Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

A new form of race war, terror plots, subversion of a minorities movement, and picking up two years after the disastrous events of Human Revolution, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided thrusts players into a world on the brink of breaking down. Yet, despite providing a great world to play in, even more than it’s predecessor, Mankind Divided has to constantly pull it’s narrative punches due to the nature of it being a prequel - leading to what feels more like an awesome part one of two tale.

Building perfectly on the groundwork laid in 2011’s Human Revolution, Square Enix and Eidos Montreal have honed the gameplay to make it feel close to top-of-the-genre, no matter your play style. Be it stealth, long range, close combat or run-and-gun routes, gameplay is smooth and responsive - moving fluidly between first and third person cover based action, with plenty of options for customizing your weapon and augmentation loadouts.

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The only real gripe I have with the augmentation system is that a few missions in you basically have to start from scratch. This led to my spending more than a few hours building up the skills I had when I started the game, rather than trying out some of the new, cool (but less important for my playstyle) augs, which was a little disappointing.

This could have been made worse had the amount of experience points required for a praxis kit (the upgrade points) been too high, or increased in cost too drastically to incentivise the praxis kit micro-transaction, but it wasn’t. I found I was naturally gaining the upgrades in short order by habitually exploring every environment I came across, and skillfully dispatching the many foes littering the maps.

The globe spanning adventure aspect of past Deus Ex titles has taken something of a backseat this go-around in lieu of telling a more focused story. While there are technically five worldwide locations you’ll visit, only two of them are in any way similar to the city hubs that fans of the franchise would be familiar with - the exception being Prague (the city you’ll spend most of your time in), which is split into two sections, and is likely denser than all the locals in any DX title to date.

Free-roaming through the different game hub environments I noticed they’re jam packed with little details that help bring them to life. People wandering the streets, couples engaging in conversation, or police detaining augmented citizens with extreme prejudice - it all helps sell to illusion that this is a lived in world, and while you can’t access every building or room, the number of interactable locals is rather vast, and exploration is certainly rewarded.

Upgrade your strength augmentation so you can punch a hole in the wall, move a heavy crate, or vending machine and suddenly you’ve opened up a new path. Upgrade your hacking skills and look at that! You’ve now gained easy access to hackable laptops for world building and information gathering, also granting you access to previously inaccessible places, discovering hidden stores of loot, info, or even missions.

Map layouts are also something of a highlight. Each play space you enter gives every type of player a way to go about completing its challenge exactly the way they want. I found this lead to fewer “Boss Battles”, and more options to complete the quest in a successfully non-lethal way - speaking of which, I loved using the Social Enhancer augmentation in conversations. Best of all, the choices you make result in different conversations and end results.

The few times I did encounter a person I had no choice but to fight, I found the environment contained more than enough ways for me to avoid damage and gain the upperhand. In this regard Mankind Divided is leaps and bounds better than it’s predecessor, my only wish here would be for there to be more of these types of events.

Which brings us to the story. The Deus Ex titles are masters of blending all manner of conspiracies together and weaving interesting tales of people attempting to control the world with hidden strings, and in that Mankind Divided falls a little short of those that have come before - but that’s not to say it isn’t good.

You still have a number of organizations, groups, and power hungry people, all with their own motivations and points of view that protagonist Adam Jensen, has to navigate his way through. The problems I found came from limitations built in by the nature of it being a prequel. The tale of prejudice against augmented people being told can get pretty heavy at times, but as an augmented member of Interpol, even when I was being stopped by authorities to have my ID checked, I always felt a little separated from those experiencing this mechanical apartheid.

Don’t get me wrong, everything about it feels wrong (in the right ways), and I wanted nothing but to help those in need, but I constantly felt like my hands were tied. I could see from early on that this game wouldn’t really get to a point where I could help affect a better future for these downtrodden souls.

The problems come from the developers not really diving in and providing any sort of worldwide solution to the evils, or granting the ability for players to fully lean one way or the other.  As a fan of the franchise I got a kick out of seeing references to, or younger versions of big names from future titles, but with their appearing the way the were, I knew that I wasn’t going to get the real payoff I was hoping for - my only real consolation is that I also know there are events that have yet to occur between where Mankind Divided ends and the original begins, I just hope we get to eventually experience them, and that the sequel isn’t another 5 years away.

Packaged in with the game is also a form of competitive leaderboards for a challenge room style experience called “Breach”. This is a neat no ramifications way to blow off steam if you’re trying to complete a non-lethal run, or just compete to get the highest score, but the visuals are pretty basic, and I’ve yet to feel much of an urge to rush back to it.

The Deus Ex games do something that few other games manage, and that’s make it so that I can choose to go in guns blazing, or take the stealth route, all while providing a convincing reason to do either option in every situation. Few games successfully give me the sort of experience that a Deus Ex game gives, and in Mankind Divided’s case, I think the developers have created the best entry in the series to-date.

However looking at the story and overall picture, if Human Revolution was the gaming equivalent of an awesome cinematic movie, then Mankind Divided was more akin to a great episode of television - awesome but not the whole story. I would happily suggest this game to newcomers, fans of replayable games, and veterans of the franchise alike as it hits all the points gameplay wise to fill everyone’s needs. As far as the story goes, be warned that to get the whole picture, you’ll have to wait on the sequel. Please don’t let the wait be too long.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
"More akin to a great part one of a television two-parter – awesome, but not the whole story."
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Follow Own it? Rating: R16   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments Comments (7)

Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Tuesday 6 Sep 2016 11:56 AM
Human Revolution was one of my highlights last gen, I knew very little about the franchise or gameplay going into it but man I had a blast, it reminded me of the first time I played Half Life 2 in terms of how the graphics, aesthetics and gameplay blew me away.
Didnt preorder this due to excessive backlog but once it goes on sale Ill certainly throw down on this. Good to know it reviewed well, makes me more amp'ed to play it sooner rather than later.
Posted by darklordfoamy
On Tuesday 6 Sep 2016 12:07 PM
Have to say I really enjoyed this one and is basically Human Revolution 2.0 but that ain't a bad thing as the story and setting are great and a few times I was little disturbed by what I saw because I could actually seeing it happening in a real world scenario. I am also overjoyed that the bosses are better this time and if you do go pure stealth/hacker etc you can steal beat them compared to the origonal bosses in Human Revolution.

Still the whole Micro-transaction and Breach Mode thing really annoys me as a few other outlets having talked to staff in Eidos who told them that they only exist because Square told them to. It's why the micro transactions are pointless because the game was never designed around them and were basically told to add them a couple of weeks before Deus Ex went gold and Breach mode was tacked because Square decided people might get bored of Deus Ex main story... uh huh.

Still at least they don't affect the main game in anyway and it is a very enjoyable game still.
Posted by Romulus
On Tuesday 6 Sep 2016 4:09 PM
I thought the game was great but was slightly annoyed by the introduction of micro transactions. They don't ruin the game or anything, but it definitely does nudge you towards spending more. Having said that, though game was a great sequel.

Thought it was a 10/10 game ->
Posted by LukeB
On Tuesday 6 Sep 2016 4:44 PM
6 September 2016, 04:09 PM Reply to Romulus
I thought the game was great but was slightly annoyed by the introduction of micro transactions. They don't ruin the game or anything, but it definitely does nudge you towards spending more. Having said that, though game was a great sequel.

Thought it was a 10/10 game ->
While I don't disagree that the inclusion of a micro-tranactions (rather than using cheat codes for those who want to unbalance the game) is annoying, I do also feel like the game felt perfectly balanced without needing to resort to making any real-world additional purchases.

So for me, the addition of being able to spend your IRL cash to boost your character was nothing more than a bonus for people who have too much money, and too little time, who want to experience all the cool powers the game has to offer - and the bonus of having this as a system, as apposed to using cheat codes, is that it doesn't disable the ability to unlock your achievements/trophies. While that may SEEM like a cheap way, at least it's a legitimate one, and as I said, the game's leveling system still felt balanced (to me), so if anything, the inclusion of micro-transactions seems more like a last minute add-on to make the game easier for those who want to use it, rather than something that was designed to make normal gamer's lives unnecessarily expensive.
Posted by Outlaw213
On Tuesday 6 Sep 2016 6:11 PM
Man I got a massive backlog of games, and not enough time. I still haven't played Human Revolution...
Posted by AdamC
On Tuesday 6 Sep 2016 10:13 PM
I loved the previous entry but having so many good games to play, means things like there being microtransactions on leveling in a single player game can easily put you off buying a game. So Ill pass on this for now, maybe oneday ill grab it on a bargain.
Posted by ricky1981
On Wednesday 7 Sep 2016 1:13 PM
Really enjoyed the game, the microtransactions are not forced (or even mentioned) in the game other than a "Store" link on the main menu. I never felt tempted to buy them as progression is very quick in the game already.

Don't get me wrong, I dislike microtransactions but this is very definitely not one of the worst offenders.

For anyone who enjoyed Human Revolution, this is largely more of the same (in a good way). The side quests are better although the main story is weaker. It does feel like the final parts were cut a little short but it's very much worth picking up.