Deus Ex – Invisible War Xbox Review

Deus Ex: Invisible War. A game shrouded in controversy; first for the control system including the HUD, then for the “Dumbing Down” to make the game more commercial. I will admit although I did not get into the original adventures of J.C.Denton as much as I would have liked to. Having a game prior to this that garnered many awards and accolades, lets just say expectation for this game was HIGH like Mount Everest – high to say the least. So here we go…

Graphics

Lets start with the graphics. How does everything look? Well lets just say this – Deus Ex houses some absolutely stunning lighting effects. ‘Dynamic Lighting’ is the term here. You pull your torch out and shine it on an object and it works extremely well and very realistically. Shine it on a close object and it is strong and vibrant, whereas when you shine it on something further away the lighting field spreads making everything brighter and shows off the detailed textures and the fantastic bump mapping in use.

The game also has a new physics engine; you see a box… pick it up, throw it at the passer-by and see their reactions. While being a nice addition, the physics in the game still feel behind that of the Havok 2.0 engine currently in use in Half Life 2 and Max Payne 2; everything moves slower and while it looks good when you throw a bin into some roof girders to watch it bounce off all of them on the way back to the ground… it all feels a little slow like everything has less gravity around it. As though everything in this grim future was inflatable or made of Styrofoam. Apart from that though everything in the game world seems good and competent although a little bland at times; you get that empty feeling from some of the environments but one must expect that in a game world this big.

Lets move onto the characters; what are they like? Well, the cutscene at the start is stunning but the in-game characters seem, how shall we say? Boring and Generic. Too often you are walking along the streets and you see too many of the same person albeit with a different voice or attitude. This is where the developers were lazy – a few more styles of character next time please. The game moves along at a good frame rate and only ever slighty stutters when you are with more than six or seven enemies on screen firing away madly all at the same time. My only real negative apart from the blocky visuals on characters has to be the brightness. Yeah I understand that the game is set in a world going through war but come on! It doesn’t have to be so dark I need to equip the gun to use the torch ALL the time… without having to crank up the brightness on the game to almost full. Anyway enough about that.

Gameplay

At first glance this game feels like a sci fi first person shooter; however you could not be further from the truth. This is a first person role playing game with ‘shooting elements’. I know how you feel – immediately you feel alienated if you are new to this… “why can’t I shoot him in the head and kill him instantly?” you say, well Warren Spector the man behind the opus doesn’t want the game to concentrate solely on the basis of going around and taking out everybody with headshots more on this later.

The second thing you notice about a game after if it has good graphics is how well you get used to the control scheme. This is very important in differing between an excellent game and a good game. Well, Deus Ex wins here because it has a very intuitive and easy to use control system. It is very easy to sit down and play and the only thing that bothered me about this game was the inability to put away the gun without having to change weapon or un-equip it. The main thing about the whole game seems to be choice; what route will you take? Will you shoot that guard blocking your way or will you persuade him, maybe even bribe him, to let you through? Its up to you. What works really well is mini-scenarios like the the war between coffee shop owners…whose side will you take? The choice is yours; you can either help Pequan Coffee and burn down the rival coffee owners supply of beans or take the other side and hack into the computer system and enable the rival coffee company to be able to trade in the same district without fear of retribution. Its your choice – you choose the path you take.

There are problems in the game though, ones which threaten to ruin the game; the main one is the A.I. or should I say the total lack of it. Its great having the freedom to do as you please – you run into someones house who at first seems a bit miffed you have walked into their home, only to start walking around as if nothing as happened after their scripted moment has ended. I mean what is going on here? Another example; I throw a trashcan at a soldiers head… his response? “Erm, don’t do that”. So I do it again; there is absolutely no retaliation up until I fire a gun – then I get a repsonse. This should be a whole lot better Ion Storm. You can usually blatantly steal things from characters’ desks and cupboards, right in front of them, without any consequence. You can also brandish your submachine guns and sniper rifles in public without anyone batting an eyelash. These types of things make the characters in the game seem lifeless and unconvincing, undermining any dramatic impact that the game tries to force upon you.

The other main part of the game which needs work on in the next game has to be the fights. In the game fights are often very annoying as you cannot kill people with a head shot instantly unless you either upgrade your weapon or use a heavy arms weapon. Fair enough, a gun isn’t as powerful as a sniper rifle, but when it takes four headshots to kill someone it is taking the michael a fair bit… Am I wrong? On the normal difficulty the bots and humans just seem to rush at you causing you not to panic, just strafe shoot, strafe shoot again. If you have any prior experience in FPS games this will be a doddle to you. 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. Obviously you may say, but you can go through the game withoug killing anybody – but my answer would be… WHY? If the A.I. was there in the first place maybe I would want to sneak around and try getting through the game without being detected, but because of the complete lack of any intellegence I feel it is my duty to shoot them all.

Sound

The sound in this game has been done very well. Quite a lot of voice acting has been put forward for this game…but this I feel is the games only audio negative. In the cutscenes the sound is great, very well worked – but in game it is still an unfinished area. Passers by don’t seem to carry any meaning to their words; they seem only to be saying things just for the sake of saying them. Apart from this the sound has been done very well, from the electric fuzzing when using a multi-tool to disable a security cam up to the bomb explosions. This is a game which benefits from the use of a Dolby Digital Surround Sound setup. The games musical score is extremely well done fitting in well with the mood of the world you are immersed in. Even some of the games songs are quite catchy something to hum to on the bus methinks. Overall the sound has been done very well, with some gritty sound effects and quite good voice acting go hand in hand with the fitting music.

Overall

The length of this game seems shorter than the times people spent on the last game. Most first person shooter players or Deus Ex veterans should get through this game in around 12-16 hrs max. There are no extra’s for this game, and once you’re done you may not want to play through it again. But if you are really into your Deus Ex and first person RPG’s you may want to go through again and try the multiple routes found in the game. But I doubt I will be going throug it more than the once required; after a while it begins to feel like a slog and the plot starts to wear a little too thin for my liking. Maybe in the next Deus Ex eh? Many were expecting great things from this game, but me, I like to reserve my judgement until I have played the game and seen what it has to offer. It is a game which has plenty of fantastic ideas… a jack of all trades, but seems to be a master of none. A worthy game and a competent gaming experience although not a masterpiece. Not the masterpiece many were hoping it to be.

8.0/10

by

Version tested: Xbox