Developer: Nixxes Software/Eidos Montreal
Release Date: 08/23/2016
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Deus Ex is an old well-loved franchise and the reboot with Human Revolution was well received despite its many flaws. Mankind Divided is a direct sequel taking place right after the terrorist bombing from the end of the last game, and Adam Jensen is at it again trying to solve murder mysteries, stop more terrorists, and put an end to the hatred against augmented humans. Dealing with racism, discrimination, classism, and many other dystopian issues, Mankind Divided delivers an atmospheric world to explore with great characters.
The gameplay elements from Human Revolution carry over and feel more polished and nuanced, but this game has its own set of issues. Starting with exploration, Mankind Divided has small areas in Prague you can explore and complete side missions and sadly that’s all. You can’t talk to 90% of the characters, and there are only a dozen side missions in the whole game. Prague just feels very cramped and small in scope and the Deus Ex franchise has enough lore and interesting things going on that it could be an open world game. Despite the areas being full of NPCs, open buildings, police walking about, etc., it just feels so empty and lonely. The amount of interaction is so little and there’s no real point exploring anything expect to hack computers to read emails and find ebooks, but even these don’t really give a lot of insight to the surrounding world.
Once you get into a mission the combat is actually rather versatile. You can go completely stealth using silenced weapons and takedowns, or augment yourself for combat with powerful melee moves, more health, shields, and more. I went the hacker/stealth route upgrading all my hacking augs and bio cell meter for stealth shields and extra takedowns. Every area has multiple routes to get to the goal by either shooting through all the enemies, hacking your way around turrets, cameras, and security, or just taking everyone down one by one and sneaking through vents. It’s rather satisfying to find your own path and I rarely had issues in which I didn’t know how to get to a particular area. The shooting is rather satisfying as well, but sadly the game is designed to use very little of it. I never used anything outside of my silenced pistol despite holding on to 4 different weapons through the entire game. You can pick up grenades, software to help hacking, and various healing items, but I never really needed most of it.
Outside of shooting, cover mechanics, and various combat abilities, there’s nothing else to the game. The story and characters are interesting enough to keep you going, but it’s mostly forgettable. The overall terrorist plotline is done to death in other games, and I’d rather know more about the surrounding world and how the people live day to day in this dystopian police-state world. That interested me more than anything Adam and his cohorts were working on. I honestly enjoyed the side missions more than the main storyline which is odd for a video game in general. There are some persuasion dialog mini-games where you must sway a character in your favor, but it’s easy and the outcomes don’t really affect the overall story.
Thankfully, Mankind Divided is for both action fans and stealth fans despite the game being built for stealth gameplay. There are no bosses this time around and the game has a lot of technical issues. At launch, the game was nearly unplayable for most people, and now after many patches, the engine is incredibly unoptimized with even two video card generations later, the engine struggles to stay at 60FPS with load times for menus even! MSAA is nearly impossible to enable with frames dipping into single digits, there’s a lot of chugging when turning the camera as well. On anything but the latest GPUs you’re not going to enjoy this game at all and it will murder your system. The game looks really good though with good lighting, high-res textures, and great character models.
Overall, Mankind Divided expands on its predecessor, but not on the overall series. More interactive areas would have been great, bigger areas to explore and more side missions, and even more insight to the day to day lives of the citizens in Prague. With a terribly optimized engine, and the fun factor of combat and stealth varying from satisfying to incredibly frustrating within minutes of each other, Deus Ex just needs a reboot before coming back. The story is enough to keep you moving along, but it’s nothing memorable.