The review video is taking me quite a while (as of this writing), and it has been weeks since this game came out, but I like it more than enough to trudge through this review for it. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is certainly a Deus Ex game in terms of proportion between its strengths and flaws. For the most part, it has retained most of what makes a Deus Ex game what it is, but the gameplay feels less clunky. However, the narrative itself is just as clunky, so fans should feel right at home.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided continues the sci-fi battle against the New World Order—fought with more augmentations and less tinfoil hats. There are certain things Eidos Montreal has done well with this game while also falling short in some parts. It feels a lot like development was split up between different teams that didn’t have enough time and/or structure to communicate sufficiently to tie everything together as well as they could have been.
Despite that, I quite like what I got for my money because I knew what can be expected from a Deus Ex game.
NOTE: As this is intended as a full review of this title, there may be some spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Unless you’ve played the previous Deus Ex games, or at least read through Deus Ex wiki, you’ll be lost. It’s in medias res in a bad way as it has tons of holes in between plot points that are supposed to be filled by knowledge of prior events. The recurring characters and their roles in this story are indicative of this.
The new characters aren’t as memorable. Human Revolution characters seem more distinct and affective—David Sarif compared to Jim Miller, Frank Pritchard compared to Duncan MacReady, Faridah Malik compared to Elias Chikane, and so on.
Mankind Divided does get close at portraying prejudice and dissent in a semi-realistic manner, perhaps influenced a bit by the current European migrant crisis. Frequent security checks, the use of aug slurs, martial law, aug ghetto, news, anti-news, graffiti, and everything else add to the atmosphere.
Visuals and UI are cleaner and more functional than that of Human Revolution, with more hotkeys for making tasks like hacking a lot easier. Almost everything looks and feels less clunky. However, the shop UI isn’t as refined. While selling window is better, it does have an additional prompt that may not seem to be that inconvenient, but it does make selling loot a bit more tedious.
The graphics doesn’t have the exaggerated golden tint of Human Revolution and the interface makes use of other colors in a more functional manner. There isn’t as much thematic distinction as in the previous game, but it does make for a more subdued look that doesn’t overwhelm the senses.
Environmental design makes Prague look more like an actual city than Detroit and Hengsha did in HR. It’s not exactly too distinct as to be memorable, but it does look and feel like a futuristic European city. While it’s mostly solid, the art direction doesn’t seem to take enough chances.
Additional hotkeys and tweaks makes gameplay more seamless. Things like hotkeys in hacking, being able to exit cover mode with a movement key, having an actual minimap instead of just a radar on your HUD, how tooltips are better positioned on screen, and so on make finishing this game then going back to Human Revolution somewhat jarring.
You also get options to remove HUD elements on screen, so you can do away with all of the stuff here for a more immersive—a feature included in Thief 2014. Just having that option is considerate of Eidos Montreal and can make gameplay more challenging if you wish it to be.
New augmentations like Tesla launchers, nanoblades, and the TITAN aug make for more ways to go about missions. Of course, that energy bar on the bottom is what balances it all out. There’s also crafting, although it certainly doesn’t put Fallout 4 to shame. It’s just an option for additional items of your choosing later on. Then again, you’ll most likely just make more biocells because you can never have enough biocells in this game.
There are a lot less of those forced boss fights like in Human Revolution—only the final mission is mandatory. The boss can also be put to sleep, so you can truly have an all non-lethal playthrough without being “punished” for it. While it’s still the “harder” way to play, non-lethal is no longer the “wrong” way to play in Mankind Divided.
As with most other Deus Ex games, there are branching paths. The ones in Mankind Divided are from choices you make in missions, like deciding on one objective over another, going the extra mile by accomplishing an optional objective, choosing to do all lethal or non-lethal, or so on. At times, you still get a prompt that makes you choose between two courses of action, but you’re not shoehorned into just one path once you choose in at least two times in this game. In those instances, you can actually do both as long as you’re quick enough.
Multiple endings, as well as whatever else happened that resulted from your other actions during your playthrough, mostly from finishing side missions, are handled old school Fallout style. The side missions actually matter and aren’t just sources of extra experience points and rewards.
- Improved gameplay from predecessor
- Additional augmentations
- Good level design mostly focused on one hub
- Story ties in with previous games
- Themes of dystopia and discrimination
- Environment encourages exploration
- Able to toggle HUD elements
- Branching paths and multiple endings
- New Game+ adds replay value
- Breach Mode and Jensen's Stories
- Disjointed narrative
- Dependent on knowledge of previous games
- Less interesting characters than in Human Revolution
- Somewhat abrupt and anticlimactic ending
- Microtransactions in full-priced game
Mankind Divided was one of the AAA titles I anticipated for 2016; certainly the only one I was really looking forward to play since last year. For the most part, I'm satisfied with what I got for my money. But from what I've been seeing online, a lot of fans don't feel the same way. It's nowhere near the disappointment levels of No Man's Sky, but it still does fall short in one or two things.
Then again, that just means it's roughly around the same level as Human Revolution in that regard.
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