Originally created 01/12/04

PC version of Invisible War disappoints



I really wanted to enjoy "Deus Ex: Invisible War."

I was intrigued by its notions of shadowy global corporations, biologically enhanced warriors and nanotechnology. As a sci-fi junkie, I figured that would be ample fodder for a gripping, exciting video game.

I can't believe how wrong I was. "Invisible War," a sequel to 2000's "Deus Ex," is worse than its predecessor - and most other video games - in about every way possible.

The problems began once I installed the game on my computer.

I clicked on the icon to load the game. Minutes passed as I waited for an introduction screen, a rousing musical score, ANYTHING that would suggest the game had begun.

"Invisible War" never loaded.

I later found I wasn't the only one having technical difficulties. I dutifully downloaded a fix from the developers at Eidos.

It finally worked, but it was hardly enough to rescue this half-baked title.

The story began with a shocking premise that would seem ripe with potential: Chicago had been devastated by an unknown band of terrorists wielding a matter-consuming nanotechnology weapon.

You play as Alex D (you can pick male or female). He/she is one of the survivors of the Chicago attack and a student of the Tarsus Academy, a corporation which trains security agents infused with nifty body enhancements called biomods.

These biomods give you superhuman abilities. At first you can see in the dark. Later, you'll acquire more powerful biomods, including one which lets you mentally control enemy security cameras and robots.

The point of the game is to find out who among a host of shady international organizations would destroy an entire city. Is it The Order or ApostleCorp? What about the Illuminati? Could the evildoers have been Tarsus Academy itself? And once you find out, what will you do about it?

You'll travel from Seattle to Cairo to Germany and Antarctica in your quest for the truth.

The waiting involved with going from place to place lay atop a heap of aggravations.

Every locale was fractured into multiple areas to explore. Unfortunately, this meant lots of thumb-twiddling as the new areas loaded. Worse, some maps actually took longer to load than they did to complete.

The game's artificial intelligence borders on idiotic. At one point, I conversed with the civic manager of Upper Seattle in his office. After our chat, he conveniently walked into the hallway and blankly looked on as I hacked into his safe and stole secret information.

I was especially disappointed with "Invisible War" because its ambitious technological underpinnings held much promise.

Graphics were filled with realistic nuances such as hanging lights which swayed to and fro when I bumped them. Boxes and other objects had real weight and could be picked up and thrown.

But all this technical wizardry was for naught and had no real bearing on gameplay.

Unless you received a swanky new computer for Christmas, expect shoddy performance. At times, the game chugged to a near standstill on my new Hewlett-Packard laptop, which features a 2.8 gigahertz processor, 512 megabytes of memory and a turbocharged graphics chip.

"Invisible War" ends up being a good technology demonstration, but a bad game. If you really want to play, save yourself $40 cost and buy the original "Deus Ex" game, which I found for $8 on eBay.

One and a half stars out of four.