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Deus Ex: Invisible War


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Deus Ex: Invisible War (Games)
Deus Ex: Invisible War (Games)
Deus Ex: Invisible War (Games)
Deus Ex: Invisible War (Games)
Deus Ex: Invisible War (Games)
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Information about Deus Ex: Invisible War

Deus Ex: Invisible War is a first-person computer and video game developed by Ion Storm Inc. and published by Eidos Interactive. Released simultaneously for Windows and the Xbox video game console on dec. 2, 2003 (18 years ago), the game is a sequel to the critically acclaimed Deus Ex. Invisible War was well-received commercially, holding 80 and 84 scores at Metacritic for the Windows and Xbox versions, respectively, and selling more than 300,000 copies in North America. Despite this the game's critical reception was not as positive as its predecessor's—for example, PC Gamer gave Deus Ex a score of 94%, while Invisible War received an 83%. This was due to a large number of controversial design choices, which led certain critics to label the game as being dumbed down from its predecessor. It has sold more than 1.2 million copies, as of Apr. 23rd, 2009 (12 years ago).

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. This freedom of choice was widely praised by critics.


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 which 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 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, 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, who take a more militant approach to matters than the Order.

Over the course of the game, Alex goes on a series of missions for the Order, another organization called the WTO, and another organization called ApostleCorp. During one of the missions, he discovers that he is a clone of JC Denton, a character from the first game with aspirations of creating a perfect global democracy through a bioengineered hive mind. Other missions show him that the organizations he is working for desire to rule the world. ApostleCorp seeks to fulfill Denton’s vision of the future, the Illuminati, who control the WTO and the Order, want to use Denton’s technology to create a benevolent dictatorship, and the Templars want to eliminate biomodification entirely and create a global holy empire.

Near the end of the game, Alex comes into possession of data necessary for any of the factions to take control of the world. Each faction asks Alex to upload the data to their base on Liberty Island. Who rules the world in the end depends on which of the factions the player decides to upload the data to. It is also possible to simply send the data to none of them, instead destroying all of their bases on Liberty Island. This allows another faction, the Omar, to take control of the Earth after allowing the rest of the world to kill themselves off in various wars.


Like its predecessor Deus Ex, Invisible War is a first-person game, playing from a character's eye view in a 3D environment. The game combines gameplay mechanics from multiple game genres, including stealth, role-playing and first-person shooter. Regarding the categorization of Invisible War, Warren Spector stated, "... the whole genre thing, it's like 'Is Deus Ex a science-fiction game or a shooter?' Forget about shooter, role-playing, action and adventure... forget about those categories.... if I make a first-person perspective Western, is it a Western or a shooter? The whole idea of genre is a mess when you start applying it to games. It gets in the way of serious thought about games... when you're in the trenches making a game, you're kinda just making a game".

Player choice

Invisible War emphasizes player choice—for example, the player begins the game by selecting the player character's gender and skin color. Some of the quests and dialogs varied, depending what gender was selected. The developers designed the game to allow multiple solutions for all of the game's situations, such as enabling the player to commandeer an airship by either bribing a guard, attacking with lethal force, or using stealth.

Role-playing game elements

The player character may be equipped with nanotechnological implants called "biomods", which—like Deus Ex's nano-augmentations—grant special abilities, such as cloaking, a neural interface, or increased strength. There are five assignable biomod slots, with each slot granting different selectable abilities. However, each slot may hold only one biomod ability; thus, the player must decide which abilities to equip. Biomods may be upgraded twice after being installed. Some biomods drain the player character's "bio energy", which must be recharged with energy cells or repair bots. Deus Ex's "skill points" are not present in Invisible War—instead, the player character does not have limitations on natural abilities such as aiming or proficiency with items. Biomods replace some of the previously skill point-based abilities, such as hacking.

Invisible War contains a variety of items, including tools, weapons, food and others. An inventory, and a quickly accessible secondary inventory called a "toolbelt", provide twelve slots for storing items, 15 with the strength enhancement biomod. Unlike in Deus Ex, where the amount of inventory space used by an item varied, a single item in Invisible War takes up a single inventory slot.

Combat elements

Invisible War features several types of weapons, including mêlée weapons, grenades and firearms. Many weapons may be altered with "weapon mods" found or purchased throughout the game. The effects of weapon mods include silencers, fragmentary rounds and increased damage, among others. A single weapon may be equipped with up to two weapon mods, which cannot be removed. All weapons in Invisible War use the same ammunition, explained in the game by a nanotechnology that dynamically configures itself to the appropriate ammunition type. Different weapons use different amounts of ammunition—for example, the rocket launcher uses more than the pistol.

The amount of damage sustained by a wounded enemy may vary depending on which area is wounded. Unlike in the first game, however, the player character does not have separate hit points for the head, torso, and appendages.



Invisible War is set twenty years after Deus Ex, and is based on the premise that a combination of all three of the original game's possible endings occurred. The actions of JC Denton in Deus Ex caused the world to descend into a period of war and economic depression known as "the Collapse", during which several factions built themselves into world powers. These factions include the World Trade Organization (WTO), which converted many of the world's remaining metropolitan centers into highly regulated city-states; The Order, a religious order which created a new world religion from elements of all major religions and sociopolitical principles; the "Knights Templar", who advocate the complete prevention of biomodification; the "Omar", a society of heavily biomodified humans possessing a group mind, which runs a global black market, and wishes to become a transhuman race through biomodification; and ApostleCorp, which seeks to help JC Denton achieve his goal of biomodifying every human on Earth, and thus equalizing the race. While JC Denton is seen by the public as a threat to society, these organizations seek to use or eliminate his power to rebuild the world in the way they see fit. In keeping with the series' conspiracy theory theme, several of the major factions are revealed to be secretly connected—the Knights Templar originated within The Order, while the WTO and The Order are separate branches of the Illuminati.

The developers placed Invisible War further in the future than its predecessor to give it a distinct setting, rather than "rehashing what had come before". Lead writer Sheldon Pacotti stated that the advanced timeline "[loses] a little bit of the frisson of a near-future real-world setting", but is "more visibly shaped by time and technology", bringing the "social and technological issues... more into the foreground". At the same time, the developers wanted to make the game relevant to current world affairs, and focused on themes including terrorism, while placing the game in real-world locations "linked in the public consciousness", such as Seattle, Washington. Other criteria for locations included both a "distinct feel" and "recognizable landmarks", as well as "believable hooks for [the game's] conspiracies and fiction".


Unlike in the first game, factions and story in Invisible War were not constructed with the intention of presenting a specific group as the "heroes" or "villains", even though the factions of Invisible War have parallel and extremely different goals. Invisible War is told in a completely objective manner: in other words, who the player perceives as right and wrong is intended to vary depending on who is playing the game. While this was true about certain factions in the original Deus Ex (such as the Illuminati), MJ-12 was set in stone as the "villain". In Invisible War, every faction in the central conflict is eventually able to be sided with and presents a case that seems, at the very least, plausible to sympathize with. Additionally, the ability of the player to choose allegiance also increases his/her control over the storyline.

The story is now told more through character interactions than through game text. Books and newspapers in the game world are still readable, though the interface is now modal—it halts the simulation.


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 (4 walls) 2: The Fall of Max Payne (4 walls) and Painkiller. Many objects in the world have size, weight, 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. Console-oriented development 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.



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. MobyGames states a similar aggregate score for the game, listing an 82 and 86 for the Windows and Xbox versions respectively. Fan response to Invisible War is notable for being quite split. User rankings on MobyGames for instance are around 3.5 out of five for both versions of the game, while Metacritic users awarded 6.2 out of 10 for the Windows version and 7.4 out of 10 for the Xbox.


Criticisms of Invisible War generally drew negative comparisons to the game's award winning predecessor. The most common complaints seem to 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 graphics in the Windows version of Deus Ex: Invisible War was notorious for demanding a powerful video card, 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.

Additionally, many PC users noted the relatively low quality of in-game textures compared to other PC games, allegedly due to the simultaneous development of the Xbox and PC versions of the game coupled with the Xbox's 64 Megabyte RAM limit. User complaints in this area eventually led to the creation of a community-made "High Res Texture Pack".

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 inventory system from the previous game was dropped in favor of a slot-based system, where a slot could be filled with any one object or a stack of such objects. In this way, carrying a small object caused the same burden as a much larger one, but several identical small objects (like a group of candy bars) would only occupy one slot. Similarly, the ammunition management system from the previous game was dropped in favor of the Universal Ammo system, where all weapons drew upon the same pool of ammunition "points", with larger or more powerful weapons using more points and smaller weapons using fewer. This allowed some versatility in that you would not be forced to use another weapon or to hunt for ammunition when a preferred weapon was empty, with the drawback being that when one weapon was out of ammunition, all weapons were.


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