Review by Geno83
"Give it time, you may enjoy it"
Deus Ex, the cult hit on the PC, was a game that broke new ground. It was a First Person RPG which was set in a dark future, rich with political conspiracies and a blade runner esque style. Any fan of ''cyber-punk'' was sure to enjoy the plot and setting of Deus Ex. Even if you weren't a fan of this type of entertainment, it still drew the player in with its realistic world, plot, characters and gameplay.
After many years of waiting, the second chapter in the Deus Ex saga emerged, titled DX: Invisible War. Set 20 years after the first game's tragic ending(s), you are thrust into a gritty future which the first game's protagonist created. Now, as Alex D, you fight among various factions which vie for power in the new world.
The story of DX: IW is very good. I can safely say its on par with the first game's convoluted mystery. In the beginning of this game, you have many choices to make. You can work for one faction, which is an Order of religious zealots, or you can join up with some gun-slinging future sheriffs known as the WTO. Either way you go, you have different objectives to complete. Its even possible to play for both sides, but before long you are faced with making a permanent choice on who you will provide your skills. The story has branching dialogue, ala KOTOR (which Xbox RPGer's will be comfortable with) and many different choices depending on your character (Male or Female) Overall the story is great, and it never gets stale. It keeps getting fresh as the varying world powers try to pull you into their ranks.
The gameplay is slightly less entertaining than the story itself. Gone from the first game are your ''experience points''. You are now trained in the use of every weapon available, right from the get go. This streamlines the game somewhat, but DX purists were upset over the removal of a very significant part of the first game. This, in my opinion, doesn't ruin the game, it just makes it less fun. Biomods, the equivalent of Deus Ex's ''Augs'' are back, and better than they were before. IW's biomods are much more powerful than the first game's augs. You can have a biomod that lets you have a stronger melee attack, and carry more weight. You can have one that causes you to move silently, and take less damage from fall distances. Generally, they are slightly the same as the first game's but far more useful. You have to make a distinct decision on which to choose in your 5 slots that are available to you. This creates a sense of importance. Which way would you like to play? Want to cloak? Want to be able to see through walls? Its up to you.
The ''run and gun'' aspect of this game is the big downfall of the gameplay department. The weapons in this game, are infact, very weak. I'd go as far to say that just about all but a few of the weapons are downright useless. There really isn't a point to use some due to the fact that every gun, in the entire game, uses the same ammo. Ammo in this game is ''universal'' One gun will eat up more than another, or one wont use as much but be less powerful. Its up to you how you want to waste your ammo. Some guns use to much ammo, that they become useless like I previously stated. Why the development team scrapped different ammo types is beyond me, and I think it really did bring the game down.
This game isn't about ''guns blazing'' anyway, as any true Deus Ex fan will agree. The first game's shooting aspects were downright horrible until you earned enough experience to level up your skills, but that's what made it so cool. I guess the lack of things like that in this game make it seem less geared toward hardcore fans, and more geared toward a mass market gamer. Either way, its not that bad in the long run, just not what I would of liked to see.
The length of this game is pretty average for new games now day's, running anywhere from 9 to 15 hours depending on the player. Its possible you could finish faster, or slower even, given the way you play and what choices you make. It is worthy of several playthroughs because of the story itself, and the gameplay choices.
The graphics are very good, but the frame rate, no matter how much you argue, is pretty spotty for a large chunk of this adventure. The good stuff from the graphics engine are the incredibly realistic shadows, dynamic lighting and physics. I haven't played a game with this type of realism yet. It draws you into the game to make it seem that much more real, which is a big plus. The characters and model's in this game are great too. Like KOTOR, alot of the faces from characters are used over and over again. This doesn't detract from the experience much, but its very noticeable and somewhat odd. The engine does a great job of creating the dark, gritty, futuristic type of places gamers have always wanted to see.
The frame rate however, can be a big setback. Its playable, but can be very frustrating in certain circumstances, which are obvious (Hostile engagements).
Typical gun sounds you would hear in any shooter are abundant in this game. The things that set this apart from others however are the ambient sounds and the background music. If you like technoish, low key style music, this game has it, but only in moderation. The music is very subtle, and it changes depending on where you are. For instance, a scratchy beat will play in a hotel complex, but if you decide to hop into the back vent shafts, the music will go away and the sounds of the ventilation will enter your ears. Decide to go up into the maintenance area, and the music will change yet again. Its cool, and its seamless. I like it alot.
There is even some trip hop type stuff in the game, played by a real band. The songs are available to listen to at certain virtual ''jukeboxes'' around the game world, with a hologram dancer to boot. Pretty cool if you ask me.
The voice work is good. I never heard anything to cheesy (Resident Evil) and nothing caused me to cringe. Basically its good, and its perfect for the game.
The lack of (catchy) music like the first game and the canned weapons sounds bring the score down a bit, but not by much. Overall, good sound.
The Control is pretty good for an ''FPS'' on a game pad such as the Xbox. Aiming can take a bit to get used to, which can be a drawback for some. The inventory and item management system is kind of clunky at first, but once you understand how to use it, and what to press to equip or drop things quickly, you will master it and be able to switch weapons on the fly, and adjust to the situation accordingly. It just takes time to grasp.
Average score of 8, which in my book is definitely a worthy score for any game. It doesn't have the polish that some gamer's are used to seeing to make it a solid 10. Frame rate problems, some minor control issues and some gameplay problems don't quite make it a 9 either. However, any fan of the original should definitely check this game out. Hardcore fans may be disappointed by ''dumbing down'' but once you play the game for awhile, you will see that the Deus Ex universe we know and love is still there, and its still shining, just with a different coat of paint.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 12/11/03
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