In 2011 The Deus Ex franchise was revived with a gem of a game called Human Revolution. Revolution is the key word. Deus Ex: Human Revolution did a fantastic job of giving you a handful of tools and one objective, and then letting you figure out how you wanted to get there. Maybe you bribed a guard. Maybe you stealthily knocked out that guard. Maybe you ran in, guns akimbo, and left no one standing, or maybe they never saw you letting yourself in or showing yourself out. Those choices have been retained and elevated for the most recent entry, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which is now augmenting consumer hardware everywhere.
I can’t express how pleased I was with this release. It is a great example of taking what worked in the last game and carrying it into the next entry, while still adding to it. While it isn’t without its critiques, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is worth a look. Action shooters and stealth junkies alike can enjoy what this game has to offer.
In Deus Ex: Electric Boogaloo, you play the protagonist from the previous game, Adam Jensen, whose resume reads like a Steven Segal screenplay; ex SWAT, ex Security director, former pure human turned robocop after a devastating attack. No really. You’re Robocop, you work in Detroit and were horrifically ‘murdered’ before being rebuilt to catch the big bad guy. Now working as a double agent, Jensen uses one group of secret super spies to hunt Illuminati, while they get you placed onto a team working for Interpol in order keep the peace in Prague and find anti-Aug terrorist. Augs are augmented humans who have bionic parts like legs, arms, eyes, and the like. This is the technology that explains your gear and gadgets, such as your bulletproof skin-tanium armor, a stealth field, and those cool retractable sunglasses.
Many of the Steam reviews are complaining about the microtransaction features that have shown up in this entry of the game. The problems they cite are correct. The things you buy apply only to that savefile. If you start a new game you do not still have the extra ammo or the praxis kits you previously purchased. No one is disputing the accuracy of these reports.However, it is this reporter’s opinion that it is a terrible thing to provide negative reviews over. You are not required or even urged to by these optional items ever. The shop is there on the main menu only, and if you go there and buy something, that is on you. While playing the game, not once has it told me I could go spend my real money on extra tranq darts. These items are pay to win, not pay to play.
This is 2016, and graphically Deus Ex: Mankind Divided looks great. It might be about a year behind, but the game runs smoothly and beautifully all the time. Mouths have a difficult time syncing up with dialogue, but not too so poorly as to be overly distracting. Once again, the various stealth takedowns look great and hit hard. Characters look realistic and believable without being human cartoon characters.
My only graphical complaint is the use of pre-rendered cutscenes in the game. Remember when a cutscene in games looked better than the actual gameplay? The tables these days have turned. Now, more often than not, when the game shows you a video instead of using the in game engine to render the scene, it looks worse than the actual game play. This is a bit of a distraction and is used to cut down on load times, which I do commend them for. The only nasty load times seem to be when you first boot the game up and when you are standing on the train between sections of town.
Where Mankind Divided really shines is in its versatility. My Adam Jensen is a Ghost who uses the night as a cloak to remain unseen by the enemy. However, your Jensen might be a one man army built to leave behind a trail of bodies. NPCs often ask you to ‘Jensen’ your way into the building, vaguely implying nothing but knowing you’ll get the job done. As you play the game you earn Praxis points, which are just a fancy name for skill points. All the stuff you can do needs to be learned. As a robotic American you have to turn on certain features of your programming using these praxis kits. This can be something simple, like being better at hacking computers, or something more extreme like being able to turn invisible for a short time.
Every mission area, whether it be the main story or just some building in your neighborhood can be explored using multiple plans of attack. I find myself constantly using my robo-vision to case the area before I just waltz in. Sometimes you can sashay in the front door. Other times, the back door is really a vent obscured behind a dumpster.
One thing Mankind Divided did better this time around is that after a certain point in the game, they give you a small handful of praxis kits to spend wherever you please. In the last game you earned them all the old fashioned way – with time and effort. Now, with about nine free skill ups, I can sculpt out a mid level profile to get to my cyberpunk sleuth story without feeling like a heavily armed newborn baby.
One the low side, this sequel to Deus Ex is a little on the short side. Not terribly so. You are looking at about twenty five or so hours of entertainment out of this title. While this isn’t the 40-50 hours expanse the last game was, it is dense with content. Because it isn’t too long, there is only one large hub city to explore, with a couple of outlying areas to creep about. Because of the nature of the level up system in this game, it is likely you will peak early and will run out of new powers that you were looking forward to upgrading. You do not need to max out every power to feel like an unstoppable force in this game. This can translate into the last few hours feeling a little bit like lather, rinse, repeat, but if you enjoy Adam Jensen you built, this most likely won’t affect you that much.
Deus Ex had a quiet release this year; while it has been on Steam for months, its release seemed to lack some fanfare. What worries me is that because of that there will be less people who had the chance to play it. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a great game. You’ll spend a fair bit of time in it without getting too overwhelmed and because of that likely see it through till the end. This will also encourage the use of it’s New Game+ mode, where you start a new adventure with all your same level ups to try it again as a total badass. You do not really need to have played the previous title to enjoy this game, but if you are interested, make sure you play the Director’s Cut’ version that helped solve some of the problems the initial release had. Mankind Divided is certainly worth your time and worth the price if your looking for an action shooter with some stealth elements or a stealth game with some shooter elements.