A little while ago, I spent an entire post rambling about the story of this game. Lets see how much there is to say about the gameplay.
The main draw of the gameplay mechanics here is a simple yet powerful one. That is, simple to understand and think about. It's very difficult to actually pull off. There are a variety of different gameplay systems you'll be interacting with throughout the game, and all of them mesh and flow together smoothly. For example, I was stealthing around and hiding in ventilation shafts one moment, hacking into computers the next, and then engaged in a gun battle another moment later. Each of these elements play differently, and yet they all fit together to deliver a single, unified game. Let's look at them independently.
The first thing I noted right off the bat was the stealth. It rocks. Like a ton. Like, really. It ROCKS. I was originally quite pessimistic when I learned there was a cover system, but that went away quick when I noticed that I was applying it mostly to stealth. Cover based shooting is still there, but I'll get to that a little later. The main thing now is the stealth. I was originally expecting a watered down, simplified, and immensely boring stealth system. I was pleasantly mistaken. The stealth system is complex, interesting, and easy to start using. It balances quite well as something that takes a only minute to learn, but much practice to master.
Your footsteps make sound, guns without a silencer make sound, sound gives your position and presence away. Letting cameras or guards find bodies will give your presence away. Crawling makes your movement silent. Sound doesn't travel nearly as far past closed doors. The stealth system here is really a good one. This is especially because it mixes so smoothly with the action/battle system.
The action really doesn't stick out here in many ways. In the standard FPS mode, it's a standard FPS. You have guns and they go boom. I actually noticed that the weapon system was watered down in this sequel. In the original Deus Ex, there were different kinds of ammo for different kinds of guns. For example, the crossbow could be loaded with poisonous or tranquilizer darts. In this game, all of that goes away. Certain weapons kill, others don't.
The weapons aren't as intersting and varied as the original Deus Ex, but they're more fun than what you'll see in a cliche' AAA "realistic" shooter. There are actually some variations on the usual combination of the same FPS guns with different names. The P.E.P.S, EMP grenade, mine, R.D.E.D, tranquilizer rifle, and stun gun are all fun and interesting, although not especially. Of course, this game does have the usual canon of weapons(pun intended). There is a shotgun, pistol, assault rifle, and rocket launcher.
The cover system in this game is typical. It works, but it really doesn't stick out. I'm honestly getting bored of cover shooters, and I would have tagged the cover system as a bad thing if it didn't mix in and make the stealth more interesting. For all practical purposes, the combat system is cliche' and unimpressive. Fortunately it's not the forced center of the game. Since this game has so many elements, a functional combat system is just the icing on the cake.
Mainly of note when it comes to this games combat is that it ISN'T your cliche' "realistic" shooter. It's true that it leans a bit in that direction, but it doesn't lean far enough to bore me. This game takes the shooter thing and makes it a smoothly integrated, non-central(unless you want it to be) feature.
Wowzers. This is turning into my longest game review ever. There really is plenty to say about this game. Come next time, I'll talk about the mini-games and conversation.