Deus Ex: Invisible War Review
Deus Ex: Invisible War can be highly rewarding, as long as you're willing to look past some problems along the way.
The fact is, much like in the original Deus Ex, the stealth elements aren't well implemented in Invisible War. There's no onscreen indicator that lets you know whether or not you're hidden from your enemies' sight, so attempting to sneak past a bunch of guards can become a slow and tedious process--especially since the obvious, easier alternative is to simply take them out. You'll pretty much always be working alone in Invisible War, but the enemy odds are never stacked too high against you, and the enemies themselves simply aren't very dangerous, due mostly to the poor AI.
At the default difficulty, most of the combat in Invisible War is a breeze--assuming that you have some prior experience playing first-person action games--as your enemies will all merely rush right at you like fools, or will hover over the dead bodies of their comrades. It's not long before you can get your hands on a sniper rifle in the game, and you can then upgrade it with a silencer. From then on, you can safely shoot most of your enemies in the head before they can do anything about it. Again, there are some nonlethal combat options, but there's no obvious in-game difference between knocking an enemy out and killing him, and the game doesn't rate you on your performance or anything like that, so there's really no mechanism in place to encourage you to do things the hard way (or to reward you for doing so).
For what it's worth, most all of these criticisms applied to the original game as well. Also, as in the first Deus Ex, Invisible War gives you some options for getting through those aspects of the game in which you aren't interacting with other characters. When faced with a locked door, for example, you'll usually have several different ways to proceed. You may blow it apart with explosives; you may find a keycode in some datapad that's been strewn about somewhere nearby; you may unlock the door by using a "multitool" (essentially a disposable key that can also be used to disable surveillance cameras and defensive turrets); or you may look for a way around the door, by typically discovering some nearby ventilation shaft. Actually, much of the game consists of bypassing locked doors or other barriers using these specific methods.
That's a good amount of variety, though these are actually the very same options from the original Deus Ex. Invisible War wears the formula a bit thin by the time you finish the game--which should take just 10 to 15 hours. You might catch yourself feeling a little silly as you bypass one supposedly high-tech, heavily defended compound after another by just crawling through all the conveniently placed, human-sized vent shafts. Optionally, you'll be able to hack into some security terminals to gain access to certain areas so you can disable certain hazards, and more, but the hacking in Invisible War is a bland, skill-free affair that simply involves staring at a terminal for a few moments while a "hack" meter fills up. You'll also learn to observe your environment fairly carefully, as spare multitools, health kits, and other useful items can frequently be found in corners, under things--in "inconspicuous" locations like trash bins--and so on.
The world of the game ultimately comes off as richly detailed but also rather contrived. You'll constantly be reminded that this is, after all, a game world you're playing around in. It doesn't help that the individual "levels" are all quite small and separated by noticeably long loading times. Additionally, the transitions between different cities and countries are completely nonexistent, apart from these loading times--there isn't so much as a cutscene that shows you flying to your new destination. All this is actually a shame, since, clearly, there's been enough thought put into the unique science fiction world of Deus Ex, and, clearly, there's enough detail in the scenery to where this could have been a much more immersive gaming experience overall.
The superficial characters and the inconsistency of the game's presentation also diminish some of the game's appeal. On the one hand, the characters of Invisible War realistically move their lips in tune with their speech and deliver their lines of dialogue naturally enough. It's great, too, that all of Alex's dialogue is recorded differently (and delivered equally as well) for the male and female versions of the character, and some of the interactions will even differ slightly depending on Alex's gender. Also, Invisible War features some highly atmospheric, dynamic lighting and shadow effects and some pretty remarkable physics. These technical features are practically flaunted, as you'll often run across fire pits or dangling lights that are casting shadows throughout the nearby scenery, or you'll encounter stacks of crates and such, which can be knocked around, thrown around, and more. The rule of thumb is that you can pick up and throw just about anything that isn't bolted down in Invisible War, and, for a while, you'll have fun doing it.
Problem is, the physics are goofier than they are believable, as most of the moveable objects in the game seem to lack any real mass--as though everything in this grim future was inflatable or made of Styrofoam. Contributing to the thoroughly unconvincing character behavior, characters in Invisible War don't act right even when they're dead. They fall to the ground in lifeless, contorted heaps, which can then be picked up and flung around effortlessly. Other games involving stealth and the ability to pick and move bodies out of sight at least attempt to give the impression that bodies are heavy and unwieldy. Not so in Invisible War, where human bodies can be carried around or flung about as easily as coffee cups and basketballs. Physics are cool and everything, but some actual death animations and more plausible interactions with heavy, unwieldy objects really could have helped here. Also, the realistic lighting and physics take what seems to be a serious toll on the game's frame rate. Don't expect Invisible War to run nearly as smoothly as most other first-person perspective games you've seen lately. Overall, you'll have to work fairly hard to suspend your disbelief while playing this game. For just about every little detail it successfully and impressively pulls off, there's some noticeable blemish that you'll need to try to ignore.