into your hands and only ask you for nothing more than to open fire. Deus Ex stuck faster to its promise, and repreatedly lured you into situations that couldn't be tackled with direct action. For each you needed a plan, because JC is deprived of the three luxuries game heroes typically coast on: accuracy, resilience and a polarised moral compass. He's famously cack-handed with a rifle, routinely loses arms, legs and his life to single bullet wounds, and the voices in his head can't agree on who he's allowed to kill. And for each of his inadequacies, it was you who had to compensate.

The morality of your mission gets so muddled that it's not unless you refuse to assassinate an unarmed terrorist and listen to JC's justification of your decision that you realise doing so would have been illegal. The authority of agency to which you're accustomed is suddenly undermined, and you end up considering profoundly un-game-like issues like whether you even have a right to follow your UN-sanctioned orders. The game was remiss in never meaningfully distinguishing between knockouts and kills, but it's a testament to how much it shook us out of our game-logic mindset that many players still insist on the former.

JC's wild, near-comical inaccuracy with basic firearms, meanwhile, gave you a larger share of the responsibility for success in combat. For one, it's probably how you'd shoot in real life, and for another, it meant you had to engineer every situation. You had to make sure that, by the time you were spotted, you were close enough to guarantee a headshot. And unless you'd upgraded your pistol skill dramatically, that meant nearly point-blank. Easy enough with one enemy, given how near-sighted they are, but any more always required some form of subterfuge. A fire-extinguisher in their eyes, a proximity mine hidden on the alarm panel, or a reprogrammed turret just around the corner.