But Does It Get the Chicks?

Nope. The "skill point" feature screams, "Saturday night role-playing marathon with the guys, lukewarm pizza, beer and dragon dice."

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One annoyance is the game's insistence that you earn "skill points." This typical feature of role-playing games is incorporated into most of the weapons you can use throughout Deus Ex. For instance, the more skill points you have for using a particular weapon, the better your aim will be. But why hobble a player's own actual ability to master a weapon? Like Ion Storm's Daikatana, an already troubled FPS that also has a skill point system, Deus Ex's feels like a geeky gimmick.

An extremely good element of Deus Ex is its intuitive user interface. Despite the multitude of weapons, tools and other things you'll need to collect to complete your mission objectives, accessing them is quick and easy. Using items and interacting with other characters in Deus Ex's world is also very simple, which obviously helps to immerse the player further into the game.

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"Immersive" is an apt word to describe Deus Ex's environment, which includes locations in Hong Kong, New York and Paris. These and other settings are beautifully rendered, tempting you to spend your time sightseeing rather than attending to the pesky end-of-the-world business at hand. The lighting effects are especially atmospheric, particularly in the neon-soaked streets of Hong Kong.

Deus Ex takes on several disparate gaming elements and manages to pull off the whole affair decently enough. Yet playing it is like watching the first, longer edit of a movie. You wish a few things would have been sacrificed to make the final product a more focused and more satisfying gaming experience.

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Freelance writer Howard Wen has also covered videogames for Salon, Wired and the O'Reilly Network.

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