Few games do so much, so well, and for so long as Deus Ex Human Revolution. It's a proper gamey game for proper gamey gamers - 30 hours of shooting and sneaking, levelling up, conversation trees and moral dilemmas - and when it's over you can go straight back to the beginning and play it like the pant-soiling psycho Adam Jensen was never born to be.
And Deus Ex won't care. Adam Jensen is whoever you want him to be and the game never pats you on the head for being a hippy humanitarian or slaps you on the wrist for being a bodychopping nutcase who got lost on the way to Modern Warfare 3.
It waits, it watches, and it tucks away dialogue and situations recorded and designed for only the most extraordinary playthroughs. It makes you think that, yes, you were supposed to execute the hostages and stab your girlfriend's Mum in the street, smashed off your robo-tits on bad hooch. Eidos Montreal planned for that kind of maniac. They planned for everything.
It begins with a tutorial. Before Jensen gets Boddickered by unidentified mercenaries working for unidentified shadow men working for the Illuminati, he's a soft and squishy human man in a world busy sawing fleshy bits off and welding new metal bits on.
The world of 2027 is in the midst of a conflict about the nature of humanity itself; on one side are those who say everyone should have the right to modify their own bodies, on the other are purists who believe humanity should stay human. Before the assault on Sarif's HQ, Megan Reed and her team were only hours away from announcing a breakthrough which would allow access to Augmentation technology for everyone, without the lifelong Neuropozine prescription to prevent rejection.
Defending Sarif's HQ, Jensen learns a few things about Human Revolution's Metal Gear stealth and Rainbow Six combat before getting driven through a window and shot through the head as everyone dies around him.
With the tutorial done, there's still more to teach. Jensen is rebuilt with all the tools at Sarif's disposal and returns to work six months later to shut down a purist terrorist takeover on the company's Detroit manufacturing plant. He's given a crash course in his new Augmentations - hacking, localised radar, upgrades, even talking - before being thrown out onto the streets of 2027 Detroit where he meets Megan's mother and finds out his old neighbour had his dog put down while he was on the slab. Shit.
The first of several major city-hubs, Human Revolution's Detroit is dense in a way RPG's never are; it's rammed with stuff like Bioshock's Rapture, but you're free to go anywhere you like, take on any mission you fancy, and throw things at anyone you want. The hubs are big spaces, full of opportunity and secrets. No sci-fi can hide from Blade Runner forever but this is the first game to treat that cyberpunk template as a template, not an endpoint.
There's that same conspicuous Blade Runner rich/poor divide, the optimism up high and misery down low, that eternal night, and the clash of high technology bolted onto aged architecture but it all feels new. Everywhere there are fictional future-brands, discarded papers, loitering strangers, and the kinds of detritus that makes the world feel like someone lived in it before you showed up and started punching people.
Snoop around and a suicide in a dead-end alley will lead you to an illegal Augmentation chop shop and an upgrade kit. In the sewers there's a dumping ground for files the police would rather went away. The internal combustion engine is a dead scene so an old petrol station is home to an arms dealer.