It’s been a much shorter break between games this time and its straight on with Deus Ex 2 (Invisible War). This is a game that I’ve managed to avoid just about every review for and I don’t know a whole lot about it other than it didn’t go down too well with a lot of the Deus Ex fans. I’ve heard things about it being far too short and also too console oriented but I’m going into this with an open mind. I’m guessing that a lot of expectations will have been sky-high when this came out and it was always going to suffer no matter what.
The game starts with something that we never saw in Deus Ex – a rendered cutscene. It shows a kamikaze assassin destroying most of Chicago with a nano-technology bomb while a lucky few (including me) escape from the roof of a security facility in helicopters to Seattle. This cutscene is extremely well rendered, but in typical Deus Ex fashion doesn’t really tell me much about what’s going on at the start of the story. Steam doesn’t appear to provide a manual and replacementdocs is still dead as I type this so I’ll have to plough on regardless.
I begin the game waking up in my apartment. I have the choice of a male or female character this time and I go for the male character (Alex D). I’m guessing the unisex name means the female character is also Alex D. Strange having a letter for a surname. Maybe this characters been grown in a tank also and is the 4th model or something…..
A nice little communications system on my desk springs into life and the Director of the Tarsus Academy introduces herself as Leila Nassif. I’m told there was a terrorist attack in Chicago and we were evacuated just in time. She wants me to check in with my fellow student Billie Adams who also escaped at the same time. From what I can gather throughout today’s session, this game takes place after the destruction of communications ending in Deus Ex and I’m a student for a security company called Tarsus.
I wander around my apartment a bit trying stuff out. The interface is very similar to Deus Ex although there is a much upgraded HUD. My quick inventory slots now appear transparently around the center of the screen in a circle. It doesn’t come across in a screenshot so much but the interface feels very large and chunky like it was designed for use on a TV screen. It’s still not a bad system and the keyboard can still be used with the number and function keys corresponding to either items or abilities (which I’ll be getting later). The graphics themselves are a huge improvement and better than I expected. This must have been up there with the better looking games back in 2003. It’s only a gap of 3 years between the 2 games and the difference is enormous.
When I step out of my apartment I see an explosion and a janitor gets killed. Seems like Seattle isn’t all that much safer than Chicago. The building appears to be shaking also.
I head over to Billie’s apartment down the corridor. She hasn’t been able to find out what is going on and wants me to have a go at finding out myself which doesn’t sound like a bad idea. She give me the elevator code so I can head downstairs.
I meet the boss when I go downstairs. She still won’t tell me anything and suggests I should go and talk to the local trainees. Billie was less than impressed with them but I don’t seem to have a choice.
This place seems a bit undermanned and there are only 2 other trainees. Klara Sparks is friendly enough but doesn’t have a lot to tell me other than that this academy is where you finish your training which suggests the possibility of missions coming up later in the game.
Leo is running around the track. He appears to have a mammoth ego and considers himself something of a legend already. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him being placed in a Gunther like role later in the game assuming that Tarsus are as corrupt as the government in Deus Ex. I’ve barely started talking to him when the facility is attacked and I’m told over my communications to go fetch my equipment.
I go into the locker room and grab my pistol. On the way out, I talk to a security guard. A Seeker is apparently on their way in. I’m expected a Seeker to be a robot of some sort but it turns out to be a hooded terrorist that belongs to an institution called the Order. I don’t learn a huge amount about the order but I think they are an anti bio-modification semi-religious sect. I have a few options here as part of the conversation to either sneak out, or let this guy deal with it. I go for my usual violent approach and go out and shoot the seeker who only takes a couple of shots. The long locking procedure that was in Deus Ex is gone here and it plays just like a standard FPS for this combat.
I’m supposed to be evacuating but Billie tells me I should go back to my apartment, go through a breach made by the order into the labs and grab a load of biomods. I don’t appear to have any option again and free biomods sounds good so I head back up the lift.
Billie also tells me a little about the Order although it’s all a bit vague. It sounds a little as though she may have led them straight to this facility but if that is the case I don’t find out today.
I have a few options of how to proceed through the apartment block and in standard Deus Ex fashion. I can sneak, crawl through ducts, or just blast my way through. I end up doing a combination of the last two. I gun down one of the Order but since I may as well explore while I’m here I crawl through a few ducts and explore but I don’t find anything especially interesting in the other apartments.
When I reach my own apartment, Billie contacts me and tells me to watch my ceiling while the power is cut. My roof flickers revealing a load of watching scientists like I’m some sort of lab rat. I crawl through the breach mentioned earlier and make my way into the labs.
There is some curious looking equipment in these labs but I can’t do anything with it at least for now.
When I approach the table, Nassif contacts me again. She says her methods are unconventional but she has our interests at heart and the observation was for my own good. She even gives me the code and instructions to get my biomods.
IW appears to use a slightly different system for upgrades. I don’t need to use a medical bot for one. Also, all the upgrade canisters are identical and can be used to either install a new level 0 upgrade to any system or to upgrade an already installed upgrade to the next level. Other than that things are fairly similar with me having a choice of upgrades for each body part. There are 3 rather than 2 choices here but one is red and I can’t pick it. These tend to be the most useful sounding upgrades also. I must need a super biomod of sorts for these. I decide to pump all my biomods into healing skill as this is what I found most useful in Deus Ex by a mile. I’d also like to leave my options open for some of the red upgrades and wouldn’t like to block these off by opting for one of the other two options at this stage.
I make my way through the labs helping out a few scientists on the way. The Order have hacked the turrets so they have turned on everyone here. I can’t do much about that other than avoid them but I do take down a couple of Order soliders on the way and hack a security panel with a multi-tool to let a scientist out of his lab.
On the way out, a woman who I’m assuming to be the the leader of The Order contacts me trying to talk me over to her side. She claims that I would have been killed if I had tried to leave the training at any time and that I am being manipulated by Tarsus. She says her captain was over-zealous and the casualties were not supposed to happen.
She wants me to meet her in Lower Seattle. Not sure if thats a good idea but its the only mission I’ve got so I head out of the base.
On the way out, I’m stopped by a couple of WTO soldiers. I think that the WTO is responsible for security and anti-terrorism and is presumably the sort of place I could end up if I complete my training. They appear heavy handed and don’t want to let me out at first until one of them recognises me. They tell me to head to the WTO enclave but they don’t do it in such a way that I feel like obeying the order. I appear now to have conflicting missions and a choice to make.
To make things more complicated, Billie then wants me to go and check Nassif’s apartment to find proof of Tarsus treachery. Billie has gone fully over to the Order it seems but this doesn’t seem like a bad plan as it saves me from making a decision for now and could get me more information to make a decision with.
I have no idea where I’m going so I just wander around and stroll into a cafe. I hardly need another mission right now but the owner wants me to break into a shop and see fire to its inventory because of some little grudge he has. He seems to think Leo would do this without question. I’m not about to take this mission as I can’t see any reason why I’d want to commit arson for some guy I’ve never met.
I carry on exploring and run into an Order member while I’m walking around. She is doing a soapbox act and trying to recruit members and claims that Tarsus and people like myself are used to control the population so a select few can retain power. This sounds like something the Illuminati would do and they are no doubt still around but I’ve only got her word for it. Her society does appear to have just wiped out all of Chicago as well as attacking the Seattle base which doesn’t make them appear like someone to be trusted.
I find the apartments I’m looking for and no sooner have I stepped in than I get another mission to go and snoop around the Minister of Cultures apartment. That can wait for now as I try to find Nassif’s home first.
Breaking into the apartment just requires 1 multitool. I’ve not noticed any sort of multitool skill in this game and it appears to be 1 tool, 1 lock for now. The training stats section appears to be gone in this game and there is nothing except biomods for me to advance in. Presumably skill points are gone also. This is a step backwards really and takes the game further away from being a role playing game. Being rewarded for exploring or finding different solutions was one of the better aspects of Deus Ex. I’d like to have seen this system improved on and not removed.
I find some notes about transporting something or other in Nassif’s apartment which is strange but not all that helpful. Billie comes clean as a full order member and tries to talk me over. At this stage I don’t have any idea who to believe so it looks like I’m just going to have to pick one of the options and go with it.
I’m certainly being given enough choice’s on what to do so far anyway but not neccesarily enough information with which to make them. It looks as though there are two paths in the game depending on which side I pick now although I can’t say that either side has endeared themselves to me at this point. I appear to have a choice between a load of city destroying terrorists and a controlling, secretive corporation. I think I’m going to go for the Order just on the basis that trusting any official organisations in a Deus Ex game is never the right choice.
I’m impressed with Invisible War anyway after my first hour or so playing it. The graphics are excellent, the story is interesting enough so far and the controls are simple enough. The gameplay appears to be surprisingly open ended with far more options to the player than there were in Deus Ex. I’m interested to see whether the story is going to branch off completely depending on my choices or whether the stories keep merging together along the one path. The dialog and acting have certainly improved over Deus Ex which can only be a good thing. I’ve slight reservations about some of the simplificiations to the stats but so far this is looking very promising. I’m looking forward to seeing what life in the Order has to offer tommorow.