previews\ Nov 24, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Deus Ex: Invisible War - XB - Preview

It begins with the destruction of Chicago. A weapon of horrific consequence is used and a secret research facility, known as Tarsus, was seemingly the target. But why kill an entire city to get to one group?


What is really going on? Who is the bad guy? Trainees from the Tarsus facility are whisked away to the research facility in Seattle, but from the moment your avatar awakens, it is apparent that this place offers not much security.


Alex D. awakens to a pounding that seems to be rocking the building. Dr. Nassif, who first appears as a hologram, is not exactly forthcoming with answers. Only two trainees were able to escape the devastation in Chicago – the avatar the player controls and Billie. But the orange-haired Billie seems not to be exactly in step with Tarsus.


Deus Ex: Invisible War has a lot to live up to. It is the sequel to the June 2000 mega-hit Deus Ex, which was a groundbreaking game in its own right. The former title was rife with deception, twisting paths that challenged gamers to figure out who to trust and why? A brother could turn in a heartbeat to be an enemy, or maybe your biggest ally. But what Deus Ex taught was that nothing was absolutely certain in this cyber world.


Eidos and Ion Storm have taken up the challenge for the sequel – Invisible War. This Xbox title is slated for release December 3. Rather than simply ease players into the world and unveil the deception and twists slowly, the game jumps into the middle of it, and bonks players over the head with doubts.


The game seemingly has two opponents locked in a battle. There is The Order, which may be a world-church organization, but may be something more sinister. And there is Tarsus, which is a facility that does a lot of biomod research, has been known to use implants in its agents/trainees and supposedly deals with covert ops on the anti-terrorist front.


While that is all well and good, the question quickly becomes who to trust.


What truly sets this title apart is the peripheral action that evolves around your character. You will hear background conversations that will give you clues and or lead you down another track. That this game is rather non-linear is amazing. Yes, there are objectives and goals, but you pace yourself and each objective may have several solutions. And while this is a shooter title, you don’t always have to go in with guns or other weapons blazing.


Early in the game, you are told to head back to your apartment, and seek out an entrance to the bio-lab, which was blasted in your wall. Ok, doesn’t look like a blast effect, rather a cutout, carefully planned for your convenience. But as you enter the hallway to your apartment, you meet a security guard who states there is an Order Seeker (armed enemy) up ahead. You are given a choice of following the guard as a backup (let him engage in the firefight), doing it yourself, or even using a pipe system to avoid all confrontation.


You can enhance your abilities with the biomods, and upgrade weapons. You can hack into systems, bribe your way into unauthorized areas, use stealth and acquire superhuman abilities. The interesting thing about the biomods is that they are area specific but not multi-purpose. You can use a biomod to enhance your speed or make you much more stealthy, but you can’t use it to do both.


Can one game be all things to gamers when it comes to action? Invisible War certainly gives it a try. However, it does not allow for multiplayer gaming. This is a single-player action title which combines first-person shooter elements and role-playing for an immersive, intriguing and addictive experience.


The graphics are very well done and the game does have a lot of cutscenes to propel the storyline. The musical score does a terrific job of generating the mood and the vocal acting is very well done. The control elements have been kept simple enough to allow players to jump right in and go with a minimum of time spent studying the manual.


Deus Ex: Invisible War is a wonderful excursion into futuristic corporate/terrorist warfare. If you are looking for a shooter with intrigue, look no further than this title.

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