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Deus Ex: Invisible War Xbox Review

Deus Ex: Invisible War
Eidos Interactive
Ion Storm
December 2, 2003
Xbox Live:

Deus Ex: Invisible War 
Saturday, December 25, 2004 

In 2000, Eidos released Deus Ex for the PC. This relatively unknown title changed the way that we looked at games. Combining the basic elements of a role-playing game and mixing them into a first-person shooter, the game offered a unique and varied gameplay experience. The one aspect of the game that made it so special, however, was its storyline. Deus Ex put players smack in the middle of a complex and dangerous power struggle involving countless plot twists and conspiracies, adding up to what is arguably the best story ever seen in a video game.

Three years later, Deus Ex: Invisible War hits shelves for the PC and the Xbox. The game tries to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor - talk about having one hell of an act to follow. So is DX: IW worthy of its namesake? Read on to find out.


How well a game plays is often the determining factor in how players respond to it, because this is really the most important thing to the average gamer. Unfortunately, gameplay simply isn't Invisible War's strongest area. IW is a highly ambitious game that attempts to do many things and seamlessly integrate them into one cohesive gaming experience, but ultimately it gets too complicated for its own good.

The game's story picks up approximately twenty years after the end of the first game. Without spoiling the original game's ending, we can say that JC Denton's choices apparently weren't in everyone's best interests, and in making them he sent the world into a complete depression known as The Collapse. The world is just beginning to recover, and capitalism is beginning to re-emerge amidst a great deal of hostility. You play as Alex D, a trainee at Tarsus Academy, an organization that ostensibly trains prospective students to become operatives for one of the various corporationss cashing in on the New World market. As you will learn very quickly, however, things are not as they appear.

The story will unfold in a rather linear way, leaving you a few major choices to make but not a whole lot of power over what direction the story takes. There are many organizations vying for your attention, but you can conceivably work for all of them, since you are rarely forced to actually choose between them. Instead, you will receive goals from all of them and decide which (if any) to complete. Overall, the story is far better than just about anything else you'll find in the "action" genre, but fans of the series will be disappointed with the lack of development. Compared to the original, Invisible War's story seems dumbed down and at times even rushed. The game also differs from the original in that it feels very compact and toned down, limiting you to areas with very few characters and not a lot of space (expect to see a lot of load screens). This is obviously due to the fact that the Xbox can only handle so much at a time, but it is noticeable nonetheless.

DE veterans who are disappointed with the story may also find that the gameplay itself leaves something to be desired. While Invisible War is essentially an action game, you don't have to resort to violence at any point (although it's pretty hard to imagine not doing so). Even if you do, there are some problems, most of which stem from the game's AI. Much like the original Deus Ex, Invisible War's AI is simply bad. In combat, enemies will usually just charge straight at you, guns blazing until you drop them. If you prefer a stealthy approach, be prepared for a lot of trial and error. You can walk right in front of an enemy one moment and remain unnoticed, but sneak around in the hallways for too long and someone in a nearby room might hear you.

None of these problems are serious enough to make the game unplayable, but they do take away from its realism. In addition, the controls often feel awkward, with too many commands and not enough buttons, not to mention sensitivity settings that will feel unbalanced to veteran FPS players.


Invisible War is a great-looking game. All of the characters in the game look fantastic, with good animation and excellent facial expressions. While most of the environments are pretty bland-looking simply due to the fact that almost every area in the game is very dark, all of the objects present are detailed, and you'll never find yourself dissatisfied with them. One of Invisible War's biggest selling points is its phenomenal lighting effects, which are beautiful and very impressive, but aren't useful to you in anyway. You'll almost always have a source of light no matter where you are, and hiding in the dark isn't very useful for sneaking around enemies undetected. All in all, Invisible War's visuals are very appealing, but unfortunately don't prove to be anything more than superficial enhancements to a game that is lacking in many other areas. They are also very taxing on the Xbox hardware, causing horrendous frame rate drops during combat and occasional slowdown even when you're not around any other characters.

All complaints aside, the game's graphics show a lot of care and effort on the part of the developers, and if nothing else, they will keep you immersed in its dark and moody atmosphere.


Sound is a pretty strong area in Invisible War. At no point will you find yourself disappointed with how the game sounds, although you probably won't think much of its sound to begin with. The voice work is pretty good overall, although surprisingly the most noticeably weak performance is that of the protagonist (who can be a male or a female). Invisible War’s music is decent. The game has a number of songs that play in certain clubs and bars that fit nicely with the setting, but other than that, music is either non-existent or so understated that you won't remember hearing it.

Weapons in Invisible War all sound great, and a few other nice touches, such as the sound of your heart beating when your health is being drained or the realistic tapping of footsteps add to the experience in a good way. If you have a higher-end sound system, particularly one with Surround Sound, play Invisible War on it. Your auditory nerves will thank you for it.


Judged purely on its own merits, Deus Ex: Invisible War is a great game with some noticeable flaws, but strong gameplay and an interesting story that will keep players interested. As a sequel, however, it may very well leave you wanting more. Invisible War retains most of the elements that made the original game great, but it simply doesn't develop or execute them well enough to give it any sort of lasting appeal.

Invisible War will probably only take you around 10 hours or so to beat, which is a mere fraction of the 40+ hours that the original took away from thousands of gamers across the globe. An extremely thorough player can probably get a solid 12-16 hours out of this new installment, but beyond that, there isn't much to do, as the game doesn't have enough replay value to warrant a second play through. This one may be worth owning if you are a fan of the original series and can buy it cheap, but if you can't find it in the bargain bin just yet, rent it, enjoy it for a few days and then move on to something else.

Overall Score

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