In a day and age where things like racial disparity and terrorism are splattered all over the news, it’s not to play Deus Ex: Mankind Divided without taking a moment to stop and think about how this sc-fi world has so many elements that seem to parallel the very world the we live in. Deus Ex is one of the biggest releases this year in gaming and arguably the biggest release of the year for Square Enix. The serious undertones that inhabit the world of our augmented protagnist, Adam Jensen all combine to create a world that may appear bleak but is seriously hard to put down, for the most part. Mankind Divided is available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, our review was played on the Xbox One version.
Mankind Divided sees players continue the story of Adam Jensen. For those out there who may have not played Deus before or anyone who just wants to refresh their memory, the game opens with the option to replay a short ten minute movie that takes players through the events of Human Revolution. It is a good intro although the quality of the presentation is a tad low-res. It looked to me like they just cut it straight from the original code from Human Revolution rather than remastering it so my immediate reaction was to think the Mankind Divided was going to look nowhere as good as it should. Thankfully once you cut into the opening exchanges of Mankind Divided, the graphical quality and power of the current-gen consoles shine through to reveal a world that looks very pleasing to the eye.
The world that Adam inhabits is on the brink of collapse. People have bought into the propaganda that these augmented beings are going to release their power and use them for evil. OK, so we don’t live in a world full of these augmented beings but it easy to compare the situation to some of the propaganda that seems to be becoming more prevalent in the highly charged real world that we actually live. But let’s move on from that, you haven’t come here to listen to me provide political commentary so let’s get right back to Mankind Divided. I always avoid getting too deep into the story since I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but I couldn’t help but feel that overall this tale just isn’s as great as what we saw in Human Revolution. It’s still a good story don’t get me wrong but I think we were spoiled with the cinematic marvel that was Human Revolution.
Much of the gameplay that we’ve all come to love form Deus Ex, particularly Human Revolution, shines through in Mankind Divided albeit with some tweaks along the way. The most noticeable tweak is to the control scheme. Mankind Divided provides players with the ability to play the game in a style that suits them be it, cover based stealth, close combat or the all guns blazing approach. To cater to each style the Dev’s have put some thought into how best to provide a control scheme that will work fluidly regardless of how you want to play, which is no easy feat given that on top of your gameplay style you’ll have the augmentation system to use as well. The Mankind Divided control scheme is different to what Deus Ex veterans may be used to and can take time to harness effectively, the biggest change is probably that things like augments can be accessed by pushing and holding the analogue sticks. If this control scheme isn’t for you then you can choose another, such as the setup from Human Revolution or even a setup that is much more like what you’d expect from a traditional FPS. In this respect, Mankind does a good job. Not only can you play in a style that suits you, you can also go with a control scheme that suits your style as well. I went with the stock standard system for Mankind Divided and after spending time learning it found it to be the best way to play the game.
Continuing the theme of playing the game the way you want is the loadout system. Before each mission you can customise your weapon and augmentation loadouts. Choosing your loadtout has a direct impact on how you will approach the missions so it pays to take a bit of extra time to consider your objectives and how you would like to play the mission. The one downside to this is that there comes a point where you basically need to start building your skills up all over again which means you’ll have to put more time into levelling up skills you already had rather than jumping straight in and trying some of the sweet new augmentations that are in Mankind Divided. Luckily the upgrade system and points required to unlock new skills aren;t set ridiculously high so, with time, you can continue to level up without needing to splurge on the micro-transactions that are within the game. I am anti micro-transactions so I was very pleased that whilst they are in game I never felt like I was under pressure to buy them in order to progress.
So what are some of these augmentations I hear you ask? Well I was just getting to those. Adam is one tough cookie and as you make use of his strength you’ll find some sweet augmentations that will allow him to punch holes in walls, or move objects that would cause us simple unaugmented weaklings to sit in a corner and rock back and forth. Making use of those augmentations will open up new paths and continue the progression. Mr Jensen isn’t just a physical brute with superhuman strength though, he also has more than a fair share of nerd inside him because he has some sweet hacking augments waiting to be upgraded. Once his hunger for hacking augments has been satisfied Mr Jensen will be able to hack computers, gather new information and gain access to areas that have hidden loot and new missions to sink your teeth into.
It’s all well and good to have these augmentations but it would be useless if there wasn’t an impressive world to use them in. Thankfully the world of Mankind Divided is vast and full of life. Prague is where you’ll spent most of your time but their are 5 main locations to explore. Prague itself is split into two distinct areas. Mankind Divided is the richest and most densely populated world that you’ll have seen in Deus Ex and it is just begging to be explored. Put the time into exploring and you’ll be well and truly be rewarded for your troubles.
One thing that only struck me after reflecting on it was how well set up this world is. Early on in this review I mentioned how the game caters to different playing styles, well even the world itself is well set up to cater to these styles. If you are scared of engaging in those exhausting boss fights then taking a non-lethal approach to missions is your best bet to minimise confrontation. Sure there are times where fights will break out no matter how much you’ve tried to avoid it but aside from those moments, the stealth players out there will love the ability to achieve their objective through non-lethal force.
Fans of the Deus Ex franchise are going to have a blast in Mankind Divided. The augmentations compliment our protagonist well. Mankind Divided caters to all play styles and the control schemes available go a long way to making everyone feel comfortable as they navigate this highly charged world. The story just doesn’t capture me as much as Human Revolution did, it’s good but as I went on I didn’t feel like it captured my imagination in the same way. All in all though Deus Ex has made a fine debut on Xbox One (and PS4).
- The biggest world yet in Deus Ex
- Augmentations are very good
- Caters to all play styles
- Story just isn't as good as Human Revolution