Deus Ex: Invisible War
Well I didn’t…
Would it be weird if I said I sort of enjoyed this game?
I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as its predecessor, mind you. It doesn’t come anywhere close to standing up against that shining gem. I wouldn’t call it great. I don’t think I’d even call it good. But I had fun with it, sort of, sometimes.
Gameplay-wise, it’s alright, I guess. Stripping away the skill points and simplifying the augmentations basically just made it a somewhat clunky stealth shooter with some serious balance issues. I heard people complain that ammo is overly scarce, but I maxed out the melee augmentations and could tear everything apart with my mighty laser sword. The game threw in giant robots to make things harder, but there’s a certain augmentation that allows you to take control of machines by smacking them with whatever melee weapon you want, so they really only made the fights easier for me.
Still, though, it was kind of impressive to see what Ion Storm could do with the tiny map size limits that they had. Some of the levels actually feel kind of complex, about as much as some of the smaller areas of Deus Ex 1. And while the restrictions did mean that a lot of the exploration and combat was far less interesting than what we’d had before, the game still allowed me to roleplay a Jedi ninja hiding in shadows and stabbing guards with a lightsaber, so I have to at least give it credit for that.
I already linked to the Errant Signal episode on Invisible War. Here, I’ll just put it down below.
I agree with a lot of his points, but there are two things he says at around the 13 minute mark I have to object to.
“One of the things the game manages to do …okay is the story.”
I disagree with that…
“Narrative was never one of Deus Ex’s strong suits, so the bar was never set that high.”
And I strenuously object to that.
MILD SPOILERS OF BOTH DEUS EX 1 AND INVISIBLE WAR AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
There’s a sequence in Deus Ex 1 in which you accompany a young woman named Nicolette DuClare to search the abandoned mansion where she used to live. See, Nicolette is the daughter of Elizabeth DuClare, who was a leading member of the Illuminati. As a result, the mansion is absolutely filled with secret stashes, trap doors, and emergency levers and buttons. As you search the mansion Nicolette makes comments about her childhood, how she used to see strange men in suits all the time, how her mother was always on edge, etc.
It was basically a character study, a window view into the life of a child whose mother is involved in a global conspiracy. And it was fascinating. It really fleshed out both the character of Nicolette DuClare and the world she inhabited. And this is sort of indicative of the game as a whole; it’s huge and it has quite a large cast of major characters, and yet the world feels rich and all those major NPCs have depth and diversity.
In Deus Ex: Invisible War you meet Nicolette DuClare. She’s one of the leaders of the Illuminati now. She delivers some plot exposition and then sends you to your next quest objective.
There aren’t many characters in the game that actually feel fleshed out in any meaningful way. Once again, there’s quite a sizable list of them, but most of them seem like one-dimensional cardboard cutouts placed into the level to move the story forward. Some of them are written fairly well, but you never really get any time to know them. This, to me, was the most disappointing thing of all in Invisible War: It just doesn’t feel like a world filled with people in the same way its predecessor did.
I suppose you could blame this on the game itself being significantly smaller, but if you have a smaller game, give it less major NPCs so we can have the proper time to get to know them. That’s what Human Revolution did, and that game has some of the strongest, best developed characters I’ve seen in awhile.
Invisible War didn’t satisfy me, but like I said, the game did amuse me to a degree. Like a bag of chips. I really can’t bring myself to hate it, though I suspect that’s because I had such low expectations to begin with, but somehow it still ended up disappointing me.
I don’t know if I can ever look at Deus Ex again now that I have this stupid sequel in my memory. Can I really just pretend none of that stuff happened and that JC Helios instituted the Heliocracy and everything was lovely? Or is it not that simple?