Deus Ex 2: Invisible War is a game which gets a bad rap whenever you see it discussed among PC gamers, who inevitably love the first game and loathe the sequel. To be honest though, I never thought it was half as bad as anyone was making out. If approached with reasonable rationality and not the more obvious optimism, the game actually held up quite well.

Yes, Invisible War had issues. It obviously suffered from attempts to bring the series to consoles. The tiny, insular and empty levels. The universal ammo system. The constant load times and clunky, overly rounded feel of the engine – these were all issues that dogged the game and deservedly so, but slamming Deus Ex 2 for not living up to the legend of it’s predecessor is easier than fist-fighting with a one-armed toddler.

Instead, I prefer to think of the good things about Deus Ex 2 – the things it did better than the original. Believe me, they’re there.
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Games I Own: Deus Ex 2 *Games I Own: Deus Ex 2

The weapons are one of my favourite things about Deus Ex 2 because, despite the incredibly annoying ammo system, the range of weapons in the sequel was better than in the first game. All you ever needed in the original Deus Ex was the mini-crossbow which you got in the first level and the Stealth pistol you got in the second, adding on weapon augs as you found them. There was simply no need to even look at the other skills and guns, since they usually didn’t have the same level of versatility or abundance. Deus Ex 2 meanwhile introduced some unique weapons that provided an incentive to search areas more closely and to try new weapons. Rifles that lit enemies on fire, truncheons that did poison damage – that kind of thing.

The story of the game is a pretty strong one too and, even though it starts off with a bit of a limp, it can’t have been easy to bring together the storylines of the first game and to then expand on them. Deus Ex 2 does admirably though, creating a world that’s both adapted to and grown wary of the augmentations that were first introduced to the fiction in Deus Ex 1.

The thing I like most about the game though is the roster of characters and the way they grow or have grown between titles. JC Denton may have been the hero of the first game, but his impersonal, grandiloquent and impassive nature always gave him an inhuman feel even if it’s a theme that was definitely underplayed in the first game.

Games I Own: Deus Ex 2 *Games I Own: Deus Ex 2

Deus Ex 2’s final stages bring that idea back to the forefront though as, on the one hand you’ve built an emotional bond to JC based on the first game, but at the same time he appears oddly out of touch and monstrous since his merging with Helios. You know he’s the good guy, but you honestly question whether he’s doing the right thing or not.

The setting and idea of the Tarsus Academy may be pretty laughable too, but getting the chance to meet up with former classmates throughout the game and see how their path deviates from yours is an interesting idea too. It perfectly balances against your actions, making you question if you’re really the good guy after all.

Don’t get me wrong – I prefer Deus Ex to Invisible War and those tiny levels really are a bitch, but Deus Ex 2 is nowhere near as bad as people have convinced themselves it is. I just hope the same doesn’t hold true for Deus Ex 3.

Times I’ve Completed It: Three, maybe four complete playthroughs.

Random Trivia: The competing coffee shops that form an on-going subquest in the game are named Perquod and QueeQueg in reference to Moby Dick by Hemmingway. Perquod was Ahab’s ship in the novel, while QueeQueg was the name of the harpooner.

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