Deus Ex: Invisible War (XBOX) Review
Game Name: Deus Ex: Invisible War
Developer: Ion Storm
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Release Date: December 2, 2003
Platforms: Microsoft Windows and Original Xbox
I had just finished the original Deus Ex on PC and as you can see in my review here, it was awesome. Yes there were technical issues to deal with but the story was too good to not continue.
I then proceeded to buy the game on GOG for only a few dollars. I ran into a few issues. The game installed, however, there were problems with loading screens. Essentially what would happen is that when any loading screen would appear, one window would stay black and then another window would open. From what I read online the reason for this is because the game was written for computers with only one core. Most modern machines have multiple cores. This causes the game to lock and freeze waiting for the process to free up. You can get around it by finding what blocks the process in the Task Manager of Windows. However, the program blocking the game was one that I needed to use for streaming, my OBS Streamlabs application. This was not ideal for streaming the game so I gave up on the PC version.
Not wanting to have any further headaches, I decided to take out my original XBOX and play my original copy on XBOX. It gave me a reason to take out my XBOX and play some games that I have on that system.
Let us see if this game lives up to the original.
This will have spoilers as the game is older and I do not think that i will be spoiling the game for anyone at this time.
The game is set 20 years after the events of the first game in 2072. This time around you play the character of Alex D. When you start you can choose to play as a male character or a female character. You can choose skin colour and the colour of your HUD as well. There are 4 difficult settings. I decided to play on the easiest as it was my first time playing.
The game opens with an attack in Chicago by the Knights Templar and everyone is in a panic. After everyone can be saved from Chicago fee, Alex wakes up in Seattle where he finds that things seem strange and people are acting weird (evading answering Alex's questions). However, after asking around, everyone tells you that everything is fine but you see evidence to the contrary.
Then the story starts and you go around Seattle to try and find clues to what happened. Like in the first game you will be travelling quite a bit in this game.
1) Seattle, United States
2) Cairo (twice), Egypt
3) Trier, Germany
5) New York, United States (Liberty Island)
You learn that there are numerous factions in this game. You have the WTO (World Trade Organization) who try to do the right thing. They could be compared to UNATCO in the first game.
Then you have The Order. They are basically the Amish of this world. They try to find a balance in the world with using non material means to live. Their main goal is to destroy any technology that could lead to the destruction of mankind.
You also have the Omar. These are augmented individuals. They are so augmented that they are practically all machine. They act as merchants in this game.
During your journey, you will get various missions or quests from all factions. You can actually complete each and every one of them. At this point it does not ask you to side with any any particular faction.
After a while, you learn that JC Denton did not really die in the first game. He merged with Helios (Higher Conscience). In fact, you also learn that his brother Paul Denton is not dead as well. All factions want JC Denton's technology to either destroy it or use it for their own cause. In the end you need to find JC. JC has been hiding for decades, after what people call the Collapse. JC can be found in his sanctuary in Antartica.
Through your treks, you also learn that your real name is Alex Denton. You were built in a similar way to JC and Paul Denton. According to them, you are vital to the completion of their mission.
Like in the first game, there are multiple endings. This time around there are 5 potential endings.
1) You can side with JC Denton
2) You can side with the Illuminati
3) You can side with the Templars
4) You can side with the Omar (Hidden)
5) Everyone is saved (Hidden)
For my play through, I decided to side with JC Denton so that the Helios and and everyone in the world will be one conscience for peace. At least the idea of it leads to peace.
If you choose the illuminati, the world continues to thrive as they rule in silence. The world economy blossoms under their rule and the world is a better place.
The Templar ending leads makes society go back a few thousand years, living without tech. All technology is seemingly destroyed and the ending credits show a society that lives in tribes.
If you side with the Omar which is a hidden ending, you will just blow up the world and there are no inhabitants left. At least from what the ending credits look like. I call this the Fallout ending.
If you save everyone, this is a hidden ending. It is also a goofy one that I think was not meant to be a conical ending. Basically, in the end at the UNATCO offices back at Liberty Island, you can take a UNATCO flag and place it beside a functioning toilet near Manderly's old office (Character is from the original game. He was head of UNATCO). If you do this, you will be brought back to one of the Nightclubs in Seattle called VIP Nightclub and everyone from all factions will be having a good time. You see them dancing and partying it up.
There you have it, the story in a nutshell.
Deus Ex: Invisible War (XBOX) - Sample Gameplay
Where do I start with this game? It had big shoes to fill with the original Deus Ex being considered one of the best games of all-time. This is true even today. Did it live up to the original?
Let us first start with the actual game itself. I know that I was trying to play this game 17 year after the original launch, but the technical issues that I encountered were annoying at the very least. Yes, the original game had bugs as well. However, it seems that the patches were easier to implement for Deus Ex. This is why I opted to play with the XBOX version.
This reminded me of why I started playing more console games starting with the original XBOX. I remember at the time from the mid 90's until the early 2000's, if you bought a good PC for gaming, in 6 months it was obsolete. Playing it on the console was easier. I agree the graphics were not top notch but the game just worked. Although PC's today are more future proof, it can still be a challenge to install newer games.
Right off the bat when you start the game on PC or XBOX, the graphics have been dumbed down. Unlike the first game which was built for PC only in mind. It was ported later on the PS2 which kept most of the same mechanics. Here the game was clearly console first and then PC. This did not sit well with players at the time.
The inventory control was not great. You have a HUD where you can control your inventory. Although it is easy to navigate on the console side and probably why it was designed that way, I think the design of the first game was better. In fact, Human Revolution and Mankind Divided went back to the original game's inventory control system.
Also, what is it with the universal ammo? Unlike any other game in the series, you have ammo that is used for everything. Just that certain guns deplete the ammo faster than others. This cheapens the experience and can get you in hot water. This is especially true on your first play through. You may not know how much ammo to use or not in certain parts and if you use up the ammo, you have nothing left except your melee weapon which in most cases sucks.
One main complaint that players have is that the world seems small. I would tend to agree with that. Where as in the first game, I thought some space was wasted. For example, a big room with one couch, this is the other extreme.
Seattle is supposed to feel bigger than it does. It feels like you are in a Villa somewhere. Most places feel cramped. I understand that they were dealing with the limitation of the console design, but again, this felt like a step back from the first game.
The voice acting is meh. In some cases it is alright, in other cases it feels like the voice actor just read the lines so that he could leave the recording sessions. The other sounds in the game like shooting and explosions sounded fine.
Here, I will explain what I think are the 2 biggest faults with the game. I would be able to let go of the above, if the story would have been interesting. First, the game disregards any of the decisions that the player has taken in the original game. It did not choose one of the endings as the conical one. To make every one feel like they were not left out, they decided to make all the endings relevant. When I learned this, I was very disappointed.
The second part that i was not a fan of, was, as mentioned above during your gameplay, you can get quests from all factions. You can actually complete them all. You can shoot WTO officers in one mission and the next you kill Order agents. All that the factions tell you is that, they were not happy with us but they will look the other way, if you do one more mission for them. For me, it really took away the experience. At the end, the only decision that matters is at the end when you are at Liberty island.
The AI is really dumb. I did not think that it could have been worse than the original game. They walk in front of you, saying they heard something. You literally stand in front of their face and they do not see you. Enemies keep running into walls or walk in weird patterns that make no sense. This is especially true in the last act of the game at Liberty Island.
The game is also pretty short. It took me around 18 hours to complete but that is because I was being stupid. You can probably finish the game in a cool 10 hours, may be 12 if you explore. That is the thing, the game is very linear. Since the side missions do not really impact the main story, you don't really feel like doing them. There are only a few places where you can truly explore but that is about it.
At this point, you must be asking, is there any part of the game that you liked? The answer is very few.
The graphics were an upgrade on the original, but only marginally in my opinion. They went with more polish in this one but the environments are smaller. But the character models look a lot better. I understand they had to deal with certain limitations and space at the time. However, I do have to give them points on improving in this regard.
I was really impressed with Liberty island. I have to commend them for making Liberty Island in Invisible War, pretty close to the original. This is especially true of UNATCO headquarters. I have to admit that when I was walking through the wreckage it was a little bit of a nostalgia trip. That was pretty cool.
Having said all that, would I recommend this game? I think that if you have not played this game in the series, you should play for completeness sake. However, as a standalone game it is not that great. I personally think that it is a step backwards. The story is weak in my opinion and they brought back old characters (JC Denton, Paul Denton, Nicolette DuClare and Tracer Tong), to make you feel an attachment to those characters. However, for me this was not enough.
I have said this on my Twitch Streams before, the first game had bugs and technically issues but the story was what made the player power through it. The pay off was actually pretty sweet and interesting. This game had some technical issues as well, but the story fell way short and did not make this experience worth while.
Some reviewers have mentioned that it is not as bad of a game as people remembered. I beg to differ. Even though the game was short, all that I wanted to do is finish the game as fast as possible. This is why I ended up choosing the Helios ending as this was the fastest ending.
Have you played it? Am I wrong? Was this a better experience for you? Let us know at the coordinates below.