Deus Ex Invisible War (2003) Original Xbox // Game Review Rating: 8/10

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Overview

You play as Alex D, a young student at the Tarsus training center, twenty years after the heroic acts of JC Denton, in the middle of the 21st century. Taking up one of Deus Ex's endings, the world has experienced, following the absorption of the artificial intelligence Helyos by Denton, a great crisis that has abolished the international powers. A post-catastrophe world was then built based on two ideological poles, the WTO, advocating materialistic and security-oriented ideas, and the Order, which obeyed nature's laws and the preaching of their high priestess. Thus, you have lived the last hours of this society and the development of tensions surrounding the two new great powers.

With a relentless struggle to brainwash the population with their more than ambiguous ideals on both sides, it didn't take much for the tensions to turn into open conflict. A suicide bombing is committed in the heart of Chicago, destroying all life and condemning the center where you lived to evacuate all its members to the city of Seattle. This sets up a policy of open warfare between the two parties, a war that only you can stop. But you start with a significant advantage over your enemies; you are a human being modified by the implant of multiple intelligent nanomachines. The invisible war is then declared, a war where appearances will never replace what you are.

Indeed, under cover of an FPS view, Deus Ex 2 offers all the possibilities of a great RPG. As far as the scenario is concerned, you can influence it with each choice of action and each individual called upon. You will be confronted with several players: the WTO, the Order, the Omars, and many others... All of them have very distinct interests, and you will have to weigh the pros and cons before choosing who to help or who to eliminate. And very quickly, we understand that this is not just a simple marketing argument. Indeed, all your actions will influence the story and the objectives that will be proposed to you. Obey the dogmas of materialism, and you will have the Order's militia after you. Moreover, another strong point is that it is possible to complete each objective in the order you want. We are not confined to a line from which we cannot escape.

Gameplay

Dialogues serve all this in the form of multiple-choice questions. And it would be best if you did not hesitate to talk to all the people who cross your path to obtaining all the objectives that make up the game. The various actions become very important when you find yourself with a dozen distinct goals after only one hour of play, giving you immense possibilities of choice and total freedom. In short, you will have understood that Deus Ex 2 is anything but linear. Playing it is like holding your destiny in your hands; you are the master and, therefore, the only one responsible.

Let's now come to the particularity of this Deus Ex 2, which is to mix classic FPS and RPG elements. This system has been dramatically lightened compared to Deus Ex 1. No more skill points to distribute; you now only can upgrade your weapons and five parts of your body twice. For each body part, there are three powers, one of which can only be unlocked through black market biomodifications. It is therefore essential to manage your abilities well and above all to choose them carefully. Because during the game you cannot change them, otherwise you will lose the past evolutions. Combining complementary powers becomes essential, especially since, whatever your style of play, they will be of great help to you at some point. Finally, the weapons have eight accessories (saver, damage amplifier, silencer, etc.) that can be bought or found throughout the game. But once again, you'll have to choose the abilities assigned to your weapons carefully because only two evolutions are allowed.

Once again, the handling is similar to that of the fabulous Halo. The two analog sticks control both the view and the movements and characters, an action button, a jump button, an inventory button, the right trigger to shoot, and the left trigger for secondary shots. The only originality is, in fact, the use of the multi-directional cross. It allows you to navigate seamlessly in the game between weapons and special abilities, placed respectively on the left and right sides of the screen. This is easy to say but much more complicated to do in reality. It is not very practical to move around in the middle of a fight while changing weapons and activating psychic abilities. Therefore, it is better to stop the action by activating the inventory, which is a safe and low-risk procedure, but the main disadvantage is that it hinders progress.

Graphics & Sound

When it was announced, it was said that Deus Ex Invisible would be revolutionary, beautiful, and offering a dynamic environment never equaled before on the Original Xbox. Well, believe it or not, all this is true. Indeed, start to move in the game, and you will quickly fall back to earth. Sure it looks great but rarely has an FPS slowed down so much on Xbox. This is mainly due to Ion Storm's perhaps unreasonable desire to bring all the details created on PC to the console. Thus, we find all the special effects of lighting or explosion.

Moreover, this is coupled with the whole dynamics of the objects. Throw a chair on a lamppost, and it will fall, lighting up all the things in a room in real-time and creating new dynamic shadows. The lighting reaches a very high level, filtering between the boards and entirely using the Original Xbox's capabilities.

The skin textures are almost organic (special mention for the Grays), and all the sceneries are superbly realistic: wood and metal are rendered with great care. Finally, the management of particles is also excellent. Maintenance holes smoke, explosions propel a lot of debris, which gives Deus Ex 2 the impression of evolving in a lively city full of activity.

In fact, except for the too frequent framerate drops, we can only criticize the protagonists' relative stiffness and the much too long and frequent loading. When you have to go through two loading sequences, back and forth, to get a reward, it's enough to make you despair to the point of centralizing these actions to limit the loss of time. Apart from that, Deus Ex: Invisible War is graphically great.

As for the sound, the Dolby Surround 5.1 still works wonders, totally enveloping us in action. The music is relatively sober, but it fits the atmosphere of this title. They only serve the game without trying to take advantage of it. The dialogues are omnipresent. Each character has its own voice personality, a tour de force, as there are so many characters throughout the adventure.

Conclusion

Deus Ex: Invisible War may be one of the best first-person shooters on the Original Xbox. Half an FPS, half RPG stance, offers a unique challenge where each player will create his adventure, avoiding the usual linearity of an already well-used action. Of course, we can blame frequent slowdowns and highly long loading times, but after that, we discover a great game served by exceptional graphics. So don't hesitate; dive into your adventure, your destiny.

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