Deus Ex: Invisible War, also known as Deus Ex 2 (DX2), is a first-person video game developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive. Released simultaneously for Windows and the Xbox on December 2, 2003, it is a sequel to the critically acclaimed Deus Ex. It has sold more than 1.2 million copies, as of April 23, 2009.
Invisible War takes place twenty years after Deus Ex, in a world being rebuilt after a catastrophic event called The Collapse. Following a terrorist attack that destroys the city of Chicago, the player assumes the role of Alex D, a trainee at the fictional Tarsus Academy, whose support is sought by several organizations. As the game progresses, the player learns of conspiratorial factions which seek to drastically change the world. Invisible War was designed to allow player choice in both plot and gameplay, with branching plot lines and emergent gameplay elements.
Invisible War retains most of the gameplay features of the original Deus Ex, boasting deep, story-driven gameplay. Players can choose their own style of play according to their preference, but the game also allows more freedom to avoid direct confrontations and violence.
Invisible War boasts more free-form gameplay, allowing players to accomplish objectives in any order and even create new objectives to complete. Character creation options have been restricted to choice of gender, general appearance, and difficulty. Gender is only an aesthetic change, with little difference on story progression.
Ion Storm has focused development on refining the aspects of the first game; many of the original game's "chokepoints" have been replaced with "decision-points," allowing players more freedom of choice in the story. Players can now choose to fight for a particular faction, opening up new plot arcs to explore. At some point in the game, players are forced to choose which faction they want to fight for.
Difficulty has the same choices as the first Deus Ex, with the upper two being Hard and Realistic. On easy and medium, you take the same amount of damage from AI, but on medium, the AI can take more damage. The primary difference from Realistic and Hard is the amount of damage you and your enemies can withstand. In Realistic, both your enemies and you will suffer extreme damage from all weapons, and certain weapons such as rocket launchers spell instant death for you. Headshots are especially lethal on Realistic as well, so a lucky shot from any one of your enemies can ruin you. On Hard, weapon damage is drastically decreased all around, making it harder for your enemies to put you in an instant death situation, but your enemies have a lot more health. It's a trade-off, but generally speaking, Realistic is still considered the hardest due to the risk of instant death.
For Invisible War, the developers completely retooled the interface to make it more accessible. Instead of the gameplay being interrupted by a series of menus, the interface has been consolidated to a retina overlay. It represents the nano device in Alex’s eye and has a circular design that lies on the outside of your screen. The overlay has a series of rings that rotate to reveal different functions and options depending on what items are selected or active. The overlay displays information such as available weapons, biomod abilities, biomod energy level, health, light exposure, and current direction. Another change is that inventory items now take up one slot each. This way, you don't have to spend game-time making a jigsaw puzzle every time you get a new item. Invisible War is designed to appeal to casual gamers and hardcore gamers alike. If anyone is afraid that this new overlay will take up too much space and obstruct the action happening on screen, the team has made sure to allow the player to define a custom transparency level—or you can set it to "0" transparency, in which case it will only be visible when you cycle through your weapons, enable a biomod, or interact with the interface in some other way. The main ring of the interface displays the contents of your equipment belt and the biomods you have installed. The inventory, your current notes and goals (Datavault), and other sub-menus overlay this main ring when summoned. More subtle changes include the loot corpse popup...there is none! Instead of shoving an interaction window at you, the game lets you pick up items up from where they lie. You pick the weapon up from the ground where it fell from your enemy’s hands or take a sidearm out of their holster. Manually searching the corpse allows you to become more immersed in the game and gets rid of a layer of unneeded interface.
Instead of seeing text boxes appear at the top of your screen when someone is talking in your head, the developers have opted for holograms. These holo-messages can be played on devices that double as jukeboxes. The holo-jukeboxes allow you to watch a recording of a performer as they sing. The controls have also been simplified a bit. However, this change was to make the game more accessible, not to “dumb it down.” Invisible War is to be on Xbox as well as the PC, so ION had to think outside the box (no pun intended) to get in all the functions they want. Even with the limited number of buttons (for Xbox that is, PC users can still remap their keys), Invisible War will still include features such as jumping, leaning around corners, mantling, and alternate-fire. To get around the constraints, the developers put in code that allows certain buttons to do different things at different times. For example, if you've ever played System Shock 2 (or its demo) you’ll know how mantling works: out in the open the jump button makes Alex jump. When standing in front of a desk or other low object the jump button makes Alex climb onto the object.
Ion has removed the skill systems for making more importance for augmentations. The nano-augmentations have now been sanctioned for by the government for civilian use and allow you to upgrade your abilities. There are now 15 different augmentations to choose from, but only 5 slots. You have to choose wisely because while you can overwrite an existing augmentation with another one, you can't reuse an old augmentation.
The nano-augmentations range from defensive and skill enhancing to creepy and illegal. More specifically, you can buy your augmentations from the black-market. While this allows you to use more unique and ethically questionable abilities, each comes with a downside. Each slot has three potential enhancements: 2 "legal" and one sold on the black market by the Omar. Once installed, an augmentation can be upgraded twice, optimizing the augmentation and sometimes adding new abilities.
Weapons and Items
There are several new weapons in this game including the Boltcaster (an advanced version of the tranquilizer crossbow), concussion prox mine, glass destabilizer, spider bomb, and Energy blade, as well as old ones, such as the pistol. There are also six secret weapons, powerful weapons in not-so-obvious locations: the Toxin Blade, Widowmaker SMG, Red Greasel Hunter (a projectile weapon specialized for killing Red Greasels), Assassin Pistol, Hellfire Boltcaster (the Boltcaster version of the flamethrower), and Dragon's Tooth Sword.
Multitools still exist, but are more reminiscent of screwdrivers than mobile phones (like in the first game). In this game, Multitools still serve their electronic bypass function, but can also serve as lockpicks. Datacubes, bioelectric cells, and medkits also continue to exist in this game.
Starting with JC Denton’s destruction of Area 51 in 2052, the world entered a period known as the Great Collapse. Depression and wars ravaged the landscape. The Illuminati lost all means of controlling nations and peoples, while JC and Paul Denton were powerless to protect governments from warlords and from the damage already done by the MJ12 shadow government. Organizations with visions of a new world order had to bide their time for nearly two decades, during which they rebuilt their power and began vying for global dominance once again.
At the start of DXIW, the Illuminati have established the roots of political power with the use of two puppet organizations: the Order, a new church based upon an open-ended, unifying religious system and the WTO, a stabilizing socio-economic force. The WTO is led by Chad Dumier, the former leader of the Silhouette revolutionaries in MJ12-controlled Paris. The Order is led by Illuminati heiress Nicolette DuClare, robed and veiled as Her Holiness. Together, Chad and Nicolette want to become the puppet masters of a rebuilt capitalist civilization. They hope to steal JC and Paul’s nanotech research so they can centralize and expand the Illuminati’s traditional, behind-the-scenes control.
JC and Paul have a different vision for humanity, one founded upon true freedom rather than the rhetoric of freedom employed by the Illuminati. They want to use biotech enhancement to raise everyone to near-perfect levels of health, productivity, and mental acuity. A society of superior equals, they feel, will necessarily join together in harmony to shape a truly utopian civilization. To this end, they created an underground group called ApostleCorp, which has developed the enabling technology at secret facilities around the world. Unfortunately, ApostleCorp’s leaders — JC and Paul — are both out of the picture as DXIW begins. JC, failing to merge seamlessly with the Helios AI at the end of Deus Ex, fell into a state of catatonia at a secret facility in Antarctica. Paul had to be cryogenically frozen at an ApostleCorp lab in Cairo, where he will remain until someone can figure why his body rejected a seemingly routine nanite-infusion.
A third organization, a radical off-shoot of the Order known as the Templars, blames the Collapse on the misuse of technology and wants to destroy all nanotech advances. The Templars believe themselves to be the devout, modern incarnation of the ancient Knights Templar but, in reality, they are a monster born from the Illuminati’s own scheming, difficult for Her Holiness to control. Publicly, Luminon Saman, of the Order, leads a crusade to reform the Church. Privately, he is the leader of mobs who terrorize “modified” humans and the communities that accept them. He seeks to destroy JC, Paul, and all that they have created.
The protagonist of this era is Alex D, an MJ12 experimental clone of JC, and by extension, Paul Denton. He was “born” in a cloning chamber players may recall from their exploration of Area 51 in Deus Ex. In the first game, that cloning chamber was empty. In DXIW, it is revealed that the missing “Alex D” was removed from Area 51 at the age of five, shortly before the events of Deus Ex took place. Who took him is still a mystery. All anyone knows is that Alex was raised by ApostleCorp in Chicago and have the potential for biotech enhancement.
At the start of the game, The Templar Luminon, Saman, is very close to uncovering the secrets of ApostleCorp. He destroys the entire city of Chicago in order to wipe out the ApostleCorp facility where you have been in training as a bio-enhanced covert operative. Alex and a fellow trainee, Billie Adams, are rescued just in time by the ApostleCorp leadership and taken to a sister facility in Seattle. But ApostleCorp falls victim to a double agent — Billie Adams is selling her knowledge to both the Templars and the Illuminati and both are preparing operations against the Seattle facility.
In Deus Ex: Invisible War, which takes place in 2072 (20 years after the events of the first Deus Ex), you play as Alex D. Alex grew up in Chicago and is training at the Tarsus Academy there. Tarsus is a new organization that apparently has powerful enemies, as the first event in the game is a terrorist attack on the Academy. The nanite detonator used in the terrorist attack completely destroys Chicago, forcing the survivors (including Alex) to flee to the Seattle headquarters. As if that wasn't enough, the headquarters are attacked soon thereafter. In the midst of this turmoil, it’s your job to figure out who to trust by uncovering their secrets. Factions include the aforementioned Tarsus Academy as well as these:
The Order A unified world religion. Headed by the shadowy "Her Holiness," the Order can be seen as a disjointed mish-mash of every religion known to man, or a bunch of low-life terrorist tree-huggers, or an inspired amalgamation that brings true balance to one's soul. It largely depends on who you're talking to.
The Omar A secret network of merchants seeking to make a hefty profit on illegal goods such as black market biomods. Although they aren't necessarily interested in politics, they are still a force that must be taken into consideration when making decisions.
Templars Bet you thought Manderley killed them all and stole their gold. Well, they’re back! And they have a real grudge against biomods.
You will find out that these factions are founded on what took place in DX. In IW, factions are always vying for your loyalty. At first, it’s only two factions, and then more start taking an interest in you. Each faction has a parallel goal in each mission, and often you will have to choose which goal to complete to show loyalty to one and only one faction. Unlike in the first game, you have complete control over which faction you fight for and what you do.
Note: Given the non-linear nature of Invisible War, encountering certain plot elements depends on the actions of the player. The game also offers several subplots the player may or may not encounter, depending on their actions within the game. This synopsis will concentrate on the main, unavoidable plot thread of the game. For simplicity, Alex D will be referred to throughout as male, though the player can choose a female Alex instead.
The plot of Deus Ex: Invisible War assumes that a combination of the three endings of the original Deus Ex had taken place. JC Denton merged with Helios, but destroyed Area 51, triggering the Collapse event. This had paved the way for the Illuminati to seize control of the world through two organizations, the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the Order Church. The former upholds the capitalist ideals of the Illuminati and regulates any activity that conflicts with the free market (non-profit or otherwise). The latter is the exact opposite, utilizing pseudo-religious ideals to combat the capitalist ideals of the WTO. Also, an AI collective known as the Omar appears periodically in the game.
The game begins with Chicago being destroyed in a terrorist attack. Alex D., the protagonist, and another Tarsus trainee, Billie Adams, along with several Tarsus leaders, are evacuated to another Tarsus Facility. Some time after their arrival, the facility is attacked by forces of the Order Church. Alex is contacted by Billie, who reveals that she is a member of the Order. She claims that Tarsus is using its trainees as test subjects in a biomodification program, and asks Alex to join the Order. Once at the Order base in Seattle, Alex meets Lin-May Chen the second-in-command, and he is asked to find out what happened to a group of Order troops sent on a rescue mission to a Tarsus facility. He discovers that they defected to the Knights Templar (an offshoot of the Order) who take a more militant approach to matters than the Order, led by Order Luminon Saman.
For much of the earlier stages of the game, the WTO (World Trade Organization), under the order of Donna Morgan (second-in-command of WTO), and The Order ask Alex to perform investigations. These are directed at the Tarsus Academy chain, the activities of the Luddite faction, and the Knights Templar. The Knights Templar were responsible for the destruction of Chicago (targeted at the local Tarsus academy), and Alex, whose home was that very academy, becomes involved with their activities as a result. Alex later meets Saman at the Cairo Order Church in the first Cairo level, along with his former classmate, Billie Adams, who joined the Templars at that point. At the second Cairo level, Saman tries to convince Alex to join them in eradicating biomods.
The ApostleCorp organization, founded by Paul Denton, is later revealed to be behind the Tarsus chain and its experiments on students in terms of biomodification. The purpose of ApostleCorp, revealed by scientist, Dr. Leila Nassif, is to biomodify every human being, bringing about a peaceful "posthuman" civilization. At Trier, Germany, Alex meets Tracer Tong, the leader of the local ApostleCorp facility, who reveals that the organization was founded to fulfill the JC/ Helios entity's ideals by creating biomod infusions, special biomods that allow persons to use biomods like they would use their regular human abilities, for every person on Earth. One such infusion was tested on Paul, but it wasn't perfected and Paul's body rejected it violently, so Paul had to be frozen. He also reveals that JC had to be put into stasis, because his merger was unstable. Tong prods Alex to go to Antarctica through a portal at the Black Gate Ruins, which only persons with biomod infusions can access as a precaution. Alex also learns about the Illuminati at Trier from its two leaders, Chad Dumier (WTO leader) and Nicolette DuClare (Order leader).
Eventually, Alex goes to Antarctica to repair JC with his biomod architecture, only to be intercepted by Billie. When Alex finally bests her, he continues and revives JC, who confirms what Tong and Nassif had told him pertaining to ApostleCorp's goals, and he orders Alex to rescue Paul, who had been abducted from ApostleCorp Cairo.
When Alex arrives in Cairo in the second Cairo level to rescue Paul, he is confronted with three options, give his blood to the Templars to end biomodification, kill Paul by cutting off his life support (per orders from the Illuminati), or save Paul as JC wanted. When Alex goes to Liberty Island in the final mission, he learns of the global communications protocol used by Majestic 12 in the first game to control global networks, the Aquinas Protocol (stored in the old UNATCO HQ bunker). Each faction wants Alex to upload the protocol to them for their own use. Whoever he uploads it to will be his affiliation in the endgame, and will trigger one of three endings. If he uploads to no one, and instead kills all the leaders, he will side with the Omar, triggering a fourth "Omar" ending. If the player carries a flag in the HQ bunker to the bathroom, and flush the toilet, he will be instantly transported to an Easter-egg ending, where every major character is seen dancing at Club Vox.
JC/Helios ending: Alex merges his biomods with JC/Helios, and it sends the biomods to people across the world from the top of Liberty Island. In a single speech, Helios instructs humanity to tear down the barriers between them and begin a new century.
The Templars ending: Biomodification is wiped from the face of the earth. JC and Paul are both killed, and the Templars rule the world with their religious beliefs.
The Omar ending: The world is plunged into chaos and war, and the Omar fight until they rule the world completely.
The Illuminati ending: Their vision of a perfect world is realized, and it becomes a world run by the Illuminati as an age of light.
Bonus ending: Alex will be transported to Club Vox, where all major characters are found to be dancing. After following the steps to acquire this ending, a message pops up calling it the "REAL" endgame.
Creatures and Bots
- Biomechanical Baboons (Apes with implants that will follow behind you in the dark, planting LAMs. This creature didn't actually make it into the game.)
- Ceolacanth (Big, nasty fish—only attacks the player when he/she is hurt. Another creature that didn't make the final cut.)
- Cyberdog (Watchdogs that don't sleep. This is another cool concept that didn't make it into the final game.)
- Assault Bot - A mechanized guard/soldier bot.
- Aquatic Security Bot - A squid-like security measure. Not found in the final game.
- Cleaner Bot - Something to step on, and useful for spying as well.
- Repair Bot - Maintenance revisited. Replenishes bioenergy whenever necessary.
- Spider Bot - Quite menacing in appearance, but their size and durability are not nearly as impressive.
Invisible War uses a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine 2 developed by Epic Games, Inc. Amongst the added or replaced features are a custom renderer with real-time lighting and the Havok v2.0 middleware physics engine, as opposed to the Unreal Engine's Karma middleware solution. Havok v2.0 is also seen in such titles as Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne and Painkiller. Many objects in the world have size, weight, and mass and can be picked up and thrown, nudged, or blown around by the force of an explosion. Lights can be moved, and this alters the shadows cast by objects.
As a consequence of console-oriented development, the game's levels are significantly smaller than those seen in the original Deus Ex. The development for Xbox also has had consequences for the game's graphics; the game's characters are slightly less detailed and have somewhat lower polygon counts than those seen in, for example, Unreal II.
Due to Invisible War being developed in a time when most PCs only used single-core processors, the game has significant compatibility issues with multi-core processors. Common complaints are black screens, freezing and crashing during loading screens. One common fix to these problems is to force both the game and its launcher to use a single processing core (with no hyperthreading) using third party applications. Another method (though not recommended, if possible) is to turn all but one processing core off in the BIOS of the system's motherboard.
Deus Ex: Invisible War received largely positive reviews, receiving an average score of 80 for the Windows version and 84 for the Xbox version on Metacritic. Fan response to Invisible War is notable for being quite split. User rankings on MobyGames, for instance, are around 3.5 out of 5 for both versions of the game, while Metacritic users awarded 6.1 out of 10 for the Windows version and 7.3 out of 10 for the Xbox.
Electronic Gaming Monthly scored the game 8/9/7: Joe Fielder, the first reviewer, praised the game's freedom of choice, but found fault with its "long loading times, somewhat clunky combat, [...] crappy mapping system, and weak finales," and concluded that the game is "definitely the padawan to Knights of the Old Republic's Jedi master." Second reviewer Dan Hsu said, "This is a truly great, immersive experience, only hampered by poor enemy A.I.," and third reviewer Bryan Intihar concluded: "If you can look past [its] technical hiccups, Invisible War shouldn't disappoint."
Criticisms of Invisible War generally drew negative comparisons to the game's award-winning predecessor. The most common complaints center around the length of the game (considerably shorter than the first installment), and the substantial reduction of RPG elements and the number of 'augmentation' abilities the player is able to find and use.
Invisible War dropped the skill system from the previous game and used a simplified version of the biomod upgrade architecture. Also, the heads-up display was placed towards the center of the screen, but could be set up to fade out during play so as not to obstruct the player's view.
The Windows version of Deus Ex: Invisible War was notorious for demanding a powerful video card at the time, effectively making a large number of the fan base unable to play the game. On the Xbox this was not an issue, and was largely the reason behind the higher-than-average rating of the Xbox version. Many graphics cards at the time, such as the Geforce MX series, did not support the Pixel Shader requirement. There is even a dedicated button on the CD's autorun menu for checking graphics card compatibility.
An IGN review of Invisible War compared the plot of the sequel to the original game by saying "In all, it's a much more comprehensible story arc this time around. To be honest, by the time I finished the original Deus Ex on the PC, I could barely remember how the game started. This time, it's much easier to visualize the overall path of the action." However, others have noted drawbacks of Invisible War's plot when compared to that of the original game, considering its attempt at moral ambiguity as a flaw. A review of Invisible War on GameSpot says, "There really is no clear sense of right or wrong in this game, which is interesting—though odd—and not always conducive to a satisfying experience," later also noting, "The characters themselves aren't well developed."
The fourteen main tracks for Invisible War were composed by Ion Storm composers Alexander Brandon and Todd Simmons. All but the Antarctica levels were by Brandon. These were released in April 2004 for free download on the official site for the game.
In addition to these, the songs of the fictional pop star "NG Resonance" featured in Invisible War were actually original compositions by the industrial rock band Kidneythieves. The character's voice was also provided by lead singer Free Dominguez. All songs present in the game are included on the band's first album Trickster, released July 28, 1998 on the Push Records label.
- "Invisible War Title Theme" – 01:51
- "Seattle – Tarsus Apartments" – 02:32
- "Seattle – City Hub and Emerald Suites" – 02:55
- "Seattle – Mako Ballistics Interior" – 02:21
- "Seattle – Lower Seattle and Heron's Loft" – 02:34
- "Cairo – Mosque" – 02:24
- "Cairo – ApostleCorp Lab" – 02:21
- "Trier – Streets and Black Gate" – 02:59
- "Trier – Templar Compound" – 02:48
- "Antarctica – VersaLife Base Exterior" – 02:19
- "Antarctica – JC Denton's Lair" – 02:20
- "Return to Cairo – Shantytown and Arcology" – 03:05
- "Liberty Island – Statue Exterior" – 03:30
- "Credits" – 01:34