Deus Ex: Invisible War Reader Review
This whole "Direct Downloading" thing is a good lark. After recently renewing my Gamespy Founders Club membership, I got my first taste of their "HitPoints" system. I could download some games just because I renewed my subscription! So many titles to choose from...
Just my luck then I pick Deus Ex to waste valuable HitPoints on... I remember the original with fondness and respect. It deserved it's multiple awards as "Game of the Year". It's sequel, sadly, can't even hold it's head up. It doesn't really deserve the "Deus Ex" part of its title. Something horrible is happening, and I'm not talking about the storyline...
Anyway. You play Alex D. (A man or a woman, you choose the sex and skintone but not the name), a recruit for a shadowy laboratory experimenting in Bio-Modification. From the get go, things go awfully awry. First, there's a massive terrorist attack in Chicago, a nano-bomb which decimates everything in its wake. You and your friend Billie manage to be airlifted out and transferred to Upper Seattle, to the Tarsus Academy. You are awoken by a loud noise, only to find out that this place is under attack too! From hereon in, you are given the chance to make choices - both in terms of Dialogue and Story. You can choose between the WTO, a corporate entity which provides the worlds security and only really cares about results, or The Order, an almost-fanatical worldwide religious group which is trying to deal with its own internal war. Sadly, this is about as interesting as the story gets. You can make choices, but mainly you are GIVEN choices, which is an entirely different kettle of fish - this isn't the non-linear game I expected, as so many things interlink and involve doing the same thing! The plot plods along at quite a slow pace, and while it does pick up towards the end - you're probably going to be beyond caring by that point.
Comparing this for a moment to Deus Ex, it's not hard to see that in many respects, it was a step backwards and not a step forwards. The graphics, while nice, are not exactly special and do nothing to show off my new souped-up rig, the models look awkward and ugly and the voice acting is beyond terrible. It STILL managed to slow itself down on my system - and with a P4 3.2Ghz, new GeForce 6800 GT and a gigs worth of RAM, I kept asking - WHAT is it trying to do which is causing it to slow down on my system? Cue me turning down graphics only to realize, that it's not the problem. Sometimes this game just slows down, and there's not a lot I could do about it.
The biomod system, too, seems dramatically inferior to it's predecessor. Initially, it's a bit disorientating, but essentially it boils down to this: you have one permanent biomod (flashlight), and the other five you can choose to enhance in one of three ways. In each region which can be modified there are two "legal" enhancements, and one not-so-legal enhancement. Deciding on which can be tricky, some mods prove useful only at certain times, while some are more universally useful. However, I have read that some people managed to finish this game without once using a biomod, which gives you some idea where I'm going to turn my attention next...
The game is small and simple. There isn't much else I can say about it, it's not very large, it's not very difficult to find your way around, and it's laughably easy at times. The environments aren't interesting at all, feeling all too cliche and all too dull to really pay much attention to some quite clever little jokes and Easter-eggs dotted about. It's by-numbers design all the way, it's not the prettiest game (Thief: Deadly Shadows being a whole lot prettier!) - and while far from ugly (maybe that's just the new rig), it's just not aesthetically pleasing enough to really care about.
There are so many problems to talk about in Invisible War. Universal Ammo and no reloading of weapons takes strategy out of gunfights. The AI is appalling, at times I was standing right in front of a guard and they didn't even react, instead wandering back to their set-path patrol area, and cameras and bots seemingly able to see through walls. The missions and sub-missions often interlink, meaning that often you have no real choice in the matter as it simply HAS to be done that way. The characters aren't very likable, the skills system has been removed and taken away a lot of depth, the sound and all related things to sound are terrible - even the gun sounds are horrible. The HUD is messy and ugly, the inventory system is clumsy and cramped, the Gun Enhancement too restrictive and boring, the endings predictable and boring, even the text is riddled with spelling mistakes and lazy typos. I went through this game trying to find something better about it than Deus Ex, trying to find something which made it worthwhile. The only thing which saves it, is the main storyline, which as I said - by the time the story got into full swing, I just didn't give a rats behind. All said, at least the rag-doll physics worked nice. (Jeez, that IS scraping the barrel a bit!)
Essentially, this is Deus Ex, stripped bare. It's not hard to see there is some charm in there, and that it has potential to appeal, but it doesn't feel finished, more like this was the basic framework and they didn't have the chance to dress it up and bolt on anything substantial. It's odd, as I neither loved this game, nor hated it. I just found myself not caring, and somewhat disappointed, and now I've finished it, it's being deleted from my Hard Drive. As I said, it's not that I hate it. I just lost the ability to give any sort of care for it, very quickly.
A sub-par effort, seemingly made bigger than it is on the back of the name, and the hype. I can't score it too harshly, I didn't hate it. But it's not worthy of the name "Deus Ex", and it's hardly worth even playing for free. A somewhat entertaining few days worth of game, but it's not going to rock anyones world, and in a sense, it's a missed opportunity. It just feels like they didn't care. And because of that... neither can I.
4 / 10