Genre: RPG, First Person Shooter
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC[Reviewed on], PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 23 August 2016
The Deus Ex: Mankind Divided you play might not be the same game that I play. This is a game that lets the player reach their objectives in the fashion in which they choose, and the whole game revolves around this premise. Deus Ex is an RPG under the guise of a first-person shooter. It’s a stealth game or an action game depending on how you wish to play it. It gives you a goal and all of the tools needed to reach that goal and says have fun! The rest is up to you.
In a future where everything looks like it came straight out of Blade Runner and many people have become obsessed with mechanical body modifications known as Augments. You play as Adam Jensen an ex-chief of security who has joined a task force specifically trying to capture the culprits of a recent terror attack. The attack itself was carried out by a group of augmented terrorists which has now caused a great deal of social and political tension between those augmented and those who are not. With every organization pointing a finger to another, Adam sets out to find the truth about the incident using his customizable array of augments, upgrades, whits and intelligence.
Graphically, Mankind Divided is superb on PC. There are so many options for tweaking and adjusting for the best balance of picture and performance. I played on a GTX 1070, and I’m used to maxing out the settings on almost every current game and still achieving well over 60fps at 1080p. This game, however, forced me to adjust the settings to find that sweet spot. At first, I thought this was a bad sign and that it may be yet another poorly optimized PC port but after playing around I realized that this game warrants what it demands from your system to run it maxed out. The game is gorgeous. Excellent lighting that exposes the highly detailed particle effects, brilliant use of texturing to the point I found it difficult to find a single badly textured wall or object and beautiful reflections on different materials like the metal on Adams pistol. The only part that may stand out is the character models. Aside from the fabric on the clothing looking pretty excellent as well as the hair, the actual faces and lip syncing looks a little awkward.
This time around the game is set in Prague and is divided up into several hub locations for missions to spring out of. There is one particular hub area that you are dropped into early on that is the main focus and most richly detailed and it is quite frankly superb. I think out of the whole game this hub area is what impressed me the most. First of all, it looks reminiscent of a particular area of Half-Life 2 with its blend of future tech, an oppressive and highly strung law enforcement and old fashioned European architecture. This was a nice nod to Valve’s flagship series but it wasn’t the only thing going for it. If I try to think of a better hub area in any game ever I simply don’t think I can. It borders the line between hub area and open world but unlike a huge open world environment in something like GTA V it is dense and filled with secrets, subtle storytelling and world building. Whereas typical open world areas in games today like to go for expansive areas with markers spaced far apart from each other to give you the sense that the game gives you a lot to do. Prague is a much smaller location that is completely filled with things to do and stories to tell. You are able to enter almost every building at some point in the game and you can’t walk five steps without being able to observe something that tells you about this futuristic dystopia, however subtle it may be. This may be something like a movie poster, advertising, or even a corpse in a back alley or a bathtub full of blood inside an empty house. Warren Spector, the Director of the original classic, Deus EX, was actually quoted saying “I’d rather do something that’s an inch wide and a mile deep, than something that’s a mile wide and an inch deep.” So this approach is very respectable to what makes Deus Ex great in the first place. It is essentially the anti-No Man’s Sky.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Deus Ex if you didn’t get to play around with some crazy augments and this installment has us covered. In addition to all of Adam’s usual augments, there are now some unique ones that are thematically explained as having been lying dormant in the mechanics of Jensen’s body. The only problem is that using them will make the system unstable unless Adam deactivates another ability completely. This game mechanic has you always trying to find the right balance for your particular playstyle and deactivate the abilities that don’t benefit your style at all. This means you have to really commit to your approach this time around and can’t always fall back on a trusty failsafe if you want to unlock the most powerful version of your favorite augment. Whichever approach you choose to take your guaranteed to have fun because the augments are better than ever, from the Smart Vision, I recommend getting straight away, that lets you see through walls to locate enemies, hazards, or computers ready for hacking. Or, even the Tesla which when upgraded can allow you to tag multiple enemies to be stunned and fall to the ground, great for non-lethal players like myself. There is also the Icarus Dash which is essentially the Blink ability from Dishonored so if you’re used to playing as Corvo in the streets of Dunwall then you should feel right at home with this one.
After all this praise, there is, however, one huge misstep. By now, you probably may have heard that there is an issue regarding the strategy in which the main story is being provided to us. In this day and age, we are no strangers to certain aspects of AAA games being held back only to later be sold to us as Downloadable Content. Unfortunately, it seems that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is yet another victim of the current trend. The Story is good, I liked the way it referenced real world modern themes such as racism and terrorism whilst still having its own original, futuristic twist in a way that all great Sci-fi stories should do. Without spoiling, the issue is that it just seems to end with many plotlines left unfinished. I don’t know if this is intended to be finished in a future installment or DLC but it felt underwhelming and a bit like ‘Oh..that’s it?’. That said what is there is lengthy and warrants another playthrough or even two and the gameplay is just so damn good that it shouldn’t be enough to put you off completely. Whether you should buy into the idea of main stories being sold as DLC is another question entirely.
There is more variety and freedom in the gameplay than ever and it is brilliant, to say the least. I haven’t even mentioned the different ammo types, weapon modifications, Injections or buffs, or even the vast array of weapons you have at your disposal but I’m sure by now you get the idea. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is great but it so easily could have been one of the best and it hurts to see it fall short of a complete package.