All the way back in 2011 Square Enix published Deus Ex: Human Revolution a new game in the long-running franchise to great fanfare and reception from gamer’s and reviewers. Now after a long 5 year hiatus Adam Jensen is back , and if you were worried that Eidos Montreal could not deliver on Human Revolution do not worry. Mankind Divided not only does the original justice, but it actually surpasses it in every way. Mankind Divided takes place two years after the events of Human Revolution. The events that happened at the end of Human Revolution is now being referred to as the “The Aug Incident” were augmented people went on a rampage due to a virus infection killing millions of people. This has segregated the world into two groups, the normal’s people without robotic augmentation and the augmented.
Augmented people are now treated as second-class citizens, as they are segregated and separated from normal people and sent to Golem City heights a slum for those augmented people who are viewed as being unfit to be part of normal society. It’s easy to spot the parallels between this “mechanical apartheid” and the apartheid experienced in South Africa pre 1994. Deus Ex is a series that has always tackled themes like racism, apartheid, terrorism, transhumanism, conspiracy theories, you name it and never shied away from controversial topics. I won’t go too in-depth with the actual theme of the story as it is pretty much an entire review on its own but I have written a piece about it entitled: The mechanical apartheid of Deux go read it once you are done reading this review. As I believe it compliments this review nicely.
After the collapse of Sarif Industries, Adam now works for Interpol’s Task Force 29 which deals with augmented terrorism. Jensen joins them in the hope that he would be able to track and find the powerful organization known as the Illuminati. He also collaborates with the hacker group known as the Juggernaut Collective,who shares the same desire as Adam to take down the Illuminati who they believe are responsible for much of the suffering going on in the world of Deus Ex. And this pretty much sets the stage for the rest of the game as Adam plays double agent for both Task Force 29 and the Juggernaut Collective. Which I can only describe as a Hollywood-style conspiracy thriller, with Adam working missions from more than one angle to get closer to the Illuminati and to the eventual truth.
It does not happen often that I can say that I get immersed in a video games world, but the amazingly crafted world of Mankind Divided sucked me right in, with it’s amazing visually crafted futuristic settings of both Prague were 90% of the game takes place to places like Dubai, London, and Alaska to mention a few. There is an incredible amount of detail hidden away within almost every apartment or building with plenty of digital notes and newspapers to read, pick up or doors to hack and unlock. And an insane amount of detail in all of them from well-organized apartments to a un-kept pigsty. Almost every item in the game can be manipulated in some way. Outside the world of Deus Ex feels alive with busy city street and people going about their lives unaware of the struggles that are going on behind the scenes.
Mankind Divided is so big that there is even an underground Metro system just to help you get from point A to point B. The stylized golden hues from Human Revolution has now been replaced with a much broader color pallet, giving the city and it’s characters it’s own unique feel. And at night the entire city lights up with neon signs everywhere, the game just oozes style out of every pore with its stylish blending of both Blade Runner future-noir settings. Not to mention the game looks absolutely stunning on the PlayStation 4, from the changes in the weather be it daytime,nighttime, rain and snow. And I only noticed a few slowdowns and frame drops during the latter part of a game that ran as smooth as butter on my console.
Gameplay has not changed much since Human Revolution, and honestly, that is a good thing in my opinion. Why try and fix a winning formula? One thing I am glad they did improve on in the game is the gunplay. Which they seem to have overhauled completely, with much more responsive controls. Making diving in and out of cover, while shooting and moving a much more satisfying experience than Human Revolution. I went for a non-lethal playthrough, so I opted for the tranquilizer pistol/rifle and the stun gun combination, which I highly recommend as it makes the game for more challenging than taking the running and gunning option. And it has to be mentioned that completing objectives without anyone else seeing you is extremely satisfying. Even for someone who is as bad at sneaking games as I am.
It is also worth mentioning that the universal ammunition from Human Revolution has been replaced with a more realistic approach. Now each gun comes with its own ammunition making inventory management crucial, as it is easy now to be overburdened by too many weapons and their ammunition choices. So I would really commend carrying only two weapons a close to medium range weapons and a long range weapon like a sniper rifle. You can also add upgrade attachments like scopes, silencers and bigger ammunition clips that improve the weapons performance and ammunition capacity. Your augmentation abilities mix’s up the gameplay up even further, you get three types of augmentations: Passive like increased health and energy, and active like hacking terminals and the ability to track enemy movements through objects.
While the classic augments make a return in the game there are plenty of new experimental augments hidden away for you to discover. Experimental augments like the Nano Crystal Titan Shield, which makes you almost immune to any bullet projectiles. And my personal favorite the “Icarus Dash” which allows you to basically “teleport” small distances and avoid enemy-filled rooms altogether. There is one catch, though. You will need to switch off some of your regular augmentations to balance out your augmented bodies power usage. And once you have switched it off it stays off till a certain point in the game so choose your augments carefully during the first part of the game. So you really need to work out beforehand which augments you will be utilizing during your playthrough.
There is a satisfyingly large number of gameplay options available to you during missions. Locked doors can be bypassed by more means than just hacking them, you can alternatively find a vent to crawl through or move heavy objects out the way to reveal new or hidden routes. The choices are really endless on how you can approach a mission. And on the subject of playthroughs, Deus Ex is one of those rare games that does warrant a second playthrough, as the are many different ways to tackle the main missions and side quests and equality as many ways to resolve them. I could not try the online Breach mode as I am experiencing issues with my online connectivity, but from what I have seen and heard from other reviewers it adds a fair amount of longevity to the game.
Deus Ex has one of the most intelligently thought out, and well-executed themes in the gaming industry today. It actually made me think about racism and segregation and all those other kinds of social constructs that have restricted our society in the past. Which is a nice take on a serious and rather an uncomfortable topic. Add into the mix a Hollywood-style conspiracy thriller, the only real complaint I have with the game is that the storytelling could have been more fleshed out and elaborated on towards the end of the game. Mankind Divided may not be a revolutionary game in the franchise, but it is a tightly polished experience. One that would easily satisfy fans of the franchise or someone who is itching for a stealthy action adventure game. And if the above sounds appealing to you, then you will enjoy Mankind Divided immensely.