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Untapped Potential Revisited: Genre Generalization


Deus Ex is an RPG. It can also be a shooter, but let's not beat around the bush. It's an RPG first and a shooter second. Skill selection and leveling up can be used to turn Deus Ex into a shooter, but from the very beginning this game cracks you over the head with a sign that says "I AM AN RPG", and expects you to treat it as such. Somehow this combination of RPG and shooter isn't a contradiction. Here we are 11 years later, and I'm still not sure why that is.

So much of what you can do in Deus Ex is dependent upon your selection of skills and your chosen augments. Entirely new options open up for the player that focuses on hacking instead of heavy weapons. For each skill there is a purpose, a style, or a unique edge offered to the player to wield and use in the challenges presented by the game. It is pure RPG expressed in an entirely unexpected, non-traditional medium. More important than anything, Deus Ex manages to never lose or diminish its RPG feel in the maelstrom of first person perspective design. It avoids the problem of genre generalization by fine-tuning both of its influences into the final product, changing shooter mechanics to fit its RPG feel, rather than arbitrarily throwing both design directions up against eachother.

The next game in the series, and for many what is shaping to be the only true successor to the Deus Ex lineage is set to be released in August. Only time will tell whether Deus Ex: Human Revolution truly lives up to its namesake. If it does, we'll be treated once again to that strangely perfectly tuned game which retains depth without sacrificing anything in the transition to a different medium. This is where I'd like to see the games industry go. Away from generalization and toward a new generation of games which utilize a combination of influences to create something entirely new and fresh.
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About Blindfireone of us since 7:06 AM on 06.09.2009

Howdy, I go by Blindfire. Welcome to my blog on Destructoid.

I was a late bloomer when it comes to videogames. Growing up, my family has never been especially affluent, and we pretty much just didn't have the cash to throw down on Nintendo or Sega.

I didn't really play a lot of games outside of the occasional visits to family friends in Phoenix, where I got acquainted with classics like Sonic, Donkey Kong, and Mortal Kombat. I was awful at them but I didn't care, I knew then and there that I'd fallen in love with videogames. The next time I'd get to play videogames would be on a PC, home-built basically from scratch by my uncle and my mother. It was a piece of crap that housed everything I could cram onto it, from Doom to WarCraft II. It underwent several hardware mods as time went on, but eventually we moved on to pre-built equipment and haven't looked back since. Some of my fondest memories, though, are of starting up DOS and typing in the command string to start up Rise of the Triad. I still have a huge soft spot for RTS games, as WarCraft II was the first game I really understood all the mechanics of.

The PlayStation was my first console. It was a pastime for me more than anything, really. A handful of decent games that I played occasionally when I wasn't doing something else. It wasn't until Metal Gear Solid that I really started to grasp gaming as a kind of physical concept. Metal Gear Solid made gaming a tangible thing for me, and I still have a powerful love for that series to this day.

I didn't become a real gamer until around 2004. That year, my gaming collection grew exponentially for the PS2, and for my newly-acquired Xbox. I made so many discoveries about games and gaming that year that I literally can't quantify it; it was an epiphany that has led me to expanding my horizons and seeking every new game experience I can find.

These days I try to keep an open mind about games, and let anything surprise me.