Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Release Date: August 23, 2016
Played on: PC

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of my favorite games of last generation. I've played through it three times, done my no-kill run, even played the sub-par DLC. I even thought about playing through it again before Mankind Divided came out.

I loved the freedom and exploration. How many side things there were to find. You could probably plow through a game in 12 hours, but it begs you to break into every office and read every email.

My excitement for Mankind Divided was too much for me to wait for the Steam sale a few months after release. I needed to be in that future world again.

What I didn't like

Mankind Divided tries to be a little heavy handed with their "Aug Lives Matter." Real life events happened that mirrored the world that Deus Ex takes place in.

The reason X-men worked as an anti-racism story is because it was subtle. Realistic characters you could feel for were constantly discriminated against. As a child reading X-men I started quickly learning that it doesn't matter if your black, white, Asian, or mutant, there are good and bad and all colors of the spectrum of personalities throughout and it's not fair to hate just based on a physical trait that the person had nothing to do with.

Mankind Divided however throws it in your face the entire time. It's one foot in the authoritarian leadership of Half Life 2 and some futuristic version of the American republic. You're constantly reminded by officers that you rode in the human section of the subway but still allowed to roam free.

There were also some story items that didn't make much sense. For example, one of the guys you've been trying to track down has locked himself in a room and subsisted on food brought to him by followers and whisky. He's talking about how many people want to capture him or kill him. He spends a solid 5 minutes in this monologue ... standing in front of a giant window overlooking this huge construction yard with infinite places for an assassin to hide.

Come on dude.

What was OK

The over world has less densely filled buildings to scour like the headquarters and police station in
Detroit, but is larger in general.

My two gripes are that there's a very long loading screen going between each part of the overworld.

You have to take the subway between several sections of the map and it's not very well explained. I wasted a solid hour trying to figure out how to get over this wall to another part of a map when I really just needed to jump on the subway train. To top that off, all the stations are in Polish, so it's hard to remember which station you need to go to unless you know the active mission name there.

The other gripe is that most of the buildings are very similar. There's several apartment buildings that are more or less the same template. Several small shops that have the one shop room and the one back room.

Mankind Divided didn't have as much character as Human Revolution did.

Adam Jensen's voice is also a bit grating. He's not talking much, but when he does it borders on Christian Bale's Batman.

What I Liked

Deus Ex is still a smart and well designed adventure game. I hesitate to call it a shooter because the game challenges you to be stealthy and not killing anyone.

It's a game that drags you into every vent, watching guard routes carefully from the shadows, and
rerunning assaults to do it slightly better.

You're always looking for hidden vents, weak walls, high routes to take. Never feeling satisfied if you clear a room on your first try. Knowing there were a dozen other ways of accomplishing the mission.

The story, although heavy handed, is an intriguing mystery. What were those incredibly advanced augmented assassins? Who blew up the train station? How did the world get to this place?

The government is corrupt, the people divided, and you're just trying to do the correct thing and earn a paycheck. You don't know who to trust and are prepared to pull your gun at any moment.

Final Thoughts

Human Revolution is definitely the better game, but Mankind Divided has much to offer. When some shooters are still chasing the Call of Duty run and gun style, others like Doom are updating old game play standards, Deus Ex respects the player enough for them to forge their own path.

The story is a little lackluster, but Deus Ex Mankind Divided is a different and solid experience from your standard first person games on the market. Well worth picking up during the next Steam sale.

No comments: