STAFF REVIEW of Deus Ex: Invisible War (Xbox)

Sunday, December 14, 2003.
by Tony Ingrassia

Deus Ex: Invisible War Box art Deus Ex Invisible War takes place in the mid 21st century after the fall of modern civilization, and offers a unique combination of Role Playing Game development and First Person Shooter action. Play as a ?Biomodded? student from the Chicago Tarsus Academy, and be thrust into an amazingly deep story that pulls you in multiple directions leaving you to decide who is telling the truth and who is using and deceiving you. An impressive arsenal and control system along with stunning graphics rounds off a unique and diverse gaming experience. Not without some issues, Deus Ex Invisible War does offer gamers a solid open ended, exciting gaming experience. Is it the experience you are looking for? Read on and find out.

You play through Deus Ex IW as Alex D. who can be a male or female, and is caught in the middle of a terrorist attack at the Tarsus academy. Waking up in your apartment you are guided to your eventual escape to Seattle. This game offers so many choices during game play it will make your head spin, aside from the main quest, which often has more than one goal, you are also going to have what seems a never ending flow of secondary missions that will keep you running. As much as I tried to just stick to the main mission, I found myself being pulled into secondary quests because of how the story unfolds. The story in Deus Ex is absolutely amazing and more than any other game I have played, keeps you guessing and interested. Without giving too much away, Alex is on a quest to find the truth of his existence.

This game offers the player the choice of how to play, you can actually play through Deus Ex IW without firing a shot, completely in a stealth mode, or for you high powered gamers, you can arm yourself to the teeth and run and gun. Personally it?s fun to mix the two together as each situation unfolds. Just about everything in the Deus Ex world can be manipulated or interacted with. From flushing a toilet to picking up a trashcan and throwing it to distract security bots on the prowl. The physics in Deus Ex IW are amazing, giving objects accurate mass and weight, so some heavier objects while impossible to lift, may be easier to push. Most scenarios have more than 1 way of playing through it, again, run and gun, or sneak into the ventilation shaft and work your way around your obstacle. Again, I found a combination of the two was not only more fun, but also uncovered some goodies along the way.

Aside from the usual array of hardware you can acquire, such as pistols, shotguns, grenades that can be upgraded via slots on specific weapons, you need to remember you?re a ?Biomodded? human being. You can modify 5 different slots on your body, Eye, Cranial, Skeletal, Arm, and Leg with biomod canisters, each slot has 3 upgrades one of which is a slot for a ?Black Market? mod which will take a little more effort to find compared to a regular biomod canister, but offers some super cool abilities. Each one of your abilities can be upped to a level three status. Biomod canisters offer everything from Vision Enhancements, Bot Domination were you can posses your enemy while your body is vulnerable somewhere else, or even cloak yourself and become invisible to your enemies. With the amount of enhancements available and methods of play Deus Ex IW can be a very different experience from player to player. Now the hardware as I said can be upgraded, but there are also some specialized items you can uncover that you can?t live without, such as a ?Multitool? that can unlock just about anything, or ?Spider Mines? that will continue to wonder around an area shocking all who come near or can be detonated at your command.

Everything comes with a price in Deus Ex IW, some of your Biomodded abilities use energy, while others such as stealth has no ?Drain? on your system. Your heads up will show your energy level along with health and inventory. Inventory items and your ?Mod? abilities are easily equipped or switched on the fly. Controls are tight and responsive utilizing the ?two joystick? configuration that FPS fans seem to be happy with. Health can be regained by health packs or by taking the time to munch on some food you may have lifted from an apartment refrigerator you were snooping around, or a dumpster you decided to investigate. Your energy level can be replenished via Energy Packs you can find scattered throughout the areas, but you do need to do a little investigating so you don?t miss anything, such as more ammo and grenades for your weapons. Ammo is shared between your weapons so you won?t need to look for specific ammunition to use various weapons.

One ?minor? flaw with Deus Ex IW is the frame rate, here and there you will notice a definite drop in a frame rate that seems to be low to begin with. Unfortunate yes, but it didn?t seem to ?flatten? the game experience too much for me.

All that being said, the abundance of options in game play, and character design just help you get more and more immersed in the game and the story being unraveled by you as you play through this adventure. Personally, Deus Ex IW feels more like an RPG with a fantastic story than anything to me, but the addition of the FPS element gives this game a new and different feel than most. This game is hard to describe because it can be whatever you decide it should be, but without a doubt a joy to play. RPG fans will love the new elements available, while FPS fans will enjoy the explosive game play and numerous gadgets.

Visually Deus Ex IW is pretty impressive. Bump mapping and regular mapping throughout, spot on real-time lighting sets the mood very well, the character design is well done, but unfortunately the facial expressions in cut scenes is quite ?Poker Faced?, not a huge problem, just odd. Again, the physics are dead on and the ?Rag Doll? effects on the characters are almost eerie at times. The only thing bringing the graphics down a bit is the frame rate problem. Otherwise Deus Ex IW is solid as a rock.

In the sound department Deus Ex IW doesn?t really offer anything out of the ordinary. While surround sound enabled, very little of it is apparent in game. The voice acting is mediocre, and the score shows up at opportune times leaving the rest of the game with very little. Ambient sounds are represented, but again, nothing spectacular.

All in all, Deus Ex Invisible War is a solid gamming experience even with the few ?negative? aspects, and my comments to the developers would be to address the problem areas and leave the rest of it alone. One of the best stories ever told in a video game, kudos.

Overall: 9.4 / 10
Gameplay: 9.4 / 10
Visuals: 9.6 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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