Review by DarkVengeance

"Not quite as good as the original, but still a very good game on it's own merit."

Everything about Deus Ex: Invisible War can be summed up like this: it's good - and at times, really good - but not quite the stuff of greatness. Is that synopsis satisfying enough for you? No? Well, good, then I didn't write the rest of this review for nothing. Time to explain exactly what I mean...

CHANGES FROM THE ORIGINAL DEUS EX
=================================
First things first - for fans of the original DX, a list of major changes:

-Shooting someone in the head is no longer a one-hit kill, unless you are zoomed-in, using a scoped weapon.
-The skills system is gone. Abilities like hacking have been made into BioMods.
-Some controls, like the ability to lean around corners, have been taken out of the game.
-The inventory system is totally revamped - all items take up one slot in the inventory.
-All weapons now use the same ammunition (but different weapons use different amounts per shot). As well, weapons do not need to be reloaded. Ever.

Some of these will be a smack in the face to fans of the first game, myself included. Despite this, by the end of DX:IW, I found that like them or not, I'd gotten used to and accepted most of the new gameplay changes.

GAMEPLAY
========
PROS: Gameplay - this what I consider the core of any gaming experience, and for the most part, DX:IW delivers. Just as it's advertised, choice plays a big part in the game - you can approach most situations in a variety of ways, from sneaking, to hacking, to bribing, to plain old-fashioned killing everything in sight.
Then comes the BioMod system, which lets you upgrade yourself in various ways. There are six different slots on your body for BioMod upgrades, and you can choose one of three abilities for each slot. For example, installing a BioMod in your leg can give you super-speed and jumping, the ability to move around completely silent, or the power to suck life force from fallen enemies - it's up to you to pick which one you want more.
Weapons can be modified similarly with Weapon Mods - two mods max per each weapon. These include, for example, the ability to silence your weapon, increase the amount of damage it does, or make it consume less ammo. By the end of the game, you will posses a very unique variety of weapons and special abilities.
It's not just that, though - with the story's different factions vying for your attention non-stop, you're also constantly deciding who's orders to follow - and your decisions impact the game world much more than you might think. Even side-quests (of which there is an abundance) change the game in some way. Overall, the freedom of choice and feeling of making a difference is beyond that in any other game I've played to date.

CONS: Even with all these great things I have to say, there are some definite downfalls that keep the game from being perfect. Most of these gripes refer to gameplay changes since the original DX.
LOCALIZED DAMAGE - shooting someone five times in the head before they die totally goes against the realism that DX:IW tries to achieve.
AI - I killed that guard completely silently, alone, without anybody around. So how does the entire complex know I did it? Again, stuff like this takes you out of the game.
PHYSICS - while it IS a cool feature, it's mostly useless, and at least half of the objects seem to have a cartoony sort of exaggerated physics to them. Again, not so realistic.

STORY
=====
The story is another great aspect of DX:IW. It has a bunch of excellent twists and turns, and it's very tightly-knit. Though it takes a while to start, it ties in very well with the story from the original game. For the people who care (like me) it raises some very interesting social, political and philosophical questions. However, it has some faltering points, mainly in the characters. The fact is, I was pretty hard-pressed to care about 90% of the characters in this game. It's not exactly something I can put my finger on, but most of them are just... lacking something. You never really get to know your classmates on any sort of intimate level.
Still, the story is grade-A stuff, and gets especially good at the end.

REPLAY VALUE
============
This game's got loads. Depending on which factions of the story you support, you'll end up going to different locations and interacting with people very differently. As well, there are lots of hidden secrets to be found, ranging from secret bits of information to uniquely modified, black-market weapons hidden in some of the levels.

Also, not to spoil anything, but there are multiple endings, just like in the original game - though I won't say exactly how many ;)

GRAPHICS, SOUND, MISC
=====================
GRAPHICS - opinions differ when it comes to this, but they worked for me. Every object in the game has a realistic shadow and lighting, and it adds a lot to the immersion. Of course, sometimes lighting glitches appear, and when they do, you WON'T miss them - they're ugly as sin.
INTERFACE - one of the undeniably BAD aspects of the game. The interface, while interesting to look at, is very frustrating. As well, it feels laggy and awkward to use - buttons don't always work immediately when clicked, if at all, and some screens REQUIRE you to use the keyboard instead of the mouse. Needs to be seen to be fully understood.
SOUND - well done! Boxes sound like boxes, crates sound like crates, humans sound like drones... wait a sec. That leads to the next part.
VOICE ACTING - not exactly horrible, but some of the characters could REALLY use some work, especially the ones with lesser roles.

FINAL WORDS
===========
For diehards of the first game - make a sincere effort to accept the changes since the last game. If you can do this, you'll be well on your way to enjoying DX:IW. To everyone else, have fun! The game starts off good and only gets better, until the final endgame which was easily the game's shining moment, and definitely worth getting through any of the gripes I mentioned.

All in all, an exciting and addictive experience! Worth your 60 bucks.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/08/03


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