Deus Ex: Invisible War
Developer(s) Ion Storm Inc.
Publisher(s) Eidos Interactive
Release Date(s) NA December 2, 2003
EU March 4, 2004
JP June 17, 2004
Genre(s) First-person, multiple
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: M (Mature)
USK: 16+
PEGI: 16+
OFLC: M15+
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Xbox

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 December 2, 2003,[1][2] 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.[3][1][2] 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%,[4] while Invisible War received an 83%.[5] 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.

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.[6] This freedom of choice was widely praised by critics.[7][8][9]


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.[10][11] 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. ... [I]f 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".[12]

Player choice

Invisible War emphasizes player choice—for example, the player begins the game by selecting the player character's gender and skin color.[13] 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.[13]

Role-playing game elements

The player character may be equipped with nanotechnological implants called "biomods", which—like Deus Ex's nano-augmentations[14]—grant special abilities, such as cloaking, a neural interface, or increased strength.[15] 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.[15] 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.[15] 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.[10]

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] 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.[16]

Combat elements

Invisible War features several types of weapons, including mêlée weapons, grenades and firearms.[15] 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.[15] 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.[15] Different weapons use different amounts of ammunition—for example, the rocket launcher uses more than the pistol.

When an enemy is hit, the amount of damage varies based on which area is wounded—headshots deal much higher damage than shots elsewhere on the body.[15] 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.[17] 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",[18] 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;[14] 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;[19] 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.[10] 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 "rehash[ing] what had come before".[10] 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".[10] 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.[10][16] Other criteria for locations included both a "distinct feel" and "recognizable landmarks", as well as "believable hooks for [the game's] conspiracies and fiction".[10]


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.


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.

Templar purple goo

A Knights Templar extremist destroys the city of Chicago.

The player character, Alex D, begins the game shortly after escaping a massive terrorist attack in Chicago.

Although Chicago is essentially destroyed, Alex, along with a fellow trainee Billie Adams and the project leaders, are safely evacuated to another Tarsus facility based in Seattle. The other trainees Leo Jankowski and Klara Sparks are enrolled there.

Alex and fellow program trainees are kept in the dark about what really happened to Chicago by Tarsus official Dr. Leila Nassif. Before they have a chance to find out the truth, the facility is attacked by forces of The Order Church.

Alex is contacted by Billie Adams. She reveals that she is a member of The Order and that the Tarsus Program is actually an experimental program for biomod technology with the trainees as test subjects. She urges Alex to escape and to meet up with The Order in Lower Seattle. Dr. Nassif, however, assures Alex that he is not simply a guinea pig and requests Alex to keep his loyalties with Tarsus.

Upon escaping the facility, Alex is next contacted by the WTO Security Chief Donna Morgan who orders him to meet her at the WTO Air Terminal. Chief Morgan instructs Alex to visit the apartment of Seattle's Minister of Culture (met later in Club Vox) who is suspected of illegal arms dealings. Alex finds Klara Sparks to be under the WTO payroll. Adams also instructs Alex to visit Nassif's apartment (in the same apartment building) for further details regarding the Tarsus Program and eventually finds that she is linked to the dealings with the Minister of Culture.

On his way to the Order compound in Lower Seattle, Alex D is forced to clean up a toxic spill on the Inclinator- the link between the WTO ruled prosperous Upper Seattle and the grim slums of the lower city. In Lower Seattle, The Order's Second-in-Command High Augur Lin May Chen informs Alex that the group sent to Tarsus to mount a "rescue attempt" went rogue and Alex is entrusted to find what happened to them. She also tells Alex that The Knights Templar have been reported to rendezvous around the Inclinator. Upon visiting the Inclinator, Alex finds that the rogue group of The Order are indeed linked to the Knights Templar. The rogue element were attracted to the Templars by their more direct and extremist approach to matters than the peaceful approach undertaken by The Order. Alex also overhears that the Templars have commissioned a new super-weapon called the Mag Rail at Mako Ballistics in the outskirts of Seattle. The WTO wants to procure it and The Order wants to destroy it. Both urge Alex to fly to the facility to carry out their respective instructions.

In search of a pilot, Alex can choose to rescue from the WTO Air Terminal a woman named Ava Johnson who will agree to fly him for free, or he can hire Sid Black from the Greasel Pit bar in Lower Seattle after freeing his jet from gangster Sophia Sak.

At the Mako facility, Alex meets up with the Chicago Tarsus Project Director Stan Carnegie and learns that Nassif has gone to Cairo, where an ApostleCorp stronghold remains. Alex locates the Mag Rail and either steals it or assassinates its inventor.

At Cairo, the WTO-controlled Arcology is prosperous while the outer Medina is infested with a nanite swell known as Plague-11 which contaminates the air. Alex meets with Leo Jankowski, who has now been hired as security for the Omar, and reveals Templar activity in the Arcology and a possible raid on the Omar. Alex finds the Templar in control of the ApostleCorp facility, where with the help of Klara Sparks he interrogates Dr. Nassif (and possibly kills her as the Order wishes, though Klara opposes this). He finds out that the director of Cairo facility (eventually revealed to be Paul Denton) was taken captive by the Templars, but that another founder remains, Tracer Tong. Tong is located in Trier, Germany, where the WTO and Order are about to hold a summit. Another revelation for Alex is that he is actually Alex Denton, the second clone of Paul Denton. (JC being the first.)

In Trier, Alex meets Tong and learns about the "Great Advance" that ApostleCorp has in mind. It is also revealed that ApostleCorp was created by Tong and Paul after JC Denton's disastrous merger with Helios at the end of the first game, which effectively brought about The Collapse. The aim was to find and perfect an universal biomod structure. Paul Denton was an earlier test subject but in a failed experiment he was comatose and had to be cryogenically frozen in Cairo, but is now in Templar captivity. JC himself now lies in an unstable state in Antarctica, waiting for a cure to come. JC's sanctuary can be reached through a teleporter (which can only be used by those having Denton DNA) in the abandoned Black Gate laboratories of the city, but the area is a Templar stronghold. Tong also reveals that the Templars have kidnapped the head of The Order, "Her Holiness", and are holding her in the laboratories. Chad Dumier, head of WTO gives Alex a go-ahead to attempt a rescue.

Alex mounts a successful rescue, and in the process discovers that "Her Holiness" is actually Nicolette DuClare. She and Chairman Dumier are heads of the current incarnation of the ancient secret society Illuminati and the WTO and The Order, are merely separate tools to achieve global domination. It now becomes clear that the Illuminati wants to revive JC Denton and control him to take control of the world. ApostleCorp wants to revive JC Denton to enable him a truly democratic post-human civilization governed by Helios with the help of the universal biomodification structure. The Templars want to destroy JC Denton and biomodification. After retrieving the stolen sequencing module from the Templar church nearby, Alex steps in through the teleporter to find JC Denton in Antarctica.

At JC's sanctuary, Alex repairs Helios' memory core by transferring the DNA of his universal biomod architecture and by visiting several places held in JC's memory from the first Deus Ex, like Maggie Chow's apartment in Hong Kong, Joseph Manderley's office at UNATCO, Juan Lebedev's bedroom at the 747, and JC's birth site at Area 51 - where Alex meets Billie Adams. If Alex leaves Billie alive, she confronts him again at the last level in New York. After repairing the core, JC reveals his philosophy and future vision of the world and instructs Alex to go to Cairo and rescue Paul Denton from the Templars and revive him from his coma.

In Cairo, Dumier contacts Alex with instructions to murder Paul Denton. He also kidnaps Klara Sparks and holds her hostage. Alex meets Leo Jankowski who somewhat unwillingly has been subjugated to Omar biomodification and opposes every faction in the game, and can arrange the transport to Liberty Island. Saman again contacts Alex and requests Alex to give his blood to the Templar doctor at Flight Bay 24, where Paul is being held. Complying turns Alex into a Templar while greatly angering both the Illuminati and ApostleCorp. Refusing forces a battle between Alex and the Templar army. The player can also refuse giving the blood but can still kill Paul Denton by terminating life support from the computer of the cryogenic storage.

The final chapter takes place at Liberty Island, the starting point of the first game. Liberty Island is now frozen, and the broken Statue of Liberty has been re-erected as a light sculpture by JC using nanotechnology. All the factions have erected bases on Liberty Island and will contact Alex to upload the Aquinas Spec to their respective needs. If Leo is present he will give a fourth option to destroy all leaders, otherwise The Omar will directly contact Alex to tell the same. The Aquinas Spec can be uploaded from the Aquinas protocol at the abandoned UNATCO base. Depending upon whom the Spec is uploaded to and who survives the game can have four endings.

  • ApostleCorp's Great Advance: JC's vision of universal biomodification becomes a reality and through a collective consciousness facilitated by Helios, the world becomes a perfect democracy devised by Helios/Denton.
  • Illuminati's Age of Light: JC and Paul Denton die, and the world becomes a positive controlled dictatorship under the Illuminati.
  • The Knights Templar's Flooding: JC and Paul Denton die, biomodification ceases to exist, and the Templars rule the Earth with religious totalitarianism.
  • The Omar's Scorched Earth Ending: All other faction leaders die. Due to their high adaptability, the Omar take over the world as the rest of humanity is eliminated through constant chaos and fighting.
  • Joke Ending: Claimed to be "The Real Ending" when the player reaches it, the Joke Ending can be received on the last level after a series of steps. The player is then transported to a nightclub where various characters are all dancing and a number of Quote Files are floating about. The characters present are dependent on the player's actions during the game; if the player killed a character, he or she will not appear in the joke ending.


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, 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.


Critical response

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.[1][2] MobyGames states a similar aggregate score for the game, listing an 82 and 86 for the Windows and Xbox versions respectively.[20][21]

Fan response

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,[20][21] while Metacritic users awarded 6.2 out of 10 for the Windows version and 7.4 out of 10 for the Xbox.[1][2]

Reasons for criticism

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 more 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.[22]


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.[23] User complaints in this area eventually led to the creation of a community-made "High Res Texture Pack".[24]


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."[25] 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."[26]

Inventory and ammunition

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.


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.[1] All of these were released in April, 2004 for free download on the official site for the game.[2]

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 28th, 1998 on the Push Records label.

  1. "Invisible War Title Theme" - 01:51
  2. "Seattle - Tarsus Apartments" - 02:32
  3. "Seattle - City Hub and Emerald Suites" - 02:55
  4. "Seattle - Mako Ballistics Interior" - 02:21
  5. "Seattle - Lower Seattle and Heron's Loft" - 02:34
  6. "Cairo - Mosque" - 02:24
  7. "Cairo - ApostleCorp Lab" - 02:21
  8. "Trier - Streets and Black Gate" - 02:59
  9. "Trier - Templar Compound" - 02:48
  10. "Antarctica - VersaLife Base Exterior" - 02:19
  11. "Antarctica - JC Denton's Lair" - 02:20
  12. "Return to Cairo - Shantytown and Arcology" - 03:05
  13. "Liberty Island - Statue Exterior" - 03:30
  14. "Credits" - 01:34


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Deus Ex: Invisible War for Windows on Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved on May 21, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Deus Ex: Invisible War for Xbox on Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved on May 21, 2007.
  3. "Eidos resurrecting Deus Ex?". GameSpot (2007-05-17). Retrieved on May 26, 2007.
  4. "Deus Ex review". PC Gamer: 82. September 2000. 
  5. "Deus Ex: Invisible War review". PC Gamer: 81. January 2004. 
  6. Bishop, Stuart (2003-10-07). "Deus Ex: Invisible War - exclusive interview!". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved on June 4, 2007.
  7. Fielder, Joe; Intihar, Bryan; Hsu, Dan (February 2004). "Deus Ex: Invisible War review". Electronic Gaming Monthly: 124. 
  8. "Deus Ex: Invisible War review". Official Xbox Magazine: 74. December 2003. 
  9. Biessener, Adam (January 2004). "Choose, But Choose Wisely". Game Informer: 152. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Aihoshi, Richard (2003-11-17). "Deus Ex: Invisible War Interview, Part 1". IGN. Retrieved on May 21, 2007.
  11. "Interview with Harvey Smith". GamePro (2003-09-17). Retrieved on May 25, 2007.
  12. Turner, Benjamin (2003-02-11). "Warren Spector on Deus Ex: Invisible War". GameSpy. Retrieved on May 25, 2007.
  13. 13.0 13.1 James Au, Wagner (December 2003). "New Gun in Town". Wired. Retrieved on May 21, 2007.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Aihoshi, Richard (2003-11-24). "Deus Ex: Invisible War Interview, Part 2". IGN. Retrieved on May 21, 2007.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 Deus Ex: Invisible War game manual
  16. 16.0 16.1 Jojic, Uros (2003-03-21). "Deus Ex: Invisible War Interview". Actiontrip. Retrieved on May 22, 2007.
  17. Shoemaker, Brad (2003-09-06). "Deus Ex: Invisible War Hands-On Impressions". GameSpot. Retrieved on May 25, 2007.
  18. Load screen message: JC Denton's destruction of Area 51 plunged the world into a period of depression and war known as the Collapse. Deus Ex: Invisible War. Ion Storm, 2003
  19. Pacotti, Sheldon (2003-11-06). "Deus Ex: Invisible War Dev Diary". Retrieved on May 21, 2007.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Deus Ex: Invisible War for Windows on Moby Games". Moby Games. Retrieved on May 21, 2007.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Deus Ex: Invisible War for Xbox on MobyGames". MobyGames. Retrieved on May 21, 2007.
  22. "Screenshot of Deux Ex: Invisible War from the player perspective". (2007-10-26). Retrieved on October 26th, 2007.
  23. "DX2 Rebirth: About". Off Topic Productions. Retrieved on September 23, 2007.
  24. John P.. "High Res. DX:IW Textures". Retrieved on September 23, 2007.
  25. Butts, Steve (2003-12-01). "Deus Ex: Invisible War Review". IGN. Retrieved on November 30th, 2007.
  26. "Deus Ex: Invisible War for Xbox Review - Xbox Deus Ex: Invisible War Review". GameSpot (2007-10-26). Retrieved on October 26th, 2007.

See also

External links