The hardest people to please are the fans–whether its a game, movie, book or whatever else, it can be downright impossible to satisfy everyone.
With Deus Ex: Invisible War, developers Ion Storm tried not only to fix the issues with the first Deus Ex game, they also tried to appeal to a broader audience, all the while trying to keep the original fans happy. If there ever was an impossible task, this was it.
The original Deus Ex is considered by many–myself included–to be one of the greatest, most influential games ever created. Ion Storm certainly had a tough road ahead of them, and for many long-time Deus Ex fans, Invisible War wasn’t the sequel they were hoping for.
I, on the other hand, disagree with those fans. Deus Ex is one of my favorite games of all time, but so is Invisible War.
Like Deus Ex, Invisible War is set in a dystopian future that heavily focuses on conspiracies and factions that have some grandiose plan to change the world. Over the course of the game, you will have to decide which major power you will put your support behind.
Much like its predecessor, Invisible War is all about player choice.
Obviously, the player’s choices can only be made within the limits that the developer has set. However, situations–such as dialog or quests–change depending on actions of the player. If you choose to side with one faction, it could cut off quests with another faction, or you could carefully play both sides and destroy them both in the end.
Many people see the first-person perspective of the Deus Ex games and automatically assume that it is a shooter. In actuality, Invisible War mixes a number of genres and elements–stealth, role-playing and yes, first-person shooting–which adds to the ways that an objective can be completed. This aspect is, in large part why I have played through this game so many times.
Averaging a metacritic score of 80 on the PC and 84 on the Xbox, Invisible War was actually well received by reviewers; as for the Deus Ex fanbase however, they were a little more difficult to win over.
A large amount of criticism came from the fans of the original, who complained about the game’s length and its reduction of some of the RPG elements and augmentation abilities. While it is true that Invisible War is much shorter than Deus Ex, that does not make it a bad or inferior game. Plus, Invisible War can still be quite lengthy, especially by today’s standards.
On the positive side, Invisible War took some of the sometimes convoluted (or useless) features and streamlined them. Instead of worrying about skill points and then augmentations on top of that, the player only had to worry about assigning their augmentations. This still gave the player a lot of choices, just without the overwhelming feeling of, “Where the heck do I put these skills points and how does this help improve my game?” It’s a common feeling for those not very experienced with RPGs, and Ion Storm avoided it.
Deus Ex games are thick with atmosphere and Invisible War is no different. Right from the beginning, you feel the tension and the sense of urgency of the world you are in. It’s easy to believe and get sucked into this futuristic setting when the world feels so alive.
Although most areas aren’t packed full of people, you can talk to most NPCs, and many either have a story to tell, an optional mission, some kind of information that can help you out, or just fill you in on what’s happening in the world. There are numerous news kiosks that you can visit to get the latest news, along with journals and other books lying around that are certainly worth reading. Keeping up-to-date on current events in the world is a small but important touch to making you feel involved in something greater than just yourself.
Player choice in the Deus Ex games is maybe the biggest reason you’ll hear so much about these games. When it comes to the story elements, most of the choices usually come down to choosing option A or option B. The real variety is in how you can complete missions. You have the option to kill everyone, minus a few key players in the story. Conversely, if you want to play the entire game without killing anyone at all, that is also possible.
The biggest downfall with Invisible War is that, at points, it tries too hard to be too many things and fails to be very successful at any of them. When it comes to the shooting, it’s passable, but certainly not good enough that you can just run-and-gun–in fact it’s better if you don’t try to play it like the average FPS.
Also, although the RPG elements are slimmer and more streamlined this time around, there are still a number of pretty useless augmentations. Through multiple playthroughs, I found myself choosing the same ones, only emphasizing different ones depending on whether I wanted to be stealthier or more action focused. It is a minor gripe, but if you have the right understanding going into the game, it really becomes a non-issue.
Cyber punk games are hard to find, and playing a good one is an even rarer pleasure. When it comes down to it, Invisible War is a great game whether you slap the name Deus Ex at the beginning or not. Not everything in Invisible War is perfect, but neither was everything in the first Deus Ex game–and anyone who tells you it was is a fool.
Having played both Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War extensively and recently finishing Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I can say that if you like a solid first-person game with lots of choice and replay value, then any Deus Ex game is worth playing.
Do not pass up a great game like Invisible War just because some elitist fans of Deus Ex can’t deal with change.