User Rating: 7.2 | Deus Ex: Invisible War PC
It was only after some serious deliberation that I decided that $40 was a good enough price tag for me to pick up Invisible War. In light of mixed reviews and my deepest desires for the sequel to live up to the legacy of the original, this was not an easy decision to make. But I did buy it, and I've finally finished it, which means that it's time to share my reflections upon it with everyone. First and foremost, the burning question about this game is this: does it live up to the standards of its predecessor? For the most part, the answer is yes. I felt the game to be a worthwhile follow-up to the original Deus Ex. There were some differences between the two games that situate it on a notably lower level of greatness, but I never felt disappointed by the game's story or the gameplay. The story of Invisible War takes up twenty years after the end of the original, where JC Denton thrusts himself to the top of the global power pyramid. A massive collapse of economic power and social order in general occured just after that, a catastrophe of the modern-day infrastructure that left humanity stunned and confused. Now, twenty years later, society has begun to rebuild itself, and there are a number of factions that are vying to simultaneously rebuild and recapture the top seat in the global hierarchy: the Illuminati (working toward a global military state), ApostleCorp (working towards post-human civilization), the Knights Templar (opponents to biomodification), and the Omar (biomodification extremists). Sadly, this backstory puts Invisible War at a disadvantage, compared to Deus Ex. A lot of the charm of the original Deus Ex was in that the setting was the near future, so modern-day paradigms and understanding about conspiracy theories and secret organizations were still applicable. Invisible War literally blew that foundation up, and subsequently has to start from a fresh foundation. This causes a lot of that familiarity to dissolve immediately, lost in the void of science fiction. Deus Ex was built on our world, and as such made for a really good story. Invisible War was built on Deus Ex, so it gave up on trying to eclipse or even match the quality of the story behind its predecessor. Somewhat frustratingly, there was little mystery to the game this time around. The main character's name is Alex D - you shouldn't need to call Sherlock Holmes to find out that this really stands for Alex Denton. This is really the maximum depth of the secrets and the intrigue that the DXIW plot has: you know the factions at work here pretty early on, and there's little dynamic to them. You do work for one of them and you tick off the others. The scenario never really changes so you end up running missions because one of the factions has twisted in a manner your character hadn't expected. Similar to the watering down of the plotline, the game play systems of Invisible War have been watered down a bit from the original. The customization abilities through biomodification in the original game were such that you could use biomods found throughout the game to enhance even primitive game functions - marksmanship with different sized guns, proficency with explosives, swimming, electronic, and computers and so on. DXIW has simplified the process and allows for only 5 different modification types. For each of these five types, there's only three choices, and each selection only offers 3 levels of proficency. Further, some of the new biomodifications offered really make the game too easy. For instance, I never encountered any difficult battles, because I could always turn on my biomods which would make me optically invisible and thermally invisible, so neither man nor machine could see me. All I would have to do is move a bit, make a clean shot, and then thun those biomods back on when my gunfire shut them off. The inventory system has also taken something of a hit. In the original, the available inventory was limited to your active weapons belt plus a space-limited 2D array backpack. Invisible War allows Alex D to carry 6 weapons in quick slots, and then has 6 extra item slots. Biomods and weapon mods no longer take up inventory space, either, so you could theoretically be carrying around 12 different rocket launchers without batting an eye. JC Denton might be able to squeeze a couple of those inside his inventory, but he wouldn't have had much room for anything else. On the whole, I liked DXIW. It was entertaining and provided a bit more closure to the story of Deus Ex. Should you pay $40 for it? Maybe. I'd suggest you wait until the price goes down to $30 unless you're a real fan of the original looking for a low-intensity reminder of why the first one was so great in the first place.