Deus Ex or DXHR? I’ve hardly ever seen you mention the original.
DXHR. I played the original prior to DXHR’s announcement, and predicted DXHR would be a complete failure prior to the leak. The leak changed my mind on it, and in time since I think DXHR is actually the better game despite its more narrow focus.
My primary issues with the original Deus Ex are that the gunplay isn’t good, enemies aren’t interesting, the stealth isn’t good, the hacking/lockpicking are one dimensional, there isn’t a significant platforming/area traversal element. Dialogue basically never constitutes a good gameplay challenge, and Deus Ex isn’t an exception there.
On the level of simply the game living up to what it. The game doesn’t really care if you go lethal or nonlethal in any of the missions (after the third one it stops tracking the difference completely). The overall story arc is completely linear, you always have to betray unatco, you always get captured by gunther, you always break out of unatco, go to hong kong, infiltrate versalife, etc, etc. There are tons of invincible NPCs in many of the levels, especially the early ones. You’re required to kill multiple NPCs to proceed (even if there are clever workarounds for all but one of them).
I went into Deus Ex thinking, “Wow, I can do anything.” After successive playthroughs and learning more about the game, I realized, “Wow, I can’t do anything.” My opinion on the game changed over time as my opinions about what made a good game or not became more refined. Deus Ex is complex, but it isn’t deep. There’s a lot going on, but none of it is interconnected, meaningful, or challenging. This is what lead to my change in opinion.
DXHR, it fell flat in a number of areas, lacking features of the original (melee weapons) and having smaller more constrained levels generally, but it had stronger stealth, better gunplay, an actually involved process for hacking, and did pretty alright with the level design in of including multiple paths/approaches, and goodies hidden around. Kinda sucks that the entire world wasn’t like detroit and that SO MUCH CONTENT was cut (upper heng sha, montreal, india).
Plus I’ve speedrun both of them, DXHR is an awesome challenge, Deus Ex is boring cheese. Deus Ex is one of the easiest speedruns I’ve done yet (primarily about memorization of the order you have to do things in and not forgetting steps), DXHR has hard tricks, is a super fast stealth run (one of the rare stealth games to actually have a speedrun about being stealthy instead of just running through every blockade), and it’s tricky to avoid enemies while trying to pass through them ASAP on low/no resources.
Deus Ex still has a crazy complex system, which made for good fun in Illiterate Child’s Glitchy Walk Through, but none of the game is designed to be particularly challenging or mentally involved, so a lot of that ad hoc complexity goes to waste.