STAFF REVIEW of Deus Ex: Invisible War (Xbox)

Monday, December 8, 2003.
by thrAsher

Deus Ex: Invisible War Box art It's 20 years after the Collapse. Bioengineering is at the center of a dispute amongst the powers of the day. You're Alex D, a foster kid from Chicago enrolled with the Taurus program. You are a cyborg, host to the powers of nanite powered biomodifications. You're an elite weapon, and after the destruction of Chicago and your quick relocation to Seattle, there are some questions that need to be answered. Seems like you're one of the few who capable of the job. An invisible weapon in an invisible war...

The physics in this game are some of the coolest I've encountered. The ragdoll effects make for nice death animations, and tossing bodies around like they weigh nothing more than a pillow is great fun. You can spend a good deal of time just trying to get that SSC guards unconscious body to hang off that ledge just right. Shooting can be lackluster, and the auto-aim function is just clunky. I never turned it off, either, but in hindsight imagine it would have been a good idea. Sniping w/ either of the sniper weapons is great fun. Your inventory isn't huge, but that makes for some real decision making when picking up items and weapons, as you will want to compliment you biomods w/ items that decrease your handicaps. With no real system of reward and punishment for your actions, Deus Ex allows for a rather wide open experience as far as choices you make (not a lot of free roaming, but KOTOR didn't really have that, either). This is both welcome and frustrating, as certain actions seem like they should carry more consequence. The AI is also pretty stupid at the normal level, but will come for you if you start popping off caps. By far the most impressive element of the gameplay, if it can be considered a part of it, is the story. Deeply tied into the first Deus Ex, Invisible War's plot and storyline will keep you riveted. If the story alone made or broke a game, then this game is one of the best ever. I'm still a bit confused by it, and having beat it, wonder if I did the right thing. I think that says it all right there.

Not a lot of work went into making any of the spaces feel 'open'. Claustrophobic environments (which I suppose fit the general mood of the game) and some sub-par textures dull a rather nice game. Character models are nice and detailed, while the faces seem a bit off. Lighting is great, and you will find yourself using some means of light amplification to find items in some rather dark, oppressive environments. No cutscenes between major areas seems like a glaring mistake, and really do nothing more than hamper a game already needing a little CPR in the graphics dept. A lot of hit and miss here.

By far the most interesting part of the game (right alongside the story), IMHO. Every line of dialogue, even yours, is spoken. NPC's will walk about talking to themselves, greeting or even warning others, and you will come across numerous interesting conversations along the way, from guards mumbling about hating their jobs to a wannabe poet chatting up a rather disinterested woman at the bar. Music and sound effects run the gamut of decent to awesome. I still need to spend a little extra time w/ the holo-jukebox to give a good listen to the songs, a number of which are done by the appropriately named Kidney Thieves. Ambient sounds are done very well, and you can tell a lot about what's around the corner by just giving a good listen. Bots and NPCs react when you bump them, sometimes hilariously. Lots of nice touches throughout.

Bigger, more open spaces. More NPCs, a slightly larger inventory, more balanced biomod choices, some sort of good/evil scale or more concerned guards/citizens. Consequences for your actions would give the game more meat. Oh, and MULTIPLAYER! Something where you chose biomods at the beginning, and could go head to head or do custom co-op missions. Altogether a great ride.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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