Deus Ex 2: Invisible War had all the makings of an excellent sequel, it had the name recognition of its game of the year predecessor, it was set in a well crafted universe that was open to a sequel and the director and producers involved with the original game were also involved with this project. Despite all of the good things going for it and the excellent reviews it was getting on the Xbox, PC gamers felt slighted. Why did PC gamers feel slighted? Do I ask more rhetorical questions? Read on to find out.
My experience with Deus Ex 2 began with an uneventful install. After installation, I started the same way I do all games, go straight to the options menu. While going through the video configuration menu, I first wondered where all of the options were. To the menu’s defense there was on more set of options on the next (hidden) page, offering quality settings for ‘shadow’, ‘lighting’ and ‘character’ , and ‘Vsynch’. But it still felt a little barren. Where were all of the options that other FPS games offered? Why did they need a second page? Couldn’t all of the options fit on one page? I also wondered why a game need adjustments for brightness and contrast. Isn’t that what those little buttons on the bottom of the monitor are for? Maybe they were doing me a favor so I wouldn’t have to adjust my perfectly tuned monitor settings just for their game by giving me a software control or maybe they were just lazy and left it in from the Xbox version.
While playing the game I noticed Deus Ex 2 has lots of loading screens. If you wanted to move from one side of a city to the other side, you’ll experience at least 3 or 4 breaks for loading, if you wanted to enter a building there’s loading, if you want to move around on one floor of a building there’s loading. If you wanted to shoot a reptilian chicken you might be able to get away without any loading. I could understand this if these sections were particularly large or detailed, but in this game they aren’t. I don’t claim to know why the design team chose to make the game like this, but I have an inkling it has something to do with the limitations of the Xbox hardware.
Deus Ex 2 contained a significant amount of simplifications when compared to the original. First and foremost, the removal of nearly all RPG elements. Skills, weapon proficiencies, skill points have all been done away with. Your character will not grow as the game progresses. In the original game your character started off unskilled in the various types weapons but eventually learned how to use them (via skill points) as the game progressed. In Deus Ex 2 your character is innately proficient with all weapons in the game, regardless of it being a prototype rail gun that you first laid eyes on 30 second ago or a nanotech sword thought up by a neurotic AI in his sleep. Sure you’ll get new abilities in the form of biomods, but there’s another game that allows the protagonist to gain new abilities but doesn’t grow as the game goes on, called Megaman. Speaking of weaponry, ALL of the guns used the same ammo. The pistol, taser, rail gun, the rocket launcher all use the same ammo. This didn’t make any sense at all until I realized the game is set in the future where scientists have invented
magic nanotechnology making all things possible.
Gone is the Diablo style item management system of trying to fit various sized items within a fixed grid, replaced with a more streamlined, yet clunkier system. You no longer have to manage the size of the items in your inventory, so now you can carry that ladder in your pocket without having to say ‘ouch!’, too obscure? sorry. Your character is now outfitted with a number of item slots similar to having several bags of holding but they only carry one item. While this sounds nice, and all, how about actually trying to use it? Not quite so nice. If you see the picture to the right and think you’d be able to click and drag the icons to swap items around. . . you’re wrong. In order to do a simple swap, you’ll have to left click to select item you want to move, then move your mouse cursor to the slot you would like to move it to, then right click to swap. While this doesn’t seem like much work, it needlessly complicates item management. Maybe this scheme might work perfectly well on the Xbox, but on the a computer where dragging and dropping is the norm, this is far from intuitive.
So Ive bashed I’ve bashed everything that is Deus Ex 2: Invisible War to pieces right? Quite the contrary, the game itself is quite deserving of all of the praise thrown at it, it has a thrilling plot and much better voice acting than the original. The only thing Ive bashed are the game mechanics and the compromises that were made to make the game fit in with all of its Xbox brethren. These simplifications make the game significantly more action oriented game, catering to a different crowd than fans of the original game. In other words it’s almost as if the game were designed with Xbox gamers in mind then ported it over to the PC, which is a disservice to anyone that enjoyed the original game on the PC hoping for the same quality of experience in the sequel.