We recently had a chance to take an updated look at the PC version of Ion Storm's upcoming action/role-playing hybrid, Deus Ex: Invisible War, at Nvidia's Editors' Day press event. According to project lead Harvey Smith, development on the game is now complete. The Xbox version of the game has been sent off to Microsoft for final testing, and in the meantime, the team is working on PC-specific enhancements, in addition to already-implemented features such as full keyboard-and-mouse support and high-resolution character textures.
The demonstration took place about halfway into the game, at which point players should be equipped with a full suite of weapons, items, nanotechnology (the game's futuristic version of magic spells), and "biomods," the game's futuristic, ability-enhancing body implants. As Smith explained, Ion Storm hopes that players will creatively use weapons, items, nanotech, and biomods in ways that the developer could never have dreamed of.
Smith showed off two examples of such creative combinations. One of these involved using night-vision biomods, which see objects and characters in low light and through fog and smoke. Our character was engaged in stealthily infiltrating an enemy base and encountered an enemy guard at the top of a ladder. By climbing the ladder and blundering into plain sight, we attracted the guard's attention, then fled back down the ladder. As he pursued us, the chatty guard quipped, "What, did I scare you away?" We then tossed a smoke grenade up the ladder, which obscured his vision and caused him to choke, then turned on the night-vision biomod to draw a bead on the incapacitated guard and eliminate him.
We also watched another example of creative item-biomod combinations at work. Deus Ex: Invisible War, like the original game, features plenty of futuristic gadgets, including the spider-bot mines, which, like in the first game, can be dropped on the ground to crawl around and eventually explode. We used this item in conjunction with the "bot domination" nanotech, which briefly takes control of a robot, then leaves it an immobile, nonfunctioning mess. By dominating the spider bots, we were able to control them from a first-person view to silently scout the corridors of the enemy base, then leave them lying in doorways near enemy guards, where they could then be detonated by regular gunfire.
Smith went on to demonstrate some of the sequel's other new features, including black-market implants, which you can commission in addition to standard, over-the-counter biomods. We watched an especially gruesome illegal biomod in action that created a glowing red sphere of plasma that floated in the air and immediately hovered over any dead or dying enemy bodies and disintegrated them, and subsequently treated damage to our character. Smith also demonstrated the role of the game's environments, which factor into more than just the game's stealth elements, like how the game lets you close a door behind you to reduce the noise you make inside a room, or leave the door open so that you can hide in the shadow it casts. As Smith explained, many environmental objects can also be used as traps--for instance, in the base level on display, we were able to shoot out a nearby gas valve with a shotgun, causing the ruptured pipes to belch fire and set a hapless guard ablaze. We then finished the job with a flamethrower weapon, which caused the guard to run about in circles, screaming at the top of his lungs, before he collapsed in a heap on the ground.
Deus Ex: Invisible War's development is mostly complete. Though some members of the development team are continuing to work on the PC version of the game, most of the group will soon transition to full-time development of Ion Storm's other upcoming game, Thief III. Deus Ex: Invisible War is currently scheduled for release on December 2.