Deus Ex: Invisible War
|Deus Ex: Invisible War|
|Engine||Modified Unreal Engine 2 with Havok physics|
|Distribution||1 x DVD, 2 x CD-ROM, Steam|
Deus Ex: Invisible War is a cyberpunk-themed first-person action role-playing video game developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive. Released simultaneously for Microsoft Windows and the Xbox video game console on December 2, 2003, the game is a sequel to the critically acclaimed Deus Ex. The game takes place in 2072, twenty years after Deus Ex, in a world being rebuilt after a catastrophic event called "The Collapse." Following a terrorist attack that destroys the city of Chicago, the player assumes the role of Alex D, a trainee at the Tarsus Academy, whose support is sought by several organizations. As the game progresses, the player learns of conspiratorial factions which seek to drastically change the world.
Invisible War was designed to allow player choice in both plot and gameplay, with branching plot lines and emergent gameplay elements. Upon its release, the game received high critical acclaim for its graphics, gameplay and freedom of choice, but criticism was directed towards below-par enemy AI and design choices that made the game seem over simplified. As of April 2011, the game has sold over 1.2 million copies. The game was eventually followed by a 2011 prequel to both it and the original game called Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Like its predecessor Deus Ex, Invisible War is a first-person game, playing from a character's eye view in a 3D environment. The game combines gameplay mechanics from multiple game genres, including stealth, role-playing video game and first-person shooter. Regarding the categorization of Invisible War, Warren Spector stated, "... the whole genre thing, it's like 'Is Deus Ex a science-fiction game or a shooter?' Forget about shooter, role-playing, action and adventure... forget about those categories. ... [I]f I make a first-person perspective Western, is it a Western or a shooter? The whole idea of genre is a mess when you start applying it to games. It gets in the way of serious thought about games ... when you're in the trenches making a game, you're kinda just making a game".
Invisible War emphasizes player choice—for example, the player begins the game by selecting the player character's gender and skin color. The character's name remains the same regardless of selection, being the gender-neutral 'Alex D.'. Some of the quests and dialogs change, depending on what gender was selected. The developers designed the game to allow multiple solutions for all of the game's situations, such as enabling the player to commandeer an airship by either bribing a guard, attacking with lethal force, or using stealth.
Role-playing game elements
The player character may be equipped with nanotechnological implants called "biomods", which like Deus Ex's nano-augmentations grant special abilities, such as cloaking, a neural interface, or increased strength. There are five assignable biomod slots, with each slot granting different selectable abilities. However, each slot may hold only one biomod ability; thus, the player must decide which abilities to equip. Biomods may be upgraded twice after being installed. Some biomods drain the player character's "bio energy", which must be recharged with energy cells or repair bots. Deus Ex's "skill points" are not present in Invisible War—instead, the player character does not have limitations on natural abilities such as aiming or proficiency with items. Biomods replace some of the previously skill point-based abilities, such as hacking.
Invisible War contains a variety of items, including tools, weapons, food and others. An inventory, and a quickly accessible secondary inventory called a "toolbelt", provide twelve slots for storing items, 15 with the strength enhancement biomod. Unlike in Deus Ex, where the amount of inventory space used by an item varied, a single item in Invisible War takes up a single inventory slot.
Invisible War features several types of weapons, including melee weapons, grenades and firearms. Many weapons may be altered with "weapon mods" found or purchased throughout the game. The effects of weapon mods include silencers, fragmentary rounds and increased damage, among others. A single weapon may be equipped with up to two weapon mods, which cannot be removed. All weapons in Invisible War use the same ammunition, explained in the game by a nanotechnology that dynamically configures itself to the appropriate ammunition type. Different weapons use different amounts of ammunition—for example, the rocket launcher uses more than the pistol.
The amount of damage sustained by a wounded enemy may vary depending on which area is wounded. Unlike in the first game, however, the player character does not have separate hit points for the head, torso, and appendages.
Invisible War is set in 2072, twenty years after Deus Ex, and is based on the premise that a combination of all three of the original game's possible endings occurred. The actions of JC Denton in Deus Ex caused the world to descend into a period of war and economic depression known as "the Collapse", during which several factions built themselves into world powers. These factions include the World Trade Organization (WTO), which converted many of the world's remaining metropolitan centers into highly regulated city-states; The Order, a religious order which created a new world religion from elements of all major religions and sociopolitical principles; the "Knights Templar", who advocate the complete prevention of biomodification; the "Omar", a society of heavily biomodified humans possessing a group mind, which runs a global black market, and wishes to become a transhuman race through biomodification; and ApostleCorp, which seeks to help JC Denton achieve his goal of biomodifying every human on Earth, and thus equalizing the race. While JC Denton is seen by the public as a threat to society, these organizations seek to use or eliminate his power to rebuild the world in the way they see fit. In keeping with the series' conspiracy theory theme, several of the major factions are revealed to be secretly connected—the Knights Templar originated within The Order, while the WTO and The Order are separate branches of the Illuminati. The story is now told more through character interactions than through game text. Books and newspapers in the game world are still readable, though the interface is now modal.
The developers placed Invisible War further in the future than its predecessor to give it a distinct setting, rather than "rehash[ing] what had come before". Lead writer Sheldon Pacotti stated that the advanced timeline "[loses] a little bit of the frisson of a near-future real-world setting", but is "more visibly shaped by time and technology", bringing the "social and technological issues ... more into the foreground". At the same time, the developers wanted to make the game relevant to current world affairs, and focused on themes including terrorism, while placing the game in real-world locations "linked in the public consciousness", such as Seattle, Washington. Other criteria for locations included both a "distinct feel" and "recognizable landmarks", as well as "believable hooks for [the game's] conspiracies and fiction".
Note: Given the non-linear nature of Invisible War, encountering certain plot elements depends on the actions of the player. The game also offers several subplots which the player may or may not encounter, depending on their actions within the game. This synopsis will concentrate on the main, unavoidable plot thread of the game. For simplicity, Alex D will be referred to throughout as male, though the player can choose a female Alex instead.
The game begins with Chicago being destroyed in a terrorist attack. Alex D, the protagonist, and another Tarsus trainee, Billie Adams, along with several Tarsus leaders, are evacuated to another Tarsus Facility. Some time after their arrival, the facility is attacked by forces of the Order Church.
Alex is contacted by Billie, who reveals that she is a member of the Order. She claims that Tarsus is using its trainees as test subjects in a biomodification program, and asks Alex to join the Order. Once at the Order base in Seattle, he is asked to find out what happened to a group of Order troops sent on a rescue mission to a Tarsus facility. He discovers that they defected to the Knights Templar, who take a more militant approach to matters than the Order.
Over the course of the game, Alex goes on a series of missions for the Order, the WTO, ApostleCorp or combinations of those factions. The missions take him/her to Cairo, Trier, Antarctica and Liberty Island, New York. During the course of the game he discovers that he is a clone of JC Denton, the protagonist of the first game with aspirations of creating a perfect global democracy through a bioengineered hive mind. He also learns that the organizations he is working for each desire to rule the world. ApostleCorp seeks to fulfill Denton’s vision of the future; the Illuminati, who control the WTO and the Order, want to use Denton’s technology to create a benevolent dictatorship; and the Templars want to eliminate biomodification entirely and create a global holy empire.
Near the end of the game, Alex comes into possession of data necessary for any of the factions to take control of the world. Each faction asks Alex to upload the data to their base on Liberty Island. Who rules the world in the end depends on which of the factions the player decides to upload the data to. It is also possible to simply send the data to none of them, instead destroying all of their bases on Liberty Island. This allows another faction, the Omar, to take control of the Earth after allowing the rest of humanity to wipe itself out in various wars.
Deus Ex: Invisible War received largely positive reviews from multiple outlets. Aggregate site Metacritic gave the game a score of 80/100 on PC and 85/100 on Xbox. Fellow aggregate site GameRankings gave the game a score of 83.65% for PC and 85.36% for Xbox. As of April 23, 2011, the game has sold over 1.2 million copies. On the whole, critics praised the improved graphics, physics, lighting, and the amount of choice the player was offered, but criticized flaws that seemed to have been carried over from the original, poorly designed enemy AI, and some design choices which marred the experience.
IGN's Steve Butts was impressed by the improved lighting, the nostalgic aesthetics of the game world, and the impact of player choices in terms of story and gameplay style on the world, feeling the latter was an absorbing factor in Invisible War's design upon finding himself surprised by the way one of his choices had unexpected repercussions later in the game. The puzzle and quest designs also met with his approval commenting that, "Nearly every objective in the game can be achieved three or four ways". Aspects he found unappealing included the biomod system, unrealistic NPC behavior, and the rather distracting HUD. Eurogamer's Rob Fahey shared many likes and issues with the IGN reviewer, although in his case, the freedom of choice proved to be more confusing than entertaining. He finished "Fundamentally, 'Invisible War' has chosen certain aspects of the 'Deus Ex' experience to focus on to the exclusion of others. [But] even if 'Invisible War' isn't exactly 'Deus Ex' ... it would be simply churlish not to acknowledge that it's a superb game in its own right, and one which will be enjoyed by most fans of the first game, as well as - hopefully - by a lot of complete newcomers to the paranoid conspiracy theory heaven that is the Deus Ex universe."
Gamespot's Greg Kasavin enjoyed the freedom of choice, in-game variety, although he was less enthusiastic about the game's shared faults with Deus Ex, called the characters "superficial", and the sometimes unrealistic physics. He ended, "It's certainly a bold undertaking that delves into some philosophical and science-fiction territory that most games wouldn't dare touch, and though it may not be a superior game to its predecessor, on its own merits it's a great and original experience that's well worthwhile." RPGFan's Christopher Holzworth was pleased by the game's take on the RPG genre, applauding the freedom of choice, the interesting blend of action-adventure and FPS elements, the physics engine, the realism of the in-game world, and the realistic character models, but criticized the quality of the voice acting, much of the pre-programmed NPC movement and the general graphics, although he still saw them as an improvement over the previous game.
Electronic Gaming Monthly scored the game 8/9/7: Joe Fielder, the first reviewer, praised the game's freedom of choice, but found fault with its, "long loading times, somewhat clunky combat, ... crappy mapping system, and weak finales," and concluded that the game is, "definitely the padawan to [Knights of the Old Republic's] Jedi master." Second reviewer Dan Hsu said, "This is a truly great, immersive experience only hampered by poor enemy A.I," and third reviewer Bryan Intihar concluded: "If you can look past [its] technical hiccups, Invisible War shouldn't disappoint". Fan response to Invisible War is notable for being quite split. User rankings on MobyGames, for instance, are around 3.5 out of five for both versions of the game,
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