I have a confession to make. I haven’t played any of the previous Deus Ex games. Before you become all judgmental I’d like to inform you that that’s a good thing. I’m not a fanboy so the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided analysis will be free of prejudice and from someone getting a taste of the franchise for the very first time. So for those of you that haven’t played any of the previous Deus Ex games, and are looking to dive in, this Deus Ex: Mankind Divided review is for you.
The story of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided kicks off after the events of the previous game, Human Revolution. If like me, you haven’t played Human Revolution, then worry not. The game opens with a recap of everything that happens in Human Revolution. If you pay attention to the recap, it will be clear to you that the story has a lot of plot twists and turns which seem pretty good. It also makes it clear that the protagonist travels to a variety of locations. These things are dialed down in Mankind Divided and it’s a bummer especially since the recap is proof that Human Revolution had a kickass story. Also, the recap shows that the protagonist, Adam Jensen, visits a number of locations. That isn’t the case in Mankind Divided, but the locations you do visit are lush and don’t warrant complaints.
So ‘how is the story’ you ask? Well, it’s filled with the usual twists and turns and just like Mass Effect or the Witcher, your decisions affect the final outcome. There are points where you have branching paths, which means that if you want to experience all the angles of the story, you will have to play Deus Ex: Mankind Divided a bunch of times.
Without spoiling anything, the events of the last game have left a bitter taste with regards to the augmented population. Adam Jensen is working with Interpol along with a hacker organization to uncover the activities of the Illuminati (the organization that’s evil in the game). Overall the story is fun but the only downside is that the outcome of your choices is narrated to you via a TV news broadcast at the end of the game which is a bit of a bummer. The story is definitely one of the highlights for me but fans of the franchise will be a bit disappointed.
Moving on to gameplay, this is a first person shooter game with third person cover based mechanics thrown into the mix. Don’t expect Deus Ex: Mankind Divided to be a running and gunning game. Sure, you can do that, but not to the same extent you would in games like Call of Duty or Battlefield. The game puts more emphasis on stealth while keeping the running and gunning approach as the secondary alternative – just like Metal Gear Solid 5.
The lead protagonist, Adam Jensen has ‘abilities’ thanks to his augmentations which can be upgraded and unlocked as the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided progresses. My only qualm with this is that you can only unlock a few augmentations through your first playthrough which is a bummer. I did a lot of the side quests along with the main mission and I still managed to unlock about 35-40 percent of Adam’s abilities. There is a ‘new game plus’ mode, but it would have been great if the average player could unlock more in the first play through.
Speaking of these augmentations, they can broadly be categorized into stealth, running, gunning and hacking. As the names suggest, if you are a stealthy player you will choose to unlock abilities like invisibility, the ability to jump high to reach ledges. For the runner and gunner, there are abilities which make you temporarily invulnerable (Crysis style) and for the hacker, the ability to hack into higher security terminal with ease. With this descriptor, I’ve barely touched the tip of the variety in augmentations. It’s a treat to discover some of these abilities for yourself and I can assure you that executing some of them is very satisfying.
Where Deus Ex: Mankind Divided truly excels is with its level design. There are so many ways to tackle a mission, it’s brilliant. Be it with something as simple as choosing certain dialogues or choosing a particular path, the number of options are overwhelming at times. To give you the simplest example, I needed to enter an apartment to obtain certain data and I couldn’t hack into the terminal of the house. After much thought I decided to go to the level above (in the building) and looking over from the balcony made me realize the apartment had a window which had a ledge and I could access the it from my current location.
Switching on my Batman: Arkham Knight style detective mode, I saw that there is a ventilation shaft that I can use to get to the apartment. This is a simple example where there are 3 options to tackle a situation. There are times when there are 6-7 options to deal with a situation. Should I go guns blazing? Or sneak past? Or tell the cops about the situation so they can deal with it and I can just walk through? Should I bribe the officer blocking my path? Should I get fake papers made and succumb to the in game corruption? All these options are a part of one situation. It’s mind boggling how much thought has gone into planning and executing each mission from different angles. Add to it the fact that the game rewards you for exploring and you have more than enough motivation to explore.
The gameplay and level design is the greatest strength of Mankind Divided.
Getting the worst out of the way, the character models aren’t great. They are bland and stiff and the lip sync is totally off. After playing a game like Uncharted 4, these things really pop during gameplay. Adam Jensen is stiff during most of his conversations with NPC’s, NPC’s have emotionless expressions and are at times downright comical taking you out of the seriousness of the situation.
Having said that the overall game is gorgeous. The environments are well designed, action animation is fluid and overall the game is pretty. I did see the frame drop but this wasn’t very evident during the high octane action sequences. It happened more when I was navigating from one part of the environment to the other and that was quite a bummer.
|Developer: Eidos Montreal, Nixxes Software BV
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Tested on: PlayStation 4
Price: PC: Rs. 999. PS4 and Xbox One: Rs.3,499
Sound design is another place where the game excels but with some hiccups. For example, the high octane music kicked in when the action began and didn’t die out like it was supposed to until the next cut scene began. I reloaded the game to see if this happens again and this time when the action ended so did the dramatic music. This happened a few times during my gameplay experience.
The voice acting in the game is good and believable, but like I said earlier, it’s the character animations that make the dialogues less believable.
Should you buy Deus Ex: Mankind Divided?
My friends that enjoy running and gunning games like Call of Duty and Gears of War weren’t excited about the game, but my friends that enjoy stealth games like MGS5: TPP were immediately drawn to it. So if you are one that likes sneaking around like Solid Snake then you should definitely check out Deus Ex. The game is worth multiple plays. But if you are a runner and gunner, stay away. The game is plagued with a few issues here and there, but none that hamper the overall gameplay experience.
NOTE: The game does have micro transactions but I didn’t encounter them. I played a review copy of the game and because of internet issues I couldn’t download the updates of the game during the review process.
Augmented abilities are great to experiment with
|Character animation could have been better
The way the ending is presented could have been different for different outcomes
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