1. Deus Ex (2000)
This weird truncated Latin name pops up every time people talk seriously about what games can be or do. Most of us disciples will tell you it’s because of the options: you can evade, hack, shoot, stab, lure, trap, poison, disable, schmooze, and each of these is viable improbably often in its 20-hour tale. But you get into muddier waters if you ask why it hasn’t been surpassed.
It’s all in that first mission. You can walk all around the Statue of Liberty and choose your own way in. It’s not about choice in the binary sense of either/or, left or right. It’s about being part of a big, dynamic gaming machine and changing how it works from within. And then later, the doors open and you’re in Hong Kong. F---ing Hong Kong.