I am now about 10ish hours into Deus Ex and I do have to say I am enjoying my time with the game very much, but I think I rested it on too high a pedestal. Anticipation has a funny way of helping us set unreasonable goals for a work of art, and especially one so ambitious from first time developer Edios Montreal.
Don't get me wrong or misread my criticisms here, this is certainly a $60 purchase. With that said...
Deus Ex is what Metal Gear would be like if it were well written and had a sense of artistic direction. It is very deep and conspiracy-ey (totally a word, despite what spell check would lead you to believe), but the characters and plot actually make sense and it has a very strong visual and aural tone. Deus Ex certainly gets an A+ for writing and for environment. I actually find myself reading most of the emails and eBooks I find lying around.
I think it is really funny that all of the voice acting is so top notch except for the lead. Seriously, did anyone actually listen to his dialogue? All I can ever hear him say is "Harvey Dent.... CAN WE TRUST HIM?!?!" That aside this is the best voice acting in a game, well since this.
The biggest glaring misstep is really what the game expects of you. A lot of reviews have stated the game rewards you for playing your way, but in my experience that is only true if you are an explorer who likes to spend hours combing around maps searching for every last detail. When I have a game that has such a thick plot and engaging scenarios, I don't want to spend the next hour and a half breaking into people's apartments or doing fetch quests for strangers. I get a strong feeling though if I don't I will miss valuable experience points and loot to sell.
I know Edios Montreal spent a lot of time making these sprawling, beautiful and grotesque environments for us to explore, but I would say it was too much. With a story focused game I want to focus on the story. It really rips me out of the immersion when I have a team of experts waiting to support me in my mission and I am running around doing errands for the local Triads. I know that is how it is in this post GTA3 world, but I really wish the game was probably about 66% of it's length and more focused, because the highlight of this game is the great mission levels and sneaking/fighting your way through.
I have only been through one boss fight so far as well, but I can say it was a battle of attrition. Having a character that is solely focused on stealth and hacking and then having to have a shooting match with a human tank..... it can be frustrating. Needless to say there was a lot of "load last autosave" going on until I finally figured it out.
Now, in my old and stuck in it's ways mind, the greatest cyberpunk game ever to be released was the legendary Shadowrun on the Sega Genesis. The game has not aged well beyond the prism of nostalgia, but it was GTA3 7 years earlier. With RPG elements. And cyberpunk. And an actual plot. And actual GOOD writing. In 1994. On the Genesis. The game was awesome. I dream and opine daily for a current-gen update to this game. I imagine a cyberpunk elder-scrolls with hacking, corporate espionage, a huge urban sprawl, and spectacular writing.
Deus Ex is the prefect example of a really great game that could have been legendary had it been a little more focused. Granted I still have easily 50% of the game to get through (and I will actually finish this game), but my mind still dreamily thinks about what could have been rather than what is.
Some day Shadowrun, some day.