It’s become hip and chic to bash Deus Ex: Invisible War. If you don’t cynically talk about the gameplay decisions, you obviously don’t “get it”, are a “lickspittle fanboy” or “clueless noob”. Is this a fair attitude? Obviously not. But is it justified…
I think not. Deus Ex: Invisible War would fare much better with its audience if it didn’t have the Deus Ex name attached. DX: IW and DX are completely different games, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. The original Deus Ex was, in fact, a gem with flaws of epic proportions, yet everyone cut it a mile of slack because it was so unique. The world was so fully realized, the game so completely different from anything else on the market, everyone gladly overlooked the flaws in order to enjoy what was there. If Deus Ex: Invisible War was simply “more” of the original Deus Ex with a nicer graphics engine, odds are gamers would be upset at how flawed it is, forgetting the issues with the original.
Does Invisible War deserve the Deus Ex moniker then? Another tough call. Deus Ex might have been a so-so game, if you discount the deep immersion and the thrill of playing something so revolutionary, but it was extremely ambitious. There’s absolutely no doubt that while much of DX was a hack to provide a “real” world, it was a hack that worked and gave people enough to suspend disbelief – in much the same way that the Ultima games created a living world with scripts for work, sleep and leisure activities of its citizens. Invisible War retreats from the boundaries that Deus Ex pushed; it focuses a lot more on being a good game than being an experience.
That precisely is the dividing issue in the community and the key point of this review. If judged solely based on the actual gameplay, Invisible War is a stunning success. Sure it’s got a few bugs, interface and performance problems, but the gameplay is really quite fantastic. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as immersive as Deus Ex, and that, I think, was the key draw for people. Deus Ex tried so hard to create a world, it became less of a game than an experience to go through. The skills – silly as they were (who ever heard of a covert agent who couldn’t hold a sniper rifle steady or wield a baton?
) – were another layer of depth and realism that made the game oh-so-much more immersive through its sheer complexity.
In their own way, Deus Ex fans are the grognards of the FPS genre. They want detail, realism, useless but cool features – everything that made Deus Ex into “Deus Ex”. If they had been born 10 years earlier, they’d be the grognards who’d laugh at fans of Panzer General while they played Gary Grigsby’s War in Russia. Does that mean Panzer General isn’t a good game? Not at all – it’s just nowhere near as deep, complex and intricate as War in Russia. ION Storm simply misjudged their target audience and what they wanted.
With that aside, let’s move onto the review.