RPGreats now has a Discord! Come on in to talk about game music, games in general, submit reviews or just hang out!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Deus Ex: Invisible War

Deus Ex is one of the most highly acclaimed games of all time and was an enormous success for Ion Storm, so I understand why a sequel was made.  What I don't understand is why it was made this way.  Invisible War makes the leap to a new engine (Unreal 2) and jumps ahead to the future, where somehow all three endings of the original game have occurred simultaneously and somehow have all canceled each other out, resulting in the world being in the same violent, dystopian state it was at the beginning of the first Deus Ex.  A fact I'm sure Ubisoft took note of, as they've since engineered every sequel they ever make to nullify everything that occurred in the previous game.  The engine does IW no favors right away - the awkward, buggy physics and severely shrunken-down levels (clearly from being built as a console game first and the PC port being an afterthought) greatly subtract from the grandiose, interconnected feel of the original.  It hits the gameplay beats of Deus Ex, having the player find upgrades via augmentation cansisters and tweak weapons to make them more useful, but virtually nothing new is added and everything is scaled down.  Weapons all inexplicably run off the same ammunition pool, so the "strongest weapons" will drain your reserves in only a few shots and once you run out you have no backup save possibly a melee weapon (which I ended up using the majority of the game as a result).  The story is just a retread of the first game with none of the subtlety, ominous mood or grounded real-world conspiracies to lend it credibility, and as a result it all just rings of going through the motions to make more money.  Go here, go there, learn about the generic "new" bad guys, see a few familiar faces from the first game, rinse and repeat until the final showdown where all three factions convene at Liberty Island (from the first game!  again!) and you choose to spare one of them to guide humanity's future or destroy them all and plunge the world into chaos.  Just like the first game.  It looks pretty enough for a 2003 game and it does feature substantially better voiceover, but with an overabundance of rote repetition and an absence of any decent ideas of its own, Invisible War just falls flat on its face. What a lame, unnecessary sequel.

Developer: Ion Storm
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Released: 2003
Platforms: XBox, PC