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Gothic 2
Engrossing Story
Cool Object Manipulation
No EAX Support
In 2000, Deus Ex seemed to pick up just about every PC accolade under the sun, including a BAFTA for outstanding interactive media. Since then millions of nanotech minded gamers have anxiously awaited its sequel DeusEx: Invisible War, portraying the aftermath of what transpired in the original title. Probably the most ambitious addition to DX:Invisable War is that of object physics. Like the first game many things can be picked up, moved or thrown, but this time around items roll, impact with other objects, drop, bounce and have their own level of damage tolerance. The manipulation of objects is very much part of the game. Without giving too much away: early on I found myself having to protect a number scientists in a research facility from infiltrating terrorists. With little doubt as to which areas the angry mercs were going to be pouring in from a blockade miscellaneous objects was in order to slow down their progress. OK, as it happens they had little trouble kicking it down, but not before the scientist in the location had got out of harms way and my character could open up with electro-tipped 9mm fun. 

As you would expect, the controls are mouse-view and cursor driven by default. No problems with this at all, but perhaps the most infuriating thing for me in the whole of DX:IW was the insistent running everywhere. If your character prefers a more cautious stealth approach you are forced to hold down the "walk" key for long periods to avoid alerting everything in the immediate area to your presence. Surely a toggle option, or walk by default would have been a more appropriate default for a game such as DX: Invisible War. As it happens there was no way of correcting this, either in the options or the ini file with the game. 

The visuals as you would expect a very nice indeed. If you are fortunate to be able to crank it up to 1600x1200 some of the decors and model textures are very nice indeed. Explosions, Fire, Smoke and Gas look particularly good. The shadow effects which adjust to object manipulation e.g. nudging a hanging lamp were ok, but didnt really do it for me. I found these slowed the game down if anything and perhaps a waste. This brings me to another downside to DX:IW - the performance. While the more recent patches have improved performance you still need a very notable graphics card to meet the demands of the game. I experienced 20-30 frame rates at top resolution with a 256Mb Ati Radeon 9800XT, but I cannot see anything less than a card with 128Mb on board allowing for anything more than a standard 640x480 gaming experience. This is a shame because this level of resolution certainly doesnt play out the game as it should and considering there are better rendered games on the market that run great on lower spec machines one wonders if Eidos didnt get the graphic engine quite right before release.  

OK, so to the game. Firstly let me say, story wise its very nicely done - no complaints here. There are many more branches in the tale this time and at least five completely different endings. Its very possible there are more if you have the time to dig deep enough. The game picks up 20 years after the last game ended. Unfortunately for some DX:IW assumes you chose a particular ending in DX1, which wasn’t the one I chose incidentally. While this might be a little confusing if you're playing the games back to back, it doesnt detract from the games story in any way. The lack of EAX hardware support does hit the game slightly. The sound is fine and dialogue nicely depicted, but the 3D positional sound is somewhat of a disappointment. Considering DX1 had fantastic sound, it's puzzling why the developers took a backward step here and its unlikely anyone will feel as immersed in the games atmosphere as they were in the first game. That said, some of the in game music is actually quite good. The thumping mid twenty-first century dance music in the Seattle nightclub and other bars is pretty cool indeed. 

Its hard not to recommend DX:IW to anyone who enjoyed the original Deus Ex. It continues the story nicely and has excelled in a number of areas, particularly the integrated object manipulation physics and multiple number of branches in the storyline. There are annoyances however such as the enforced auto-run feature, limited 3D sound and if only completed once through one perspective it might actually seem a fairly short game. In a nutshell though, if you have the spec go get Deus Ex: Invisible War, you wont be disappointed.


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