You might as well know, I only ever dallied with the original Deus Ex. It sat on my sub-GHz Pentium III PC's hard drive just long enough to load and for me to wander briefly (around the deck of a boat in the harbor of a major Manhattan-like city, if memory serves). Alas, I gave it short shrift and flipped back to Shogun: Total War, or maybe it was Diablo II. Nothing about it really grabbed me, and though I loved Warren Spector (the game's co-designer), my cyberpunk heart belonged to Doug Church's (and Spector's) System Shock—that, and Beam Software's 1994 Super Nintendo sleeper, Shadowrun.
Some mistakes you can't take back, and as someone pointed out yesterday on Twitter, sometimes it's darned near impossible to go back. Tetris, Dr. Mario, and the like, sure. An 11-year-old game pieced together using the original Unreal Engine? Not so much.
And then Deus Ex: Invisible War came along a couple years later, was summarily dismissed by the only writers I was reading at the time, and here we are in 2011, staring down Deus Ex: Human Revolution's launch, apparently not the revolution its title implies, but—I think it's fair to say surprisingly—a solid evolutionary step forward nonetheless.
I can't stand by that last statement (yet), because like the rest of you, my first shot at playing won't occur until sometime this afternoon. But the word round the world is strong. Very strong. As in: plenty of 100s and high 90s.
Take Worthplaying, whose reviewer argues DE: HR "may just be one of the hallmark titles of its decade," hailing its nonlinearity and calling it "a brilliantly constructed game that sets up a world and then sets the player loose, allowing you to explore as you see fit."
Or IGN, whose reviewer—after a tortured Daedalus analogy—goes on to say that DE:HR is "a visionary, considered piece of work… [A] smart, rewarding piece of transhumanist noir that does justice not just to Deus Ex, but to the fiction that inspired it."
Even traditionally tough critics, like Eurogamer, seem to love it. In a refreshingly prolix review (though still afflicted with bits of turgid writing), the reviewer describes DE:HR as one of those games that "just wants to be played with and enjoyed - and when you finish, you just want to play with it again."
Scan Metacritic and you'll find the game's handful of low scorers assigning respectable 80s. The most insightful of those, by the Guardian, concludes that DE:HR "falls just short of perfection…but it is, nevertheless, an amazing game, which will confound those who persist in tarring games with the brush of mindlessness."
All of which has me looking forward to delving and fiddling with a new game for the first time, frankly, in months.