During my stay in the futuristic world of Deus Ex: Invisible War (IW) I found more then enough to do. I killed my share of people, some deserving, some not. I took a detour on my way to a meeting to go raid the surrounding rooms to pick up money, ammo, etc… I’ve made allies, broke promises, and took whatever action I thought would benefit me most. I single handily put the human race in danger and then went on to single handily save it. And I enjoyed every second of it.
In the role of Alex D., who can either be male or female (for the purpose of this review Alex will be a male), Deus Ex: Invisible War puts you right in the middle of a violent conflict between 3 groups of people: WTO, the upholders of the law, the Order, a spiritual church opposed to genetically altering humans, and the Templars who also oppose biological modification but are more extreme in their actions. You start off in the Tarsus Academy, a facility for what the Order and Templars stand against. You soon find your facility under attack by the Order. Once you get out you make your first decision, to head for the Order church who tells you you’re merely a laboratory rat or report to the WTO about the recent attack.
What separates IW from the ordinary shooter is the ability to get through any situation without firing a shot. This is made possible by biomods. Biomods are special items found throughout the game. These can be installed to enhance Alex and give him new abilities. Biomods are either active or passive, meaning they either need to be activated (and drain energy) or are always working. There are also two types of biomods, the standard ones usually found in labs and the black market ones that can be bought from black-market traders. Although harder to come by and cost a fair amount of money black-market biomods are usually more useful.
But even the most stealthy, hacking-oriented gamers will probably end up firing a gun at one point or another. And when they do they’ll be glad to find that Deux Ex: Invisible War’s FPS mechanics do a good job of holding their own. Throughout the game there will be 8 different guns available, each one very different from the others. Each gun uses the same type of ammo but the more powerful guns, like the sniper or rail gun, deplete ammo faster then weaker weapons such as the boltcaster. Choosing you weapon is strategic as it is but made even more so by weapon mods. Each weapon can hold two weapon mods, which can make the gun more powerful, silence the shot, give it an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse, useful for damaging bots) charge, or other numerous abilities.
There are no linear paths in IW. Right from the beginning you make decisions on what to do, what organization to support. Each mission offers several different ways to handle the task at hand. Let’s say you have to infiltrate a hostile facility; you could use cloaking and thermal masking, as well as the ventilation system to sneak your way around till you reached your destination, or you can make your way to the security system shutdown all the cameras and take control of the turrets. Of course running in weapons firing is an option but usually not the best one.
The biggest flaw is the AI; it isn’t the greatest and at times downright bad. For one thing there seems to be a lot you can do without drawing any attention to yourself. You can walk around a building with a shotgun and no one will question you. Hacking a soda machine or stealing a medkit right from under someone’s nose won’t get you more then a comment here or there. You can shoot someone in the neck with a toxic dart and they’ll just stand there as their health drops. There have even been a couple occasions where I will throw a concussion grenade or flash bomb and the enemy would flee from it. The enemy would then face a wall muttering things like “I know you’re around here” and wouldn’t turn around till he was shot. Luckily the AI doesn’t normally reach such a low making it more then bearable.
With the exception of the opening cinema Deus Ex: Invisible War’s graphics aren’t the best around. Characters lack detail and the attempted lip movements are laughable. IW does however make up for this with a great physics system. The majority of the objects (including dead or unconscious bodies) found throughout the game can be picked up, thrown, or shot. This makes for some very interesting fights because cover can be shot away leaving you or an enemy vulnerable. The physics also makes it possible for a body to slump to the ground after it’s been dead for awhile. After busting into a lawyer’s apartment and killing everyone in it I saw in the corner of the screen the bodyguard sprawled on the floor. I went on to unlock a clip of ammo on him until I realized he’d been dead the whole time.
With so many ways around each place sound plays a big role. I need to be able to tell if the sound of a patrolling robot is coming from behind me, around the next corner, or in the near by vent. For the most part IW makes that possible. And although the soundtrack is nothing incredible it adds life to places, especially clubs and taverns.
Its AI problems decrease the quality of the game but Deus Ex: Invisible War is still one of the most enjoyable games out there. The science-fiction plot is filled with enough twists to keep everyone happy. Gameplay is a great mix of planning your actions and executing them. The customization of your Alex D. through biomods is used near perfectly. Unfortunately lack of any type of multiplayer or any other game modes means no replay value for those not willing to try the game a different way. Still Deus Ex: Invisible War does good to the Deus Ex name and is a recommended buy.
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