Deus Ex: Invisible War

aka: DX2, Deus Ex 2, IW
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Description official descriptions

Twenty years have passed after the events described in Deus Ex. The actions of JC Denton have eventually led to a period of economic depression, known as "The Collapse". The world is on the brink of chaos after the dismantling of the mighty biotech corporations, and multiple religious and political groups lust after power.

The city of Chicago is destroyed in a devastating energy blast by unknown terrorists. Two trainees of the Tarsus Academy, Alex D and Billie Adams, are evacuated to another Tarsus-controlled facility in Seattle. Shortly thereafter the facility is attacked by members of a religious organization called the Order. Billie admits that she has been collaborating with them, implying that Tarsus may be involved in a conspiracy. It is now up to Alex to find his or her place in the new world, and ultimately shape its fate.

Deus Ex: Invisible War is a first-person shooter that retains many gameplay elements of its predecessor, such as conversations with characters, inventory management, exploration, and mixing various gameplay styles during missions. As in the original game, the style of play helps shape the game as it progresses, from how characters interact with the protagonist to the types of situations encountered. Each potential conflict can be resolved in a number of ways, through peaceful means or through violence, using stealth or a show of force. Hacking computer terminals and unlocking doors with special tools are prominently featured.

Weapons can be modified in a variety of ways, e.g. increasing their rate of fire, silencing the shots, allowing the weapon to shoot through glass, etc. Characters can once again outfit their bodies with an array of biotech parts, some of which include the ability to see through walls, disappear from radar, regenerate from critical hits, or jump forty feet in the air. Unlike the previous installment, there are no true role-playing elements in the game. The player must search for biotech canisters to install and upgrade biomods; however, no experience points are awarded for either completing missions or dealing with enemies. Inventory management has been simplified as well.

The sequel places more emphasis on decisions and different approaches to missions. From the beginning of the game the player has the freedom of performing missions for organizations and people of his or her choice. Like in the first game, several endings can be reached depending on the player's decisions.

Spellings

  • 杀出重围:隐形战争 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 駭客入侵 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

276 People (233 developers, 43 thanks) · View all

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 79% (based on 64 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 149 ratings with 16 reviews)

One hell of a mixed bag.

The Good
Deus Ex 2, along with games like Half Life 2 and Doom 3 were some of the most eagerly awaited sequels ever developed. And boy did Ion Storm have a lot to live up to. After all, Deus Ex is one of the highest rated games of all time (second only to Half-Life in the first person shooter department). But did Invisible War deliver? Well, yes and no. Invisible War is most certainly Deus Ex, but there are such gigantic "WTF?!"s in this game that it's simply perplexing...it's mind-numbing...it's pure insanity!

However, there is much much good in this game, and let me tell you about it.

Let me just get this off my chest: best graphics ever. I don't get the chance to be so blunt about this sort of thing, but yeah, I'll just say it. I'll say it again: best graphics ever. Deus Ex 2 has set a new standard for graphics in a first person shooter. Usually when I play games, gameplay always comes far before graphics in judging its worth. Take Nethack for instance -- NO graphics, but it's one of the best games ever made (in my humble opinion). The graphics in Deus Ex 2 are so good that it alone almost makes up for the gameplay faults. Yeah, it's that good. The lighting is absolutely magnificient, the characters are very detailed and realistic, all the little details from chairs to trays to lamps to books are all detailed and behave as actual objects, each that reflects light and which shadows can be cast upon, each that obeys the laws of gravity and can be manipulated by throwing around the room, watching them slide down or off objects, etc. etc. etc. And the "bloom" effect causes the world to look very ethereal, and it kicks the ass of any anti-aliasing I've seen yet. The graphics, the physics, the lighting, the shadows, the world in Deus Ex: Invisible War will immerse you in this game like no other.

I wouldn't so much call Deus Ex a sequel as I would a follow-up to the original story. As you might know, you don't play as JC Denton, but as Alex Denton, a clone of JC's. Invisible War takes place twenty years after the events in Deus Ex as the world is recovering from a massive breakdown called the "Collapse" -- an event which was triggered by one (or all? none? it's hard to tell, really) of your choice endings in Deus Ex. As you do missions for either the WTO or Order, more is revealed of the state of the world and of the factions that influence it, both open and secretive, as well as JC and what happened to him after the incident at Area 51. Expect interesting plot twists, mission diversity, and plenty of non-confining decisions throughout the game. As with Deus Ex, you can do most missions any way you want them. You can hack a security terminal, causing all the bots and turrets to switch their alliances, or you can sneak through using stealth as your weapon, never being spotted. Or go in guns-blazing, blow everyone to hell. Your choices of weapons can even include anything you see in front of you. With strength bio-modifications, you're a deadly weapon with a chair or a jar. And beware the man that wields a bench, for he is a formitable opponent indeed! The choices can be endless.

It was also great to see characters from Deus Ex appear in the game, and to see what they've been up to in the last twenty years and how the Collapse has shapen them. It is especially interesting at the very end! Without giving anything away, the few levels of the game give a whole new perspective on Deus Ex. Also: multiple endings is awesome.

The Bad
Whether or not the amazing physics, graphics, lighting and shadows, great storyline and nonlinear gameplay make up for the bad part of the game is really up to you.

Deus Ex has a gigantic fanbase. For many, many people it is hailed as the best game ever made, and I can certainly see why. Fact is, Ion Storm could have made the most mediocre game imaginable and plastered "DEUS EX 2!!1" on it and it would have sold like murder. But it is obvious they wanted to make a great follow-up. And as much as they succeeded, I just can't, for the life of me, understand some of the ridiculous changes they made. It just doesn't make sense.

No stats. That's right, none. No longer are you rewarded with experience points for completing tasks for which to use on your pistol skill, your hacking skill, etc. Instead, you are as good as you'll ever be with your sniper rifle (which is pretty damn good if I do say so!), same with pistol, melee weapons, etc. That alone is a HUGE drawback to this game. I've heard countless arguments about how Deus Ex shouldn't be considered a first-person shooter because it is really an RPG. Well, there won't be any argument about that with this game -- it is a first person shooter no matter how you look at it. And without any experience rewards, you'll probably be passing up many interesting side-quests. Unless you're really into the game and want to know more about little tid-bits here and there, I don't see any reason to bother, since the rewards are all pretty mediocre (usually money or biomods, both of which I had a truckload more than I needed by the end of the game).

No headshots. This isn't entirely true. A sniper rifle shot to the head usually kills in one hit, and if you've the proper weapon modification or strength bio-modification, you can kill with one hit to the head. But otherwise, it's a pointless effort, even on "realistic" mode which is anything but. It is simply too much effort to play as a stealth "silent assassin" in this game. I think that type of gameplay SHOULD be difficult, but not for these stupid "har har you shot me in the face four times" gameplay elements. How the hell ARE you supposed to play as a silent assassin without a silenced sniper rifle? If it takes two shots with the pistol to kill a soldier, that's one shot too many as alarms will be alerted before you get your second shot off. There are ways to do this, certainly. Hack a computer, sneak up and whack'em with an energy blade, whatever. But this "no headshots" bullshit is just inexcusable.

Unified ammo. Only one ammo type. Rocket launchers, machine guns, pistols, railguns, etc. They all use the same ammo. It has something to do with nano-robots morphing into ammo type or something STUPID LIKE THAT WHO CARES it's a DUMB idea. I read in an interview with one of the lead developers who was talking about this -- he went on saying how this system is better because the other way, the traditional way, players would get angry when they got a fancy new super-weapon but only had one or two shots with it before they would have to give it up until they found more rare super-weapon ammo. Well, with this new system, every weapon takes the same amount of ammo, but more powerful weapons take more ammo. Let's do the fricken math, shall we? If super weapons take super weapon sized ammo to fire, then we're STILL only getting a few shots off of it and then -- oh shit, we're out of ammo for all our other guns! This new system doesn't work, it's a DUMB idea, it kills a whole aspect of Deus Ex, and it's a STUPID idea. STUPID.

No injuries. In Deus Ex, there was a whole interesting aspect of keeping sections of your body healed. Get injured in your legs and you'll be crawling on the ground, lose your arm and your aim will be shit -- if you can even hold the weapon anymore, and so on. Invisible War got rid of that system for the ol' traditional "this is your health and when it reaches 0 you die" boring system. Oh well.

Worst interface ever. No joke. Deus Ex had one of the BEST interfaces I've ever seen. Everything was right there for you. Your inventory screen, your stats screen, images, conversations, codes, etc. It recorded everything for you and was easy to reach. It took no time at all to get, it was well organized...it was great. Invisible War's interface looks like something from Mega Man or something. Your inventory is now divided into numbered slots. Now your rocket launcher takes up just as much room as your medkits. Also, datacubes no longer look like a datacube, but just another gigantic-texted message on your inventory screen. It no longer records conversations, your notes are pretty vague and hard to follow (and I never even used them as they appeared quite useless to me), and besides that, you'll always see the big ugly interface on-screen while playing the game. It has something to do with a "retinal interface" something STUPID BULLSHIT I DON'T CARE IT'S A STUPID IDEA. I don't WANT to see the fugly interface while I'm playing the game. I want my interface from Deus Ex. It was never in the way and it was still a hundred times more efficient, more informative. Also, you no longer have to remember codes, logins, etc. when accessing locked objects and what-not. Once you've read the ugly datacube that contains the information, you just open the door. I suppose it's more convenient, but hurts the immersion quite a bit.

There are some bad storyline elements as well. There are two plot-twists that occured in the game that I had always assumed Alex D. knew all along. Not that he appeared altogether surprised when he found out, but he still denied knowing it. I find it hard to believe as, one of these particular plot twists (won't say what it is) is right there on the back of the box! This just confused me, really. How could Alex not have known -- and why isn't he at all shocked upon finding out? Perhaps he's just a little slow.

Guard AI can be pretty fricken stupid, yet omnipitent at other times. I can kill a guard right next to the other guard, then proceed to fling the dead guard's body around, loot its corpse, smash windows with it, throw it at the other guard and fire a few rounds into it and the guard won't mind at all. Yet, I can be hiding in the shadows a mile away from any sort of detection, smash a window (setting off the alarm) and every cop in the city will know it's me.

Also, the game chugs. I've recently spent a thousand bucks or more on upgrading my computer, and I still get 15 frames per second or lower in some spots. People with much better computers than me get the same problems -- if they can even get it to work. For me, it was an effort to even get this game to run at all! I had to download a .exe tweak, and even then I had to run that in compatability mode to keep it from crashing during loading screens. Also I downloaded a modified .ini file that shrunk the interface and text so it didn't look so Sesame-Street goofy/ugly.

Over all, the game has a very bad "quick console port" feel to it. I don't care that Ion Storm wants to appeal to a larger range of players with Deus Ex 2, PC should still have gotten top priority. As with the route they took, they brought us an almost unfinished heavilly bugged nearly unplayable console game with terrible controls and atrocious interface and goofy game "features". Not all this has to do with it being a console game as well, of course. I'm just really, really pissed about it.

Other things are particularly awkward and bothersome, such as the loading times which seem to take way too long to load a level that's only a fourth of the size of an average level in the original Deus Ex 2. Also, a lot of people seem to temporarilly "crash" to their desktops during a loading screen, only to be thrown back into the game a moment later. I didn't experience this, however.

The Bottom Line
If Ion Storm had used Deus Ex's original interface, all the RPG elements, damage system, biomod interface, then I have no doubt that Invisible War would have been the best first person shooter every created. But for whatever whacky creazy acid-tripping reason they didn't...well, Invisible War is still a great followup to an excellent story, and if you can forgive the insanely terrible interface and lack of...so, so very much from Deus Ex, then you've got a great game on your hands.

Besides, killing children by flinging burning barrels at them is great fun!

Windows · by kbmb (416) · 2003

Deus meh

The Good
After the global Collapse, the WTO established safe enclaves for the best and brightest citizens of the world. In these enclaves commercialism flourishes. WTO troops and private sector security forces guard commercial and housing districts, while corporations have free reign to raise and educate their future employees. But all is not well. The Order Church have stepped up their anti-WTO activities. Chicago is decimated by a nanotech bomb, an Arcologist compound in Cairo is under siege, and the Panzerwerks factories are crippled by saboteurs. And lurking in the background is the revitalized Knights Templar, whose neo-luddite rhetoric has taken on religious fervor.

Deus Ex: The Invisible War begins with an Order raid on a Tarsus Academy in Seattle. The player’s character, Alex D—a Tarsus student, finds him- or herself under fire and unable to trust the WTO structure he’s been raised in. While the Order is clearly in the wrong, events suggest that Tarsus had ulterior motives regarding his education. Alex finds himself pulled between the WTO and the Order, with both sides recruiting his friends and attempting to sway his opinion. Starting in Upper Seattle, the player is quickly immersed in the gray morality that is the world of Deus Ex.

Invisible War is an action RPG presented from an FPS perspective. The game presents the player with a series of choices in terms of quests and goals. The choices are often conflicting and usually weigh a stack of credits against Alex’s code of ethics. The owner of a nightclub will want someone killed but the mark could double your money. Killing a fighting greasel might improve your gambling luck. Small choices lack the larger repercussions found in the original game, but you can cater to the several factions vying for your favor.

While much of the game can be played over the barrel of the gun, stealthy players can complete the game with few, if any, kills. Like its predecessor, Invisible War is customizable. Through the use of legal and black market biomods, players can upgrade their character, concentrating on creating a covert ops hacker or a killing machine. Basic upgrades allow for health regeneration, increased strength, and increased speed. Illegal modifications let players hack ATMs, take control of security turrets, and drain life from unconscious enemies.

Invisible War doesn’t have to be combat intensive, but there is a decent amount of weaponry to be found. Ranged weapons include the typical lethal pistols, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers. A poisoned dart boltcaster can knock out opponents from a distance. You can get up close and personal with a combat knife, energy sword, or various baton types. There is also a wide array of explosives for various user needs.

Of note, all projectile weapons draw from the same ammunition pool, but at a different rate. So you might not be able to send any more rockets flying at a Templar in full armor, but you can switch over to the pistol and fire off a few more rounds. Weapons can also be modified, but can only take two upgrades and can’t be downgraded if you change your mind.

The world of Deus Ex is still populated with interesting characters, some of whom return from the original game. The world is littered with books and datacubes, coming nowhere near Morrowind’s word count, but still filling in the gaps and explaining things like why all guns take the same ammunition. This entry has fewer locations than the original (and smaller levels), but there is still a bit of globetrotting to be done.


The Bad
Invisible War, aside from its weaknesses as a Deus Ex game, is a fun, largely open-ended excursion. Its ten hour playtime doesn’t provide enough time to develop characters or explore the storyline and players just coming to the franchise might prefer if characters just shut up rather than droning on about myriad conspiracies and organizations. Still there’s a lot to like here.

Most of what I didn’t like involved design choices. The HUD is clunky and crowded. Resembling an iris, good chunks of Alex’s peripheral vision are taken up with inventory and biomod information. You still have to enter an inventory screen to manage inventory, so it really isn’t time saving—especially since you can use the scroll wheel to move through active inventory items.

Levels look similar regardless of where they are geographically. I guess the proliferation of WTO technology is part of the problem, but I was really dying for something organic towards the game’s end.

Finally, aside from a rendered opening and four rendered endings, nothing happens outside of a game level—i.e., taking a helicopter from Cairo to Trier means clicking on a helicopter in Cairo and then magically showing up in Trier. A few transitional scenes would have been nice.

The Bottom Line
There’s an interesting conspiracy theory that Invisible War is smaller, simpler, and shorter than the original in an effort to make it more console-friendly. I’m not sure I buy it, but you have to wonder: in an age when sequels are bigger and better, why is Invisible War so scaled-down?

Let me step back, when I first played Deus Ex I was singularly unimpressed. As a first-person shooter, it was just average and lacked any sort of robust AI. As a first-person sneaker, I much preferred the Thief series. What I liked on my first play through, was the amount of character customization and the conversation options. And the fact that I had choices to make. Choices that seemed to matter.

The second time I played Deus Ex, I realized how brilliant the game was. Based on the choices your character makes, killing Anna early on or saving Paul, the game feels completely different. There’s an incredible level of branching, which I missed the first time out.

Back to Invisible War, I’m not sure that anything I did, up until the last half hour of gameplay, had any real effect. It’s that last half hour that determines which of the four endings you’ll get. Unfortunately, the previous 9-1/2 hours haven’t directed you towards any particular outcome. Are the Illuminati better than the Templars? Is the WTO’s vision of utopia more convincing than ApostleCorps’? Does any of it really matter?

Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5375) · 2005

A crying shame

The Good
If you forget all about Deus Ex one game (which I consider to be the best FPS I played) and judge Deus Ex 2 for what it is, you might say that it has a good graphics engine. It's not your regular FPS because adds some elements from RPGs and even has a decent story.

The Bad
Where do I start? The GUI is to large and annoying. The universal ammo is a terrible idea that ruins the fun of having different weapons.

The story does a great job burning up everything the previous game strive to set. You pile up missions in one level up to a point you can't decide what to do next. Without the patch I has problems running in most machines. I guess I can go on and on forever.

The Bottom Line
If you Liked Deus Ex then stay the hell away from this abomination I mean it. It is painful to see what a misguided story and destructive set of ideas can make to a classic.

And to think they even wanted to make a film from the franchise. That's one movie that I regret you wont see anytime soon.

Windows · by Shin_Akuma (15) · 2005

[ View all 16 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
It's not that bad! Unicorn Lynx (180489) Sep 15th, 2011
Screenshots Cantillon (68684) Sep 8th, 2011
Dynamic Lighting St. Martyne (3644) Nov 15th, 2008

Trivia

Basketball

Continuing the Warren Spector tradition, Invisible War features a basketball court. It's right at the beginning of the game and there's no missing it; one of your mandatory objectives will send you through there.

Engine

Ion Storm licensed the Unreal engine and heavily modified it for this game. Its a inhouse engine with a tiny bit of Epic's Unreal code left in. It is said that the engine programmer left mid-development with a largely undocumented code which caused the game's numerous technical problems.

Music

In order to bring popstar NG Resonance's music to life, Eidos licensed a few tracks from the industrial/techno band "Kidney Thieves". Said tracks can be found in their Trickstereprocess album. The original soundtrack for the game on the other hand, can be downloaded for free on Eidos's site.

References

The coffee shops, Pequod's, and QueeQueg's are from Moby Dick. The Pequod, was the name of the ship. QueeQueg is the Indian harpooner.* In the abandoned curio shop over the 9 World Taverns, you can find a book containing text on the care and cleaning of Ohio State Bobbleheads. Chris Carollo, the lead programmer for Invisible War is an Ohio State alumni. * The Tarsus Academy shares a name with the city that was the birthplace of Paul, the apostle. Paul Denton acts as the apostle for J.C. Denton.

Awards

  • 4Players
    • 2004 – Best Console Story of the Year
  • GameSpy
    • 2003 – #7 Game of the Year
    • 2003 – #3 Xbox Game of the Year
    • 2003 – #5 PC Game of the Year
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 04/2009 - One of the "10 Most Terrible Sequels" (It is a good game in its own right but it changes everything which made Deus Ex big for the worse, e.g. exciting story, clever level design, RPG elements and freedom of decision.)

Information also contributed by MasterMegid, Scott Monster and Zovni

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Jeanne.

Xbox added by Jason Walker.

Additional contributors: xroox, Zovni, Unicorn Lynx, Shoddyan, Paulus18950, Patrick Bregger.

Game added December 6th, 2003. Last modified August 27th, 2023.