Deus Ex Approxima
Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes the grand ideals of the original Deus Ex and reduces them to their barest bones in much the same way the Invisible War did. The small levels and relatively small number of actual options available to you in any given situation mean that the game feels a lot less free-form than the original did a decade or so earlier. You can shoot, sneak or hack your way in, that's about it. Skills are acquired at such a rapid pace throughout the game that you'll never really feel overwhelmed, unless you're regularly engaged in the game's unforgiving combat. Everything feels good, the level design is solid and there's just enough obscurity in where you might find alternate paths/tactics that you'll occasionally have the realization that you could have approached an encounter in a different way after you've already muscled your way down a path you may not necessarily have felt equipped to tackle, which is nice. The game does a fairly good job of making sure you don't feel like you're just picking from three or four different roads to the same objective. Well, except for the ending. The main problem is that it all feels a little lifeless. The dialogue is flat, the world less realized than the original and everything just looks and feels a little bland. The visuals have a style to them, but not a particularly well developed one, and it serves more to make everything look samey rather than provide a unifying tone to the various locales of the game. Things also run fairly choppily and the load times are long on the 360 version. The extra DLC that is worked into the main story line in this Director's Cut edition feels very out of place, and is probably the weakest section of the game in terms of level design, so is not necessarily required, the original version of the game is just as good. Overall it's a fine game, and a good approximation of what made the original Deus Ex such a beloved game, but there's far less of the heart in this sequel. The design of the levels lacks the inventive spark of the first game, and the characters, story and variety of options are all similarly lacking. This last point is perhaps most important: the feeling of creating a version of Denton/Jensen that felt unique to you is far diminished in this game. You won't be locked out of options for tackling situations in the same way that the original game forced you to be, which makes the choices in tackling these situations feel almost arbitrary. It's a trivial affair to build a character capable of doing basically anything, which eliminates the importance of having these choices in the first place. It's nice to have a game shaped loosely in the mold of the original Deus Ex, set in a slightly less entertaining version of the same world, but ultimately it all lacks the same daring punch that the original had. But then again, most games do.