DX2: The Invisible War impressions

We've got new screens and impressions of the PC and Xbox versions of the sequel to the award-winning sci-fi game Deus Ex.


Deus Ex: Invisible War

At last week's E3, Eidos was showing off an early playable build of DX2: The Invisible War for both the PC and the Xbox. A PlayStation 2 version of the game is also planned but wasn't shown. What we did see was mostly a technology demo, but nonetheless the brief level on display makes the forthcoming sequel to Deus Ex look very promising, especially considering what we already know of the game. We have a number of new screens of both versions of the game for you to look at--however, DX2: The Invisible War looked especially good in motion. Like its predecessor, it will be a first-person game combining elements of action, role-playing, and stealth in an original sci-fi setting.

The demo, running on the next-generation Unreal engine, was primarily there to show off the game's incredible physics and lighting system. One of the big technological changes in the sequel over the original game from 2000 is that DX2 will feature a lifelike physics engine that makes objects in the world respond to your actions as you'd expect them to. Barrels struck by the force of a bullet get thrust backward realistically, depending on where exactly the bullet made contact. Light sources cast realistic real-time shadows on the environment. Sound is affected by the environment, meaning an enemy in another room might not be able to hear the ruckus you're making. Along those same lines, the enemy artificial intelligence promises to be a lot more believable.

The real-time shadows were the most impressive aspect of the demo. A static image doesn't do justice to what the physics engine is capable of doing with light sources. To demonstrate the effect, series designer Warren Spector presented us with a dimly lit room filled with obstacles and just a single hanging light source. He then directed the main character, armed with a high-tech pistol, to fire at the light source. This hanging object was indestructible, but the force of the bullet made the light twirl this way and that, like a tetherball. Accordingly, the shadows in the room bent and twisted in real time, with no loss to the game's smooth frame rate. The effect was realistic but also very atmospheric, and Spector pointed out that changes to the real-time lighting will have a real-time effect on gameplay. That is, if you are obscured one moment and then revealed in the next, an enemy that might not have spotted you standing still before would all of a sudden be able to do so.

In an 2839140earlier interview , Spector commented on how DX2 would be more streamlined than the first game, offering more of what was truly enjoyable about the original--the open-endedness and the role-playing aspects--and less of what was less satisfying, namely the numerous first-person-shooter-style corridor crawls. The technology shown at E3 certainly opens up a lot of opportunities for the game's design. We'll bring you more details on how DX2 is shaping up as soon as possible.

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