Gamasutra has cranked out a list of the top twelve video games of this decade, as voted upon by various industry professionals. Mass Effect (#9), Deus Ex (#2), and World of Warcraft (#1) all made the cut:
Ion Storm's Deus Ex featured intense action, a branching storyline, and deep character customization options. However, its fans will tell you that Deus Ex's biggest strength is the freedom it provides in allowing players to approach each of the game's objectives in numerous different ways. I know a lot of people liked Mass Effect, but for me the game wouldn't even be remotely close to ranking among the decade's top dozen. There are much better choices in the RPG genre alone - Baldur's Gate II, Arcanum, Vampire: Bloodlines, the Star Wars: KotORs, Fallout 3, and Dragon Age: Origins, just to name a few. Apart from a handful of solid choices, this list seems really skewed.
Boris Bauer, Replay Studios: "I'm a fan of exploring, (action) adventure, and shooter games. I also like some of the major RPG games. Deus Ex successfully combined shooter action, stealth game play, storytelling, exploration, and common 'RPG' elements (skill/item systems, character development) in a believable futuristic game world.
"The most outstanding qualities are the games's atmosphere (game world, sound, and music) and a long series of interesting player choices throughout the whole game. The design of Deus Ex pushed the boundaries of lots of genres inspiring and influencing a lot of todays action adventure/stealth action and RPG games."
Kain Shin, Arkane Studios: "The setting was fresh, and it took the school of Looking Glass's FPS/RPG hybrid genre to a new level by engaging the user in meaningful emotional interactions, allowing the player to express themselves as they choose in a way that had never been combined before.
"It is a collaborative work of art that invites the user's real-time actions to paint a representation of themself in that particular setting without being strong-armed into an explicit identity from another person's moral compass."
Mike Orenich, LucasArts: "It was the first game that I played which truly allowed you the freedom to complete the game/missions with multiple paths. The RPG elements (skills & augmentations) allowed you to customize as you progressed through the game, so you could blast your way killing everyone in sight or sneak through solving the game without killing anyone.
"The best part was how your actions influenced the story and the character's responses to you as the player. If you helped someone out and responded nicely, they often gave you information like a password or helped you by giving you a price cut on goods.
"I spent hours customizing my character, the UI, reading all of the books and datacubes in the game. The story was top-notch as well. This game was released in 2000 and has an eerie history to the back-story. In the fiction, terrorists had apparently blown up the twin towers in New York city. Sadly this piece of fiction became fact in 2001."