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  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Deus Ex: The Invisible War review



    When Warren Specter first created <a href="http://www.epinions.com/content_133059612292"><b>Deus Ex</b></a> he created one of the few genuine videogame masterpieces. A game that will justifiably be remembered as a classic years after its technology has dated; IE it's still regarded as a classic now, simply because the game gave you previously unheard of levels of control over the story of J.C Denton, a genetically augmented agent who teamed up with his brother Paul to take down a sinister government conspiracy.

    A sequel was always in the works so that any loose ends left over at the end of the first game could be tied up and the story given a satisfying resolution. That sequel arrived a few months ago in the form of <b>Deus Ex: The Invisible War</b> which caught my attention based on the name and found its way onto my rental list before I had seen, heard or read anything on the game beyond the title. With those kind of expectations buzzing around you could perhaps say that a disappointment was always inevitable, but to be honest all I was hoping for was a game to continue what the first game did, and what I got was a game that reeked of the easy way out; a game that had been stripped of everything that made the original the classic it's remembered as today.

    It started out promisingly enough with an absolutely fantastic cut scene depicting a terrorist attack that literally reduces Chicago to ashes. You play the role of an orphan named Alex D. (<i>It's up to you whether Alex is Male or Female</i>) who was in the city at the time but was airlifted to safety seconds before the tragedy destroyed his building. Alex; along with his best friend Billie, is a student of the Tarsus academy that trains up all of the greatest soldiers. Both of them were protected from the attack due to the fact that they are among a handful of students picked for experimental biomodification; the first experiments known in this area since J.C Denton brought about the collapse of global communications 20 years previously. Unfortunately before Alex has a chance to find out why Chicago was attacked the school is attacked a group of religious fanatics known as The Order. Escaping, Alex finds himself separated from his leaders and witnessing a divide occur between all of his friends. Billie has joined The Order, claiming The Tarsus to be a fascist organization, while the other 2 bio-modified students split up, with one joining the W.T.O (<i>The other enemies of Tarsus, but the closest thing the world has to a police force</i>), and one becoming a mercenary who trusts no-one. With requests coming from both sides of an invisible corporate war, questions in his head about the true origins of Tarsus, and a new sect claiming responsibility for the attack on Chicago Alex must rely on his instincts and wisely choose his own side if he wants to survive.

    The thing is that you really do get to make your own decisions and this is what makes the story work so well. Unlike the original where your side was decided from the off in <b>Deus Ex: The Invisible War</b> the lines between good and evil are kept intentionally obscure. You wont be given any answers as to who is right, but rather you have to look at all of the unappealing options and decide which one you think would work best. Sadly it did quickly become apparent that this freedom was itself very limited by the fact that your choices will never be taken away. No matter what you do in the game every side will continue to trust you. At one point I was given orders by one faction to destroy an important building to another faction, which I did. They were upset at this and so decided to send some soldiers to take me out, but once I had dealt with that situation they decided to forget what I had done and give me another mission as well as instant access to their high ranking officials.

    This lack of consequences to your choices did kind of ruin the atmosphere somewhat, but I have come to accept something. The storyline to <b>The Invisible War</b> features virtually the exact same twists and choices as the original had and so has a disappointing story in comparison to the original. However that story is still a darn sight better than that of every other videogame out there. Likewise with the rest of the game, it may have been simplified beyond recognition when compared to the first game, but still features far more depth and complexity than a game like <b>Halo</b> could ever have; in all but one area anyway.

    The thing is that most of the changes made in the game can be put down to the technological advances within the game world, and they felt right within the story. This one area though; ammo in case you were wondering, was different. Instead of using bullets in the game you use a plasma that becomes your bullet; taking more plasma for a shotgun than a pistol, which was all well and good. I could believe that a pistol, machine gun and sniper rifle used the same ammo. At a stretch I could even throw the shotgun into that list, but the idea that a pistol uses the same ammo as a rocket launcher was one that I couldn't suspend disbelief for. It took away from you even the most basic FPS tactics and as a result I found running through the game blasting everyone and everything far too easy, taking away the natural feel to choosing your tactics that I so fondly remember the original for. Well, that and the fact that for some inexplicable reason Ion Storm have reverted to the old "Rocket launcher takes up as much pocket space as a lockpick" approach to their inventory system; the same approach they used on the PS2 version of the original indicating that they are indeed limiting your freedom of choice in order to appeal to the quick fix console market.

    Still that freedom to choose your style still remains; albeit in its simplified form. Storywise you represent the next generation of Augmentation and so have been designed for easier upgrades. What you have are these upgrade canisters that you find in various places. You then place these on set places on your body (<i>Arms, legs, head ect...</i>) that you can use to gain some enhanced abilities. Unfortunately you can not use all of these abilities as placing upgrades at 2 points on your arm will cause the original upgrade to disappear completely, no matter what the level. This forces you to choose different things; do you want the ability to hack security systems and turn them against your opponents? Fine you can do that, but if you'd prefer to improve your vision then you can aim a gun and take them out yourself. That is one of the more basic choices but once again you will need to choose other upgrades that will compliment the first choice within the bounds of your own individual playing styles.

    It's for this reason that <b>Deus Ex 2</b> remains a five star game, but then this is not just any other 5 star game. <b>Deus Ex: The Invisible War</b> is in fact the best game currently available for the X-Box, and the reason is simply to be found in its presentation.

    <b>The Invisible War</b> is just one of the most stylish games to come out in a good long while. The cinematic background music is once again complimented by some superb background sounds that really help to immerse you into the experience; the only difference being that this time the voice acting does it justice. It's still not the greatest voice acting ever; not even close to matching the <b>Silent Hill</b> series, but it's no longer so bad either. I'd place the performance by the guy playing Alex (<i>I selected a guy</i>) as being up their with Solid Snake and company; just above that of the <b>Tomb Raider</b> series but slightly below <b>Halo</b>. However there was this one character named N.G.Resonance who was superb. She played a key role in the story as a VR pop singer who gathers information and it was her dreamlike vocals on every level that gave the game an unmatched ambiance.

    The most noticeable aspect of its presentation is that of the superb graphics though. On this X-Box version I found a game with some very high resolution graphics that kept going at a smooth frame rate without resorting to pop up. Clipping was non existent so there was absolutely nothing to prevent you becoming completely immersed into the adventure.

    That's what I like about the game though, it may not be the original and it's not one of the greatest games in history, but it's a stylish and utterly absorbing game that makes it as one of; if not the, best games of last year.

  2. #2
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    Were there any problems that would bother even those who haven't played the original though? Sure, there was some very sub standard AI. Friendly characters would often be in need of help; getting themselves mugged or kidnapped or something, and they would actually cry out. However if you come to their aid and take out the criminals bothering them then they will run screaming from the psycho with a gun, but if you simply walk around main streets and public buildings with your guns ready then they fail to notice. The law is the worst though as their intolerance is completely unbelievable, OK zero tolerance is one thing but am I really expected to believe that stealing a can of soda is as severe as murdering a civilian? At one point I even found a building that had been taken over by terrorists, they had killed all security, all civilians and had even made a crack on a local school, but when these guys caught me hacking a vending machine they shot me to death for my crimes. OK so the original had equally bad AI and it remains one of the best games in history, but this problem was still pretty irksome.

    The X-Box made up for that one though. Now this may be a bit of a controversial opinion but, as I stated in my review of the original, I found the mouse and keyboard combo to be just too sensitive for <b>Deus Ex</b>. The X-Box version of this sequel utilizes the same duel analog system that has become the trademark for console first-person-gaming. I found it far more satisfying to zip around the corridors blasting, and stealthily sneaking around corners because the controls felt much more solid and as a result the game was that much more satisfying than it would have been without it.


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